I’ve been lucky enough to work on some fab collaborations during lockdown. Some I’ve announced and some still hidden under my hat. All will be revealed later! Today though I’m revealing my collab with Girl Gang Sheffield. GGS put a call out on their socials for artists to work with them on designing some merch. They have a fantastic crowdfunded scheme to support artists. They commission artists to create designs and make sure that they get fair pay for doing so. Importantly they don’t ask artists to send finished designs up front that might not get used and they commit to commissioning underrepresented artists. They are all round good gals! It is important to have folk like them who are committed to supporting the arts and to accessibility. I was super chuffed to have been picked to be the T-shirt designer of this round.
And It Gets Even Better!
If that all wasn’t great enough, the sales of the tees and totes that they commissioned this round will all go back into the seed fund. Meaning that they can support even more artists in future rounds of funding. Great right? So you can get some fab garb, locally made AND support a brand new artist with each purchase. I’LL TAKE FIVE PLEASE!
The design needed to be in keeping with the values of GGS. I wanted to create something that would look great on a T-shirt and that I think will sell well. I also wanted to create something super happy! 2020 has been tough as heck. Finally I wanted it to represent the values of GGS but also be well and truly Sian Ellis style. And so this is how the ‘In High Spirits’ design was born. Look familiar? I was so pleased with the design, I amended it afterwards to become the basis of my new logo!
Where to Purchase
You can purchase the ‘In High Sprits’ tees now alongside tote bags by Jodie from Dolly Pepper Studio. You just need to paypal friends and family with your size and address to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our pals at Girl Gang Sheffield for details 🙂
I have thought about this for a while. There are so many opportunities to engage with new things as an artist. Technology is an amazing thing! I know I sound like an 80 year old when I say that, but there really is so much to learn! Seeing platforms like Patreon and Kofi is one thing. I have already engaged with online platforms like Threadless and Kickstarter. Yes, they are totally different but I feel like learning and experimenting is a huge thing for young career artists to do.
Patreon appeals to me as a creator and as a patron. Artists that I love on instagram and YouTube I can get such a further insight to their work on Patreon. It feels like you get to connect with that artist more too. It’s a bit more intimidate. I’d even go as far as to say it feels like a secret art club? I am trying not to explore the platform too much just yet for fear of becoming slightly addicted!
As an artists commercially I am quite terrible. I join platforms to explore them as a creator and I always end up a customer. I‘m a sucker for good art and the chance to support artists. Also I spend a fortune on prints, clothing and earrings that I spy on people’s instagram pages. I back kickstarters for books and pins all the time. Left unchecked I would subscribe to so many Patreon’s I just know it!
I want my Patreon to be a place where artists can learn about my materials, projects and techniques but also a space to be enjoyed by people who aren’t artists too. With discounts for my store, digital merch and sneaky peeks into everyday life as an artist. I aim to get more confident with videoed material so I can share more process vids too.
Tell me what you’re after!
It’s important for me to be aware that I am not an expert at this. I want to create content that you guys want to see. If you think I am missing something, tell me! What sort of stuff would you like to see on my Patreon page? What kind of rewards would encourage you to pledge? Drop me your ideas on my contact page and make my day!
Find my Patreon page here!
Last week was my second and final week of painting my Bears of Sheffield sculpture. Eeeek! It’s the first time that I have started a sculpture and then had a four day break in the middle. It was a revelation! It allowed me to come back fully charged, refreshed and having missed my bear! I got right back to work. The first day after the break felt the most productive painting day. I seemed to get some much done in terms of getting all the first layers of paint down and starting the second.
Remember, the bear is like 7ft tall, so we are talking a lot of paint! It always surprise me how far a little pot of paint will go! I always finish sculpture painting with paint to take home, more than I’d expect to.
Second layer (and third and fourth!)
It’s always a bit of a guessing game how many layers each paint is going to need to look good. But once the first layer is down, it’s all an endurance test. You just keep going until it’s done. I personally love this part of painting. It’s automatic to a degree as you already have all of your first layer mapped out. You just keep working and see your piece get better and better. I guess what I enjoy is that you see your work improve without any of the fear of making the wrong artistic choice throughout.
The finishing touches
I got a bit anxious when it came time to add the last layer of detail to my sculpture. I knew it would drastically change the piece but the most effective way to paint it would be to add it on as a new layer at the end. It meant that I created something I was really happy with but I then had to commit to making a big change to it. So yeah, it was scary! Luckily it pai off big time. Yes the design looked different, but better!
I was sad to finish it. Knowing that it could very likely be my last sculpture of 2020. I love painting sculptures sooooo much! I am staying positive that 2021 will have some more!
What I really love about it is that it is very ‘me’. I think people will look at it and immediately think ‘that’s Sian’s!’ It is such a great opportunity that I have had to do this. This week I will return to varnish it and I am so excited to see how much the colours start to pop when I do. It’s a shame that he’ll have to then go into hibernation for over a year, but I am looking forward to being reunited with an old friend. On the streets of Sheffield, July 2021.
After 1645 months in quarantine I was elated to get out and paint last week. I have craved big painting projects in lockdown. Sculptures and murals, I love them! Working on a big scale is an unparalleled creative experience. I feel expressive and a bit naughty like I am a kid drawing on a wall at home. Blooming love it though! I have been gurning to do some big painting for months. Finding out I was a successful artists for the trail during lockdown was a huge win for me. The promise of a painting project coming up was brilliant.
