how to tell if

how to tell if your significant other is a prominent modern artist

That’s right, it’s another stunningly relatable how to tell if from your favourite patchy blogger, Rosie.

Today, let’s cast our minds into the realm of romance, as intimidating and thorny as that might be. It’s easy to feel isolated in a relationship, especially a longterm one. I wouldn’t call myself an expert in matters of the heart, preferring to allow others to honour me with that title, but I’ve spoken to enough of my peers to glean that doubts start creeping in after the few-month-mark: doubts about fidelity, about reciprocity, and, perhaps most worryingly, doubts about whether that sweet guy you’ve been seeing is secretly Banksy.

Whilst I myself am always careful to vet my potential significant others about their affiliations with the art world – my sixteen-point questionnaire about eg gallery visits, radial symmetry, dominance/emphasis etc never fails – some of my friends lack such forethought. They come to me, some weeks or months deep into a relationship, with their heads full of doubt: what if this person is secretly an esteemed anon?

Doubt no longer. This handy guide will clear it up once and for all: is your new beau the sensible quantity surveyor you thought, or is s/he secretly an eminent modern artist?

Do they…

have white hair?

White hair is the most artistic colour of hair known to man. Popularised by Andy Warhol, prematurely de-coloured locks are a sure sign of creativity. It’s theorised that the reason behind Warhol’s snowy head was a constant, edging fear of being stranded without a viable canvas. How can you lose a sketchbook when your very head doubles as a workspace?

own four of everything in different colours?

When they pop to the corner shop for crisps, they come back with four flavours. When they nip to Waterstones for the latest John Grisham, they come back with four spine-chilling tomes. When they suggest a comedy for your weekly Netflix date, it’s James Acaster’s four part ‘Repertoire’. The wheels on their Volkswagen Polo are slightly different shades of black. The amount of money you spend on soup has increased eightfold.

It’s subtle, but this obsession with symmetry and quadruplication may imply an underlying appreciation for pop art.

constantly signing things they find lying around?

“Darling,” you exclaim, “why have you written your name on the bra I left next to the bathtub?”

“Honey,” you wail, “why have you initialled the spoon we use to pry open stubborn jars?”

“William,” you huff, “why have you sharpied on my left shoe?”

Sound familiar? Sure, maybe you tend to employ different pet names (‘William’ as a term of endearment hasn’t achieved mainstream popularity yet), but if this is a situation that repeats itself regularly, you might be dealing with an artist.

often struck dumb by everyday stuff?

“Look at the raw, animal emotion!”

Fair play, though: this picture is amazing.

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how to tell if

How to tell if your barista is an unlicensed tattoo artist

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if there are two things that don’t mix well, it’s artisan coffee and tattoo ink. Seriously, no matter how much your friends try and convince you it’s the next best thing, don’t try it. It has a horrible aftertaste and your dentist will tell you off in front of the entire waiting room for getting residual ink all over her favourite dentistry tools.

That’s right! The dentist in that story was a woman.

Unfortunately, as has been proven time and time again, not everyone is as enlightened as I am. Tattoistry and coffeistry are two of the hippest istries in today’s society – perhaps it’s no wonder, then, that many baristas are branching out from one acrid black liquid to another. Thanks to the astronomical prices of tattoo licences (sometimes upwards of £8/annum) some erstwhile baristas are practicing their craft illicitly, carrying out undocumented tattooisms in unregistered studios, e.g. in the small room behind the counter marked STAFF ONLY, next to the paninis, under bridges etc.

Well, but how can you tell if your barista is plying the blue needle between espressos? Luckily for you, I have compiled the following handy guide. If the answer to most of the following questions is Yes, I urge you to contact your local council or similar authority. Indeed, if the answer is Maybe, why not contact them anyway? Local councilors are famously charismatic and you may just make a friend for life. #yourewelcome

Have they ever

served suspiciously blue coffee?

Nay, even bluer than this coffee.

Even the most careful of barista-cum-tattoo-artists is sure to slip up at some point and froth a latte with a recently used needle instead of the traditional milk wand. The results, whilst aesthetically charming, are shocking.

