Drawlloween 2020; We did It!

This year was easily my favourite drawlloween yet. Yearly drawing challenges are always a great way to see your progress as an artist. A direct piece of reference to compare back to and see how much you’ve grown. I think that this year I saw my biggest leap yet. Plus the reception I have gotten has been the best too. So I’m really proud of my drawlloween this year. I thought I’d cover the things I did differently that I felt made a difference.

I Committed

In every way I could. That was the secret, really. It’s tough making time for a drawing challenge. This is the first year I did every prompt from one list. That meant sticking with the prompts that weren’t inspiring me. I figure it is important as an artist to learn how to respond to briefs that don’t immediately spark an idea. A drawing prompt can be a great example of this. I was pleased to pull something out of the bag for all of Mab’s 31 words.

Another way that I committed was to a consistent style and theme. I incorporated my bold black and white style in every drawing. I also made humour the focus of every prompt I could too. This made coming up with illustrations even tougher but it meant a cohesive body of work. My feed has never looked better and my instagram followers and likes soared. The consistency of the style and theme seems to build more anticipation for my next illustrations. I really felt like I had some great cheerleaders this time round and I really appreciate all the lovely things that everyone said about my work. A cohesive collection of work also meant that releasing a range of items inspired by this year’s drawlloween made total sense!

My First Ever Drawlloween Range

This is the first time I have used my drawlloween illustrations to create a range of items. I am really excited about launching and hope to do so as soon as I can. I have selected a number of the illustrations to release as A5 prints. Beyond that I have launched some merchandise too. Without revealing too much just yet, it includes a new pair of earrings and a brand new product for my shop! Something screen printed and useful day to day… that’s all the clues you’re getting for the moment.

A Sense of Community

I always find so many great new artists drawing Drawlloween too. It is so huge now that it is a fantastic way to find artists who enjoy the spooky thing in life (or death). I love sharing art to the challenge and enjoying the art made by others during the challenge too. If you took part in the challenger this year, give yourself a big pat on the back. I hope there are many more years of #mabsdrawlloween club to come 🙂

October Excitement feat. Mab’s Drawlloween Club 2020

This year more than any other I remember, Oct 1st felt like Christmas Eve. It’s been such a tough year we have all needed something to look forward too. Plus, with my art being my full time job now I am immersed in the spooky world more hours a week than ever before. The day felt like Autumn, instagram was flooded with October excitement and I even found a chocolate apple in Sainsbury’s. October 1st was a good day.

The most exciting part of the day though? Mab’s Drawlloween launch! This is my third year taking part. It is a great opportunity for me to see how much I have grown each year as an artist. It’s a great chance to find new artists. Plus it is just an all round fun thing to take part in. I always find prompts that don’t inspire to start with me that I end up creating something I really like for. I know that this year will be my best one yet and I am determined to get something for every prompt. 

Pencils at the Ready!

This year I tried to get a head start, was adamant I’d get a head start. Day one showed up and I didn’t have a prompt ready! That’s not to say I didn’t have any drawings ready, just not for day one! I had done the classic thing of drawing the prompts that jumped out at me. Despite being only a few days in I have already come up with some pieces I am really pleased with. This year I am trying to go big, bold and funny! I always like my drawlloween to have a bit of humour, but this year I want to make sure it is in abundance en every piece. They’ve had a really good reception for it so far too. Engagement has been really strong on my instagram posts. I have gained new followers and had a few requests for prints too. And I have only posted five days of drawings as I write this. 

I wish it could be drawlloween as Everydayyyy

I know that there are other drawing challenges throughout the year but this is the heavyweight for me. A spooky prompt list always resonates with me strongest. Aughost only came on my radar this year so i wasn’t very prepared. Perhaps I can make a big to do of that one in 2021. It is always a challenge to finish the whole list but I am determined to do it. I know I’m going to be sad when it ends too.

