You Need More Free Art

I quit my job on Friday. Well, actually I quit my job eight weeks ago, but they finally released me for good behaviour. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do – but I do it for the wrong reasons. Working for major charities, you learn very fast that ‘I want to make the world a better place’ is a phrase you use to ask people for money, not to give them things. I was an ass-backwards fit for that world.

You need more free art. I need more free art. Everyone has felt the shift in our media landscape over the last ten years, away from access and towards nickel-and-diming the human experience. That lack of access is making life and culture worse for all of us, across the board. Paywalled news sites leave us less informed, attacks on the Internet Archive leave us less capable of research. Algorithmic social feeds and streaming walled gardens trap us inside smaller and smaller demographic bubbles, where we are increasingly only likely to encounter ideas that have been curated for us by marketing departments. Hasty efforts to resist AI commodification have only led to more artists locking their work away and calling for even more onerous systems of copyright law. This is not good for us.

We all need more free art.

So what am I going to do about it?

This is a question I have been asking myself for years. It’s easy to sit here feeilng frustrated and thinking ‘boy I hope SOMEONE does SOMETHING’. It’s harder to take action in a world where I still have rent to pay. But hard doesn’t mean impossible. Sometimes hard just means time-consuming, frustrating and slow. And sometimes it’s worth doing something time-consuming, frustrating and slow because…I want to make the world a better place.

I’m going to do this:

This is the one that will (hopefully) help to pay the bills. I am a very good and experienced editor. I’ve worked on hollywood movies, I’m a member of the Chartered Institute of Editors and Proofreaders, I have clients who have been coming to me exclusively for more than 10 years.

Alongside bigger contract jobs, I am going to refocus on offering my services to small-press creators at a reduced rate. That means you, graphic novelists. That means you, itch and amazon writers. I want to help you develop your work, the same way I help large organisations. You can learn more about what an editor even does and what kind of pricing you can expect here.

This week I’m going to launch a new free shop. If you’re unfamiliar, a free shop, giveaway shop, swap shop, etc. is an anarchist tradition of setting up a storefront where anyone can take what they like for no cost. Offline, this often means second-hand clothes, tools, furniture, food etc. Online, I am going to be giving away digital art. Copyright-free, no strings attached. It will (eventually) feature everything from print-res posters to zines, poems, tattoo flash, t-shirt designs and anything else we come up with.

Yes, I said ‘we’ – while this is a curated collection, it will feature work from a variety of credited and anonymous artists and activists, all of whom have agreed to give their work away to the public domain. Some of it will be practical, some of it will be political, but a lot of it will be decorative or personal. This is, in part, a response to recent difficulty I had finding somewhere that would print a one-off joke poster for a friend that featured the word ‘faggot’. Enough. No middlemen – no explaining ourselves. Just print our shit and enjoy it.

I’m very, very excited about this project. I’ll have more to say about it closer to the launch, but you can expect it to go live on March 27th.

To celebrate my launch, I am going to be giving away a ton of physical prints. When I went looking for my old stock to see if it was worth setting a new (paid) storefront up, I realised I had way more old work in storage than I thought. This will be announced in its own right on Monday, but this is why I’ve been hinting you should go follow my Patreon.

On April 1st, I will pick 8 random patrons (from across all tiers including non-paying followers!) and mail them a bundle of assorted prints and postcards. The prize pool includes A3 and A4 posters, packs of A6 postcards, and printed minicomics that I’ve previously sold for up to £12 each.

You don’t have to be a paying subscriber to enter – this is strictly no-purchase necessary. It is purely and entirely a celebration of the concept of GIVING ART AWAY FOR FREE.

Because I still have to pay to stay alive, I am going to be subsidising all this free art with the introduction of Fuck You Fridays. Starting from March 29th, I will drop a new 18+ short story on the last Friday of every month, over on (yes I know my page is desolate right now, don’t worry I’ll get there).

The first edition, Go Fuck Yourself, is about, well – telling your boss where to stick it. Julia has had it with her millionaire man-child manager, and is just about ready to let him know what she really thinks. It’s a short and steamy 5k words, with a gorgeous cover illustration by @taylor-titmouse, and you can pick it up for $3 starting from March 29th.


I’m keeping this one under wraps for now, but April 1st will also play host to one more (FREE) launch. If you’ve been following me for a long time, you might remember the other significance of this date (no not April Fool’s day, though that is certainly thematically relevant to this entire effort). That’s all I’ll say right now. Watch this space.

tl;dr: I’m sick of paywalls and career ladders. I’m literally putting my money where my mouth is. More free art for everyone and I’m not kidding around!!!

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