I’ve Just Gone A Day Less A Week With My Employer….eek!

I briefly alluded in a post at the end of 2019 that I would be receiving more support in my artistic endeavours and my fundraising job too. Well, as of January 2020 I have officially changed my working hours at the day job down to 3 days a week. 

This means that I officially spend more time not at the job than I do at the job! That’s a big move but the right one. Those 3 days a week will be busy and intense I am sure, but it means that some of my responsibilities have reduced.

Plans for the Extra Day

It might surprise you, but my plan isn’t to take on more projects. This last year was the second year of my business. To say it has been busy is an understatement. Through 2019 I have worked across seven cities in the UK with painting projects. This is on top of working a four day a week job, and not counting the additional four cities hat I have worked in at pop up opportunities, markets and stockists. Then there has been all my digital commission work and online shop, my Kickstarter campaign, and designing and producing new products. Importantly it also doesn’t include the time that is spent on everything else. The admin, the commission chats that don’t pan out, the applications that don’t come good. The extra day’s work is already there.

So, what’s the goal?

The goal is still to improve my business but not through taking on more. It is about streamlining the work I already do. I’ts about regaining a better work/ life balance. The pace in which I have been working last year is not sustainable. So it’s about more than just having an extra day to spread my workload over, I want to make sure I am using my time sensibly too.

This does mean that some of the things I have been doing in 2019 I will not continue into 2020. But this will be discussed a bit more in my next weeks post where I look at my goals for the year ahead. 

Under Pressure

It does mean that there is now a financial expectation of my work that I didn’t hav before. I have always been working for pocket money, but now I need to account for the drop in income I have entailed due to dropping my hours with my employer. It’s not that I have put myself in a position of risk,but it is about having a more tangiable reason to set myself financial targets. I am looking forward to his opportunity to run my business more efficiently, more strategically and ensure that it has a strong and viable economic model. Ooooh do I sound fancy right now or what?

Highlights of 2019: The Record Breaking Go Wild Gorillas Auction

 

Plus my Wild In Art adventures.

How could this not be a highlight? To be commissioned to create two out if 40 sculptures that raised over a million quid? The highest Wild in Art raise ever! Featuring artists including Stuart Semple and DC’s Kenneth Rockafort, and cheerleader by Henry Cavill himself. It was the top rockstar moment of my career so far.

I even went as far as to say that I’ve peaked! As both a fundraiser and an artist. Even before the spectacular auction, the project was a highlight throughout. It marked my first visit to the island. With a distinctive continental flavour it was like a mini holiday with my art. I met some brilliant artists along the way too. My sculptures both got beautiful seaside locations, including just opposed the aging hire, I had stayed in tinlaint, beneath the castle. It meant that picturing the statue in place, despite being unable to visit, was much easier.

The Auction 

The night of the auction blew my mind, Our Island raised £27,000 at auction. Jersey Big raised £25,000. It was incredible, and all the sculptures went for one phenomenal amounts.Of course I have my tongue in my cheek when I talk about having peaked, but it feels like a tough act to follow. I felt like a proper artist though! My career is still new, and I have been drawing in the closet my whole life. These moments in the real world, where my work is being elevated so much, are still huge ‘pinch myself’ moments.

Other Wild In Art Adventures

These two sculptures joined my Wallabies Gone Wild Wallaby and my Great North Elmer as my Wild in Art 2019 contributions. Plus my Cows About Cambridge sculpture debuts in March 2020. My charity sculpture raise for the year is nearly at an incredible £60,000. A huge highlight for me indeed! 

This piece is part of a three part blog series on my highlights from 2019.  

Highlights of 2019: Armley Murals Project


This incredible project allowed me to paint my biggest mural ever in September 2019. With support from Leeds City Council and Seagulls paint, Mike Winnard of Armley House studios led the project to regenerate walls in the district of Armley.

Four artists were given four areas in Armley to paint. We were also offered mentoring time with the talented artist Mike. Getting pro tips on the painting and preparation process was a great opportunity for me. Mike was as friendly and helpful as he was knowledgeable. 

The Selection Process 

As part of the project we were given free reign over our proposed piece of art, of which mine was voted in a local forum to be commissioned. Painted over 3 days the 14 foot long mural I painted adorned the side of a local home. I was given chance to meet the locals and get their frank & honest but overwhelmingly positive response to my work.

The Inspiration Behind It 

I chose to create a piece that celebrated community and positivity. From growing up in a town facing a high level of deprivation, not unlike Armley, I know how important optimism and a strong sense of community can be. I wanted something bright and positive that would appeal to young and old. From the comments I heard from local to kids and older residents I think I managed it. 