So many drawings, so little time

I have one product under wraps inspired by my Drawlloween 2020 so far. There are also some other ideas sloshing around in my head, including some prints for sure. I am excited to see what ideas come out. They are as much as suprise to me at this point as they are to you guys! I am sure I can get some fun things from it to add to my store by the time Christmas comes 🙂

Jump over on my insta to follow my Drawlloween 2020 journey https://instagram.com/thisissianellis 

Drawlloween 2019 and other Drawing Challenges

It’s that time of year again! Last year was my first drawlloween and boy did I love it. I am super busy but I need to make time for it. I rarely draw anything for the sake these days. I am Commission after commission at the moment and I want to break free for a bit of growth drawing. Plus it’s all spooky themed so OF COURSE I am all about it. 

How to pick your challenges 

In last year’s review I crowned Mab Graves’ drawlloween my favourite. I will be doing Mab’s again this year for sure. She has released her prompts and I have been collecting inspiration already. I want to do more challenges but I need to be sensible of my time. So I will do alternate days on drawing challenges  as opposed to more than one daily challenge.

This year feels like approximately one billion new challenges have sprung up. It makes choosing harder, and also feels a bit of a shame that people seem to be splintering off? I haven’t decided which I will do yet, but odds are that I will foot between. There is no shame in doing one for a day or two and moving on to another. Letting a prompt inspire you is perhaps the most important thing. Well, to me it is anyway!

A bonus challenge that isn’t drawing

I will also be doing Notebook of Ghost’s ‘31 Spooky Stories’ challenge. The challenge is to read a spooky short story a day. It’s nothing to do with drawing but it sounds fun. As well as making more time for aimless drawing, making more time for other hobbies is in my priority list too. Finding time and love for reading is important o me in addressing the right balance in life alongside running my own business. The short story angle means that when I am really hard up on time it’s not something that will take over my evening to do. 

As always, follow along my Instagram @thisissianellis to see what I come up with for each challenge, and check out my stories for details on the short stories I will read. 

Hashtags to check out 





100 Ghost Challenge Revisited

Back in a November I posted about My Own Personal Drawing Challenge where I committed to drawing 100 ghostly postcards. I thought that it was time for me to touch base with you all and let you know how it was going. It was a brave endeavour to sign up to draw 100 pictures but I felt that it would be a good test of technique and creativity. At the time of writing this I am about to hit my 60th ghostcard.

Whoaaa we’re halfway there

So how have I found it and what have I learnt so far? Firstly I think it was very bold words when I said that I had a thousand more pictures left in me after Drawlloween. I mean, I do, but 1000 ghostcards? Inspiration has been hard some days, but I am happy to nearly be at 60 and still coming up with new ideas. The main thing I have seen a real difference in though is my technique.

With the exception of one Dia de Los Muertos card in which the colours bore significance, and one sparkly slimer of Ghostbusters fame, all of the 60 cards have been in black and white. This has led me to focus on how to create different shades, textures and focal points in monochrome. Through drawing the ghostcards I feel that I have definitely improved on this front.

My dotwork is a lot stronger, as is my cross hatching and linework. I am finding styles that I enjoy more too, so I am learning both practicality and preference. Through setting such a similar drawing challenge for myself I force myself to analyse and evaluate my work in an attempt to keep each ghostcard different. This means stretching the boundaries of techniques to create variety. I have definitely grown in confidence and visibly improved through undertaking this challenge so I really recommend to anyone to challenge themselves too. If you fancy doing the 100 Ghost challenge that’s great too, just tag #100ghostchallenge so that I can see your work.

To keep up with the final 40 ghostcards and to see the ones produced so far, find me on Instagram at @thisisianellis and through the hashtag.

My Own Personal Drawing Challenge: 100 Ghosts

So as it turns out I was not ready for Drawlloween* to end on October 31st. I had a thousand more pictures in me and responding to the pressure of drawing one a day pushed me in a way I wasn’t ready to let go of. So what’s a girl to do if not make her own challenge?

This time though I can choose my own length, subject and medium. Having done mostly digital sketches for Drawlloween my Staedtler fineliner pens are calling me so an analogue drawing challenge it is.

