The Death Of Roses brings gifts, welcome and unwelcome.

The Death Of Roses is born
Photo by Kirsty Hall, Oct 2016

The Death Of Roses was an accident. In October 2016, I needed a last minute Halloween costume because I'd misplaced the make-up I needed to do a broken doll's face. With only a few hours to come up with a new idea, I looked at the lace and rose gothic dress I'd planned to wear, remembered a skull and rose head-dress I'd recently been given and the phrase 'the death of roses' popped unbidden into my mind.

'But what does The Death Of Roses do?' I immediately asked myself.

I knew that the phrase 'The Death Of Roses' would be meaningless to people: to give her a bit more heft, she needed some kind of schtick so I decided that she would hand out rose mottos. In a flurry of activity, I hit the internet to collect a selection of phrases, poems and lyrics that mentioned roses and then printed, cut and folded them into little 'rose fortunes'.

A printed out rose quote lying on red fabric rose handbag
A rose motto on my red rose handbag
Photo by Kirsty Hall, Oct 2016

In retrospect, it's no accident that my instinct was to give out rose mottos - my recent art has been very focused on the concept of the gift and I've become increasingly fascinated with the interactions, obligations and cultural meanings involved when you give something away, especially in the context of art.

Dramatic red and black make-up with thorns and black roses drawn on in permanent marker (not too permanent on skin, thankfully!), a lace rose choker and a handbag made of red fabric roses finished my transformation into The Death Of Roses.

Death Of Roses make-up in progress
Photo by Kirsty Hall, Oct 2016

I circulated at the event, walking up to people and saying,  'good evening, I am The Death Of Roses, would you like a rose motto today?' 

The complete Death Of Roses look
Photo by Kirsty Hall, Oct 2016

As soon as I started handing out the rose mottos, I realised that I'd created something far more compelling than a simple Halloween outfit and that it was an art performance piece.

The interactions with people were fascinating; some people were suspicious, some assumed that I wanted to be paid but usually people instantly 'got it' and most absolutely loved it. I would hand an entirely random rose motto to a person, only for them to read it and be staggered by how beautiful it was or how resonant it was for their life. It was a powerful experience for both me and the people I interacted with.

It was immediately apparent to me that I could take the idea much further. The Death Of Roses  'wanted to be real', so I started thinking about other events she could attend and whether I could create a mythic figure by 'seeding the culture' with the idea of her. I've been very immersed in David Southwell's Hookland of late and his work on that 'real folklore from a fake county' has inspired a lot of my thinking around The Death Of Roses. There's a good interview with David here or you can follow Hookland on Twitter for a bit of daily weirdness.

So who exactly is The Death Of Roses and what does she mean?

Truthfully, I'm not entirely sure yet because she's still developing. Obviously given her name, she's an avatar of death, but as with the Death card in Tarot, I feel she is more about transformation and change than literal death. I think of her as bringer of truths but sometimes not gentle ones - roses have thorns, after all.

Looking at art websites & wondering, not for the first time, what a residency for disabled artists would look like & how much support it would need?

Of course a lot depends on the disability in question. I recognise that someone with fixed requirements, such as the need for an interpreter, might be easier to accommodate than someone like me who has variable and erratic health issues.

Personally, I’m almost entirely excluded from residencies because of my ME/CFS. I've never even applied for one because I can't guarantee that I’ll be well enough and I hate to let people down. But I also don’t apply because arts organisations often demonstrate such poor disability provision.

By: Alan Levine











There's so much more to access than 'but we've got a ramp & a disabled loo'.

Even when an organisation or space is physically accessible, there's rarely any obvious understanding of the support a disabled artist might need to participate in something like a residency.

For example, I often see residencies held so far away that just getting there would exhaust me or with such intense and unrealistic timelines that I'd be unable to make work without instantly spiralling into a crash.

Obviously not all art opportunities can be accessible; that’s impossible and I don’t expect it. I accept that there are things I can't personally manage. I’m not going to be hiking up a glacier to make art any time soon but I wouldn’t want to remove that sort of exciting opportunity from other artists. This isn’t sour grapes.

