I’m Officially a Full Time Artist and Oh Boy is it Scary!

So I’ve known this was coming for a while. Covid was never very friendly for an Events organiser. I had only been working 3 days a week in my other job too. My illustration business has been growing over the last two and a half years I have been running it. I have worked on some amazing opportunities and it really has been brilliant. Don’t get me wrong, the chance to do it full time is excellent. The chance to have been able to work on it full time under the furlough scheme of my other job for a few months was a gift too. An opportunity I could never have imagined before. 

This blog is just about how scary it is! In general and in the current climate. My part time job ended officially one week ago. Even though I have been working on my business over lockdown, it has felt different since then. The feeling of “this is it kid, we’re on our own”.

The fact it is quiet sleepy August exacerbates this I think. Traditionally August would be a painting month for me. When the weather is nice it is a great time for painting murals. I would usually have a few sculptures on display and get the joy of seeing them tagged on social media. Even visiting a few. Covid has postponed all the arts trails. There are a few mural projects that are on hiatus. A few applications I have in that aren’t being reviewed until 2021. A part of my business has stopped completely, at a quiet retail time of year and it’s all at the time I have gone full time. Gulp!

We’re on Our Own Kid

There’s also now the pressure to ’do it properly’. I guess that’s tied into the ‘imposter syndrome’. There’s no reason for me to think I am not doing properly already. The stakes are just higher now. Change is big and change is scary. That’s coming from me, a person who thrives on change! It’s just, you know, a BIG change! 

I guess the other side is that I am conscious that a lot of other people are in the same boat as me. A whole wave of freelancers are coming at a time when it’s likely many opportunities will drop. I am hopeful that there is enough arts funding out there to support the industry. Also I am hopeful that industries that are thriving do their best to support freelance and independent business. I am hopeful that I love what I do enough to battle through.

There’s a misconception that artist’s work is not of as higher value as others because their reward is that they love what they do. The love an artist has for their work is what powers them to work crazy hours, pour their heart and soul into their business. It is certainly not something to undervalue them on. It’s precisely the secret ingredient that adds quality and value to what they do.

The Future

I guess that even though I am stressed and frightened about it all now there are things I can do to fix it. This is the best time to sit down and look at what I am doing, what opportunities there are, What I can do better. Am I charging enough? Have I got a good business plan? Everything I need to do to take my business to the next level. It’s scary because I care. Because I care I can build this thing as big as it can go. 

To everyone else in a similar position I wish you all the luck that’s out there. I know that like me you can use your love for your art to bolster your business. And If you ever want to chat, you know where to find me!

Stay Spooky Kickstarter Campaign: The first 3 days

I am so please at how the campaign is going you guys!  Have to share it with you, because I am so excited!

It is currently Wednesday afternoon after the campaign launched Monday lunchtime. Sunday night I was way too excited. I wanted to launch it immediately, despite advertising the Monday launch. Part excitement, part nerves. When I am nervous about something I like to just do it. Stop worrying and dive in!I deifinitely felt like that about the campaign. So far at this point I had made some teaser posts on instagram about designs. I’d written a few blogs about it. I made a public video and a Patreon video about designs. I had advertised it in a few obvious places. The campaign was ready and I had a promo plan in mind.

The Launch

The first 24 hours after launch were the big ones for me. This was because I had launched some early bird prices that would only be a viable for this time. The quicker we unlock the designs the less stressed I need to get and the happier my backers will be. I know people want to see the design they like best unlocked.  Wanted this to happen as soon as possible. I also wanted to advertise this point because I wanted people to know about the special offers. I wanted people to be able to get a deal if there was one available. 

So I dove in and promoted the campaign EVERYWHERE. Everywhere I could think of where I could post for free. In my first campaign I had tried a whole range of advertising techniques. Also as an events organiser marketing was a huge part of my job. So I know that promotion is the biggest deal. Well, having a good product and well made campaign is the biggest thing, but promo is a pretty close second. The biggest thing with promo is that on average people need to see something a few miles before they act. I’m quite impulsive so this is quite different to my own nature but I know that it is true. Getting it out everywhere and often but without being spammy is definitely an art form! I am always open to advice on how to get this balance right.