100 ghosts drawing challenge

I want to explore this character a little more. I draw them a lot and they are a popular product on my etsy store as prints and patches. I am hoping that my 100 Ghosts Challenge will reveal a little bit more about their stories and personalities. Of course, I’m hoping to improve my drawing skills too, with an emphasis on shading and detail. 

100 pictures, are you mad?

Probably, yes. However, I think that this exercise in practice, production and creativity will have it’s benefits maximised by being much more than the usual 31 pictures. I feel like it’s how I need to push myself right now to improve. It’s entirely a personal thing too, I really believe that we are all different on this. I just know that for me, my gut feeling is that a long challenge will be the vehicle by which I can improve my skills, learn more about my characters and expand my creativity too. The consistency it will provide on my social media feeds is an added bonus.

If you are interested in taking this journey with me I will upload all of my 100 ghosts to my instagram feed so head on over and give me a comment to let me know what you think. I’ll also be selling some of the original sketches via my Etsy shop too 🙂

*Drawlloween is the quickest way to describe all of the drawing challenges I took part in in October.

October 2018 Drawing Challenges Review- The End is Near…

This month I have been taking part in a multitude of drawing challenges. Namely the following Instagram drawing challenges for October 2018:





For those unfamiliar the challenges consist of prompts created by a variety of instagram artists of varying instafame (I think it’s fair to say that) from Inktober being the daddy of them all to #superradhalloweenchallenge seeming a shiny new and fun development.

Self styled cool kid Craig Gleason is responsible for The Season of the Bad Guys Club and every artist’s biggest girl crush Mab Graves brings the tour de force that is #mabsdrawlloween challenge. The aim is that you take a prompt for everyday of the month October and create an illustration for it that you post on your instagram using the hashtag.

It seems fitting that in the final days of this year’s challenge (also my first!) that I reflect on the last month’s work.

And the winner is…

Mab’s Drawlloween Club was the winner for me and I completed Mab’s prompts on the vast majority of the days. It’s not just that her prompts appealed to me  but also that seeing the variety of ways she responded to the prompts (yes I know that she wrote them!) was totally inspiring. Seeing her drawings, felt creations, photography and dolls blew me away and made me want to push myself too. I have also always been someone who feels an intense desire to make things out of EVERYTHING. Paper, digital, clay, textiles and even stuff destined for the bin. Mab inspired me to feature a few knitted, diorama and sculpted pieces throughout the challenges as well as pen drawings and digital art.

New challenges

Unfortunately what I also discovered was that Inktober does not seem to be for me. I only ever covered it a couple of days. In the context of the others it was just harder to get excited about. Who wants to draw something ‘tranquil’ or ‘flowing’ when there’s another prompt next door with Yokai or Cryptids? I know which one I’m going to do. But then this in itself gets me thinking for next year. Often I find myself someone who finds staying in their comfort zone the most uncomfortable thing to do. I feel like I’m taking the easy way or not challenging myself enough.

Ultimately, isn’t it most useful as a freelance illustrator to encourage ourselves to practice gleaning creativity from a prompt (or brief) that might not immediately inspire us? I for one seem to be deciding too quickly and could that mean I am missing out on inspiration and opportunities that are there, just hidden a little deeper? Part of it was also my own intention to focus on improving my digital skills which I really think I did ( check out my instagram and decide for yourself!)

It’s a commitment

One overwhelming thing that I found was that the challenges were addictive and invigorating! I had read and heard that the challenges are exhausting, as if this is some necessary evil to progress. However, despite hitting some brick walls along the way in terms of approaching prompts I always found that inspiration came and I delivered something each day. Some days I even managed to cover up to 3 prompts (and I cannot begin to tell you what a busy month it was for me outside of these challenges too, when you’re truly excited and inspired by something you can always make some time and energy for it). I would definitely recommend doing at least one of these challenges to any artist in 2019 as a way to find new artists as well as a way to practice and hone your own style too.