An unexpected art contract


I interviewed Lauren Kenneth, a third year student who has just secured an exciting deal selling her paintings.

Can you start just by describing what kind of art you do?

Well the art that I sold is a little bit different from my usual style. Typically I like portraiture, but the commission that I was asked to do was a set of Alice In Wonderland paintings based on the original Tenneil illustrations from the two Wonderland novels.

So someone saw your portraits and asked if you’d do some paintings? How did that come about?

It started out as something I was working on in my spare time, as a request from my mum who fancied some new art for the house. I had finished the paintings for her and she had taken them to be framed. The owner from the home décor store she went to approached my mum and inquired as to where she had gotten the paintings and if they were for sale. That led to me doing another set for her to retail in the shop. It was a little surprising – I hadn’t actually set out to sell anything!

How many did she ask for? Do they take long?|

I have currently done 5, but our arrangement is that if I’m willing to paint it, she’s willing to sell it. It depends what I do and on what scale. The 5 pieces that I have already done didn’t take long (just a couple of weeks), but that is because they are only A5 and there aren’t as technical as some of the other pieces that I have done.


Lauren's Alice in Wonderland artwork that was commissioned to her.
Lauren’s Alice in Wonderland artwork that was commissioned to her.

So you’ve essentially got yourself the best contract possible – guaranteed purchase for everything you paint but you’re not tied down to a certain number of units. 

Exactly, I may have hit the jackpot! She gives me briefs of things she might like/ things that might be saleable, but I can pretty much do whatever.

Do you know if any of the ones you’ve already done have sold yet?

I haven’t checked the exact number, but I think three have sold and a couple of people made specific commissions.

Are you happy with the money you’re getting?

I am. It’s always nice being paid for something that I do in my spare time and have done for friends for years.

I suppose it validates what you do. Are you an art student?

No, I do English Lit actually. Art has always just been a hobby.

Would you say your love of literature informs your artwork or are they pretty separate?

I think (at the risk of sounding painfully pretentious) everything a person likes informs their art. For me, photography and other art is a bigger influence on my own work. I see images in magazines or in galleries and start challenging myself to do something similar or in that style. The Alice paintings are a bit of an exception; I’ve loved those books since I was a kid. They are completely bonkers and that’s quite a fun concept to run with.

What do you think of the arts scene in Lancaster? 

As an English student I have spent far too much time nerding around the literary art scene which I have always loved. Lancaster is also a fairly nice place to be a folk music junky!

Favourite writer?

The favourite writer I will admit to is probably Oscar Wilde, but my actual favourite is more likely Stephen King – less academic, but it’s my guilty pleasure.

Woah, there’s no need to feel guilty about Stephen King. Although The Shining is surprisingly hard work.

I think I got far too emotionally interested in Danny’s wellbeing… The Shining always seems like a nice break after weeks of modernist writers and dissertation reading.

The fact that The Shining feels like a break makes me glad I chose not to do English lit. Favourite folk artist?

Probably Mickey Kenny. Me and some friends saw him almost accidentally in first year and I have been hooked ever since.

Are you going to Grad Ball?

I am – I got a free bottle of champagne waiting in the queue for tickets and everything.

Excellent! So when you graduate in a few weeks are you planning to hammer out the paintings? Or do you have another plan for income?

I’m actually staying in Lancaster for a Masters in Gothic Literature. So I’m putting off employment for another year…

Simon James

Any excuse to write about Oasis really.

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