Funding Target Reached

I am so pleased to be able to say that it only took 1 minute for the first backer and 8 hours to become fully funded! There are still designs to unlock and stretch goals, but this is amazing! I never thought it would happen so quickly. It so meant that the time I have to super stress about whether it will get funded or not was gladly much shorter than expected.

The Designs

By this point on day 3 we have happily unlocked 3 designs. After the excitement of day 1 with the launch and discounts the pledges have understandably slowed. So it’s on me to keep advertising, keep up memento and make the campaign go as well as I can. The unlocked designs are the ‘Boo’, ‘Say Cheese’ and ‘Ghost Dog’. Happily these are some of the designs that got the best reception. I didn’t know this when I launched. I kept the designs secret for a while So I wasn’t sure the best order to unlock them in. I am happy that the designs people are most excited about are unavailable. It means more happy campers and less chance of cancelled pledges. 

The campaign is live until September 7th so if you want to pledge or are able to share before then, thank you!

You can find out more by following the link below 🙂


Spooky Season Kickstarter: The Designs

Tomorrow sees the launch of my Spooky Season Kickstarter. I announced this campaign and it’s story in Wednesday’s blog. I thought it would be nice to introduce the designs to you today. 

If the campaign is successful each design will be printed onto 1.5 inch clear recycled acrylic charms and made into earrings. Each pair of earrings will be handmade as I currently do with my existing 1 inch plywood earring designs. The campaign will run for just 14 days so if you are keen to grab a pair at a special price, now is the time! Plus you will get the chance to own some exclusive freebies if the campaign reaches it’s stretch goals too. 

The Designs

The designs are based around the spooky season and things I love. With October in reach I feel even more pumped up than usual to create spooky designs. That’s definitely saying something! These designs are what I think would make perfect halloween earrings as well as able to wear all year long. I have avoided any specifically halloween iconography (i.e Pumpkins) for this reason.

There are five spooky designs in total. It won’t surprise you that spooks feature in every design, but they are all a bit different. Some designs incorporate text into their design too. It’s risky on a small design. However I am confident that the words are a big and bold enough part of the design that they will work fine. There is also a witchy design that is new territory for me. This design is based on my Haunted House piece where I drew a cut through of a haunted house and included spooky paraphernalia in each room. The basement was the witch’s potion room like we see here. The camera design is based on a Beetlejuice themed gif I created. Although it nods to the film this design is more about proving the existence of a spooky afterlife! 

The Campaign

The campaign will see each design unlock after a certain target is hit. There will be the chance to gain early bird prices on the first day only as well as he previously mentioned freebies. It doesn’t matter if you pledge before a design you like becomes available as everyone will only be asked to pick their designs from the unlocked ones available after the campaign ends. This is irregardless of what is unlocked at the time of your pledge. 

Support the Campaign

To support the campaign just visit my Kickstarter page by following my bio link at www.instagram.com/thisissianellis once it launches Monday 24th August

Preparing to Launch My Next Kickstarter Campaign

I am excited to finally start talking about my next Kickstarter campaign. The campaign will launch on Monday 24th August. It will be my first campaign to launch a brand new series of Spooky Season themed acrylic earrings!

My First Campaign

This will be my second ever Kickstarter campaign. My first ran just over one year ago and funded my Skeptical ghost enamel pin. It was my first pin badge and I learnt all about pin production and kickstarter too. I have taken forward my learnings about running a campaign to this next project. If it is even half as successful as my last campaign I will be super pleased. My enamel pin campaign raised three times it’s target goal.

My First Acrylic Earrings

As with my first campaign I am using kickstarter to help launch a brand new product. Currently I have a range of 1 inch plywood charm earrings available. These earring have been really popular and I have really enjoyed designing and making them. I am running this campaign to fund a series of larger earrings made from recycled acrylic. Kickstarter is a brilliant platform to allow artists and creators to fund products that are new to them or with a large set up cost in a less risky way. It allows you to offer pre sales on your item so that you can be sure that there is support before you put your item into production. Especially in the current climate and as my art is now my full time job, it is a valuable tool to access. 