I am going to dedicate a future blog post entirely to this subject. Packing for painting off site is a tough thing to get totally right. Feeling a little rusty from not being able to leave the house, this took some extra thought this time. Paints, brushes, sarnies and podcasts sorted, I was ready!
We are painting in a super secret painting space. The staff at the Children’s Hospital have done a brilliant job of keeping us socially distanced and safe. It means that there are sadly less artists together at a time, but painting alongside even just a couple of people has been totally refreshing after life in quarantine. First impression is that these bears are HUGE! I think 7 ft tall? They even have a base to paint which I wasn’t expecting. I got a start on sanding and printing and accepting that my next few weeks will be a lot of time up and down ladders!
Getting the design right was the main theme of today. Translating a 2D design to a huge 3D an as is difficult. Not just in terms of scale but in following the sculpture shape. It took a while to work out where the components of the design were best to sit. You can never been too prescriptive in translating a flat design onto a shaped canvas. Things will need to move and change to suit the curves of the piece. The most challenging part as the bear’s head. A very flat picture is an elongated and complex shape in reality. Getting the flow of the piece right was a big focus of the day.
I took me until the third day to get my first layer of paint down fully. I started this on day 1. On such a huge sculpture it is such a big job! Trying to get as much paint down as possible and lock in the whole design was the flavour of the day. By the end of the third day I had just started on my second layers of colour in an attempt to flatten the design and make the colours bolder.
I have another three days booked in to paint next week. This is the first time I have had such a break halfway through painting. I needed it! Months in lockdown means I need a bit of warm up time. Painting big is a really physical job. It also means I have an extra few days to get excited before going back to hopefully finish the piece. Wish me luck!
I hadn’t planned on this being today’s blog. It’s important to capture the time we are living in though. So business as usual aside, here’s a Covid catch up blog.
How Covid affects creation
Lockdown has been such a huge time for me as an artist. I have never spent so much time on my art professionally. I haven’t had this much free time since becoming a professional artist is why. More than these extra hours though, the landscape has changed. We are experiencing something huge which we need to respond to. It creates strict confines in which we can create within. So much physical activity has leapt online and I can access commissions, exhibitions and opportunities from my own home. These are opportunities that geography could have closed to me any other time.
We are also all experiencing this together. I don’t feel like a newbie artist under Covid. I feel that everyone is being shaken out of their comfort zone. We are all relearning. Everyone is a newbie again, and so the youthfulness of my career feels less apparent.
Not all Rosy
Although I can embrace change quickly and find a way through it to strengthen my business, we are ultimately still in a difficult and dark time. We are combating this huge cloud over our creations. Of course we are all stressed. We miss people. We have multiple reasons to worry. It’s not even like we can even go to the pub to drown our sorrows with friends. The dream of all these hours to create is tarnished by our exhaustion. It’s not just the pandemic either. The political climate is hostile. The awful murder of George Floyd, British and US backwards steps in the face of trans rights, the phrase anti- anti fascists. It doesn’t away feel like sharing my art is the most appropriate use of the internet.
My business as a comfort
What I am really thankful for at the moment is the community attached to my business. The organisations and individuals I work with on commissions. The other artists I meet. My super lovely customers and social media followers. You guys make me feel connected is this time of great disconnect. You guys have supported me financially and emotionally throughout lockdown. I never realised before how much going into business by yourself can make you feel so connected to others.
I am always excited to announce new projects. If you have read any other of my announcement blogs, you’ll know. In this current climate though, it is even better! Lockdown has been scary in that regard. Although it’s bought new opportunities too! Hearing That I have successfully been picked for Bears of Sheffield though? I was buzzing!
After painting on so many sculpture trails, the idea of not painting one in my home city would be pretty rubbish. To get confirmation of a new painting project after these last few months is amazing enough, but a sculpture trail in Sheffield is just perfect! This will be my 9th charity sculpture paint since March 2019.
Bears of Sheffield
The trail will run in 2021 and raise money for Sheffield Children’s Hospital. In 2015 the charity ran the herd of Sheffield project with Wild in Art. Having learnt a trick or two they’ve gone solo. I don’t want to ruin any surprises, but as an artist on the project I am in some excellent company.
The sculpture design is based on the statue in the old bear pit in the Botanical gardens. A bit of a grizzly inspiration (ahem) but undoubtedly a great form. The mascot of the charity is a bear too. The statues themselves are absolutely huge. This will be the tallest sculpture I have painted and I predict a step ladder will get some use.
The design, as always is under wraps. I can give you a couple of clues though. The piece I will be painting is going to be bold, bright and very me! When I heard that was the shortlisted design, I was slightly shocked. It was the most experimental design I submitted, but I always like to submit a bit of a wild card. I do it in the hope that it will get picked, of course. But it’s usually a design that’s a bit wilder than your average sculpture.
I cannot wait to bring the design to life and I think about how sweet it will be when the trail goes live. A whole year after painting! I start my work on the sculpture next week. It’ll be a dream to go out to work again (socially distanced of course!).
Follow me on social media for some sneaky peeks at the process 🙂