By the way, if you do see a barista making coffee with a used needle, I’d advise against drinking it. For one thing, you don’t get nearly as frothy a cup, and, for another, transmittable diseases and that.

And, just like that, I’ve done more for AIDS prevention than my high school sex education teacher, who had us put condoms on bananas, but never told us why.

worn no socks to work?

*shudder*

Just as tattoistry is the edgiest of the barely subcultural arts, so too is no socks the edgiest kind of sock.

Maybe it’s the association with Count Olaf, or maybe it’s just the thought of human skin coming in contact with that much vegan leather, but there’s something deeply unsettling about an unsocked adult. In one’s own home, sure, go barefoot. But – and you might call me a conservative, a prescriptionist, a footwear fascist – you dress your feet properly: shoes and socks. 

Semi-naked feet is as sure a sign of underground tattoistry as I can think of, and (as you can see) I have thought of many.

asked you if you knew anything about fraud, tattoo-related fraud specifically?

“Your brother is a lawyer, isn’t he? Does he know anything about tattoo licences? Like, does he know anything about what would happen if someone had been secretly tattooing people on the counter next to the sandwich press and putting it through the till as ‘hot drink – unspecified’? Do you think he would know anything about that?”

Maybe I’m jaded, but there was something about his tone that made me suspicious, and the box of needles next to the George Foreman struck me as fishy.

accidentally left their MacBook open and you saw it was full of pictures of tattoos and of them tattooing people next to the panini press?

“Does this also work if it was a PC?”

Fuck off, what barista owns a PC?

how to tell if

How to tell if your best friend is secretly a trade unionist

You’ve had your suspicions for while: sure, you’ve known Jeff since you were both impoverished former miners’ sons in a comprehensive northern pre-school, but recently he’s become radicalised. He’s started spending a lot of money on placards and you thought you saw a leaflet about The Worker under a throw pillow at his bedsit.

Sure, you might not think it’s important to know whether Jeff is into supporting workers’ rights, but, as I always say, it’s better to be sure about these things. 

Live in doubt no longer, friends. Here is the ultimate guide to figuring out if your BFF is secretly well into workers’ rights.

Do they…

love the colour red?

The angle symbolises the subjugation of the working classes; also, I will take literally any opportunity to post this picture.

…because, if so, it’s a bad sign. Red is the universal colour of the left wing (except in America, where it’s the universal colour of caring more about gun rights than women’s rights #politics).

If Jeff has spurned his emerald blazer in favour of a claret harrington, that could be a sign that he’s started leaning to the left, as it were.

constantly talk about overthrowing the mill owners?

…it’s a subtle one, but expressing an unending, edging desire to hoist the local landowner by his own petard may imply a corollary desire to unionise. There’s a saying in my line of work: if Jeff goes on and on about taking back power from his employer, he might be into unions. It’s not a very catchy phrase, but it has served me well.

insist on sitting on the big shared table whenever you go to the local roastery?

‘Roastery’, as I understand it, means ‘cafe with a particularly strong coffee smell’. Wishing to share space with one’s fellow man is as sure a sign as any of unionist tendencies. (I mean unionist as in trade unionist, not as in believing in a united Ireland. Jeff, like all English people, is completely ignorant about the whole Irish situation and does not feel qualified to comment. That said, this is also a sign of being that kind of unionist, too.)

always want to watch Billie Elliot?

Bonus points if they openly weep when the miners are all forced into the service industry. There’s a deleted scene from the movie where Billie Elliot’s dad starts working in a Hungry Horse and, honestly, it’s deeply, deeply moving.

wear obnoxious socks?

This one is a bit less obvious, but my extensive research has uncovered an undeniable link between wearing expensive, geometrical socks and supporting trade unions. The facts don’t lie, friends. They don’t know how. I think it’s because that style of sock originated in Sweden, AKA the country with the most aggressive labour unions in Europe. Sure, Jeff might not explicitly draw your attention to his footgloves, but he’s wearing cropped jeans for a reason, and it’s not so all the ladies can appreciate the curve of his ankle.