Lockdown certainly seemed at the beginning like a great opportunity to learn new skills. I think I had actually convinced myself I would too. Despite letting my skill share membership lapse (foreboding much?) I thought I would leave lockdown a master of something or other. The reality for me is that I ended up super busy instead. I am incredibly grateful for this, and I probably would have found myself a pile in front of Netflix otherwise. I’m accepting that I probably wouldn’t have mastered too much either way. Happily though, a commission early on called on me flexing some very weak animation muscles. With this the prompt to experiment with some animation began.
What Programme to Use?
I actually used two and they both had different benefits. I started with Procreate’s new animation function. Super easy and intuitive to use. Every layer is a frame, Bob’s your uncle. Amending the transparency of your layers creates this onion skin effect so planning your frames is nice and easy. For frame by frame hand drawn animation Procreate was perfect. For something a bit more technical though, After Effects is your guy. Allowing you to apply set animation rules to individual assists and play around with things like length, position and movement much more easily than Procreate, this is the power house programme. Where procreate is a much slower process, After effects takes some schooling but saves you a tonne of time. It also creates professionally looking movements and cleaner transitions between frames.
And the winner is?
Ultimately though I found myself using the two. Procreate to create assets and After Effects to put them together. I do think that there are possibly some specific movements I would still create in Procreate. You can add your own personality into the movement of an object that is difficult to achieve with a set of static commands. It might well be that after effects offers this flexibility too, but it is outside of my technical understanding at present if it is.
This was my first foray into after Effects and with Martin as a teacher it was less intimidating than it first appeared. I would certainly like to spend some more time on animating again at some point. The idea of creating moving posters always appealed to me. I even remember the first one I ever saw and how amazed I was. I also want to rekindle my Skillshare subscription. The quality of teaching is really strong and the design of the courses thorough but easy to follow. If you’re reading this skill share and want to thank me with some free months I would not say no!
One of my favourite commission projects to work on are my spooky house portraits.For each one I get inspired by photos of the clients home and make it haunted! I will use stories and favourite themes from the client if they have them.I will go wild with what I think suits the house best for those who want a surprise.
They are such a rewarding thing to work on. I get to have a glimpse of people’s lives and homes and get such wonderful stories shared with me. I get to connect with folk who love spooky stuff too! It’s great to come together with people and hear ideas about their spooky homes.
Originally I began the commissions by adding ghosts to house portraits I had drawn as I thought suited the house best. Through working with so many people it has been wonderful to see so many different ideas come through. From giant fuzzy toys and Godzilla-like monsters to haunted pets and mothmen. I have even drawn some allegedly haunted properties! Recently I got to draw a house in the US that was teeming with spooky stuff before I even started. A halloween house haunt captured for the owner in A3 size. What a great way to celebrate halloween all year round? All that hard work decorating and prop making should be remembered more frequently for sure! It is so nice to see all the different ways the portraits can go.
Not Just Houses
I have event drawn venues including the ‘Red rum’ bar in Stafford. One of the several haunted properties I have drawn. However, you don’t have to have a spooky story attached to your property for me to draw it. You don’t even have to have big ideas. JUst telling me that you like spooky stuff is fine! You can leave it to me to do the rest.
Get In Touch!
If you have taken a gander at my haunted portraits and like what you see, get. In touch to find out more! I can give you examples of portraits, current size options, lead times and prices and we can see about the best way to haunt your house. Just fill out the contact form on my website or email email@example.com for details 🙂
Over the last three weeks I have been collaborating with Peshkar to deliver the online virtual art club #PeshkarSAHAC. You may think this sounds familiar as I wrote about it in my blog at the beginning of the month. I thought it would be nice to revisit the challenge and look at some work I have created for it.
The goal of the challenge was to create art away from screens. We spend far too time on our screens, especially tat the moment. A break form screens to me is always a well welcomed rest. For my eyes and my mind! I especially love creating art offline too. The chance to make a bit of mess and experiment with something tangible is always attractive. I wanted to try something new over the challenge too.