However, I would like to see evidence that art organisations at least understand the issue. Yet I so rarely do. It pisses me off how many arts organisations apparently have no clue just how much they're excluding disabled artists.

Disabled artists are not particularly rare. I know many working artists who have an illness or a disability, sometimes apparent but often hidden. But if you looked at the way the art world is structured, you’d think we were some kind of mythical sparkly unicorn.

By: Jill Robidoux












If you’re from an art organisation and you’re bristling because you feel you already do disability access well, you need to show us. It could be that there's 'best practice' happening everywhere around me but if is, I can assure you that it's very hidden. And if I can't see that it's there, my previous experiences are going to lead me to assume that it's basically not.

You need to demonstrate that you’ve thought through access issues.

When you’re coming up with opportunities ask yourself how accessible they really are. Is there somewhere that a disabled artist can rest if they need to? Have you budgeted for an assistant or interpreter if they are required? Are you offering assistance with installation? Does your schedule presume the artist has good health and lots of energy? What could you put in place to make an opportunity more accessible?

Ask yourself what a disabled artist might need - better still, ask us what we need!

Put disability issues front and centre. Don’t assume that disabled artists can somehow intuit that they’re welcome. Put policies in place to ensure that they are and then reference them on your website and in your publicity. And that means more than sticking ‘disabled artists welcome’ in tiny writing somewhere down the bottom.

Normalise disability. In particular, please stop putting disabled artists in the uncomfortable position of having to bring up their own needs. It’s dispiriting to always be the person who has to bring stuff up; it feels awkward and embarrassing and can really add to the sense of exclusion that disabled people often feel. Instead ask ALL the artists that you work with if they have any specific access needs.

By: Brian Suda










Look, I’ve been disabled for more than 20 years, with a condition that’s slowly getting worse. I used to be able to hide it much better than I can now. At one point, I quietly rejected the term ‘disabled artist’ as it always seemed to mean ‘go and sit in this ghetto that we don’t take seriously’. I didn’t want to be the ticked box on anyone’s Arts Council form.

But as my health has worsened, my ability to both access and be visible in the art world has correspondingly decreased and I now recognise that the art world needs to get much better at dealing with disability.

I’ve done my part by continuing to make my work despite my restrictions and taking responsibility for my health by being increasingly upfront and clear about my needs. But I need the British art establishment to get off their arses and start visibly meeting that commitment on equal terms. 



I’m not an expert in all this, just a disabled artist who feels very excluded by the art world. If you’re interested in learning more about disability within the arts, check out the following UK organisations. Other areas of the world will hopefully have their own organisations.

 Disability Arts International

Disability Arts Online



ETA: I'm not the only artist who feels like way, check out this article by Stacey Guthrie, which makes similar points.

I refer to myself as The Queen Of Procrastination.

I know, I know, it's not a very sensible self-fulfilling prophecy to land myself with. Pretty blooming accurate though!

I've got a crown and everything!
I've got a crown and everything!












Over the years, I've learnt that procrastination can have many causes. I was reminded recently that fear can be a big one.

In December, I swapped webhosts for 365 Jars because the original host was overpriced and since the site is basically now an archive, it seemed crazy to be spending so much on it.

I backed up the site onto my computer, bought new hosting, cancelled the original hosting and then... froze. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

Every time I opened the new hosting site to install the site, I completely panicked and shut it down again. One time I actually burst into hysterical sobs. I realised that I was blocked by the sheer terror that something might have gone wrong with the backing up process and what would I do if I'd lost more than a years-worth of work? [Apparently in my terror, I had completely forgotten or discounted the fact that The Wayback Machine exists.]

Knowing what was wrong didn't really help: I still couldn't make myself get over the fear and do it anyway.

I finally got myself unblocked by approaching it sideways. In my other role as President of Hebden Bridge WI, I wanted us to have a better website because Blogger's weird formatting issues was driving me nuts. So I've spent the last couple of days replacing this with this. Much better, yes?

Having transferred one website to a new WordPress blog, I realised it was absolutely ridiculous to be afraid of transferring 365 Jars. So this afternoon, I made myself tackle it. And of course - like so many things that we get ourselves in a tizzy about - it was a complete doddle. It took longer to find a decent theme than it did to install WordPress and get the backup working. I'm left wondering what took me so long whilst simultaneously being a bit wibbly with relief that it's OK.

