A Hyperactive Artist’s Guide to Whitby Part 1

Down the road from historical haunted York is Yorkshire’s alternative seaside town Whitby. Having grown up in a British seaside town, it’s not that often I have found myself visiting other areas of the British coast. Wrongfully I have assumed that they are either nice but far away, or close but comprising solely of neon arcades, tourist traps and grimy bars full of stag and hen parties. I assumed they were what I as used to, except with much less rollercoasters, firework festivals and kitschy light displays. I always knew though, that if I were to venture somewhere it was always going to be Gothic Whitby.  For nothing more than the eerie Abbey ruins and gothic reputation. I have often been recommended to visit by friends certain that I would be besotted with the ‘Dracula Experience’ attraction. Indeed, the association of the town with Bram Stoker’s famous novel is a draw in itself.

Fangs for the Memories 

In the novel ‘Dracula’ the ship that the famous vampire enters England on arrives into Whitby harbour. If I remember right, the ship arrives in the dead of night, not a crew member to be found and full of crates of soil. The soil we understand is Transylvanian, where Dracula slept during his transport. The crew members we assume, having faced a grisly vampiric death at sea. Stoker himself widely known to have stayed in the town, and reported to have written some of the novel there also I believe. 

I would like there to be more influence from the novel in the town. However, my friends were entirely correct about the ‘Dracula Experience’ being right up my alley. Kitsch, cheap and naff. I use the word naff lovingly of course. I have a complete penchant for haunted houses, ghost trains and cheap thrills and spills. The Dracula Experience is entirely that. Costs about £3 to get in. Signs up warning you of live actors and yet we never saw a soul the entire way around. 

Abbey Lane

The Abbey is a beautiful, imposing structure overlooking the town and the sea. Instantly visable as you approach Whitby. A beacon that you are about to arrive at your coastal destination.

For a fee you can visit the ruins, which I reccomend. The remaining architecture is a treat to behold. I found it inspiring enough that I subsequently sank many hours into completing a fine drawing of just a small portion of the ruins. Visit the neighbouring graveyard for views across the seafront.

Goals for 2020 Part 3

I am splitting this blog post up into 3 posts in order to allow me to discuss each goal in a little bit more detail, and hopefully shed some light on why it is a focus of mine for next year.

It might seem a little bit extreme to have 3 blogs dedicated to goal setting, but I wanted to look at each one in detail, and I’ve been spreading my net a little wide for 2020. This is my final piece on the matter, covering my final three goals for the year ahead. 


I have a couple of ideas at what this might look like but I didn’t want to be too prescriptive. It’s also not necessarily something I want to be able to simply tick off my list, it’s something I want to continue to pursue. I want to create better networks around me of other artists, creatives and small businesses. This might be through working to supply spooky subscription boxes with my products. It might also be through teaming up with other artists to run projects such as joint artworks, shows or markets and events.

I don’t want to be a creator island, I want to be part of a community. This is especially important to me now I will be spending more time working for myself, as in large part this also will mean by myself. I am lucky enough that Sheffield has such a vibrant community of creators, and that we are so close to other cities such as Manchester and Derby who have great artistic scenes too. I want collaborations to become a mainstay of my artistic career.

Improve Branding

This is bigger than a goal, and definitely is not designed to be ticked off and forgotten. I just need to be more mindful of it. In particular I am thinking about my approach to social media and creating a more cohesive product range. I am not, at this point, looking at being a totally spooky or totally unspooky artist, but this brings a range of branding complications. So it’s something I need to look into and be mindful of to navigate this difficulty. Ultimately, I need to decide if it is possible to overcome. It all needs to start somewhere though, and creating a stronger branding brand on social media is where I intend to start. 

Learn More Digital Skills

This is a big one for sure. The more I want to pursue professional digital illustration commissions the more I need to learn about. I have no education in art or graphic design, so there’s a lot of info out there to learn. I have started a subscription to Skillshare in an attempt to hone in on the areas that I feel that I need to build my knowledge base up to be able to create work to more technical client specs. 

As in previous years, I want to revisit my goals throughout 2020. To see what areas I need to focus on, what priorities that might have changed and to celebrate my hopeful successes. If my business can grow in 2020 at even nearly the rate it did in 2019 then I will be one very happy gal.

Goals For 2020 Part 2

I am splitting this blog post up into 3 posts in order to allow me to discuss each goal in a little bit more detail, and hopefully shed some light on why it is a focus of mine for next year.

Be Spookier

This goal brings out the spooky little kid in me. I have always tried to strike a balance between creating work that lots of people can enjoy, and creating weird spooky silly little art for a very niche market of folk like me. This year I want to be brave and create more of the art that makes me so happy to create. It’s less about being more spooky I suppose, and more about having less inhibitions. I want to feel freer to create outside of what I perceive to be societal norm. Where is the fun in art that follows the rules?

Make More, Increase Handmade Offerings

I want to improve my craftsmanship, learn new skills and experiment a bit more. This means setting time aside specifically for making. In the last year I have spent dramatically less time practicing ceramics. I want to bring it back into focus and learn more wheel skills. I have product ideas for ceramics that I would like to explore too, aswell as some more ambitious plans for sculptures.

I’d also like to practice some more traditional printing techniques. Last year I dipped my toe into Lino printing and I’d like to explore this more. I’m keen to experiment with new techniques too, such as screen printing onto ceramic slabs for building.

Work Less, Live More

Striking up a better work/life balance is a priority for me this year. I genuinely believe that it will be good for my business as well as me. By making sure I have clearer boundaries it is easier to stay focused, and keep my ideas fresher, my enthusiasm high and give myself the distance you need from your work at times to be able to make the right decisions. I aim to read more books, cook more meals and spend more time with friends, because it’s all a bit sad I haven’t been making more time for it recently, and I want to do something about it!

Goals for 2020: Part 1

I am splitting this blog post up into 3 posts in order to allow me to discuss each goal in a little bit more detail, and hopefully shed some light on why it is a focus of mine for next year.

-Shakeup My Stockists

-Secure more painting commissions in 2020

-Be spookier

-Make more, increase handmade offerings

-Work Less, Live More


-Improve branding

-Learn more digital skills

My goals are a lot different to last year’s. Last years goals felt like milestones I wanted to reach, full of facts and figures in an attempt to quantify success. For 2020 my approach is as reflective as it is about trying something new. This last year has been so brilliant, and I want to keep learning, improving and building on what I have achieved so far.

Shakeup my Stockists

This was a tough one as last year a goal of mine was to be stocked in 2 shops, and after getting a brilliant 7 stockists I am now looking to reduce them. This is because I have been able to try a range of different models, working with a range of hops in a range of cities. I am learning what does and doesn’t work for me and the capabilities and priorities that I have for my illustration work. I am planning to remove my work from some of my existing stockists and focus more on working with shops on a Sale or Return or wholesale basis. Excitingly I have already begun this transformation of my business and aim to find new partners to work with throughout 2020.

Secure More Painting Commissions in 2020

It might not be clear in the title of this one, but I’m not necessarily looking to do more painting commissions than I did in 2019, I just want to keep doing them! Over this last year I have learnt so much and had such incredible opportunities to work on murals and sculpture paintings across the UK. My goal for 2020 is to find more and grow my experience and portfolio in this area even further. I am happily already in talks about some sculptures and murals for this next year, so I just need to keep everything crossed that they come good.