Highlights of 2019: My First Kickstarter Campaign

In the Summer I ran my first ever Kickstarter campaign to produce my first ever enamel pin. I had never used Kickstarter before but had attended a free information evening ran by the website at Site Gallery in Sheffield earlier in the year. 

The Big Launch

 I think I started off with a grandiose idea of an intensive and detailed strategy. Spreadsheets and plans reviewed again and again before launch day. In reality, I found myself with an overflow of energy and enthusiasm on an afternoon I was free and feeling brave. Off the cuff, emotional and optimistic, my campaign was born.

I had used the tips I learnt at the Kickstarter advice evening. I set my campaign for 4 weeks and made sure to have pledge rewards at range of price points. Specifically I ensured there was a £20 tier, the most popular Kickstarter pledge amount.

The Stressful Bit

Trying not to constantly survey the campaign is a challenge in itself. Watching the amount rise and sink was surprisingly stressful. Luckily for me I had very few cancelled pledges, and I reached my target goal within a timeframe that meant the pressure wasn’t onme for longer than I could handle. It meant that I could review my goals. Hope for higher amounts and add additional rewards. When the campaign hit 100% funded after just one week of being live, I was grateful, surprised and humbled.

Lessons Learned

Some kickstarters add rewards that are only available to claim once they are unlocked when the campaign reaches a certain target. I was far too giddy and excited for that, all my rewards unlocks were free gifts for all physical backers. This could have been something in which to monetize and encourage higher pledges, but I was happy just to offer rewards and share the love with my amazing backers. 

I also didn’t realise that the shipping costs registered to your target. This is only a problem if your minimum is really the very minimum you need to produce and you only hit that. In future I would factor these costs in too.

The bestest most wonderful lesson was what fab folk are out there supporting my work, and what wonderful new people found me on Kickstarter and took a chance on my art. The success of my first ever Kickstarter campaign reaching £1000 pledged was the nicest compliment in the whole of 2019. Thankyou! 

This piece is part of a three part blog series on my highlights from 2019. 

Barker & Stonehouse Button Badge Commission

I previously wrote about the five miniature wallabies I was commissioned to paint by Villa Gaeity.  This was part of the Wild in Art app incentives that sponsors are encouraged to provide. Happily it was not the only trail where I was commissioned to create some of these incentives.

The Brief

My Great North Elmer was sponsored by Barker and Stonehouse, and the prominent furniture store put in a special request for their sculpture to be placed outside their store. This gave them a unique stand point to easily hand out their Elmer’s unlock incentives from their store. They chose to commission a small token that they could distribute in high volume. Taking inspiration from my current range of button badges I was asked to create a range of designs for the Great North Elmer trail.

The Inspiration

 I took inspiration from the colourful characters on my Elmer. From experience I knew they would work well in a badge design. I just needed to keep it colourful, bold and simple in design. I designed 5 badges in total. Each took colour and character cues from the Elmer. 

I enjoy designing badges and they are popular items. They are small and my designs often appeal to my littlest fans. They come with a price tag to suit little budgets too. I have a surprisingly diverse customer base and am proud to have done fab mini fans.

The biggest challenge in badge design is creating something that will stand out as a tiny wearable design. Contrast needs to be good, lines need to be clean and simple. The badges I created for Barker and Stonehouse were just that. I hope that they found lots of happy homes during the trail and they get worn often.

If you have managed to pick up a badge please remember to share your photos with me! 

Why the election results make me proud to be weird artist

There have been a lot of emotions this week following the horrific election results in the U.K. We are a nation under the right wing. I flit between sad, angry and optimistic. Hopeful that the good eggs amongst us can fix it. That we can see each other through and help our friends and neighbours in the meantime. That we can pull together to support the vulnerable people our government has forgotten.

What has this got to do with art?

Politics, outrage and passion are always going to inspire art. What I am focusing on more is how this result has affected my own approach to my own art. It has forced me to accept that I feel am at a moral bypass with the majority of my voting countryman. It has forced me to accept that no matter how crucial a government can be in the difference between life and death for vulnerable people, there will still be many folk who don’t even get up to vote. I am forced me to accept that I am in a minority, at a complete impass with many of those around me.

So what has it got to do with YOUR art Sian?

I have always felt a conflict within myself when it comes to my art. Between the ultimately alternative work that I especially enjoy to draw, and the mainstream stuff that tends to have a more mass appeal. I have felt the need to defend my art from people who find it strange that someone wants to draw ghosts all year long. I have often felt a societal pressure to ‘be more normal’. This election has redefined what normality is in the U.K.  It has taught me that I don’t really want to be it after all.

Weirdos 4 lyf!