Anyway, that's a long winded way of saying that 365 Jars is back up again.

What are you stuck on this week? Is there a way you could approach it sideways?

Oh, and a friendly reminder - back up your website(s). And your computer. You'd be gutted if that stuff disappeared into the ether.

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Eh bien, le Tour de France a été et disparu.

We've waved and cheered the riders as they sped past and now it's time to bid farewell to the colourful windows as Hebden gradually returns to what passes for normal around here. So here is the final part of my Tour De France essay.


There's been such a surfeit of yellow in the town that it comes as a bit of a relief to see shops using different colours.
I liked the stark graphic nature of this wallpaper on display in decorating shop, Colour Yorkshire.

Colour Yorkshire Tour Window, Hebden Bridge, July 2014 by Kirsty Hall

By and large, the biking and outdoors shops (of which we have several in Hebden) didn't manage very interesting displays but this dotty 'king of the mountains' bike in Mountain Wild was a fun exception.

Mountain Wild Tour Window, Hebden Bridge, July 2014. Photo by Kirsty Hall

Nearby boutique, Amelia featured some yellow clothing but they also explored the red and white theme with these small decals.

Amelia Tour Window, Hebden Bridge, July 2014. Photo by Kirsty Hall

A glittery, glamorous bike decorated with sequins and pompoms in popular bar-cafe, Mooch.

Mooch Tour Window, Hebden Bridge, July 2014. Photo by Kirsty Hall

And 'lovely things' shop Spirals had lots of these charming, tiny bikes handmade from recycled tin.

This blue one was my favourite.

Spirals Tour Window, Hebden Bridge, July 2014. Photo by Kirsty Hall

Children's store, The Old Treehouse always have gorgeous windows and I really liked these loosely painted, white bikes. They remind me of illustrations from children's books and evoke the freedom of summery days spent bombing about on your bike.

This was the one window that made me miss cycling; something I can no longer do because of my ME/CFS.

The Old Treehouse Tour Window, Hebden Bridge, July 2014. Photo by Kirsty Hall
The Old Treehouse Tour Window, Hebden Bridge, July 2014. Photo by Kirsty Hall

The Yorkshire Soap Company are another shop who always have creative displays.

This is one of my favourite shops in Hebden; a visit there is a delight to the senses and the chaps who own it are just lovely. For the tour, they had a pink bike surrounded by wheels filled with white flowers, bunting in French colours & a selection of their tour-inspired soaps and bath bombs.

The Yorkshire Soap Company Tour Window, Hebden Bridge, July 2014. Photo by Kirsty Hall
Pink bike and white flowers, Hebden Bridge, July 2014. Photo by Kirsty Hall
And pink soap to match! Hebden Bridge, July 2014. Photo by Kirsty Hall 

And back to yellow. One of my favourite tour-inspired projects was by the reception children from Central Street Nursery and Infant School. This was on display in the Copa House cafe. The children yarn-bombed this bike and drew a delightful picture of themselves cycling down a big Hebden Bridge hill.

Copa House Tour Window, Hebden Bridge, July 2014. Photo by Kirsty Hall

Check out the details in the background with the tall terraced houses so typical of this area and all the yellow bunting. Like many artists, I love kids drawings and wish I could make art as freely and confidently as they do.

Copa House Tour Window, Hebden Bridge, July 2014. Photo by Kirsty Hall



I don't have any pictures but I can't finish without mentioning the amazing Cragg Vale Bunting, who decided to celebrate the tour coming to Yorkshire by trying to break the Guinness World Record for the longest bunting in the world. They made nearly 7 miles of bunting to hang up the Cragg Vale hill, which is the longest continuous gradient in England and heard just before the tour started that they were successful in their attempt to break the record. They had a lot of help from community groups and individuals all over the region (one lady made more than a mile of flags!).

I know several of the organisers and they've really worked their socks off over the last two years to make this happen. Well done everyone, what a superb achievement!



Adieu Tour de France. I hope you enjoyed Yorkshire as much as Yorkshire enjoyed playing host to you.

