I feel like I haven't sat down and actually created a 'proper' drawing, or worked on a project, in ages. Life, and making a living, has got in the way of that.
Not that I've stopped drawing, I've never drawn as much. And, I'm loving drawing in a different, faster way. I do long, though, to just sit for an entire afternoon or weekend, week even, and just work on a big mega drawing. The kind of thing I can get lost in.
But, I need to capitalise on this time of year. That's the reality, right now. I've finally just begun, after a couple of years of real hardship, to see the wood for the trees and to really start thinking like, and seeing myself as, a professional artist/illustrator. Whatever that is.
And, now, I've forced myself into a situation where I have to make money from this. Which is a good thing. A scary thing, but a good thing.
Before I was just selling online to top up my wage, now my wage tops up my selling online. The balance has shifted. And, I'm no longer just selling online, recently I've been selling offline too.
All of these drawings were made over two days, and two art fairs, last weekend. I've come to realise that I need to sell myself in lots more ways (not like that), to keep a roof over my head.
It's not easy to see your work in those terms; as a saleable product. Well, at least, I don't find it easy. But that is the reality of it.
It's been a long time coming too. I've been talking about it for way too long; taking steps to turn professional. And, it hasn't been the greatest of timing, on my part, in this recent financial climate. But, there's something about the struggle that makes it even more 'rewarding' (that's not the right word, or not the word I'm looking for, but it's late at night and I'm tired).
So, I've been getting my work out there, and, actually, even if it still feels uncomfortable selling me, I couldn't love sharing and talking about my work more.
I'm constantly amazed anyone wants to know.
My plan for 2015 is to get better at all that stuff. The presenting of my work, that is. I've had a practice run this year, but I want to make my 'show' bigger and better. I want it to be a visual treat, to compliment my sketchbooks.
I want to make lots more lovely creative products that show off my drawings. And, I want to get out there, further afield, and meet and share them with more people.
And, I want more adventures. So that when I finally get back home,
to sit and draw, I'll bring all that I've learnt and seen back to my work. And make it richer than ever.
Looking forward to the New Year already.
I had no idea where this post was going when I started it. Absolutely none. I'm glad it ended on such a positive note. I think I've inspired myself!
Recently, on Facebook, I asked the question "does anyone use Flickr anymore?" I asked because I was, kind of, toying with the idea of deleting my old Flickr account. I hadn't used it in about a year. It felt like a chore to post on there, or I'd just forget - Flickr seems so isolated from those other platforms. I've also had a lot of my work stolen from Flickr (my own fault, in the old days I had no idea about resizing my images for the web). Plus, I thought it was about time I started a Facebook Page as I hear that's a great marketing/promotion tool. I just felt I was spreading myself too thin. So, I asked the question.
The response was huge.
It seems that I'm not the only one who's been posting less on Flickr these days, if at all. But there are still some people hanging out there. Some folk said they didn't like the new (not so new, now) Flickr layout. Some said that it was still the best platform to view and host visual work. A lot of people felt that these days they used Facebook and Instagram more. There were lots of pros and cons. I was swayed, back and fore, by each point made in each comment.
So I went on Flickr to have a look around again. To remind myself of why I loved it SO much back in the day. To reminisce. And, then I started posting again. I downloaded the app to my new phone, which makes it easier to post and view other people's work. But, since then I haven't blogged! Now, I've had an invite to Ello, am still setting up my Facebook Page and have, almost, been convinced to start a Pinterest account.
I'm not sure what the moral of the story is.
Outside of the online world and my online life, I've been spreading myself too thin too. I've been doing all sorts of Art Fairs and Artisan's Markets in this run up to Christmas. Getting out and sharing my sketchbooks, meeting people and promoting my work. Exactly, what I do online then.
I'm still not sure what the moral of this story is.
And, quite frankly, I'm way too tired to work it out. Up early in the morning for a weekend of Christmas markets. As I've recently noticed that my scanner is playing up, and that my scans seem very odd colours, so there's something else I need to replace, alongside my car and my washing machine. So, yeah, keep on going, keep on working, keep the wolf from the door and keep trying to eke out a living out of this art business. Maybe I just need to accept that I'll be spreading myself thin for the foreseeable future. Perhaps that's it.
The drawing at the top of the page is a local art/craft fair that I've taken part in on a few occasions. The guy above is a local character who stopped by to look at our sketchbooks and buy my book. He is in the top drawing too, can you spot him?
I can only apologise, profusely, for what I'm about to do. I hate myself for doing it, but I am about to mention the C-word.
Yes, as soon as you know, Christmas will be upon us. Well, for once, I've been thinking ahead and I've put this bumper pack of AJ goodies together just in time. This includes my book, 3 zines, bag, badges, postcards, greetings cards & stickers.
Last weekend I had one of those perfectly creative weekends. The kind of weekend that I wish all weekends were like (does that sentence even make sense? Do those words even make a sentence?).
As you may or may not know, I co-run Dr Sketchy Sheffield. You probably do, I certainly bang on about it enough. But, then why wouldn't I when we are THIS fabulous? This is what we created in the Backroom of a pub in Sheffield last Saturday.
