COVID-19 An Artist’s Perspective

I’d ask you all to presuppose that this article is about a very specific vantage on the virus. It by no means suggests that navigating these times as an artist is the hardest hit way to exist in these times. It is, of course, those affected so personally by the cruel virus itself. In this article I will assume that the reader has followed the news closely, is aware of the wider issues, the dangers, the deathcount and the heroic nature of the NHS. This article will consequently not discuss anything further about the virus itself or the times we live in, beyond it’s affect on my artistic career. I hope that it’s not perceived as flippancy but instead for te exhaustion and anxiety it truly is.

Can a sector get sick?

It took me until I was in my thirties to call myself an artist, so for this to happen so soon into my career it makes me kick myself a little for the years lost. Commissions that I have spent hours preparing, weeks and months waiting on, all gone within hours of each other. The cancellation of events means markets, festivals and exhibitions. It means lost commissions and lost chances to earn revenue.

Artists, everywhere are worried. Some rely solely on their artists income and have studio rent to pay. Bills to pay. Online sales took a nosedive too as job security plummeted. People have spent all their wages on loo roll and have more on their minds than buying art. Plus, competition is high. Bricks and Mortar businesses are pleading for custom in a way they haven’t before. I don’t see how I can make money as an artist until this is through.

Postponed or cancelled though?

Technically, everything I had booked in is actually postponed, not cancelled. This shows great willing on the organisers part to keep contracts and support artists. However, the reality is that some of these organisations might not survive the crisis. Some of these opportunities will be postponed and consequently cash with other sought after opportunities. It means that the scale of lost income and opportunity is particularly hard to gauge. 

Is it all doom and gloom?

Hopefully not. But it is scary. Many artists are banding together online, exploring online markets and #drawthisinyourstyle competitions to gain new followers for when it’s all over. I am unsure how effective online markets will be when everyone’s wallets ar lighter than usual. The ability to post stock is likely in jeopardy to. I think waiting it out is the only option to be frank. It doesn’t mean the time is wasted though. Next week (because we will definitely still be in this by then) I will focus on tips for ways to spend your time to enhance your art career when no commissions are coming in. 

Stay safe, stay home and don’t buy all the loo roll!

New Project Announcement: Moor Otters

The Moor Otters project is a seasoned sculpture trail that I will be taking part in for the first time in 2020. My second sculpture painted in 2020 so far after my mini moo. The third that will be revealed though after the Cows About Cambridge trail goes live in March.

The Moor Otters project is based in Dartmoor National Park and raising money for Donate for Dartmoor. The funds will go towards protecting the local wildlife. This includes the homes of many otters on the nature reserve (hence the sculptures). There will be 80 otters displayed publicly in and around Dartmoor for the duration of the trail in Summer 2020. The sculptures will then be auctioned off to raise additional funds. 

Doctor Doolittle Strikes Again

This otter is my sixth charity sculpture commission since my first in March 2019. So whilst singing them might be nothing new, bring in one home is! At just 1 metre tall and taking up very little floor space for a sculpture of its size (not to mention just how far away Dartmoor actually is!) the otter is the first sculpture to be panted in my home studio. It’s interesting to bring one home. Nice to paint amongst my home comforts but a job to navigate around day to day life. Different to when you have booked specific time away for it. Namely, i am talking about trying to paint with a puppy around! It’s one thing I hope will be much easier as Dot grows up. Perhaps the fear of her being covered in paint and smudging everything might subside a little.

The Design

I don’t want to give too much away but I will say that this design is going to feature a very familiar face. It is rare for me to paint people but for this design I have made an exception. I think when you see it you will understand why! The design is bright, colourful, happy and featuring a national treasure that I am sure folk will love. I just have to hope that I can do them justice! 

Keep your eyes peeled when the otter designs all go live on the trail later on this year. 

Stockist Shake Up

You might remember from my earlier blog that one of my goals for 2020 was to shake up my stockists. In 2019 I had a goal to be stocked in 2 shops. Throughout the year I smashed it, and ended up in seven. However, it’s not just art racking up the numbers. 2019 was a huge learning experience for me. Finding out what works and what the cost and reward is with each stockist was a big part of that.

I chose to shake up my stockists and make changes. To make sure that I am always working with a model that’s good for my business. This meant saying goodbye to some stockists and hello to others.

Bye Felicia 

Now it wasn’t really that simple. Each stockist came with a different set of risks, difficulties and benefits. I have to make sure that not just my time is being spent wisely but where I send my stock. As busy times of year like Christmas you bounce a round a lot between restocking bricks and mortar stores, preparing for markets and fulfilling online orders. Managing stockists takes time and coordination. It is much easier if a stockist can track the exact items that you sell, but this is very rare. A stockist will regularly tell you the type of item you sell and it’s price but are unlikely to keep track of your individual designs, which as a print maker is valuable intel to make restocks easier and more predictable. 

