At the end of January I took This Is Sian Ellis on the road to Manchester. I held a trader stall at Craft and Flea at the beautiful Manchester Cathedral. This was the Craft and Flea’s first Manchester event, and the first time I’ve taken my prints out of Sheffield. I am committed to growing my business this year and awareness in other cities is crucial to that. Nonetheless I was certainly nervous to be doing it.
I’ve released so many prints based on places, particularly in Sheffield, doing a fair somewhere else needs something different. I’m really proud of my Sheffield prints and have always tended to chose places a bit more alternative that I feel drawn to to be featured in my work. However, this inevitably means that people are drawn to the prints because they are drawn to the places. I don’t have any Manchester themed prints (although having spent so much time though over the years I definitely have a couple of places in mind to do) so instantly I worried about my stock levels. Luckily though I have lots more prints and products than I thought I did!
That can’t be all that makes you nervous?
It wasn’t! After you take my location themed prints away then you are left with all the stuff that comes purely from my imagination. It means that I feel a lot more naked on my stall than usual. I am sharing work with people they don’t already have a reason to admire as they might with a print of a loved location. It’s not instantly recognisable and many visitors to the fair won’t have seen my work before. We’ve all heard about imposter theory, and creating things purely out of my own mind and the sharing them in a new city with new people definitely gave it to me to the nth degree.
So how did it go?
Drumroll please……… it was excellent! The nerves I brought with me meant a huge sense of accomplishment when the day ended. I had done well on sales and event been approached about some commissions. My Instagram followers soared by about 40 people in one day! My business card were almost totally cleaned out and I got a tonne of new Etsy favourites too. I sold out of my ‘Ll’amour’ valentines cards and my skeptics ghost patch which are both new products. I have definitely gained some confidence towards out of town fairs through this experience, and just need to dbe code where to next!
For up to date info on my upcoming events follow my Instagram account
So, we’ve talked about my goals as an artist for 2019 but what’s the point in having short term goals if you don’t have great big ole dreams too? Specifically, I’m talking my dream jobs as an artist and I’d like to share some with you.
It can still be a dream job if you already get to do it! I’ve done quite a few event posters, but do you know what? I love ‘em! Posters have to convey things quickly and capture people’s attention. It gives me reign to be bold and bright and all the things I love to be! Plus, seeing your work up all around town is a very awesome feeling!
Again, let’s carry on with things I have done and love to do. Murals are the best way to indulge that naughty little kid that I’m sure a load of us artists were; the one who likes drawing on everything! There are few things as exciting as a paintbrush, paints and a huge blank canvas, especially when drawing on walls is exactly the kinda thing that was going to get you into a lot of trouble 20 years ago. Well look at me now mum and dad, these folks appreciate it, they even pay me for it!
Gig Posters and Album Artwork
Having managed a charity music festival a few years back I have had the opportunity to do some cool posters and graphics for music events too. Artists across artforms seem to vibe well together, and it feels like an extra nudge towards being truly creative when you are creating a poster for other artists. Find bands and gigs whose vibe match yours as an illustrator and there’s some beautiful synergy to be had.
Film posters bring me genuine joy. I’m a huge fan of Mondo posters, the type that favour art and illustration over design. I am a sucker for cinema as it is and there are many great movies featuring great art. As a kid I event dreamed of being a matte painter after watching “The Addams Family” a billion times over. I love illustrated posters that take a film’s narrative and represents it to potential viewers through a single, inspiring frame. To create a poster like this for a client would be an absolute dream come true!
Similarly to seeing your posters around town, seeing your artwork on human folks is intensely satisfying. I currently produce badges and patches and when I see them on someone’s jacket it makes me giddy. I’ve even been known to create one of knitted pieces too. The dream for me would be to team up with a talented seamstress and create pieces using fabric printed with my illustrated patterns. There are some incredible illustrators who do this already and I yearn to be one of them!
Back in a November I posted about My Own Personal Drawing Challenge where I committed to drawing 100 ghostly postcards. I thought that it was time for me to touch base with you all and let you know how it was going. It was a brave endeavour to sign up to draw 100 pictures but I felt that it would be a good test of technique and creativity. At the time of writing this I am about to hit my 60th ghostcard.
Whoaaa we’re halfway there
So how have I found it and what have I learnt so far? Firstly I think it was very bold words when I said that I had a thousand more pictures left in me after Drawlloween. I mean, I do, but 1000 ghostcards? Inspiration has been hard some days, but I am happy to nearly be at 60 and still coming up with new ideas. The main thing I have seen a real difference in though is my technique.
With the exception of one Dia de Los Muertos card in which the colours bore significance, and one sparkly slimer of Ghostbusters fame, all of the 60 cards have been in black and white. This has led me to focus on how to create different shades, textures and focal points in monochrome. Through drawing the ghostcards I feel that I have definitely improved on this front.
My dotwork is a lot stronger, as is my cross hatching and linework. I am finding styles that I enjoy more too, so I am learning both practicality and preference. Through setting such a similar drawing challenge for myself I force myself to analyse and evaluate my work in an attempt to keep each ghostcard different. This means stretching the boundaries of techniques to create variety. I have definitely grown in confidence and visibly improved through undertaking this challenge so I really recommend to anyone to challenge themselves too. If you fancy doing the 100 Ghost challenge that’s great too, just tag #100ghostchallenge so that I can see your work.
To keep up with the final 40 ghostcards and to see the ones produced so far, find me on Instagram at @thisisianellis and through the hashtag.
You might remember that in my ‘Illustration Goals for 2019’ blog post I had mentioned that one of my goals for 2019 was to have my products stocked in 2 stockists. I had approached a couple of stockists last year but I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I didn’t understand how to price my items properly or how to present them to stockists as opposed to individuals. After attending a brilliant workshop on approaching stockist with Debbie from Moonko I felt a lot more confident and informed. I knew what I needed to do and when I would have the time to do it.
The most important thing I needed to do was create a ‘look book’ of items to present to stockists. This will include clear terms and pricing structures as well as product information. My goal was to create this in January to distribute throughout the year and hopefully secure those first two stockists. I had expected January to be a quiet month so it seemed a perfect time. However, January ended up being far from quiet and so my look book still consists of nothing more than notes at this stage.
Hang on… isn’t this blog called ‘new stockist announcement?’
As it turns out, there seems to be a lot of stockists looking for new artists and makers in January. I can only assume that this is down to the increase in sales over Christmas. I imagine that this means stockists have more shelf space and more money for wholesale items. With January being a quiet month too with shoppers feeling the post-Christmas pinch stockists must have more time to process applications. There is always the chance, however, that some makers only work with stockists in pre-Christmas busy months. This could potentially make shelf renting a risk at this time of year. I don’t believe that this is the case though, I am just acknowledging that it could be a possibility!
With all these opportunities presenting themselves it seemed almost too easy to approach stockists who were asking for applications without a look book required. Happily for me my application to Birds Yard was accepted and I will join the team in February 2019.
Birds Yard is an award winning independent shop in Sheffield City Centre. The shop has run since 2012 and sells a great collection of items by local and international makers. When I saw that they were especially looking for Sheffield themed items I knew I had to apply. The shop will stock my Sheffield themed prints, patches and some of my quirky ghost prints too.
I am incredibly happy to have made such good progress on my goals so early in the year. So far this year I have been feeling so determined and working harder than ever. There are a few more things in the pipeline related to some of my other goals too. I am hopeful and happy that I will soon be writing a blog post on how close I am getting to achieving those too. I also still intend to write my look book soon. Once that’s done, surely my second stockist can’t be far behind 🙂