Le Tour De France, Hebden Bridge, July 2014. Photo by Kirsty Hall

Only one day to go before the Tour comes whizzing through Hebden Bridge and excitement is rising. According to Twitter, the Co-Op has run out of food already. There is bunting everywhere, including on our street, and Le Grand D’Party! is taking place in the town centre this afternoon.

So in surprisingly timely fashion, here is the second part of my documentary photo essay on the local decorations...

Many of the shopkeepers have made windows that are in keeping with the ethos of their shop.

Cabbages and Cushions, a decorating shop, have found some charming bicycle wallpaper and added an abstract yellow splatter in what can only be a Jackson Pollack homage (or an unfortunate reminder of what happens if you drop your tin of expensive Farrow And Ball paint!)

Cabbages and Cushions Tour Window, Hebden Bridge, July 2014. Photo by Kirsty Hall

This flowery bike in the florist's, Fleur De Lys was unfortunately rather tricky to photograph well but they've used red, white and blue flowers for the French flag and of course, lots of yellow.

Fleur De Lys Tour Window, Hebden Bridge, July 2014. Photo by Kirsty Hall

An appropriately fresh image is in the wholefood shop, Valley Organics.

Valley Organics Tour Window, Hebden Bridge, July 2014. Photo by Kirsty Hall

This beauty is in Not A Full Shilling, a shop that sells jewellery made from coins. The race would be a lot slower if the cyclists had to use Penny Farthings!

Not A Full Shilling Tour Window, Hebden Bridge, July 2014. Photo by Kirsty Hall

While Nelson's Wine Bar have cunningly matched their logo by giving their bike rainbow wheels.

Nelson's Wine Bar Bike, Hebden Bridge, July 2014. Photo by Kirsty Hall

But sometimes there's not any obvious connection.

This is in the opticians, Mark Hurst.

Mark Hurst Tour Window, Hebden Bridge, July 2014. Photo by Kirsty Hall
Because every bike race (and opticians) needs a blow-up monkey in a yellow shirt!

I love the detailing on this tiny cardboard bike in Christine Edwards, which as you can see from the bra in the background is a lingerie and swimwear shop.

Christine Edwards Tour Window, Hebden Bridge, July 2014. Photo by Kirsty Hall

You might not think a lingerie shop would be interested in the Tour De France but they've dressed their mannequins all in yellow and have a row of these lovely little bikes along their windows. There are surprisingly few shops that haven't taken part, so when you see one, you think, 'hey, where's your Tour stuff?'

And of course, someone had to use these Queen lyrics. These are in the window of Oxfam.

OxfamTour Window, Hebden Bridge, July 2014. Photo by Kirsty Hall

You're singing it in your head now, aren't you!

I will happily take any excuse to post a Queen video...

And since I'm posting videos, here is my friend Rebecca's son, Harry in a sweet little film anticipating the race. He's very keen on cycling and will apparently be in full cycling gear when he watches it tomorrow. Awwwww.

Le Grand Depart from Whitenosugar Productions on Vimeo.

I'm glad the Tour is bringing pleasure to so many people. Even I, with my avowed lack of interest in sports, have been enjoying all the buzz.

I have one final section of this essay still to come, which I will probably post tomorrow if I can hear myself think with all the crowds cheering. The Tour passes one street away from our house, it is going to be LOUD.

OK yes, I do know that the Tour De France is going to other places apart from Hebden Bridge but we shall not speak of it.

You see, I have no interest in the actual cycling part but I have been hugely enjoying all the creative responses to the Tour in the shop windows of Hebden. The town is buzzing with bicycles and the Hebden Bridge Arts Festival at the moment and I have been documenting both as a way of gently easing myself back into blogging after far too long an absence.

So I hope you enjoy this photo essay from my funny little town.

Simplicity can be hugely effective.

Paper yellow jerseys on the library door...

Hebden Bridge Library, Kirsty Hall, June 2014

...and paper letters in one of the hairdressers, A Circle Of Friends.

A Circle Of Friends Tour Window, Hebden Bridge, June 2014. Photo by Kirsty Hall

But some shops have gone all out with the crafting!

Paper and paint in The Barn, a home accessories shop.