For the first prompt I really went for the idea of ‘playful’. The prompt word was ‘togetherness’ and I wanted to create something really outside of my usual work. I opted for a set of face paints and using my hand as a canvas. I created a little family of ghosts, who when viewed without the palm look separate, but are all part of the same appendidge. It reflected my feelings around relationships in lockdown. Feeling connected to your loved ones despite not seeing them for months.
The next prompt word was ‘home’ and again I thought a lot about lockdown! That never ending period of being ‘at home’. Still thinking about connections to loved ones far away I opted for a postcard. A little nod to the holidays we are all not having at the moment too! I created a vintage style postcard form my home. Greetings from my kitchen!
The final week’s prompt was ‘respect’ and this was a tough one to create for. I couldn’t choose. Did I want to create something for key workers? Did I want to create something in support of trans rights or the Black Lives Matter movement? I chose to create a portrait of an artist I respect whose progressive views were at the forefront of her career. Frida Kahlo. A revolutionary, artist of colour and a fighter for LGBT and feminist rights, I felt like she embodied all the things I wanted to portray. I wanted to use the last week to try a new technique too so I opted for a single line portrait of Frida.
I am officially about to become a full time artist! The concept is equally terrifying and exhilarating. It’s safe to say I never pictured a pandemic being the reason though! Unfortunately my employer has been hard hit through these last months. I have balanced part time employment and my art career over the last two years since I started illustrating. I have always been open about the fact I probably haven’t balanced it particularly well though.
A New World
For the last 12 years I have been a fundraiser. Whether that’s been working with corporates, individuals, data or administrating I have been fundraising. I honed my career to specialise in Fundraising Events. It was my favourite aspect of fundraising. I always enjoyed how creative you could be in organisations events and the payoff in seeing it come together. The reality though is that there is no role for large scale events in society currently, and these were my specialism.
The job of generating income for charity whilst ensuring visitors got a great experience for their money has always been a tough job. Throw in social distancing to the mix and it’s just downright impossible for so many organisers with ambitious targets to hit. With my employer in trouble, my role impractical and my business weathering lockdown as well as could be hoped, making the leap was the only thing that seemed to make sense.
Not A Hobby
It has been a while since I would have classed my artwork as a hobby. I work too damn hard and it is far too busy for it to be so. No one does tax returns and finances and marketing as a hobby! I have treated my arts job professionally since I started illustrating. It is a huge leap for it to be full time though. The timing is so unnatural because of the pandemic but I am optimistic that it is the right decision. I am not a fool. It is going to take a lot of blood, sweat and tears to make it so. I need support from others and to self promote like there is no tomorrow, No matter how daunting it seems. I can throw myself into it fully and hopefully build something beautiful.
There is lots to be nervous about though. From guiding a business through an impending recession to the intimidating prospect of working alone. I’ve lots to learn too, that’s for sure! I am just going to try my best to make this thing work.
And on that note…
If you need an illustrator, please remember me! I do painting, digital work and fine drawing. I even do ceramics and the odd bit of animation Such as gifs and AR assets. Whether your company needs merchandise or a poster designed or you are looking for a print for your home or a bespoke gift for a loved one. Or even if you or your workplace want a great big mural painting too. Remember your friendly local artists Sian and don’t hesitate to get in touch for a chat. Even just through reading this blog I appreciate you spending your time to support me and gain a little insight into this bonkers new adventure of mine. If you want an even more in depth look into my process, works and sneak peeks my Patreon has that too, just check out www.patreon.com/thisissianellis for more details!
One of my goals for 2020 was to work on more collaborations this year. Although 2020 is not the year I expected it to be, a lot of my goals still ring true. Happily, this has been an excellent year so far for collaborations. From creating illustration designs, joint giveaways all the way through to tshirt and merch designs I have been involved in some brilliant collaborative projects this year. Some I have highlighted in this blog already and the rest I will do so soon.
I want you!
Collaborations are my bag and I am still looking for more! I want to find likeminded artists and brands to work with. There is so much scope for working together to! If done right collaborations are a brilliant way to support the growth of each others business. It can also be an opportunity for us to sell together and create much needed revenue. If you are a business looking to collaborate with an artists you can have the knowledge of supporting an independent artists and getting some great quality designs and cross promotion.