Why It’s a Highlight 

It felt good to be trusted to paint something so huge on someone’s home and so prominently in a residential place. The positive response it got and the experience I got in painting and scaling up such a large piece were the cherries on top. Id love the chance to get back to visit the piece, so would like to resolve that for 2020.

If you have a photo of the mural, please remember to share it with me! 

This piece is part of a three part blog series on my highlights from 2019. 

Highlights of 2019: My First Kickstarter Campaign

In the Summer I ran my first ever Kickstarter campaign to produce my first ever enamel pin. I had never used Kickstarter before but had attended a free information evening ran by the website at Site Gallery in Sheffield earlier in the year. 


The Big Launch

 I think I started off with a grandiose idea of an intensive and detailed strategy. Spreadsheets and plans reviewed again and again before launch day. In reality, I found myself with an overflow of energy and enthusiasm on an afternoon I was free and feeling brave. Off the cuff, emotional and optimistic, my campaign was born.

I had used the tips I learnt at the Kickstarter advice evening. I set my campaign for 4 weeks and made sure to have pledge rewards at range of price points. Specifically I ensured there was a £20 tier, the most popular Kickstarter pledge amount.

The Stressful Bit

Trying not to constantly survey the campaign is a challenge in itself. Watching the amount rise and sink was surprisingly stressful. Luckily for me I had very few cancelled pledges, and I reached my target goal within a timeframe that meant the pressure wasn’t onme for longer than I could handle. It meant that I could review my goals. Hope for higher amounts and add additional rewards. When the campaign hit 100% funded after just one week of being live, I was grateful, surprised and humbled.

Lessons Learned

Some kickstarters add rewards that are only available to claim once they are unlocked when the campaign reaches a certain target. I was far too giddy and excited for that, all my rewards unlocks were free gifts for all physical backers. This could have been something in which to monetize and encourage higher pledges, but I was happy just to offer rewards and share the love with my amazing backers. 

I also didn’t realise that the shipping costs registered to your target. This is only a problem if your minimum is really the very minimum you need to produce and you only hit that. In future I would factor these costs in too.

The bestest most wonderful lesson was what fab folk are out there supporting my work, and what wonderful new people found me on Kickstarter and took a chance on my art. The success of my first ever Kickstarter campaign reaching £1000 pledged was the nicest compliment in the whole of 2019. Thankyou! 

This piece is part of a three part blog series on my highlights from 2019. 

Barker & Stonehouse Button Badge Commission

I previously wrote about the five miniature wallabies I was commissioned to paint by Villa Gaeity.  This was part of the Wild in Art app incentives that sponsors are encouraged to provide. Happily it was not the only trail where I was commissioned to create some of these incentives.

The Brief

My Great North Elmer was sponsored by Barker and Stonehouse, and the prominent furniture store put in a special request for their sculpture to be placed outside their store. This gave them a unique stand point to easily hand out their Elmer’s unlock incentives from their store. They chose to commission a small token that they could distribute in high volume. Taking inspiration from my current range of button badges I was asked to create a range of designs for the Great North Elmer trail.

The Inspiration

 I took inspiration from the colourful characters on my Elmer. From experience I knew they would work well in a badge design. I just needed to keep it colourful, bold and simple in design. I designed 5 badges in total. Each took colour and character cues from the Elmer. 

I enjoy designing badges and they are popular items. They are small and my designs often appeal to my littlest fans. They come with a price tag to suit little budgets too. I have a surprisingly diverse customer base and am proud to have done fab mini fans.

The biggest challenge in badge design is creating something that will stand out as a tiny wearable design. Contrast needs to be good, lines need to be clean and simple. The badges I created for Barker and Stonehouse were just that. I hope that they found lots of happy homes during the trail and they get worn often.

If you have managed to pick up a badge please remember to share your photos with me! 

Why the election results make me proud to be weird artist


There have been a lot of emotions this week following the horrific election results in the U.K. We are a nation under the right wing. I flit between sad, angry and optimistic. Hopeful that the good eggs amongst us can fix it. That we can see each other through and help our friends and neighbours in the meantime. That we can pull together to support the vulnerable people our government has forgotten.

What has this got to do with art?

Politics, outrage and passion are always going to inspire art. What I am focusing on more is how this result has affected my own approach to my own art. It has forced me to accept that I feel am at a moral bypass with the majority of my voting countryman. It has forced me to accept that no matter how crucial a government can be in the difference between life and death for vulnerable people, there will still be many folk who don’t even get up to vote. I am forced me to accept that I am in a minority, at a complete impass with many of those around me.