The Designs

There will be five designs available. This is a change from my first campaign where there was just one. Each design is unlocked as we hit various funding targets. I also have additional freebies on offer after for all pledges after all designs are unlocked. The designs are based on the spooky season. Which obviously won’t surprise you at all! I had great fun drawing them and they are all based on my own designs of earrings I would love to wear. A first peak at all five will be released on my Instagram page this week. Details of freebies will only be announced with the campaign launch. 

Support the Campaign

To support the campaign just visit my Kickstarter page by following my bio link at www.instagram.com/thisissianellis once it launches Monday 24th August 

Halloween Hauls 2020 So Far

It will surprise approximately none of you that I am in Halloween shopping mode already. I dig spooky all year round! August is about the time that I am ready for Autumn. Generally I am sick of being too warm, I miss wearing jumpers. I want to drink gingerbread lattes. Usually I am looking for an excuse to stay inside on an evening and watch telly but I think I’ve had enough of that in 2020! Finding the first Code Orange is the sign of the season to come. 

Happily, it is becoming the second sign. The first quickly becoming lots of enquiries for Halloween collabs. I can’t wait to share them with you over the coming weeks too 🙂 But this thread is for shopping. I am going to share with you some of my spooky finds so far. Both in the British Halloween shoppers haven of homesense and small business too!

October 31st

First a shout out goes to www.october31st.co.uk who are my number one go to for spooky treats throughout the year. Their brand new vintage themed collection was surely the first pumpkin of the year and I bought it in July! A brand new trick or treat sign and an awesome two sided mug to match. I had to wait for a restock to get my hands on the vintage spooky coasters! I also grabbed a ‘To Boo List’ notepad that I loved so much I have already had to buy a second. Plus this time I got the ‘Spooky Notes’ one to match.

My favourite October 31st adoption has to be my adorable little tinsel ghost! He is by Bethany Lowe designs and his little bat stick and tiny vintage cat bucket melt my heart! My studio’s ghost shelf is well and truly stuffed full now. It doesn’t mean I will stop buying ghosts of course, just that the second shelf needs clearing now too!

My next shout out is for Stella Box Designs. I have placed her A5 ‘Stay Spooky’ print in front of my work desk. It’s there all year one to remind me to keep spooky no matter what time of year. The pinky/white background and orange pumpkin pop perfectly on my petrol blue wall. I even got a free vinyl sticker too!

TK Maxximum Excitement

I heard the phrase ‘TK Maxx Cult’ today with regards to their halloween merch. Boy are they not wrong! The UK halloween loving community spend July with eagle eyes, popping in every chance they get. Now that my studio is a mere five minutes walk from one of these stores I am in the danger zone daily. It’s a shame that there aren’t more shops like it in the UK. There are other shops with halloween merch but not so long lasting. The quality is better. They are made with the idea that someone might want to keep them out for more than just one night. I have added a great many items to this years shopping list. Discovered by trawling facebooks groups and photos of people’s find there. 

Gnomes seem to be a new theme with them this year. I picked up a couple even though they aren’t completely on brand for me. They are adorable though! There’s no harm in finding a friend for last year’s man eating plant Audrey 2 knock off find. My favourite is a little gnome on a pumpkin who lives in the studio with my monstera plant. His name is Frankenstein’s Monstera which I thought you guys might like! 

I’ve snagged a few salt and pepper shakers too. All ghost themed but my favourite is a little ghost dog with a pumpkin bucket. How could I not? I grabbed a black cat patterned hot drinks flask as well. The pattern is brilliant, it’s a really expressive and slightly demented looking cat pattern but the vintage quirky style had me sold. Dot has done well too since whenever I pop in I seem to come out with a new toy for her aswell!

There are a few more items I have my eye on and I am awaiting a parcel from a lovely lady who picked up a matching ghost couple for me. I am committed to making discerning purchases from here on out. The last thing I want is to fill the studio too quickly. Adding things I am not totally in love with. Struggling to find room for more. The goal is to have a spooky garden display on my window sill. That’s the main thing I am looking for. Think Audrey 2, plants and ceramics. I am making some ceramics for myself for the occasion too. The goal is that it is reminiscent of my Spectral flower shop print. I am sure that a few more halloween shopping trips will have it all well under way soon!

