Illustration Goals for 2019

I’m not usually the type to make New Year’s resolutions but as I enter the second year of being an illustrator it seemed necessary to set some illustration goals for 2019. They always say that you need a good plan as a starting point of any business and it occurs to me that although I have a secret perversion for graphs and spreadsheets I haven’t actually set myself any goals. I’m a Fundraising Events Organiser by trade and so there’s a lot of skills I have brought with me to illustrating. I keep detailed records, I’m a good budgeter, I’ve got tonnes of marketing experience and I am very well organised. But now it’s beginning to feel that this is the only reason I have gotten as far as I have up to now without a business plan.


But, what even are my goals?


This turned out to be a surprisingly difficult question. I know what I ultimately want and that’s to be financially able to increase my range of products. I also want to successfully gain more commission work. The difficult part is working out the next steps to that that I can achieve and measure in the next year. That’s right babes we are talking about SMART goals.


I like big goals and I cannot lie


I can’t quite work out if it’s a good or a bad thing that I achieved one of my goals by the end of 2018.  The goal was to get 100 likes on an organic reach post on instagram. After Stephen Hillenburg died I posted a Spongebob sketch tribute to him which did exactly that. Does this mean that my goals are too easy? I’d like to think that it means that I have a range of goal levels for the next year. Think about it like a video game where you can choose your difficulty level. When you are playing in expert it can be disheartening if you keep losing. Sometimes you need to conquer normal mode first. I think that I’ve taken this same approach with my goals setting. Some are easier than others, some I might not achieve. At least I will have tried though!


The 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


These might all seem piddley and small to some people but it fits me. I have to remember the resource I have available in terms of time and energy as well as capital. The goals focus on growing what I am doing currently aswell as investing in new areas. Another goal is to continue this weekly blog for the next year. I look forward to updating you all about how I’ve done in December 2019 🙂


Have an amazing new year and good luck with your goals and resolutions too!


Last Christmas, I gave you my Art

It’s my illustration birthday!

At Christmas time 2017 I accepted my first commission. I didn’t have a plan to become an illustrator at the time. As I come up to my first year I have been reflecting on the last twelve months. I want to share what I have learnt and my reflections with you.

This week, my focus will be on my first Christmas season as seller. This has been my busiest time of the year as you might expect. I was surprised to find that it seemed to start as early as October. This was when my first commission for Christmas came in. I also found that, in line with recent shopping trends, bespoke presents are in demand at Christmas time. Over the Christmas period I have been commissioned to produce the most house portraits in a similar given time window, with a total of 3 requested before December had even begun.

One of a kind presents for one of a kind people

The number of commissions I could take on and window I could create them in was always something never very far from my mind. Consequently I chose quite a conservative window of stopping taking Christmas commissions on 8th December. This meant that customers didn’t have to be a super early bird to get one, but that I absolutely knew I was able to deliver all of the commissions on time. Especially in the context of increased ‘off the shelf’ Etsy orders and markets.

I also created a range of ceramic christmas tree ornaments and generally got my stall in the Christmas spirit. You may have spotted me in Christmas jumpers on a couple of occasions recently! As for the Fair’s I chose I attended 4 between October and December. There are a lot to choose from and I wouldn’t return to all the ones I did this year. However, each one is a valuable learning experience. Plus, there is always chance to chat to other stallholders about the world of craft and illustration when a fair is quiet.

The most wonderful time of the year

The best thing I have learnt is that I see myself doing this next year. I didn’t have any horrible experiences, where everyone’s stall is flocked around except mine. I did have occasions where I forgot important items, like carrier bags or my display stands, but there’s nothing that was a true crisis. Even the day where I didn’t make back my stall fee (unfortunately there was one) serve to help me decide which stalls to approach in future.

If you came to see me at any of my markets this year, or visited my Etsy store, supported me on social media I’d like to say a big


Year one has been brilliant and I have lots of ideas for year two 🙂

Merry Christmas, Friends!

Techniques for Illustrating Ceramics: 3. Sgraffito

Sgraffito is a technique by which a design is carved through a layer, revealing the layer beneath. The name derives from the Italian word ‘graffiare’ which means ‘to scratch’. I find it is a time consuming technique but can herald some impressive results.




As the definition suggests, you need to ensure that you have contrasting layers of colour on your piece before applying this technique. I colour greenware clay with coloured slip which I carve when it is leatherhard. The nature of ceramics is that it is inherently unpredictable, so committing the time required to sgraffito a detailed piece can be risky. This is why I have stuck to colouring with methods that are typically more reliable. Coloured slip allows me to be confident that my piece has the best chance of survival when needing to be coloured at the greenware stage.