There are tonnes of ways we can work together as artists and create something beautiful. Joining up for giveaways is definitely something I love to do. We can reward our social media followers and grow our accounts at the same time. There’s also scope for creating something together too. That can be a product, a campaign, anything! If you have an idea how we can work together, get in touch!
I have collaborated with businesses of all shapes and sizes during my time as an illustrator. From creating promotional assets, to designing merch for sale and even creating one off pieces of art for competition prizes. As lockdown continues to ease and with social distancing measures in mind I am picking up painting projects again, and painting murals in office and commercial spaces as well as temporary window painting designs are all back on the cards. If you have an idea where you’d like to work with a vibrant local Sheffield artist then drop me a line and lets chat about it.
I am always open to a chat about working together if you have an idea in mind. Community arts projects and workshops are just some examples of working with community groups and the third sector. All I ask is please not to be asked for financial support and donations. I get a lot of requests and it is unsuistanable for me to support them all. The reality I that I am a sole trader whose trying to build a small business and I am under as much pressure as the rest of us at the moment. I continue to support charitable causes such as with my Post Snail Press postcard sales and my recent Mercht tshirt campaign, but I do so only at a rate I can afford to (which isn’t much I’m afraid!) I do offer preferential rates to charitable organisations looking for illustration and design work.
I’m not scary and I don’t bite. If you’ve got an idea please do get in touch! It could be the start of something beautiful! You can find my contact form on the ‘contact’ tab at the top of the page. Alternatively you can email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
I have sectioned the studio off into different spaces with different jobs. It means I get to move around the space throughout the day as I work on different things. This is really attractive to me and how I tend to work at home. I have three main work areas plus storage and a corner all for Dot. There is my main desk with the most glorious shelf of ghosts. I was adamant I wanted this feature! It’s not practical but I love it. This is my main working area and where I do all of my hand drawn work.
Behind it is a more casual area. It has a bench and a beautiful monstera plant. I am still searching for cushions and a coffee table to finish it off. Plus I am really enjoying trawling for artwork for the walls too. This is like a breakout space and somewhere I can sit more comfortably to work digitally. It also means I can work and snuggle Dot at the same time. Basically live the dream! When I find a coffee table it will be in such a good light that I know it will make a great space to photograph my products too.
The Most Organised Corner of the Universe
Well, my universe! The third area is a corner dedicated to my online shop. It’s an area where I can pack orders like a little production line. This is a surprisingly time consuming job each week. Partly because I love packing things nicely and adding extra stickers and washi tapes. I don’t want to stop doing that because I know it is much nicer to receive post that way. I just need a great space to do it! With this new space I don’t have to clear away any illustration work I am working on or work around my pens and stationary. I’ve also been able to organise my prints a lot better so designs are quicker to find and there is less chance of wastage from my packaging and prints getting scuffed than when I am constantly routing through not very organised stock in the limited available space at home. I have got a real organisation excitement over this bit!
I instantly feel more professional in this space. Which is good because it is an added expense each month that I have to earn more to cover. I have faith that I can though. The vibe of the space is so nice and concentrating is easy. Giving all my work more space just makes working nicer all round. Building an environment that I think is beautiful a dn works for me builds my confidence too.
I am so enamoured with this place guys! I just realised I didn’t even tell you about it on here! So first I’m going to give you a rundown of why I got a studio, then we’ll have a peek on the next blog.
Calm Down and Stop Shouting
I really am very excited! I dismissed the idea of a studio for a while. The combination of the expense and some weird unfounded feeling. The feeling that I’m not professional enough to be allowed a studio. Like there are folk that gatekeeper this and take it off you. I know it isn’t true but it’s a real barrier I had. Lockdown was the main encouragement for me. I missed people too much. To me it is important to work alongside others and to do that I need to get out of the house.
I also need a better divide between my home and my work. The chance to switch off easier each day. When I did decide I knew that the building I am now in was the one I wanted to join in. It is perfectly located in the city centre and lovely big bright studios inside. Plus it’s full of young creatives in a variety of fields and is dog friendly too!