Tribal Tour Window, Hebden Bridge, June 2014. Photo by Kirsty Hall

Bike bunting made from fabric, fake grass & plastic flowers outside the fantastic Heart Gallery.

The Heart Gallery bunting, Hebden Bridge, June 2014. Photo by Kirsty Hall

A small crocheted bike in the window of my hairdresser, Zeitgeist.

Zeitgeist's Tour Window, Hebden Bridge, June 2014. Photo by Kirsty Hall

And one of my favourite bikes high up on the wall of The Willow Garden, the wonderful florists who made my wedding bouquet.

The Willow Garden bike, Hebden Bridge, June 2014. Photo by Kirsty Hall

The word 'le' is popular right now.

'Le Sale' in Harold Crabtrees boutique, whose large windows are each painted with a single huge yellow wheel; another simple but visually arresting idea.

Crabtrees Tour Window, Hebden Bridge, June 2014. Photo by Kirsty Hall

And extra points to The Workshop who've even changed the wording on their signs for the duration!

The Workshop sign, Hebden Bridge, June 2014. Photo by Kirsty Hall

The Jewellery Workshop poster, Hebden Bridge, June 2014. Photo by Kirsty Hall

Well, that's part one, part two will be along in a few days once I've been down into town and taken more photos.

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I have a scar on my left knee. It has been there for more than 30 years.

I was about 7 when I fell hard onto a Yorkshire pavement and grit worked its way deep into the graze. I raised such merry hell about having it cleaned, that my mother missed some of the dirt. There is nothing left on the surface now, just a faint black line drawn deep into my flesh but I carry a piece of Yorkshire within me. Perhaps that's why I chose to return here, like a fish heading home.

The need to make art is like this. A scar that heals but remains visible. The grit in the oyster.

Artists talk of ideas that irk and niggle away at them. 'The work just wanted to be made,' they say, 'I was haunted'.

Haunted, niggled, irked, irritated. A pearl making oysters from dirt.

Oyster with Pearl
Oyster with pearl by Max Garçia via a Creative Commons license

I recently reread some of my old sketchbooks from college and was deeply amused to read page after page where I was stuck, frustrated or worried about my work. It made me laugh because they were exactly the same things I'd been thinking about my current work.

Seeing those same emotions surfacing a decade apart, it suddenly forcibly struck me that my process is rooted in struggle. Sooner or later, I will always doubt, I will always resist, I will always feel anxious because this is how I make my art.

While I don't enjoy it, I've come to recognise that it's not a problem. Sure, it would be nice if work flowed easily from me like water from a unblocked fountain but I am not that person. I am a worrier and a maker of lists. I am often mired in procrastination, doubt and fear. Fear that the work isn't good enough, fear that it isn't interesting or valid or conveying what I want it to say. Fear that I don't have anything to say anyway and what the hell am I playing at with my silly sequins, jars and pins?

And it is easy to fear those fears and then to shy away from those hard places. But I've found I need to sit with those fears or I can't make my work. The work comes from that grit. Maybe you're the same?

On that note, if you haven't already seen it, I encourage you to watch this Louis C.K. rant about the importance of sitting with pain.


I've seen a lot of 'rah, rah, just try harder' cheerleading type posts on the internet lately.

Erin The Cheerleader From Barrhead!
Creative Commons License photo credit: † Jimmy MacDonald †

Sometimes 'just try harder' is rocking advice: it's just what you need to hear on the days when a boot up the arse is helpful.

Now, I'm all for working hard and doing your thing and being stubborn and persistent, even when things are tough.

But sometimes 'work harder and keep going' is actively harmful.

This is because of The Law Of Diminishing Returns.

You already know what The Law Of Diminishing Returns is. You've been there, you’ve done that and the t-shirt is mouldering unwashed at the bottom of your laundry basket.

The Law Of Diminishing Returns is when the energy you’re expanding far outweighs any benefits you will receive.

The Law Of Diminishing Returns is when you’re too tired, hungry or burnt-out to work but you keep going anyway. You do bad work that will need to be redone later but hey, at least you were in the office showing your face so no one can accuse you of ‘slacking'.

