Haus of Lucy is a contemporary multi-media artist. Lucy flips charity shop finds on their head with polymer clay and ceramic paint, turning them into something completely different. Picture a classic cow butter dish now with a gimp mask. Or an oil painting of a manor house with tiny satellites photoshopped into the image. This clash of old and new creates a wonderful if slightly anarchist take on classical art.
She follows these same principles throughout her artwork, like the print series and her figurines. Lucy’s art is often a fun reflection of social commentary and can make a vintage Victorian lady feel relatable.
Lucy has built up a healthy 11K followers to her art account over the years on Instagram, but with recently having her account taken down for something she didn’t do, an artist’s career can be turned upside down if the app decided so. I sat down with Lucy to find out what happened.
How did you get started in the art world?
In my previous life I used to be a magazine designer. I did my degree in graphic design and then moved to London. But then I got to a point where I’d get to my lunch break and I really needed to do something more creative than just this page layout.
I used to find old masters online – I just used to google traditional oil paintings and photoshop things into them. By the end of my lunch break, I would have finished five of them. I created about four that I printed out onto really nice art paper. My husband was working at NME at the time in the archive department. They had all the magazines from when magazines were invented pretty much.
My husband used to get quite a lot of artists and creatives to come and get inspiration. He had someone coming in from Art Republic. My husband Jason didn’t tell me about this, but took my pictures and just left them lying around. Then the guy saw them and really liked them, so my husband just said it was an artist called Lucy and gave them my details. It was nice because no nepotism was involved. Jason said expect an email form these guys later and then I got the email and they took me on. They were the first gallery to give me any representation. In fact, within a week they had put my work in the window.
“It was amazing because we were living in London and we came down to Brighton and there was my work in the window of a gallery. I just thought ‘oh my god, it is the best moment of my life.’”
I didn’t just quit my job and become an artist overnight. It took a few years of still selling bits and pieces through Art Republic. Then there was a point where I designed a plate for when Megan and Harry got married. I do like piss-take pastiche ceramic plates and I put Ed Sheeran where Harry should have been. Obviously it was a joke but the plate ended up going viral. It ended up in the Daily Mail and I suddenly had all these plate sales.
Who has been your favourite collaboration?
I have enjoyed them all. I did one with Lazy Oaf that was really nice – it was a really cute little commision. They needed just some figurines wearing their collection and I really enjoyed that because I didn’t feel out of my depth at all. I absolutely don’t have imposter syndrome, but I can definitely feel overwhelmed sometimes. When I accept a job, I sometimes think ‘can I actually do this?’
Something else that was really enjoyable was some bits I did for Primark and Greggs. Primark occasionally does this drop of Greggs themed clothing. So basically, I’ve got this print called “all shopped out” and it’s this lady on a sofa looking exhausted. It’s originally a John Singer Sargent oil, but I’ve added in Primark bags at her feet because you can picture it. It just looks like she’s been out at Primark all day.
“Someone sent me a message saying ‘did you know that the CEO of Primark has got that picture in his toilet.’”
I was like ‘Oh my god can you get me his details?’. So then I dropped him a line, saying ‘look I heard you got this picture of mine. I appreciate the fact you’re not suing me right now cause I love the brand and it’s a homage to the brand more than anything negative.’ He totally saw that and said ‘okay well listen, we are doing a collaboration with Greggs. It’s top secret but we would like some prints in the head office.’
They wanted prints that would just have touches of Primark in the prints but still be really classic. So I created an image of a Pre-Raphaelite lady in a changing room. I had to create three new Greggs figurines, but I had to copy a flat PDF because the collection wasn’t out yet. When the launch happened they had a little pop up in Soho. I think that was actually my favourite commission.
Do you have any favourite things to make at the moment?
I couldn’t do a job that required repetition now. I think I’d go mad. I’ve recently just been churning out vintage plates with brands in the middle. Like a McDonalds logo in the middle of this beautiful vintage plate, because I just think why shouldn’t you eat your burger off fine china.
Your Instagram got removed, what happened there?
In late July, I designed a very silly t-shirt and it said Gucci but looked like the Lidl logo. I wore it on the grid and then about 30 people messaged me saying that’s a really cool t – shirt. I did this tiny tiny batch of t-shirts which a number of my galleries were helping with the printing and deliveries. Then an influencer wore one of the tops on Instagram and tagged me but she didn’t tell me she was going to do it. But fair play because I think she thought she was doing me a solid and it kind of was. I probably gained about a thousand followers in two days.
On August 26th I got my phone out, did the usual scroll, and then this sign popped up on my page saying ‘we have suspended your account, click here if you want to appeal.’ I think it’s every artist’s worst nightmare. It took two weeks and it’s been the worst time of my life. It’s my livelihood, my shop window but it’s also my connections to the world and the artist community, whether they are in London, LA or Brighton. Obviously I have friends in real life but I found a lot of them from Instagram. I guess possibly I was addicted to it a bit.
“There is a dopamine hit when someone likes your work.”
Later when we went to appeal, the thing we were appealing against was that I had breached Copyright. It’s a very grey area especially in the world of art. After I sent this appeal, I got a letter back saying they have decided to permanently disable my account. They believed I was selling counterfeit goods. It isn’t true obviously because they would have to be replicas and no one would mistake my Gucci t-shirt that looks like a Lidl logo as being either, it’s a parody I designed myself. I even wrote ‘can you give me an example of what I’ve been counterfeiting,’ but I didn’t hear anything back. They’ve taken away my livelihood on a false claim.
I’m back on instagram but i’m so careful with what I post. I did a plate collaboration with Art Republic and it was a lovely Stan Smith Adidas green vintage plate, but I was too scared to even put that on my page despite having worked with Adidas. It has made me rethink, well think carefully, about what I do so it’s clipped my wings and definitely could have a negative impact on what I put out.
How was your recent exhibition Ghost Town at the entire gallery?
It started about a year ago when I was in Croydon. I was in a shopping centre and it wasn’t just that every other shop was closed, it was like 90% of them were closed within the centre and there’s this old song called Ghost Town by The Specials and I just got it stuck in my head. Me and Jason would go to the charity shops and we realised every highstreet was starting to look the same: the same chains, same fast food, or shops with not much use to the community like a vape shop. That’s how the idea came about.
I was in another charity shop and I found this ceramic shop front and I know I can totally do what I do with the figurines and prints and I can turn this really traditional shop front into a Greggs, McDonalds or a nail bar. That’s what I did. I ended up doing about 20 or 30 shop fronts and added some figurines to the shop fronts as well like the residents of Ghost Town and a few prints as well.
The way Enter Gallery curated the show was really good because I wasn’t quite sure how it was going to look. We had a table in the window and it was set with all my cups of tea sculptures and people could sit down on this table and chat. What I had in my head was really realised by them, it was the happiest time. I’ve just got to think about the next one now or do I just tour Ghost Town?