You can use a range of tools in sgraffito. There are even tools on the market specifically for sgraffito use. Oddly though, I don’t like using them. I do have a specialist sgraffito tool. It has a range of sharp edges suited to creating different widths and styles. However, it’s missing that ‘pencil style’ that I always look for in tools.


As an illustrator and life long drawerer I have a tendency to prefer tools that you operate like a pencil. This is because I know I will create my best designs as this is how my hands are used to working. It is for this reason that my sgraffito tools of choice are dental tools. They are sharp, precise and can create a range of textures. Best of all they have that pencil resemblence that works best for me.




An important thing to master in sgraffito is the pressure you use.  If you master this steadiness of hand you can apply the technique on top of several layers of colour and by altering your pressure reveal different colours throughout the piece.


Top Tip


The benefit I find of sgraffito is that through carving you can create a controlled and precise design. However, it is important to remember that glaze application dulls detail, so don’t spend time on details that will be lost when the piece is final fired.


Introducing My Studio

As a kid I would have loved to have a studio space. I probably wouldn’t have believed you if you told me that one day I’d have access to two studios to work in, but luckily for me I do. Surprisingly though, as an adult, it’s often difficult for me to convince myself to spend time in them. I believe that it’s a symptom of having two jobs. My leisure time is rarely just that, and so I am painfully guilty of working in front of the telly.


The problem here is that my living room ends up filled with paper, pens, sewing kit, fabrics, clocks to illustrate, prints to post… you get the picture. It means I never get away from work, and it’s not much fun do the rest of the household too.


So I have been working on turning my home studio space into a magnet to draw me into a dedicated workable space. I am happy to say I’ve done this successfully through focusing on several aspects of the studio.


How to create an ideal studio space

1. Keep it organised

Firstly, I took the time to ensure the space is used effectively, efficiently and permanently. By this I mean that there is a home for everything, positioned in order to improve workflow and for maximum ease of access. This is something you’re never going to achieve if your base is a pile on the living room coffee table.

2. Immerse Yourself

Secondly I made the space my own. I filled it with the tools I used to create and decorated it with the pieces that inspire me. This includes pieces by my favourite artists and pieces of my own that I am proud of. In this respect there is still a long way to go, and lots of wall space left to fill, before I am happy I have my stamp on the room. It is important to have somewhere you can immerse yourself in your work.

3. Lights, Camera, Action

Thirdly, I made sure my studio has the one thing most important to any studio space, a good source if daylight. It’s essential for your wellbeing, your eyesight, your Instagram photos and viewing your work as it truthfully is.


As my studio changes I will share updates via my blog, and keep your eye out for a future post on an insight into my ceramic studio.


Machine wool in the studio

Techniques for Illustrating Ceramics: 2. Coloured Slips

Coloured slips can create consistent colours on your ceramics. Slip is clay with a high moisture content and as a result is paste like or liquid. Coloured slips add colour to ceramics through the addition of pigments or oxides to slip.


You can apply coloured slip in several ways. Namely, paint it directly on, pour it on or dip the piece in the slip. You will probably need to add several layers of slip to your piece to create a consistent colour. You can able to tell if this is the case if you can see the original colour of the clay through the slip. If you need to add another layer of coloured slip you can do this when the clay is still wet but has lost it’s glossy shine.


Preserving minute details can be difficult if you need to apply several layers of slip. Therefore I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this method of colouring if you intend to paint intricate details in your work. Unless, of course, that you are trying to achieve a faintly painted line.

Dipping and Pouring

I have found that dipping the piece or pouring slip onto the piece often means that you don’t have to add as many layers. One dip is often enough for a piece to be completely coloured to a desirable thickness. However, the drawback of this is again the difficulty to control the slip. Consequently it’s really only useful for block colouring entire pieces or sections of a piece.

As slip consists of clay it is only able to be used at the greenware stage of the piece. I have found that it is a good way to create a bright and strong base colour to use underglazes on top of.

Top tip

Remember always to test any colours you use before adding them to your final piece. When using a mixture of glazes, underglazes and slips especially it is difficult to predict what the final result will look like. Ceramic colours, whatever they are made from, will look very different before they are fired. My top tip is not to risk your piece and to create small shards or tiles on clay to text your concoctions on first.

If you have nay specific questions on the use of coloured slips, get in touch!