Making money while at uni has been a dilemma facing students since time immortal.
From participating in psychological studies for a tenner to flogging old textbooks, it takes a fair bit of entrepreneurial zeal for those from ordinary background to afford the various costs of higher education.
One 18-year-old art student has figured out a slightly more unusual way, paying her bills through filming and uploading niche sneezing videos.
Abi Haywood, from Wales, sells videos to sneezing fetishists for about £20 to £30 a pop. When it comes to even more specific requests, these prices can rise to as much as £100.
Abi has created her own ‘nose dildo’ which she uses to spark bursts of sneezing and drive her clients wild. She can apparently sneeze up to 11 times in five minutes, once sneezing a whopping 37 times in three hours.
Speaking with UNILAD, Abi revealed how she first dipped her toe – or indeed nose – into the world of sneezing fetishism:
I did a piece as a part of my foundation course called ‘drawing as a form of repetition and endurance’ so I came up with the idea to try and sneeze as many times as I could in the given three hours and draw the outline. I did 37 in 3 hours.
Then I uploaded the video of this performance drawing to my YouTube channel so that I could use it on my uni portfolios. When I looked the next day it had 3000 views.
I was really confused because I hadn’t even shared it anywhere and I had like 40subs. Then I looked at the comments which were all like ‘this is so hot’ and ‘where can I buy the full version’ so after that happened I interviewed sneeze performers and sneeze fetishists and eventually I started doing myself.
Abi, who interacts with her fans through her YouTube and Instagram platforms, uses the ‘fictional fetish model persona’ of ‘Snotty Bitch’.
Now, many of us would react to a sneeze – no matter how ‘wet’ – with a simple ‘bless you’, but Abi’s fanbase often deliver a far more excitable response.
They love Abi’s snotty ways, and often beg her to upload preview clips of their favourite types of sneezes. Of which there are more varieties than I ever thought possible.
From peeing while sneezing, to sneezing without a tissue, there appears to be a surprising demand for all things snotty. Some even appear to be partial to a spot of voyeuristic nose-picking.
Commenting on one of her videos – entitled ‘Golden Glossy Sneeze’ – one person requested:
Can you do a preview of you blowing your nose after a few sneezes?
Another person – this time commenting on a vid called ‘trying chhinkni for the first time’ – asked:
Please could u do longer videos, your channel is very good as a request could u sneeze using a handkerchief that would be so good.
Abi, who has just completed her art foundation year at Leeds Arts University, earns far more through her sneezing videos than she ever did working minimum wage at an art gallery.
Although she doesn’t yet have the burden of debt, tuition fees or rent (she was lucky enough to be able to live with her granddad during her foundation year), these videos have helped towards supporting her living costs.
There is also a more serious point to be made through her ‘snotty bitch’ videos, with Abi using them to take aim at the elitist nature of fine art degree courses.
Abi, who is due to start a four year fine art course at University College London (UCL) in September, has commented on the disparity between working class art students, and those from more privileged backgrounds, noting ‘art school can feel like a private schoolers only club’.
Speaking with UNILAD, Abi explained her inspiration behind ‘snotty bitch’:
The whole point of ‘snotty bitch’ was to be an institutional critique of the art world and the lack of financial aid for arts education.
Places like Goldsmiths, UCL, all of the top fine art degree courses all expect/require you to do a foundation which is essentially a year in university without a loan.
So only those who have parents with enough money to do so can do it at the top foundation courses (basically privately educated people).
I was taking the piss out of art elitism and how art school can feel like a private schoolers only club at times by funding my foundation year by doing sex work in a really f*cking stupid way.
So just to clear up I don’t have debt (yet) or tuition fees or even rent (lived with my grandad at the time).
It was just my living costs. I was also playing on the fact I earned way more doing this than at my minimum wage gallery job at the Hepworth. So it’s basically about how you will struggle to get anywhere as a young artists if you’re broke.
I think it should Absorb the foundation year into the degree somehow because it’s really not fair. Stats don’t lie it’s really sh*t for working-class artists.
According to research published in 2018 – entitled Social Class, Taste and Inequalities in the Creative Industries – the cultural and creative sector ‘significantly excludes’ individuals from working class backgrounds.
Just 18.2 per cent of the music, performing and visual arts workforce are working class, with barriers including expectations of unpaid work experience and lack of financial support for arts education.
According to this report:
In terms of social class, social mobility has been a longstanding problem for the sector, meaning that it is currently dominated by those from affluent social origins […]
There was also no ‘golden age’ for social mobility within the cultural sector.
Of course, the social mobility divide begins way before aspiring creatives enter the workforce, with higher education differing dramatically between the haves and the have nots.
Not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to turn to mum and dad for an occasional tenner. According to 2018 findings from Save The Student, over ten per cent of students ‘use their bodies’ to pay their way through university when they are short of funds.
This use of their bodies refers to medical trials and life modelling as well as sex work, sugar dating and webcamming.
On her art website, Abi reasons that working class art students are perhaps particularly likely to participate in sex work alongside their studies, citing factors such as poor funding and ‘the freelance nature of the career’.
The stereotype of the posh art student was brilliantly encapsulated in Pulp’s immortal Common People , which feels just as contemporary as it did in 1995.
It’s easy for non-artists like myself to just accept how only rich people can afford to take a risk on an art degree. However, for those with bags of creative talent and no safety net, this bitter truth is genuinely hurtful.
If we want more interesting art which will continue to move people throughout the ages, the barriers which hold back ordinary, hard-working kids need to be addressed.
If you have a story you want to tell send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.