So what has it got to do with YOUR art Sian?

I have always felt a conflict within myself when it comes to my art. Between the ultimately alternative work that I especially enjoy to draw, and the mainstream stuff that tends to have a more mass appeal. I have felt the need to defend my art from people who find it strange that someone wants to draw ghosts all year long. I have often felt a societal pressure to ‘be more normal’. This election has redefined what normality is in the U.K.  It has taught me that I don’t really want to be it after all.

Weirdos 4 lyf!

Now this isn’t all down to the election. Growing support for my spooky pieces over the last year has been hurtling me towards this point also. The election results just cement it. It doesn’t mean all my work will be spooky and weird, but it means I will have the confidence to promote more obscure work more proudly. I can’t maintain my business on only proving super niche creepy illustrations, but I can allow myself to explore that art freely. What I can do is I can allow myself to be proud of it. I can enjoy that I am different, because after brexit and the tories, who wants to be like the Great British public these days anyway? 

Powering Through Christmas, 🌟2019 Edition

It’s that time of year again, but bigger, longer and uncut!

Today is the first day I have ever had to write a Sunday blog post on the day it’s due. I usually write these posts as often as possible and schedule them in advance. Everything is out of the window this time of year. 

‘Tis the Season of Powering Through. 

With a one year old puppy sized bundle of unrelenting energy, this year had been an extra juggling act. Balancing work, markets, commission work, puppy ownership and life admin, it’s been a big one. My second year of illustration has seen an increase in my commission work throughout the year too, so I have additional work alongside Christmas commissions.

How to Cope

I have reassigned conservatively  realistic about the work I am able to do in this time. I have found myself having to turn work down that I am not certain I can complete within required deadlines. Each project I am unable to complete, I hope to work with I the new year, but I don’t want to accept anything I am not confident I can do well and in time.

Same goes for markets. I signed up to as many as I was confident I could do without exhausting myself. Ones that would be good, ones that would be profitable and worth it. Ones that I would enjoy too!

I also scheduled in some down time. A couple of days in London visiting Secret Cinema and Danny Elfman & The Nightmare Before Christmas Live. A week in York for my dad’s 60th birthday. Excuses to recharge my mind and reacquaint myself with my sanity. 

Looking Forward

I have a list as long as my arm of things I would like to work on in the new year. New projects, new pieces and new collections. New techniques. Showing my face in the ceramics studio for the first time in months! I am looking forward to a month that should remain quiet in both my jobs to allow me to work on some of these. I am also looking forward to reviewing the year and ensuring that the things that occupy my time currently are only carried on into 2020 if they are the best fit for what I want to achieve. I am also looking forward to having more resource in both my jobs (but I will announce more about this in the new year itself).

Yes it’s busy, but yes of course I love what I do!

Press Release; Local artist painted sculpture sales raise £57,000 for good Causes

Work by Sheffield based illustrator and mural artist Sian Ellis has raised £57,142 for charities for works painted since March this year. The works have all been on display as part of arts trails across the U.K. throughout the Summer and Autumn of 2019. 

Starting with a 6 foot wallaby in the Isle of Man in the Spring, Sian has travelled to the sites of 4 trails across the U.K. to create the painted pieces, including sometimes multiple works for individual trails. Four of the sculptures painted have been for projects in collaboration with Wild in Art. A partner behind the Herd of Sheffield in 2016.

Each trail raises money for local charities in its city. Causes include funding a new gorilla enclosure at Jersey Zoo and raising money for St Oswolds Hospice in Northumberland. 

Sian painted her designs into fibre glass and porcelain sculptures which were then auctioned for charity by the trail organisers. The highest earner of Sian’s work was her design entitled ‘Our Island’ for Go Wild Gorillas in Jersey. The design features local landmarks throughout history, stratified through layers of land, sea and archeological finds deep under ground, The sculpture fetched a whopping £27,000 when auctioned on the island in early November.

Quote from Sian

“I’ve loved taking part in every single trail that I’ve been lucky enough to be part of this summer. I’ve had the chance to visit some beautiful places for the first time, and work alongside some brilliant artists. Plus every trail has been raising money for inspiring causes. Even when my first porcelain sculpture for the Great York Ghost Hunt smashed in transit back to the trail, I just jumped on a train and started it again, so the piece could remain part of the trail and be auctioned off for local homelessness charities. 