My Own Studio
I”ve gone for my own private studio because it was an option available to me. Frankly, I am a weirdo. I like to talk to my dog constantly and listen to scary story podcasts. When sharing I’d be a bit more conscious of reigning that in but when I am working in my natural environment I am more productive and work more freely. It also means that I get to design the whole space exactly how I want it.
The space is in the Trafalgar Warehouse. A converted warehouse with studios and a huge large event space. I first visited on an open studio day. From the moment I walked in the first studio I was enamoured. It really is a lovely space! I have since been as part of an AR&VR exhibition with Sheffield Doc Fest. I know they have done markets and weddings and club nights too. As an event organisation I can appreciate what a versatile space it is. It’s only a 20 minute walk from my home too. Plus, my ceramic studio is a minutes walk away, and there’s a park round the corner to take the dog.
July 6th marks the first day of this virtual art club. I am running the club in collaboration with Peshkar. Peshkar are an arts organisation based in Oldham. It developed as Peshkar are interested in looking at art activity in the time of COVID. The pandemic has change the landscape of working in the art world hugely. Everything has changed hugely. Artists are capturing it and exploring working in new ways. I was excited to apply for the chance to work with Peshkar on creating in a time of Covid.
I had the drawing club idea to help us to see our homes in a new way and stretch our creative muscles. We are desperately seek new surroundings right now. It’s ninsuorise that everyone is sick of their homes. We have never spent so much time within them. It doesn’t mean it is safe to do so though, so seeing our home surroundings in a new light is a safe way to experience a new environment.
With extra time on our hands taking creative risks and exploring new mediums is a great use of time to. Finally, I wanted to stipulate that the art needs to be taking offline. Between watching the entirety of Netflix’s catalogue and getting RSI through scrolling through feeds, being forced off line is a good thing. I also found a lot of relaxation in working offline on art projects. Giving my eyes a rest and steering clear from emails and notifications for a little while.
Over the first three weeks in July a prompt word will be released each Monday. Each prompt should form the basis of a theme for the challenge. Interpretation is up to you! Throughout the week I will be posting my response to the prompt word and sharing other people’s work too. To submit you just need to tag your post with the hashtag #PeshkarSAHAC or complete the google form in my instagram bio.
I am going to give you a sneak peek of the prompts here today. I’ve written prompts inspired by our time in lockdown. Week one on July 6th is ‘Togetherness’. Week two beginning July 13th is ‘Home’. The last week is the week beginning July 20th and the final prompt is ‘Respect’.
The project will only work if other people get involved too. So I’m really hoping that everyone reading this will. A lot of work has gone into it and it needs participants to work. Plus I truly think it’s beneficial for everyone. I love art challenges on instagram. They help me to practice my skill. They encourage me to create in new ways. All time well slept for a developing artist. I will endeavour to share as many submissions as I can, along with our friends at Peshkar too. Check @wearepeshkar and @sianellisartists from 6th July for details
I love announcing new stockists to you guys! As you know from my earlier posts, I have had a big shakeup of this this year. I want to pick the perfect stockists for me and my brand. Places where my work just makes sense to be. i has meant leaving some stockists, but only hen I have felt it was right. When I found Happy Emo online, I knew I found my people! I was surprised I hadn’t seen them before. Even a quick browse on their site showed me I would fit in just fine.
All about Happy Emo
The shop is like an etsy for alternative artists. They link with artists and sellers across the globe to bring a curated selection of gothic goodness, spooky special and twisted treats. There are over 30 premium creators profiled on the site. I am super happy to say that now one of them is me! You can browse by creator, by collection, or just everything on the site.
Alternative Specialist Site
It’s really exciting to find new alternative shopping sites. When you draw spooks all day, it’s hard to consider your work mainstream. Happy Emo sees me in good company. It’s a one stop shop for anyone into alternative art too. Even the name suits my work just perfectly. Everything I create is dark and cheery simultaneously. Happily emo indeed!
There are a lot of other great artists on the site too. It is such a treat to browse a site where everything is a bit dark, rather than trying to seek out that one alternative artist which is common in bricks and mortar indie shops. The beauty of an online platform can bring us something niche and wonderful.
To celebrate joining you can grab 10% off your whole basket on your first order! Wowee right? Just use the code SIANELLIS10 at the checkout.