Guild Conversations Commission: Meeting Daisy James

We met up with Daisy James, a visual storyteller and co-founder of Lunchtime Practice, to discuss her commission for the 2021 Guild Conversations series.

Daisy is a multidisciplinary artist working across installations, publications and graphics. Originally from Warrington, Daisy studied in Manchester on the School of Art textiles course. She uses design methods to investigate visual dialogue and build narratives that connect people, place and time.

Daisy was commissioned to creatively evaluate the 2021 Guild Conversations series, a programme of six online conversations interrogating space and place in the artist-led sector, from practicalities to ethical and philosophical conversations around running and using artist spaces.

During her studies, Daisy spent six months focusing on lifestyle transformative design, which introduced her to social design practice. 

“I really like to think back on those years at university because I’ve managed to get where I am now in such an unexpected way. I now call myself a virtual storyteller because, for me, I always think the outcome is really unimportant and that it’s more about the process of creating and the things I’ve learnt in between”

When asking about Daisy’s core artistic practices it became clear that there wasn’t a straightforward answer. Daisy is the type of artist who loves to explore, and her artistic motivation comes from trying and experimenting with new things:

“I always say I have an ideas-led practice because with each project I take on I enjoy working in a different way of making. When I left university I realised I never really made full use of the machines and resources available to us. Now I really want to do just that! ! I find a lot of practices fascinating and think they look so much fun, so I keep them in the back of my mind and when I see a project I pull them out and take advantage to try them out”

Daisy continued to tell us about the general process of her work and the moments of creativity she encounters along the way;

“Each process is different but at the start there is always research. As I work in a socially engaged way, a lot of the time my work starts with a conversation, or just a good people watch! I start with observation and then it tends to develop into traditional research methods. 

I love archives and vintage ephemera, so if I have the opportunity to go through an archive I’ll always take it up. The thought of my research and work someday going back into an archive for future research is so satisfying”

One thing about Daisy’s work that appealed to us most is its individuality and uniqueness. We asked her where she finds inspiration, and what motivates her the most when creating;

“I really want to contribute something. Personally I don’t see the point in making things that are just there. That’s not to say that I don’t appreciate these things as my house is full of them! I love it but it doesn’t fulfil me enough to do it personally. I think contributing to a conversation and having ideas on the world is my biggest motivator”

“For the Guild commission I have designed each piece to reflect real life, so for example one of the pieces I’ve created is an address book of everyone included in the Guild Conversation series, printed on yellow paper so it resembles the Yellow Pages. I enjoy thinking about things that already exist and how they can be brought back to life through a more thoughtful and creative process”

We asked Daisy what drew her to the Guild Conversations commission;

“I keep thinking about information design and how it’s normally associated with how things are designed digitally. I’m really interested in learning materials and how they can be shared, as well as what people enjoy learning about and why they would want to pick up an information resource.

The Guild Conversations series worked nicely with my interest in information design. I knew my work would be led by each of the six talks, so it was nice to have that openness.

My favourite conversation in the series was Social Architecture, Place Making & Redevelopment. I absolutely loved the work and perspectives that the speakers provided. The Conversations had so much specialist information from a wide range of practices, so it was really interesting to see how they all came from a similar sort of vein”

Daisy has been able to use resources East Street Arts now have available to use over at Convention House, including a Riso printer and electric guillotine;

“Having Convention House as my base means I’ve been able to print out my studio designs in house on the Riso. This week they are being printed, folded and cut down, and then they will need accessorising with dog clips and paper clips.

It’s been such a luxury to come and actually make something by hand rather than on my laptop. I feel really grateful that I’ve mastered digital programmes, but I hate to think that it makes up such a huge bulk of my work. I love making something that’s physical”

Daisy’s Guild Conversations publication to be distributed amongst the Guild Cohort and Conversations audiences. We asked her about her plans now the commission is coming to a close;

“I will be designing the identity for the Manchester School of Arts degree show this year! I’m really excited about it and if I could speak to third year me I know she’d be buzzing about me getting this opportunity”

“Creating art just makes me feel like I’m having fun all the time. I love being able to do it all the time too, and being in control of my own work and schedule. I feel like I have the time to see the world, and things being on my own terms is the nicest thing ever. It’s so good for my well being being able to do art for myself”

We are so pleased to have worked with Daisy on this colourful, thoughtful and important response to Guild Conversations. 

Discover more about Daisy’s work on her website here:

Other things!