My First Podcast Interview

You can now listen to my first ever podcast interview! I recorded this with the lovely Kristen from Halloween Art and Travel. Kristen found my work on instagram and we then chatted over etsy. When Kristen asked me if I would like to be a guest I was very humbled and also nervous! It’s only recently that I have started live streaming. Recently that I have started recording anything I have said other than through the written word. I definitely want to improve on this and get better. I want to be able to create more engaging content in a range of mediums. So my first podcast was a great way to go. 

Halloween Art and Travel

What an excellent mix, right? Who doesn’t love both these things? Kristen is a lover and collector of Halloween artwork herself. In her podcast she interviews a range of talented halloween artists. It was lovely to be included as one of them. I even had the honour of being the first artists outside of the US to feature on the podcast.


Kristen did an excellent job of calming my nerves and came up with some really great questions. Ultimately it was just a really nice chat about halloween it’s someone who loves it like I do. Which is a great thing to get the chance to do. Especially as the Halloween art scene is still so small here in the UK.

It was a great opportunity to practice talking about my work in general too. If I am going to embrace the internet as a place of recording and live streaming then I have to get good at this. I can be guilty of just working on instinct. I create things because I enjoy the process and I make things because I am compelled to. Often that means that I am not always putting my experiences into words. Practicing how to talk about my process and my inspiration is an important skill. It just doesn’t necessarily come naturally to me when I am working. The more I get chance to practice these things I hope that the better at this I become. So stay tuned for more streaming opps from me, whether on instagram live or my new shiny YouTube channel. Maybe there will even be more podcasts soon too. 

If you would like to give the podcast a listen I talk about about my background, halloween in the UK, my favourite spooky podcasts and all things that inspire me as a spooky artist. Just follow the link at https://halloweenartandtravel.libsyn.com and be sure to subscribe for fabulous fortnightly halloween artist interviews 

August Only Patreon Sign Up Gift Bundle

Last month I launched my Patreon account into the world. If you are not familiar with the platform it is a place where artists can create exclusive behind the scene content and create and share rewards for groups of supporters. To access this the supporters pledge a donation each month. This is an excellent platform that allows artists to gain real tangiable support and create a small community online. Fans of the artists can gain a deeper insight into the work and world of that artist. They can also gain access to discount codes for their stores and other supporter rewards. Pledges can start from a quid or two a month giving instant access to a treasure trove of artist’s posts.

Big shout out to Lucy and Freyja!

I currently have two wonderful patrons who support me on my journey and I am so grateful for their support! At a crazy time like this and as I have just become a full time artist it is even more appreciated and humbling. So I want to give a big shout out of thanks to these wonderful two!


I am hoping to be able to grow my Patreon page and welcome more patrons into the mix. To encourage more sign ups I have a special welcome pack on offer. Anyone who pledges to my page in August will receive it. This is irregardless of which pledge tier you choose and it is a limited time special offer for those taking the leap to join my page first. I will be creating an exclusive digital bundle just for you guys and you will all receive it! The bundle includes three products. The first is a wallpaper for your phone or tablet. The second is a colour in page to print and complete at home. The last will be a digital print for you to print and hang at home. 

I hope that these rewards are the sort of treats that my patrons would like to recieve. Throughout the year I plan to periodically include freebie gifts outside of people’s tier rewards. 

I really appreciate that you want to support me. If there is specific content that you want to see please don’t be afraid to message me and let me know! Especially as I am trying to build my account. I want to create interesting posts that are entertaining, insightful or educational depending on what you guys would like to see. Just drop me a message and give me your ideas and your feedback.

Remember, this free bundle is only available to those who join my Patreon in August (and existing patrons). So have a look at my tiers on offer if you’d like to receive the exclusive goodies bundle. 

Etsy Made Local (EML) Virtual Market Sheffield 2020

This weekend I am taking part in my first ever EML market. Not only is it my first EML but it is also Sheffield’s first ever EML online. 