I’m absolutely delighted and flabbergasted with the amounts the sculptures have raised. I still can’t quite believe it! I have already been commissioned to produce works for a further two trails in 2020 and am looking forward to growing the charity raise even further”

Auction Breakdown

£25,000 raised for gorilla design ‘Jersey Boy’ featuring hand knitted elements, part of the Go Wild Horillas trail in Jersey raising money for Durrell Zoo

£27,000 for gorilla design ‘Our Island’ as part of the same trail

£2,000 raised for Elmer elephant design ‘Nice to Be Nice’, a sculpture covered in fun characters and compliments as part of ‘Great North Elmer’ raising money for St Oswolds Hospice in Northumberland 

£3,000 raised for a wallaby design ‘Our Community’ covered in colourful characters raising money for Hospice Isle of Man 

£142 raised for a small porcelain ghost lamp painted for the Great York Ghost Search raising money for local homelessness charities 

More info 

Sianellisillustration.co.uk

Www.instagram/thisissianellis 

Cows About Cambridge Announcement

I am excited to be announcing that I am an artist for cows about Cambridge! 

Another one?

YES! This will be my fifth sculpture for wild in art this year across 4 U.K. cities. That’s not counting the cheeky little York ghost hunt ghost Nellie. The trail won’t be live until 2020 though so there’s a little bit of time to wait for my sculpture to hit the streets.

Even More excitingly I am partnered with the projects headline sponsor Govia Thames link. It means that I already know where my sculpture will be based. Tying in with the theme of the design, it will be based in the train station. A building that will feature in the cow itself. 

I love the idea of my cow welcoming people into the city! A mini map to be their first friendly intro to the city. The design features lots of local land marks, painted fun, bold and bright. It also features Gomes, escalated to the status of landmarks. This is to give a shout out to the local folk who make the city what it is.

Working with the headline sponsor means I’ll expect to be more involved in the trail that’s perhaps some of the others. I’m excited to see how it goes though.

How about the design?

Find my Instagram profile to see how I get on, and get a first peek at the sculpture. With such a great success of auctions of my other sculptures as of late, it will be amazing to break the £60,000 raised for charity mark with my sculptures. 

Plus, stay turned for another Charity sculpture announcement…

48 Spooky Hours in London

Back in October I visited London to celebrate my birthday… twice in one week.

Lucky gal, eh? Having an October birthday and loving all things spooky is the best. I actually think there’s a correlation. Cause and effect, positive association.

In my next two blogs I am going to review my two spooky trips. 

The Last Tuesday Society/ Victor Wynd Museum 

I have wanted to visit this cocktail bar come curiosity museum from the moment I found out there is a cocktail bar come curiosity museum! In previos trips to London it has always felt a little too off the beaten path. Imagine the joy when we arrived in London I realised that it was on the very same street as our hotel this time round. Kismet or what? 

In the heart of Bethnal Green you’ll find this quirky bar. Filled with taxidermy specimens and an array of trinkets. The cocktails are good and unusually named. So because many take inspiration from some of the depths of the Victor Wynd museum.

The museum is based in the cosy bar’s basement and subject to an additional entry fee. Definitely worth the extra few quid to me though. I had been dying to look inside!

What awaited was weird art, old porn and even more taxidermy. Tiny fortune teller moles and karate champion mice. One of my highlights included a cake that was a life size charred corpse in a state of autopsy. The museum is small but full and a lot of fun after a few too many particularly boozy cocktails. 

Journey to the Underworld

I am a total sucker for immersive experience, and immersive dining experiences are the best of the best. We completely stumbled upon this one. In a late night google for tomorrow’s restaurants we found this gem 10 minutes walk from our hotel. This immersive dining experience isn’t always spooky themed but lucky for me it was then. 

Furnicular productions deliver one hell of an experience. You are handed your literal train ticket to hell as you arrive before being directed to the sin themed cocktails in the creepy station bar (mango and scotch bonnet chilli? Yes please!) A few tricks and treats await you but the show really begins once you board the dining cart.

A clever use of animation and tech alongside some good for a laugh actors are what creates the immersion. The whole thing is enjoyable from start to finish. The food is created by Masterchef the Professionals Finalist Louisa Ellis and really good quality. Each course was well timed with the entertainment. The only thing I would have preferred is a bit of choice as opposed to a set 

menu since the food didn’t seemed linked to the experience in any way. 

The Ragged House Ghost Hunt

The perfect way to end our spooky weekend was with our first ever ghost hunt. A birthday treat from my other half. Find out more about how we got on and if we bagged any spooks in my previous blog.