Last Friday I put my paintbrushes down after a solid two months of sculpture painting for public art trails. After the year we’ve had it was an absolute dream! I’ve been working sculpture painting commissions back to back. I am knackered but as a mural artist I wouldn’t have it any other way! So today I’m going to share with you a little bit about the trails where you can find my work on display this year.
The first trail to launch this Summer is the Moor Otters trail this Friday. My Sir David Ottenborough design has already been revealed. Inspired by the great man himself and the lifelong love of learning about the animal kingdom that he inspires. This sculpture was painted back in March 2020 so the trail has been a long time coming. He’ll be on display in Dartmoor at the pannier market in Tavistock from May 28th 2021.
Cows About Cambridge
Now this sculpture has been under wraps the longest. I finished painting my cambridge Cow in November 2019. Although I do know where this one will be displayed I suspect it’s top secret currently but you can find out this Summer. The Cambridge Cows will be raising money for the charity Break and their work with young people. They will be displayed around the beautiful green belt city, inspired by the cows that roam free there. I’ve also teamed up with Thameslink and Mind to paint a second mini sculpture for the trail too.
Bears of Sheffield
As a Sheffield Based artist I am absolutely buzzing to have a sculpture in this trail! Last time there was a trail in Sheffield was before I knew anything about Wild in Art and the amazing trails they run. To work along other talented local illustrators from Sheffield, South Yorkshire and beyond has been a dream. The sculpture itself is a familiar design based on the bronze one that lives in the bear pit in the Botanical Gardens. The trail is raising money for Sheffield Childrens’ Hospital. I am very excited that I’ll be able to see my bright bold design stand out on my local streets soon.
Worcester’s Big Parade
This design is still under wraps but I will say that this design is going to look right at home in the monochromatic tudor architecture that the city is famous for. The elephant I have painted is sponsored by Worcester News and certainly bound to make an impact. Seeing this particular design hit the streets of such a beautiful historic city is going to make my spooky little heart very happy this summer.
Big Trunk Trail Luton
The first of my double trouble parades is the Big Trunk Trail. I’ll have 2 colourful elephants hitting the streets there this year. That’s 3 elephant sculptures total that I’ve painted these last 2 months. They couldn’t all look more different though!
Stockport’s Giant Leap
These frog sculptures were bursting with character before they ever had a lick of paint! The designs are secret but I will say that they are bursting with charm. I’ve painted two sculptures for this trail and it always amazes me how different the same sculpture can look with a different paint job.
So that’s a whopping 9 sculptures I’ve painted to be on display this summer around the UK. I can’t wait to share with you what I’ll be working on next. Keep an eye on my social media for the full sculpture design reveals and auction details later on in the year.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
I absolutely adore designing film and event posters. I’d say it is one of my top things as an illustrator I love to do. Ask me to provide an illustration for a horror film event and you may even hear me attempt to suppress a squeal of joy. So it was pretty awesome when I got the opportunity to design two posters for some Halloween film screenings at Whirlow Hall Farm in Sheffield.
Now, I am not talking about enjoying designing a poster that is scary. Just a poster for a genre that features all the things I love to draw. Dark woods, nefarious characters, spirits, ghosts, monsters, ghouls and goblins, yetis, vampires…. I’m guessing you’ve got the point.
But why not scary?
It’s a deliberate choice not to draw them scary, even for adults only events. Firstly, a practical one. Is it ever really a good idea to draw a poster that is genuinely scary? Think about who will see it and where it goes. If you know it’s going to be printed onto a flyer that could potentially end up in cafes, shops and libraries then I’d say absolutely not. Yes we are in the business of representing something through our art, but would any of us feel very good about spooking out some poor kiddywinks who stumble up on our designs and nightmares ensue? It’s not just kids either. It runs the risk of putting people off your event and just a few comments to the event organiser from people who really don’t like being freaked out and there’s a good chance they won’t ask for your help again.
The main reason though is that it just isn’t me. I love the supernatural, dark and creepy but everything I do has a bright and playful happy edge to it too. It might sound contradictory but I’d like to think that those who look at my designs, and particular the posters I have done here for Whirlow Hall Farm’s upcoming immersive woodland cinema events, will agree that my work exhibits both of these things. I think it just goes to show that having your event scare people’s socks off is enough in itself without your marketing trying to do the same too.