Now you might be thinking you have been to online markets before, but trust me when I say that this one is special. There are virtual booths for you to visit during the event for one thing. Hosted on the site Hopin you just link easily to your facebook account and you can enter and browse. This platform provides a new and exciting way to shop. The chance to browse all the makers and the dive in to watch their product videos and live sessions means it’s the closest thing to being at an actual market since all events ceased four months ago.

It’s alive! (Live market that is) 

The live element means you get the chance to connect with sellers in a more meaningful way. There is even a chat function where you can ask sellers questions directly and get an immediate response. Each seller has a different time slot that they will man their booths and stream live video content from their homes and studios. Over the two day market in the times that the sellers pop away from their stall you will still be able to browse their online shops and watch their pre recorded product videos. The chance to get to know the makers and faces behind the brand makes it a unique shopping experience. There will also be discounts available from sellers for the weekend online, visible in their individual booths.

Testing, Testing

The market is part of a trial by the folk at Etsy to create high quality online markets for 2020. With worldwide lockdowns and bannings of mass events the need to shift how we run markets is urgent. Sheffield was lucky enough to have been picked to be part of the trial with just a handful of other cities. For many makers (like myself) it will be our first live streaming experience too. It’s all a valuable part of adapting your business to the new normal. Hopefully we can all use our new skills more regularly in our promotions too. I certainly intend to experiment more with my Youtube channel now it is set up.

I will be live streaming on Hopin at 1pm on Saturday. I’ll be in my studio with a stall set up and running through some of the items I have available.  From 2pm I’ll pop back up on Instagram live this time and give you a tour of my spooky new working space. 

Browse now, win big and shop later!

The link to the event and a very exciting competition can be found at https://facebook.com/events/s/etsy-made-local-online-sheffie/3023678494383857/

The competition offers the chance for one lucky so and so to win £40 to spend at the shop of their choice. At my online store that’s enough to grab you a nice little bundle of goodies! Just visit the facebook post to find out how to enter before Friday August 7th.

You’ll also find the lookbook which spotlights every maker taking part. It’s a great way to discover new artists and do a little bit of window shopping before the big day. Heck you might even learn something new about me in the bio section!

Supporting small businesses now is even huger than ever in the current climate. Plus who doesn’t like shopping from home with a brew and your pyjamas? Join the facebook event and remember to pop by online this weekend to grab some wonderful goodies form a range of local artists and makers.

New Stockist Announcement: The Steel Cauldron

I’ve got a brand new stockist and it’s a pretty magical one at that. This stockist isn’t just new to me, it’s a shiny new business right here in Sheffield. The Steel Cauldron is a brand new cafe in Broomhill inspired by the world of witchcraft and wizardry.

An Advanced Preview 

I have been lucky enough to get a tour ahead of their opening. One thing I can safely say it is very worth getting excited about! The doors open on July 31st. Within a day of announcing they were taking bookings they had 1000 people booked on to their Wizards Afternoon tea. Chocolate frog or a Yorkshire cauldron anyone?

The cafe takes inspiration from the wizarding world. It features an enchanting array of magical objects in every direction that you can look. The quality and love that has gone into building the place is apparent and it is obviously going to be a huge hit!

With the world the way it is right now Nikki and Rob and the team have done an incredible job. The ideas they have for the future of the Steel Cauldron are exciting too and I can’t wait to book in for a visit!

Stop in for a Coffee or Perhaps Even Stay the Night

Nestled in the attic is an incredible space which the team plan to rent out as Air Bnb accommodation. Modelled on a magical shopping alley each room becomes its own wonky wizarding shop. Is it weird to stay in an air bnb in the city you live in? I guess we’ll find out!

Sheffield is perfectly located between the Warner Brothers Harry Potetr Studio Tour, the magical Shambles in York and filming locations in Northumberland and Scotland. Any Potter fans on a tour of the UK would be bonkers not to check into this charmed apartment on their travels.

International Appeal, Local Love

You’ll find lots of Sheffield artisan goodness at The Steel Cauldron. Right down to the coffee you’ll drink. In the gift shop section local makers like myself and Holly Heartfelt are being championed. It’s wonderful to have the chance to be part of this brilliant new business. Plus all my spooks are right at home! I’ve even dropped off some brand new print designs ahead of opening too.  

For more information and to book now, visit www.thesteelcauldron.co.uk