Now this isn’t all down to the election. Growing support for my spooky pieces over the last year has been hurtling me towards this point also. The election results just cement it. It doesn’t mean all my work will be spooky and weird, but it means I will have the confidence to promote more obscure work more proudly. I can’t maintain my business on only proving super niche creepy illustrations, but I can allow myself to explore that art freely. What I can do is I can allow myself to be proud of it. I can enjoy that I am different, because after brexit and the tories, who wants to be like the Great British public these days anyway? 

Powering Through Christmas, ?2019 Edition

It’s that time of year again, but bigger, longer and uncut!

Today is the first day I have ever had to write a Sunday blog post on the day it’s due. I usually write these posts as often as possible and schedule them in advance. Everything is out of the window this time of year. 

‘Tis the Season of Powering Through. 

With a one year old puppy sized bundle of unrelenting energy, this year had been an extra juggling act. Balancing work, markets, commission work, puppy ownership and life admin, it’s been a big one. My second year of illustration has seen an increase in my commission work throughout the year too, so I have additional work alongside Christmas commissions.

How to Cope

I have reassigned conservatively  realistic about the work I am able to do in this time. I have found myself having to turn work down that I am not certain I can complete within required deadlines. Each project I am unable to complete, I hope to work with I the new year, but I don’t want to accept anything I am not confident I can do well and in time.

Same goes for markets. I signed up to as many as I was confident I could do without exhausting myself. Ones that would be good, ones that would be profitable and worth it. Ones that I would enjoy too!

I also scheduled in some down time. A couple of days in London visiting Secret Cinema and Danny Elfman & The Nightmare Before Christmas Live. A week in York for my dad’s 60th birthday. Excuses to recharge my mind and reacquaint myself with my sanity. 

Looking Forward

I have a list as long as my arm of things I would like to work on in the new year. New projects, new pieces and new collections. New techniques. Showing my face in the ceramics studio for the first time in months! I am looking forward to a month that should remain quiet in both my jobs to allow me to work on some of these. I am also looking forward to reviewing the year and ensuring that the things that occupy my time currently are only carried on into 2020 if they are the best fit for what I want to achieve. I am also looking forward to having more resource in both my jobs (but I will announce more about this in the new year itself).

Yes it’s busy, but yes of course I love what I do!

Press Release; Local artist painted sculpture sales raise £57,000 for good Causes

Work by Sheffield based illustrator and mural artist Sian Ellis has raised £57,142 for charities for works painted since March this year. The works have all been on display as part of arts trails across the U.K. throughout the Summer and Autumn of 2019. 

Starting with a 6 foot wallaby in the Isle of Man in the Spring, Sian has travelled to the sites of 4 trails across the U.K. to create the painted pieces, including sometimes multiple works for individual trails. Four of the sculptures painted have been for projects in collaboration with Wild in Art. A partner behind the Herd of Sheffield in 2016.

Each trail raises money for local charities in its city. Causes include funding a new gorilla enclosure at Jersey Zoo and raising money for St Oswolds Hospice in Northumberland. 

Sian painted her designs into fibre glass and porcelain sculptures which were then auctioned for charity by the trail organisers. The highest earner of Sian’s work was her design entitled ‘Our Island’ for Go Wild Gorillas in Jersey. The design features local landmarks throughout history, stratified through layers of land, sea and archeological finds deep under ground, The sculpture fetched a whopping £27,000 when auctioned on the island in early November.

Quote from Sian

“I’ve loved taking part in every single trail that I’ve been lucky enough to be part of this summer. I’ve had the chance to visit some beautiful places for the first time, and work alongside some brilliant artists. Plus every trail has been raising money for inspiring causes. Even when my first porcelain sculpture for the Great York Ghost Hunt smashed in transit back to the trail, I just jumped on a train and started it again, so the piece could remain part of the trail and be auctioned off for local homelessness charities. 

I’m absolutely delighted and flabbergasted with the amounts the sculptures have raised. I still can’t quite believe it! I have already been commissioned to produce works for a further two trails in 2020 and am looking forward to growing the charity raise even further”

Auction Breakdown

£25,000 raised for gorilla design ‘Jersey Boy’ featuring hand knitted elements, part of the Go Wild Horillas trail in Jersey raising money for Durrell Zoo

£27,000 for gorilla design ‘Our Island’ as part of the same trail

£2,000 raised for Elmer elephant design ‘Nice to Be Nice’, a sculpture covered in fun characters and compliments as part of ‘Great North Elmer’ raising money for St Oswolds Hospice in Northumberland 

£3,000 raised for a wallaby design ‘Our Community’ covered in colourful characters raising money for Hospice Isle of Man 

£142 raised for a small porcelain ghost lamp painted for the Great York Ghost Search raising money for local homelessness charities 

More info