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. 

Half Year Goals Review

I know it was only April when I reviewed these goals but I always wanted to review them often. Reviewing them means changing them too. I need to take frequent stock to work out if they are the right goals for me at the right time.

On that note, I think I will have to change them too, but for good reason. I have nearly, acheieved them all! It’s not so much amending them, as setting new ones. Not only have I reached my annual goals in only half a year but my business is totally different too.

Different how?

Well my aims are still the same but I’m doing a lot better than I ever imagined, for a while people have been telling me that my illustration seems to have ‘taken off’. That’s always the phrase they used and I always thought I was just doing a good job of marketing. It’s only recently when Iv e had back to back commissions and smashed my goals list that I’ve started to agree.

Ok, so back to these goals I keep hearing about

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
Secure a large commission
Invest in a new type of product


The only ones I haven’t achieved yet are the 1200 followers on Instagram and the 100 sales on Etsy. I have 1100 followers and have about 20 sales to go. I am well on my way to achieving both. The number of stockists interested in my work has doubled. I have reached the large commission goal a whopping six times over. My product range is still growing but I don’t think it should be rushed. That goal needs a rethink.


Gulp. I’m going to have to set new goals


It’s nerve wrecking but necessary. That’s freelance life in a nutshell. Visit my next weeks blog to find out what my new goals are going to be!

Kickstarter x Site Gallery

Recently I attended a Kickstarter event at the newly(ish) revamped Site Gallery. It was such a positive use of an evening that I want to share it with you all. The event was free and the subject was intriguing. As was the chance to look in the gallery which I haven’t visited since the renovations, and so I signed myself up upon first discovering the event.


The idea of doing a Kickstarter has been in the back of the front of my mind for some time now. There are several projects that I’d love to explore and think that the Kickstarter format would suit really well. I just haven’t chosen which one. Or when to do it. Or started to out a plan in place. This event seems perfect for the stage of thinking I was at.


Straight away the Kickstarter representative told us that the evening wasn’t a sales pitch. If it wasn’t then I’m not sure what it must have been exactly, either way I didn’t mind. Sell it to me!


And sell it to me they did!


For a start, I didn’t even realise that there was such a strong Kickstarter scene in the UK that it warranted a UK arm of the website. To then learn that Sheffield is one of the UK’s largest hubs of activity with regards to the kickstarter site was a revelation too. I guess I shouldn’t have been suprised. Knowing how much entrepreneurial skills, creativity and digital strengths lie in the city, but nonetheless I was.


Throughout the session we listened to local artists who had used the Kickstarter platform. It was valuable insight and brought the platform to life. It helped that one of the speakers was the ceramicist Meghan Downs whose story seems to resonate with me the most as her practise is so similar to my own. The free wine and food softened me up so I could start to begin dream of my kickstarter funded art.


The main thing I wanted to know was about how much traffic Kickstarter generated. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that 40% of donations come from within the site itself. It’s always hard to tell if you are just promoting each strand of activity to the same loyal supporters or if you are finding new ways to engage new audiences so it was positive to learn that Kickstarter seems to have the latter.


We learnt about average donations and a little insight into the mind of a Kickstarter backer. All good help for designing a campaign too.


What I took away from the session was the belief that Kickstarter could be the right thing for me and all that’s left is for me to pick the right project, plan the right campaign and take the plunge!


Cuttlelola Electric Dotspen Review

When I unwrapped a Cuttelola Electric Dotspen on Christmas Day I didn’t have a clue what it was. I haven’t noticed them advertised, mentioned by any other illustrators on Instagram or seen them in arts stores. My other half who had gifted me the pen had heard about it from a positive review he has seen on reddit.


On first inspection the weight of the pen feels slightly off-putting. We all have our own preferences when it comes to illustrating in the tools we use and it seems that how they feel in our hands is important somehow. The pen is battery operated and charged through a cable plugged into the base. It takes ink cartridges and although I just have black I understand there are a lot of colours available to purchase.

Giving it a whirl

The pen operates on two speeds so it seemed sensible to try the slowest speed first. Always the renegade I tried it directly onto a piece I was working on rather than a test piece of paper. The first test was to keep the jolting, vibrating nib within the lines, which was happily easy enough to pick up. Although the weight and movement of the nib mean that you control this one very differently to a usual pen, it’s simple to pick up and adjust to. The faster speed results in denser, darker dot distribution.


After a few attempts I got comfortable enough working with the pen to create some good effects. It’s a lot quicker to use than manual stippling and saves you valuable time and wrist ache. It means you can create detailed and professional looking stippling effects with much mess effort than an ordinary pen. It’s simple to use and enjoyable to get in the rhythm of stippling with as you need a consistent speed and pressure if you want to deliver a consistent tone.

When you want to create contrasting stippling effects it is easy to do. You can change the speed of the pen and the speed of your use. I also find that I still do some dot work manually as it again contrasts to the effects produced by the Dotspen (I.e. I can create dots that are close don’t touch whereas this is not possible with the Dotspen).


The cons are just minor inconveniences as opposed to problems with the pen, which I am really happy with. The charge does not last long so you will find you regularly have to plug the one in. If you have a convince to power source and are happy to draw whilst it is plugged in then this isn’t a problem at all. This doesn’t work for me though so I find myself structuring my drawing process differently, drawing all the dots with the Dotspen in one go and then doing the line work as it charges. It charges fully in about half an hour so it’s easy to work your process around it.

Due to the sporadic placement if the dots created by the Dotspen it is also not possible to create dots that are close to each other but not touching as mentioned before. Again though, this isn’t a dealbreaker as these I can just do manually for contrast as I have already said. It just means that you have more shades and textures to play with.

The final con is the noise that the pen makes. If you are a serial doodler and like to draw in public or idling away with a sketchbook in front of the telly with your nearest and dearest then this pen is not going to make you popular. It’s not super loud but it is noticeable, like a teeny tiny helicopter surveying your drawing.


A big ole yes! The benefits clearly out way the minor negatives of the pen. It’s a great tool for saving time and energy whilst producing high quality work. I’m very happy Santa sent one down my chimney and I hope that you guys get the chance to lay your hands on one too.