The Law Of Diminishing Returns is when you hit your email button on your phone just one more time before bed. The Law Of Diminishing Returns is when you endlessly rehearse a conversation that you know you'll never have because the other person refuses to hear you. The Law Of Diminishing Returns is when you read that same page five times but don't take in a single word.

The Law Of Diminishing Returns is this conversation from When Harry Met Sally:

Marie: The point is, he just spent $120 on a new nightgown for his wife. I don't think he's ever gonna leave her.
Sally: No one thinks he's ever gonna leave her.
Marie: You're right, you're right, I know you're right.

The Law Of Diminishing Returns happens in offices & workplaces all over the world every single day. It happens to me after about 3 hours of working, when I hit my internal limit. Now what I should do at this point is take a break and go do something else or rest.

If I don’t switch gears, I invariably start going round and round in endless internet circles like a dog chasing its tail. Mine goes email; Twitter: Pinterest; RSS feed; Twitter; Ravelry; Facebook - rinse & repeat until I get cross with myself or my eyes fall out, whichever happens first. You’ll have your own version.

Sometimes what you should be doing is not ‘trying harder’ or ‘being more magnificent’ but resting. Or thinking. Or playing with your kids. Or sleeping. Or reading. Or watching TV with your sweetie. Or even - whisper it if you dare – quitting completely because you're trying hard at the wrong thing.

By all means, be magnificent if magnificent is where you are right now. If you are magnificent, I will applaud you and tell my friends.

But no one can be magnificent constantly. It’s just not possible. So if your well is empty, you need to bloody stop. There is no more water there. So you need to either find another water source or sit down and wait for some rain.


Woah, there goes another tumbleweed bowling past.

A Good One
Creative Commons License photo credit: Claire L. Evans

Yes, sorry about the dusty ghost town feel around here of late. There is a very simple reason. 365 Jars has been kicking my ass. Hard.

In my enthusiasm for starting a new project - 'yay, new art project, yay' - I forgot that new projects are always intense and all-consuming. 365 Jars is especially full on because it is a ton of work: I seriously underestimated how much time it was going to take every day. Plus starting a new daily walking habit has been a shock to the system. Don't fret, I'm OK but between all that and recovering from The Hideous Flu, I've been distinctly overwhelmed and I'm still behind with everything.

I don't know about you but I live with the pretty fiction that I can somehow Get On Top Of Things.

Let us pause for a moment for the hysterical laugher to subside.

Despite 43 years of solid evidence to the contrary, I persist in believing in a mythical point at which I will be Up To Date.

I secretly believe that it's possible that my inbox will be empty, the laundry will be washed and put away and I won't have any urgent outstanding work. Furthermore, I believe that it's possible for all this to happen on the same day!

There is no indication that this is humanly possible but like a fervent believer in the Loch Ness Monster, absence of hard scientific evidence does nothing to dissuade me. The truth is out there, Scully, the truth is out there.

Surely it's theoretically possible that one day I will complete all my unfinished knitting projects? And all my paperwork will be correctly filed with no missing bank statements and my accounting shall be done to a level that would make the Inland Revenue smile and pat me on the head. And the floors will be clean and I will have cooked in recent memory. And angels shall sing and fairies shall dance in my spotless kitchen and all will be well with the world. And all this shall happen before civilisation crumbles into oblivion, the sun explodes or we are invaded by aliens who eat our brains.

In short, I believe that it is possible that I will be On Top Of Things Like A Real Person.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Don Fulano

Now, I do not know who these Real People are but apparently they are capable of a mystical level of organisation that I can barely aspire to.

In truth, like many people, I exist in a state of barely controlled chaos.

Recently I had a staggering insight. There will never be a point at which everything is working. Never. There will always be something undone, something lost, something falling off the bottom of the list, something a mere moment away from a crisis. Always.

So what to do with this insight?

I could forgive myself.

Hard for a perfectionist but OK, I'll give it a go. But then I just wind up crying into my cornflakes about how I'm not forgiving myself perfectly enough. Oh wait, I see a slight problem with this approach.

I could seriously cut back on what I'm doing.

