COVID-19 An Artist’s Perspective

I’d ask you all to presuppose that this article is about a very specific vantage on the virus. It by no means suggests that navigating these times as an artist is the hardest hit way to exist in these times. It is, of course, those affected so personally by the cruel virus itself. In this article I will assume that the reader has followed the news closely, is aware of the wider issues, the dangers, the deathcount and the heroic nature of the NHS. This article will consequently not discuss anything further about the virus itself or the times we live in, beyond it’s affect on my artistic career. I hope that it’s not perceived as flippancy but instead for the exhaustion and anxiety it truly is.

Can a sector get sick?

It took me until I was in my thirties to call myself an artist, so for this to happen so soon into my career it makes me kick myself a little for the years lost. Commissions that I have spent hours preparing, weeks and months waiting on, all gone within hours of each other. The cancellation of events means markets, festivals and exhibitions. It means lost commissions and lost chances to earn revenue.

Artists, everywhere are worried. Some rely solely on their artist income and have studio rent to pay. Bills to pay. Online sales took a nosedive too as job security plummeted. People have spent all their wages on loo roll and have more on their minds than buying art. Plus, competition is high. Bricks and Mortar businesses are pleading for custom in a way they haven’t before. I don’t see how I can make money as an artist until this is through.

Postponed or cancelled though?

Technically, everything I had booked in is actually postponed, not cancelled. This shows great willing on the organisers part to keep contracts and support artists. However, the reality is that some of these organisations might not survive the crisis. Some of these opportunities will be postponed and consequently clash with other sought after opportunities. It means that the scale of lost income and opportunity is particularly hard to gauge. 

Is it all doom and gloom?

Hopefully not. But it is scary. Many artists are banding together online, exploring online markets and #drawthisinyourstyle competitions to gain new followers for when it’s all over. I am unsure how effective online markets will be when everyone’s wallets are lighter than usual. The ability to post stock is likely in jeopardy to. I think waiting it out is the only option to be frank. It doesn’t mean the time is wasted though. Next week (because we will definitely still be in this by then) I will focus on tips for ways to spend your time to enhance your art career when no commissions are coming in. 

Stay safe, stay home and don’t buy all the loo roll!

New Project Announcement: Moor Otters

The Moor Otters project is a seasoned sculpture trail that I will be taking part in for the first time in 2020. My second sculpture painted in 2020 so far after my mini moo. The third that will be revealed though after the Cows About Cambridge trail goes live in March.

The Moor Otters project is based in Dartmoor National Park and raising money for Donate for Dartmoor. The funds will go towards protecting the local wildlife. This includes the homes of many otters on the nature reserve (hence the sculptures). There will be 80 otters displayed publicly in and around Dartmoor for the duration of the trail in Summer 2020. The sculptures will then be auctioned off to raise additional funds. 

Doctor Doolittle Strikes Again

This otter is my sixth charity sculpture commission since my first in March 2019. So whilst painting them might be nothing new, bring in one home is! At just 1 metre tall and taking up very little floor space for a sculpture of its size (not to mention just how far away Dartmoor actually is!) the otter is the first sculpture to be panted in my home studio. It’s interesting to bring one home. Nice to paint amongst my home comforts but a job to navigate around day to day life. Different to when you have booked specific time away for it. Namely, I am talking about trying to paint with a puppy around! It’s one thing I hope will be much easier as Dot grows up. Perhaps the fear of her being covered in paint and smudging everything might subside a little.

The Design

I don’t want to give too much away but I will say that this design is going to feature a very familiar face. It is rare for me to paint people but for this design I have made an exception. I think when you see it you will understand why! The design is bright, colourful, happy and featuring a national treasure that I am sure folk will love. I just have to hope that I can do them justice! 

Keep your eyes peeled when the otter designs all go live on the trail later on this year. 

Stockist Shake Up

You might remember from my earlier blog that one of my goals for 2020 was to shake up my stockists. In 2019 I had a goal to be stocked in 2 shops. Throughout the year I smashed it, and ended up in seven. However, it’s not just art racking up the numbers. 2019 was a huge learning experience for me. Finding out what works and what the cost and reward is with each stockist was a big part of that.

I chose to shake up my stockists and make changes. To make sure that I am always working with a model that’s good for my business. This meant saying goodbye to some stockists and hello to others.

Bye Felicia 

Now it wasn’t really that simple. Each stockist came with a different set of risks, difficulties and benefits. I have to make sure that not just my time is being spent wisely but where I send my stock. As busy times of year like Christmas you bounce a round a lot between restocking bricks and mortar stores, preparing for markets and fulfilling online orders. Managing stockists takes time and coordination. It is much easier if a stockist can track the exact items that you sell, but this is very rare. A stockist will regularly tell you the type of item you sell and it’s price but are unlikely to keep track of your individual designs, which as a print maker is valuable intel to make restocks easier and more predictable. 

Wholesale Heaven

Wholesale, although the less profitable avenue for your price per item, is an avenue I was keen to explore more in 2020. I am super stoked to have found some of my new suppliers in this way. I am always keen to identify possible new stockists. So if you have a store front that you think my work would be a good fit for, or even just have a suggestion of a shop (online or bricks and mortar) that you think I should get in touch with, please make sure to drop me a message on my website’s contact form.

Stockists that Fit

I have made a more focused attempt at finding stockists recently too. Finding alternative and niche store is something I am keen to try outside of the general ‘indie maker’ shop scene. I am pleased to have some stockists that come under this category. Also I am looking forward to developing this relationships over the next year too. In 2020 I am trying to embrace my weird side, rather than sneak it in amongst the normal. I am hopeful that this will be as good for my business as it is as enjoyable.