Wholesale Heaven

Wholesale, although the less profitable avenue for your price per item, is an avenue I was keen to explore more in 2020. I am super stoked to have found some of my new suppliers in this way. I am always keen to identify possible new stockists. So if you have a store front that you think my work would be a good fit for, or even just have a suggestion of a shop (online or bricks and mortar) that you think I should get in touch with, please make sure to drop me a message on my website’s contact form.

Stockists that Fit

I have made a more focused attempt at finding stockists recently too. Finding alternative and niche store is something I am keen to try outside of the general ‘indie maker’ shop scene. I am pleased to have some stockists that come under this category. Also I am looking forward to developing this relationships over the next year too. In 2020 I am trying to embrace my weird side, rather than sneak it in amongst the normal. I am hopeful that this will be as good for my business as it is as enjoyable.

Remember to get in touch!

I am always researching, learning and keeping an eye out but if you want to chat business or have a great recommendation for where you think my spooky work will fit right in, don’t forget to get in touch!

Blue Monday 2020 was a really great day I had as an artist

I am going to share with you guys a day I had recently as an artist that was a really great day. There are lots of stressful days as an artist, lots of days where it feels like you are getting nowhere or having got enough done. Being an artist is HARD. So I am sharing an account of a really good day I had, because they aren’t all that easy to find sometimes.

Monday January 20th 2020

Allegedly the saddest day of the year (I don’t know who decides and I hope its not a legal requirement!). Blue Monday. For me though, it was great!

Cows About Cambridge

I started the day by hugging my pooch, kissing my fella goodbye and hopping on a train to Cambridge. With a suitcase full of paints and a flask full of tea kindly made for me by my other half as I set off. It was my third trip to Cambridge since November, where I had painted a large Cow sculpture for the 2020 Cows About Cambridge trail. This time I was returning to work on a mini moo sculpture in partnership with my large sculpture sponsored Thames link and the charity Mind. Thames link had launched a competition for a service user from Mind to design a cow which I would realise and would form part of the mini moo family on the trail.

I even found time on the train to work on a design submission for an upcoming Wild in Art trail, so fingers crossed for that one!

Good News from Far Away

It’s always a win when you get an etsy sale, so that was the first good news of the day, along with sales reports from my stockists. I was delighted to find in my inbox a message from the fabulous Elizabeth of The Fox Fairy store in Affecks Palace asking if I’d like to join their stocked artists. A while ago I had mentioned this to Elizabeth a while ago and teenage Sian would be elated to have her work sold in her numbe one too cool for school shopping location. I accepted at once to move in in Feb.

While checking my social media I found that I had had a smal flurry of new followers and that my new stockist October 31st had posted abut me joining the store, which I was really excited about too! I even saw that an artist I followed was talking about arranging artist meet ups in my town. I have wanted to do this for ages without any real plan of how to go about it, and I hadn’t even realised that this wonderful artist was from my town! Immediately I announced my excitement and intention to get involved however I can.

In the Grafton Centre

Back in the real world I got cracking on my mini moo and got to meet the lovely Annie from Wild in Art. It was great to meet her finally and she had lots of helpful advice and offered so much support for me on my Wild in Art journey, thanks Annie!

Painting the sculpture was a new experience for me to translate someone else design onto a sculpture. It was an experience practice a different way of working. I usually work much more intuitively and make lots of decisions throughout the process. This took a much more planned and strategic approach to translate someone else vision onto the canvas (or cow!). 

While the primer layer dried I headed for a mooch around some local charity shops in the hunt for books, and scored an amazing full set of Rocky Horror figures for the princely some of £4! (This figures would then proceed to go viral believe it or not!)

At the end of the day

After a long and tiring but productive day of painting I crawled into my comfy B&B bed with some KFC and Magic Mike on the telly. What made this day perfect wasn’t living a life of luxury with all of these opportunities throwing themselves at my feet, but a delightful day where the hard work I had put in and seeds I had sown were paying off. It’s the best kind of day any artists can hope for if you ask me! Mostly it reminds me that the hard work pays off, not everything is a rejection and all you need to do is just keep swimming.

A Hyperactive Artist’s Guide to Whitby Part 2

Spooky Seaside & Nautical Nonsense

I could talk about Whitby for ages. Two blog posts at least! I’ve been to the town twice now and would definitely like to visit again soon. Here are just a few of my other highlights of my visits.