Ah, this feels better. Is everything on my list really necessary? Is it all equally important? Will the world end if the laundry is not put away? Ah wait, perhaps this is that mythical 'prioritising' of which I've heard? Why, goodness me, I do believe it is.

But truthfully, right now, even the thought of prioritising makes me want to cry. It seems to demand more competence and energy than I currently possess.

Oh dear, we're back to forgiveness again.

So I'm falling back on that old standby: 'tiny steps'. It's not big and dramatic but it works. I'm not taking on new responsibilities and I'm patiently nibbling away at existing ones like a harvest mouse.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Chris Barber

In the meantime, does anyone want to come round and put my damn laundry away?


For the last few years, I've been taking photographs of house numbers and I've just released these photos under a Creative Commons license. So if you have a need for some images of beautiful numbers, please check them out.

No 7 - 3-D
Kirsty Hall, No. 7, Jan 2011

Giesela Birgit over on my Facebook group asked me how Creative Commons works. I realised that other people might be confused about it, so here's a quick explanation.

What is Creative Commons?

Creative Commons is a way of licensing your creative work in a more adaptable way than traditional copyright. It replaces 'all rights reserved' with a more flexible 'some rights reserved' model that recognises that the basis of a free, open internet is sharing.

Creative Commons offers six different licenses, which allow you to control the way your work is used. All Creative Commons licenses require that you, the creator, are credited so people can't take your work and pass it off as their own.

If I use it on one thing, will all my work be Creative Commons?

No 20 - flowery close-up
Kirsty Hall, No. 20, Jan 2011

No, licenses are specific to that particular work, not your entire body of work.

I don't use Creative Commons for all my work. I retain full traditional copyright on all images of my art, any photographs I might want to sell in the future and all my writing. If you scroll down this blog you'll notice that I have a copyright notice that explains how people can use my work and when they need to ask for permission. As far as I'm aware, most people respect it. I also further protect my work by only releasing my images at 72dpi, which is not high enough for good print quality.

Is Creative Commons legal?

Yes. All Creative Commons licenses are an extension of traditional copyright and they have a 'Legal Code layer' written in lawyer language. Of course, that doesn't mean that it won't be challenged in court and there have been a couple of court cases about Creative Commons but there are even more court cases based on traditional copyright.

Won't people steal my stuff?

They might but that's a risk you take whenever you release any kind of creative work in public. Personally I only release stuff under Creative Commons that I'm not particularly bothered about and I don't worry about what happens to it.

If it bothers you, traditional copyright might be a better choice but be aware that dishonest people aren't bothered about any kind of copyright and all you're doing is stopping the honest people from disseminating and sharing your work.

Can I take public domain work and make it Creative Commons?

No, definitely not. You should only license works that you have created. The Creative Commons website states:

Creative Commons licenses should not be applied to works in the public domain. Our licenses are intended for works protected by copyright only.

Why I use Creative Commons

I currently have 410 images available for other people to use.

I take a lot of documentary-style photographs and I'm not very emotionally attached to them. Last year I decided to make these photographs available under a Creative Commons license because I'm a big fan of internet sharing, the concept of 'free' and enabling other people's creativity. I've benefited from using other people's images on my blog and I wanted to return the favour. It's a gift. It's also a strategic way to get more people to visit my Flickr account, which could lead to more people seeing my art.

No 85 - black paint
Kirsty Hall, No. 85, Jan 2011

I use the least restrictive license for my Creative Commons collection:

"This license lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation."

So someone could take one of my images and use it as the basis of an artwork or add it to a video, a blog post or a Powerpoint lecture. They could change the colour, flip it around, add it to a collage, even use it as the basis of a commercial work (although all my images are only 72dpi, so it wouldn't be great for printing). The only thing they have to do is credit me.

I chose the least restrictive license because I wanted my images to appear in awesome WordPress plugins like Photo Dropper.

Further resources

If you have other questions, read the Creative Commons FAQ or check out the Creative Commons entry on Wikipedia (which incidentally, also uses a Creative Commons license).

I am not an expert in this stuff. If you have serious copyright questions about protecting your creative work, please consult a lawyer.

Get more help
If you'd like more information about building your online presence, check out the free resources section.

I am also available for online consulting if you need one-on-one help.