Big Issue Vendor

Unskilled Worker: “Thousands of creatives will fall through the floor”

Unskilled Worker – who came to prominence through Instagram – has warned that artists will suffer if they don't get more support

Leading Instagram artist Unskilled Worker has warned that the coronavirus crisis will lead creatives to “fall through the floor” if they don’t get more support.

Helen Downie – who paints as Unskilled Worker, and whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, i-D and many other publications – told The Big Issue that she is scared the pandemic will further increase inequality in the UK.

“It’s been tough for everyone. The creative industry has suffered terribly and the consequences are very frightening,” she said.

“Without support, thousands of creatives will literally fall through the floor. I hope this won’t be another example of where the privileged profit through opportunity and the rest will be left to sink.”

Artists have been hard hit by the recession caused by coronavirus, as well as the closure of many of the venues where their work would normally be on show.

She added that art is particularly vital as a mental health support in these stressful times.

“As an artist I tend to self-isolate for long periods of time and I’ve been doing my best to adjust to the pandemic and not to get to weighed down by it, but generally I’ve been feeling anxious and upset and it’s been difficult to shut out the noise and its implications,” she said.

“Since the beginning of the year I’ve been fortunate enough to work with a number of charities that support the vulnerable and marginalised. It’s through their work that you really get to see how important art is to people’s wellbeing and how it can change people’s lives and inspire action and awareness.”

In a bid to support Big Issue vendors, Unskilled Worker has donated one of her artworks to The Big Art Auction. The  fundraising event will help The Big Issue to continue supporting our sellers, including those in Wales who are currently unable to work due to a “firebreak” lockdown.

Where's Ted painting

“‘Where’s Ted’ is a painting of a long-lost friend, which I painted three years ago, in the hope that I might find him. I’m so happy to donate this artwork to The Big Issue,” she said. 

“With the events of this year; the work of The Big Issue is more important now than ever. With so many more people finding themselves in difficult and challenging situations; The Big Issue shines a light and offers hope to people where it is most needed.”

“How we treat people matters,” she added. “How we look after the vulnerable and marginalised is the yardstick and that’s why I am so excited and feel so privileged to be involved with The Big Issue. They are right at the heart of what really matters.”