Do Your Own Thing

Published by Rough Trade Books in May 2023 and available to buy direct from them.

Do Your Own Thing is a full-length work of non-fiction from artist and musician RICHARD PHOENIX detailing his experiences of the best underground arts scene you’ve never heard of—Do Your Own Thing, a project run by learning disability arts organisation Heart n Soul.

Looking at the transformative potential of working to support creative young people make the music and art they want to, this book contributes essential new voices, reflections and considerations to the established ideas of ‘Do It Yourself’ culture. Phoenix’s book, written with a disarming and idiosyncratic voice, asks what our often reductive understanding of DIY aesthetics might mean in light of questions about access, support and who gives permission to whom to make art, guiding us through the kind of project only spoken about in funding reports and transforming it into a polyphonic, collaborative and joyful work of art.


“I loved this captivating, revelatory insight into alternate means of creation, play and connection. Written with both immense consideration and candid, direct wit, I recommend Do Your Own Thing for anyone interested in art practice or simply in the communal bonds which can be cultivated through expression.” —Megan Nolan

“A thoughtful meditation on how to shape and hold space with self-determination, a radical proposition in a moment where the framework of institutions is being reimagined and requires individual contributors to stand up, say something, do their own thing.” —Legacy Russell

“This book is hugely important, it offers a glimpse into a community and world and a way of thinking that would benefit everyone.” —Robyn Steward

“A firsthand account of how the spirit of punk—its freedoms as well as its anxious energy—can help make meaningful art and true friends.” —Jeremy Atherton Lin, author of Gay Bar

“A book which is both about and embodies sincerity, joy and creative freedom, Do Your Own Thing is moving, thoughtful, funny and, most importantly, inspiring. Beautiful chaos indeed.” —Will Ashon

“The most generous, liberating and perception-altering thing you’ll read this year.” —Emma Warren


Review from North Mag

Event archive:

20 April - Devon & Exeter Institution, with Izzy, Lauren and Charlie from The Pelican Project

4 May - Hastings Bookshop, with Jeremy Atherton-Lin

1 June - South London Gallery, with Emma Warren, Do Your Own Thing DJs and Paul

26 July - Bookhaus Bristol, with Art In Motion

28 July - Primadonna Festival, with Catherine Mayer, Miki Berenyi, Stephanie Haughton-Campbell and performance by Electric Fire

3 August - Margate Bookshop hosted by The Fort Road Hotel with Robert Diament and performance by Sebastian Golgiri

26 August - Shambala Festival, with William King and performances by Electric Fire and Dean Rodney Jr

23 November - Dead Ink Books, Liverpool, with Lewis Scott and Becky Waite from Blue Rooms hosted by Michael Lacey

26 November - Bound Art Book Fair at the Whitworth Gallery, Manchester with Venture Arts

25th April - Festival of Ideas at University of Sussex

27th April - Southbank Centre. An evening with Rough Trade Books