When I say 'we' I'm talking about everyone who is involved in making these events happen, from myself and Lara, who run the shows, to the guys who play the music, take the photos, run the bar, the sketchers, and, of course, our amazing models. Just look how brilliant they are.
These girls are a Burlesque Dance Troupe who call themselves The Yorkshire Puddings. They've modelled for us before and they never fail to blow our socks off.
It has to be said, that I probably do less drawing than if I were just a sketcher, but there's something just as magical about creating the events as there is creating the drawings. Here's a couple of mine below, though, they don't always go to plan...
Big shout out to our Eric Murphy for these fantastic photos. You can see the whole set of them HERE.
I LOVE Dr Sketchy and look forward to another year of cooking up themes and making this sort of magic happen.
On Sunday I got to do a lot more drawing. It was Urban Sketchers Yorkshire's 50th event, and myself and fellow sketcher, Paul Gent, loosely organised a sketchcrawl/pubcrawl/pubscrawl in Buxton. Paul made the map, above.
We started at 12 noon and went on into the evening. Just a lovely day, sketching my fellow sketchers.
And, yes, we had to have a photo, to celebrate our 50th and, yes, I seem to be hiding.
So, all in all, a perfectly sketchy, creative weekend. It's hard for me to imagine that it is only the last, say, three years that I've been drawing out and about and with people. I spent so long at home, drawing alone, I couldn't be happier that this whole new world opened up to me when I stepped outside of my house to draw. You get good things from being people, and you learn so much too. Thanks to everyone I spent the weekend with. It was a pleasure.
Phew, I'm exhausted now. That was the longest blog post ever!
If you're interested in finding out more and, perhaps, joining us at either Dr Sketchy Sheffield or Urban Sketchers Yorkshire then get in touch with me and I'll fill you in on the details. Or, you can follow the links to our Facebook Groups and have a little look around, get to know us and maybe I'll sketch you soon!
Here's another one for the knitters. As I said in my last post, I have been doing some design work for a knitting/wool/yarn centre. This was the finished design for their leaflets, website, promo, etc. I'm really pleased with how it turned out. And, I don't often say that.
The exquisite wools made such a gorgeous subject. The colours were just lush. Plus, I love pattern making which is probably why I enjoyed it so much. You can get your mits on this original, as it's up for sale HERE.
I've been doing a little design work for a wool/knitting/crocheting centre recently. It took a few attempts to come up with a design that both the client and I were happy with and agreed on. This was one of the earlier attempts and the original is up for sale HERE. yes, I really really need a new phone (see last blog post).
Thank you for all the lovely, supportive messages throughout my month of sobriety during October. I raised over £300 for the charity, Macmillan Cancer Support. All in all, I've been feeling rather chuffed with myself, for not only getting through the month but for really enjoying it. I've been feeling better than ever.
Then last weekend I somehow managed to drive over my new, uninsured, iPhone. I know, you really don't need to tell me; I am an absolute twonk. So, now I need to raise to money for myself. Over £300 just to pay off the trashed phone and then enough to get a new one (although this time it's probably not going to be a brand new iPhone).
Anyway, that is the reason that I'm selling off a load of original drawings. There'll be more going into my Etsy shop over the next few weeks and I've reduced the prices of the originals already in the shop. Today this one went up for sale. I do like this one, actually. I may have changed the pens I've used over the years, and the paper, and the way I draw, but I can't imagine a time when blues and browns are will not my favourite colour combination.
You can get your paws on this original drawing HERE.
Had a lovely day yesterday, drawing for the love of drawing rather than for work. I always love catching up with Urban Sketchers Yorkshire, my sketchcrawling buddies, too. We spent the day at the National Emergency Vehicles Museum in Sheffield. It was right up my tree. Loved the subject matter. I could spend another day, or ten, there. And, maybe even a night; apparently there are many ghosts in this former police and fire station. If you believe in that sort of thing, of course. I don't but I'm willing to have my mind changed.
There was a very specific colour scheme too. Reds, blacks and a little yellow were the colours of the day. I managed to not take seventeen pencils cases, which is an achievement for me, and narrowed it down to just the three sketchbooks. I always try to take some tools that I wouldn't normally draw with at home. I try and play a bit more on sketchcrawls. It feels like the right place to do that as you often encounter subject matter you wouldn't normally choose to draw. The red Bingo dabber was an inspired choice of pens.
Here's something I've noticed during October, as I'm participating in Go Sober For October, I do a lot more with my weekends. It's much easier when you're not factoring in a 'big night' or a hangover. That's just another benefit to being sober; doing more stuff with your time. Just look at how my blogging has increased in the last month!
The museum holds a vast range of fire service related memorabilia that had previously been sitting in attics and local fire stations all over the county and amongst the exhibits were prisoner files from the last century. I found these the most fascinating of all, and below are my drawings of some of the mugshots from around the 1940s. It's funny how just by drawing somebody, spending that time studying someone, you can feel a real connection with them. I don't just want to now more about the faces I drew, I feel an empathy, sympathy, for them. Protective towards them even, like I knew them. I guess what I'm trying to say was that I was touched by them. Maybe I do believe in ghosts.