All the Spooky Stuff

From one of several ghost walks around the town, to alternative shopping destinations like Artemis and the Mermaid (Featuring a selection of local makers) there are a range of places to pop into and things to make time for on your visit. I especially recommend the ghost tours as a great way of getting to know the sights and navigation of the town centre. You’ll also hear some great bits of history and tales long the way, as well as a bit more on the Dracula connection.

Whitby Museum

The Whitby Museum has its fine share of eccentric curios and creepy collections too. The museum is free entry and is home to several pieces of note. A model of the Abbey, a weather prediction machine that would have used live leeches to work when it was constructed and creepiest of all, a supposedly genuine Hand of Glory. Said to bring luck the hand is rumoured to have been removed from the body of a hanged man, and was discovered in the home of a gentleman suspected of committing many burglaries but ever held accountable for any.

The Gaff

We stayed in the Gypsy Rose hotel which I cannot reccomend strongly enough. The themed hotel was charming throughout and totally affordable. Completely dog friendly as a lot of the town happily is, each morning we received a basket full of fresh fruit, pastries, yogurts and cakes, to enjoy in our four poster bed in our Morrocan themed room. There was even a boiled egg for the doggo. Beautifully curated decor adorned each themed room, shabby and chic but lovable bohemian. The cocktail bar sported dapperly dressed taxidermist animals and a genuine Victorian seance lamp. I was in heaven!

Nautical Nonsense

The sandy beach was perfect for long walks with the pooch. I particularly reccomend the walk up to start he’s from Whitby pier. An easy walk over a few hours with chance for a brew and cake at the need. Your return journey keeps the wonderful abbey in your sights.

The seafood in the town is exceptional too. I particularly reccomend the Star Inne, but even te street vendors have lovely fresh cray fish tails and homemade sushi for you to enjoy.

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 Transylvaniain, 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 bee 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 upto 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 Moore 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 light 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 years. 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.

2019, A Year in Review

2019 has been a pretty awesome year for my business. It all really ramped up for me and revisiting some of my highlights in the last few blogs is really just a handful of the year’s achievements. I really got to step up my experience too, from huge murals to book covers. It is safe to say I surpassed my expectations for the year as i outlined in February 2019.

I even went as far as to set some new goals midway through the year. 

My First Set of Goals

-Get 1200 followers on instagram

-Have products stocked in 2 stockists

-Increase to 100 sales on Etsy

-Have a stall at a niche market

-Get 20 reviews on etsy

-Increase etsy product number to 50

-Invest in a new type of product

-Secure a large paid commission

I reviewed those goals before writing more, but happily and surprisingly I absolutely smashed them. Well, with the exception that I listed 49 products on Etsy, but I think that’s ok. I have doubled my etsy review goal, tripled my stockists target and had six times the number of large commissions that I had hoped for. The success of 2019is going to be a tough one to replicate in 2020. 

My Revised Goals

-Secure a mural commission using my characters and style

-be approached for a large scale commission without applying

-trial a pop up shop

-run an arts event (market, workshop, drawing class)

-get agency representation

This new revision of goals wasn’t quite as successful. However, a lot for his was down to willing. I chose not to go in the direction of running my own events. After all, I do more than enough of that in my alternate employment. It’s always going to be something I am able to do if I turn my mind to it. I have no doubt about that. Similarly I did not put very much time into researching and preaching agency representation. I also didn’t trial any pop up shops as I didn’t find any with terms I liked. 

Unfortunately for me I wasn’t approached for a larger scale commission without applying. That’s ok. I successfully got many and have started to be approached about smaller commissions. This was always a big goal and will come with time. I was invited to apply for a large commission too, so it is all going in the right direction as far as I am concerned.

What I did achieve was securing a mural commission in my style. I was voted for by residents of Armley to create a 14 foot mural of my ‘Nice to Be Nice’ characters as part of a local regeneration project. It was a brilliant opportunity and a huge portfolio boost, as well as genuinely fun to take part in.

That’s a Wrap

I am really pleased with what I achieved in 2019. What is exciting about it is that I have so many ideas and such a big drive for taking it forward into 2020, but in a way that allows me to have time to relax, spend time socially and enjoy walks with the pupper on my days working at home. It is going to be hard to grow more than I have done in this last year, because it has been so incredible, but for me 2020 is more about refining my work and focusing on the quality and streamlined approach to how I run my illustration business. It’s about keeping hold of the things I have loved doing in 2019, doing more of them and doing them better.

Thankyou to everyone who has supported me through my journey so far and I hope that you can enjoy sticking it me in the year to come.