Remember to get in touch!

I am always researching, learning and keeping an eye out but if you want to chat business or have a great recommendation for where you think my spooky work will fit right in, don’t forget to get in touch!

Blue Monday 2020 was a really great day I had as an artist

I am going to share with you guys a day I had recently as an artist that was a really great day. There are lots of stressful days as an artist, lots of days where it feels like you are getting nowhere or having got enough done. Being an artist is HARD. So I am sharing an account of a really good day I had, because they aren’t all that easy to find sometimes.

Monday January 20th 2020

Allegedly the saddest day of the year (I don’t know who decides and I hope its not a legal requirement!). Blue Monday. For me though, it was great!

Cows About Cambridge

I started the day by hugging my pooch, kissing my fella goodbye and hopping on a train to Cambridge. With a suitcase full of paints and a flask full of tea kindly made for me by my other half as I set off. It was my third trip to Cambridge since November, where I had painted a large Cow sculpture for the 2020 Cows About Cambridge trail. This time I was returning to work on a mini moo sculpture in partnership with my large sculpture sponsored Thames link and the charity Mind. Thames link had launched a competition for a service user from Mind to design a cow which I would realise and would form part of the mini moo family on the trail.

I even found time on the train to work on a design submission for an upcoming Wild in Art trail, so fingers crossed for that one!

Good News from Far Away

It’s always a win when you get an etsy sale, so that was the first good news of the day, along with sales reports from my stockists. I was delighted to find in my inbox a message from the fabulous Elizabeth of The Fox Fairy store in Affecks Palace asking if I’d like to join their stocked artists. A while ago I had mentioned this to Elizabeth and teenage Sian would be elated to have her work sold in her number one too cool for school shopping location. I accepted at once to move in in Feb.

While checking my social media I found that I had had a smal flurry of new followers and that my new stockist October 31st had posted about me joining the store, which I was really excited about too! I even saw that an artist I followed was talking about arranging artist meet ups in my town. I have wanted to do this for ages without any real plan of how to go about it, and I hadn’t even realised that this wonderful artist was from my town! Immediately I announced my excitement and intention to get involved however I can.

In the Grafton Centre

Back in the real world I got cracking on my mini moo and got to meet the lovely Annie from Wild in Art. It was great to meet her finally and she had lots of helpful advice and offered so much support for me on my Wild in Art journey, thanks Annie!

Painting the sculpture was a new experience for me to translate someone else design onto a sculpture. It was an experience practice a different way of working. I usually work much more intuitively and make lots of decisions throughout the process. This took a much more planned and strategic approach to translate someone else vision onto the canvas (or cow!). 

While the primer layer dried I headed for a mooch around some local charity shops in the hunt for books, and scored an amazing full set of Rocky Horror figures for the princely some of £4! (This figures would then proceed to go viral believe it or not!)

At the end of the day

After a long and tiring but productive day of painting I crawled into my comfy B&B bed with some KFC and Magic Mike on the telly. What made this day perfect wasn’t living a life of luxury with all of these opportunities throwing themselves at my feet, but a delightful day where the hard work I had put in and seeds I had sown were paying off. It’s the best kind of day any artists can hope for if you ask me! Mostly it reminds me that the hard work pays off, not everything is a rejection and all you need to do is just keep swimming.

A Hyperactive Artist’s Guide to Whitby Part 2

Spooky Seaside & Nautical Nonsense

I could talk about Whitby for ages. Two blog posts at least! I’ve been to the town twice now and would definitely like to visit again soon. Here are just a few of my other highlights of my visits.

All the Spooky Stuff

From one of several ghost walks around the town, to alternative shopping destinations like Artemis and the Mermaid (Featuring a selection of local makers) there are a range of places to pop into and things to make time for on your visit. I especially recommend the ghost tours as a great way of getting to know the sights and navigation of the town centre. You’ll also hear some great bits of history and tales long the way, as well as a bit more on the Dracula connection.

Whitby Museum

The Whitby Museum has its fine share of eccentric curios and creepy collections too. The museum is free entry and is home to several pieces of note. A model of the Abbey, a weather prediction machine that would have used live leeches to work when it was constructed and creepiest of all, a supposedly genuine Hand of Glory. Said to bring luck the hand is rumoured to have been removed from the body of a hanged man, and was discovered in the home of a gentleman suspected of committing many burglaries but never held accountable for any.

The Gaff

We stayed in the Gypsy Rose hotel which I cannot reccomend strongly enough. The themed hotel was charming throughout and totally affordable. Completely dog friendly as a lot of the town happily is, each morning we received a basket full of fresh fruit, pastries, yogurts and cakes, to enjoy in our four poster bed in our Morrocan themed room. There was even a boiled egg for the doggo. Beautifully curated decor adorned each themed room, shabby and chic but lovably bohemian. The cocktail bar sported dapperly dressed taxidermist animals and a genuine Victorian seance lamp. I was in heaven!

Nautical Nonsense

The sandy beach was perfect for long walks with the pooch. I particularly reccomend the walk up to Staithes from Whitby pier. An easy walk over a few hours with chance for a brew and cake at the end. Your return journey keeps the wonderful abbey in your sights.

The seafood in the town is exceptional too. I particularly reccomend the Star Inne, but even the street vendors have lovely fresh cray fish tails and homemade sushi for you to enjoy.