Etsy Made Local (EML) Virtual Market Sheffield 2020

This weekend I am taking part in my first ever EML market. Not only is it my first EML but it is also Sheffield’s first ever EML online. 

Now you might be thinking you have been to online markets before, but trust me when I say that this one is special. There are virtual booths for you to visit during the event for one thing. Hosted on the site Hopin you just link easily to your facebook account and you can enter and browse. This platform provides a new and exciting way to shop. The chance to browse all the makers and the dive in to watch their product videos and live sessions means it’s the closest thing to being at an actual market since all events ceased four months ago.

It’s alive! (Live market that is) 

The live element means you get the chance to connect with sellers in a more meaningful way. There is even a chat function where you can ask sellers questions directly and get an immediate response. Each seller has a different time slot that they will man their booths and stream live video content from their homes and studios. Over the two day market in the times that the sellers pop away from their stall you will still be able to browse their online shops and watch their pre recorded product videos. The chance to get to know the makers and faces behind the brand makes it a unique shopping experience. There will also be discounts available from sellers for the weekend online, visible in their individual booths.

Testing, Testing

The market is part of a trial by the folk at Etsy to create high quality online markets for 2020. With worldwide lockdowns and bannings of mass events the need to shift how we run markets is urgent. Sheffield was lucky enough to have been picked to be part of the trial with just a handful of other cities. For many makers (like myself) it will be our first live streaming experience too. It’s all a valuable part of adapting your business to the new normal. Hopefully we can all use our new skills more regularly in our promotions too. I certainly intend to experiment more with my Youtube channel now it is set up.

I will be live streaming on Hopin at 1pm on Saturday. I’ll be in my studio with a stall set up and running through some of the items I have available.  From 2pm I’ll pop back up on Instagram live this time and give you a tour of my spooky new working space. 

Browse now, win big and shop later!

The link to the event and a very exciting competition can be found at https://facebook.com/events/s/etsy-made-local-online-sheffie/3023678494383857/

The competition offers the chance for one lucky so and so to win £40 to spend at the shop of their choice. At my online store that’s enough to grab you a nice little bundle of goodies! Just visit the facebook post to find out how to enter before Friday August 7th.

You’ll also find the lookbook which spotlights every maker taking part. It’s a great way to discover new artists and do a little bit of window shopping before the big day. Heck you might even learn something new about me in the bio section!

Supporting small businesses now is even huger than ever in the current climate. Plus who doesn’t like shopping from home with a brew and your pyjamas? Join the facebook event and remember to pop by online this weekend to grab some wonderful goodies form a range of local artists and makers.

New Stockist Announcement: The Steel Cauldron

I’ve got a brand new stockist and it’s a pretty magical one at that. This stockist isn’t just new to me, it’s a shiny new business right here in Sheffield. The Steel Cauldron is a brand new cafe in Broomhill inspired by the world of witchcraft and wizardry.

An Advanced Preview 

I have been lucky enough to get a tour ahead of their opening. One thing I can safely say it is very worth getting excited about! The doors open on July 31st. Within a day of announcing they were taking bookings they had 1000 people booked on to their Wizards Afternoon tea. Chocolate frog or a Yorkshire cauldron anyone?

The cafe takes inspiration from the wizarding world. It features an enchanting array of magical objects in every direction that you can look. The quality and love that has gone into building the place is apparent and it is obviously going to be a huge hit!

With the world the way it is right now Nikki and Rob and the team have done an incredible job. The ideas they have for the future of the Steel Cauldron are exciting too and I can’t wait to book in for a visit!

Stop in for a Coffee or Perhaps Even Stay the Night

Nestled in the attic is an incredible space which the team plan to rent out as Air Bnb accommodation. Modelled on a magical shopping alley each room becomes its own wonky wizarding shop. Is it weird to stay in an air bnb in the city you live in? I guess we’ll find out!

Sheffield is perfectly located between the Warner Brothers Harry Potetr Studio Tour, the magical Shambles in York and filming locations in Northumberland and Scotland. Any Potter fans on a tour of the UK would be bonkers not to check into this charmed apartment on their travels.

International Appeal, Local Love

You’ll find lots of Sheffield artisan goodness at The Steel Cauldron. Right down to the coffee you’ll drink. In the gift shop section local makers like myself and Holly Heartfelt are being championed. It’s wonderful to have the chance to be part of this brilliant new business. Plus all my spooks are right at home! I’ve even dropped off some brand new print designs ahead of opening too.  

For more information and to book now, visit www.thesteelcauldron.co.uk 

Trying My Hand at Animating

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! 

Spooky House Portraits, a Spotlight


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.

Haunted Houses

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 sianellis@hotmail.co.uk for details 🙂

Peshkar Stay at Home Art Club


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 Aims

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.

Week 1

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.

Week 2

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!

Week 3

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.  

A Completely Terrifying Announcement


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.

Nervous Nancy

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! 

Collaborators Wanted!


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. 

Artists

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! 

Businesses

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. 

Other Organisations

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.

HMU

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 sianellis@hotmail.co.uk

A Peek at My New Studio


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!

Feeling Professional

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.  

My New Art Studio

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. 

Trafalgar Warehouse

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. 

Peshkar Stay at Home Art Club


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.

Inspiration

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. 

The Challenge

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.

The Prompts

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