For those that aren’t aware, I have been running a Patreon for an entire year now, and I’m very excited to announce some additional content and tiers to the page.
Previously I offered a portrait club, but after a lot of requests from fans I have finally started to put together sticker sets and prints of my original artwork. As well as the usual Tip Box tier, which gives you access to exclusive content, work in progress shots, and timelapse videos, and the Colouring Club where you get all of that PLUS a colouring page each month, I’ve also added the Sticker and Print Clubs.
For $10 a month (+vat) you will get 4-5 brand new stickers in your mailbox every month, as well as access to exclusive content, wallpapers, and colouring pages.
For $20 a month (+vat) will not only get 4-5 stickers, but a hand signed print along with it, all of them straight into your mailbox, as well as access to all other content.
I’m releasing this to celebrate a couple of different things … the first obviously being the year long anniversary of my first Patreon post, and also my brand new website going live!
In the next couple of weeks, I will be updating the webstore with brand new prints, single stickers, and sticker sets. You can also find my full price list on my website to boot.
So, as you may have noticed I’ve not been nearly as active as I had initially hoped to be when I came back to this blog in June and honestly the reason for that is a pretty simple one … I’ve just been so busy! I’m working full throttle on the business these days, and it feels good to have fallen completely in love with painting again. It seems I needed a bit of a kick, and the drama that unfolded last month was just the very thing to show me just how much I wanted to keep fighting for this.
The commissions to continue to roll in, and I’m just as busy now as I was at Christmas last year. Don’t get me wrong, that comes with it’s own challenges to overcome (social life, what social life?) but I’m never happier than when I’ve got a project to work on and ultimately I find that my mental health is kept in better check when I’ve got plenty to be occupying my time with. It also has another added perk … I’ve really been able to push and expand upon my skills these last handful of months, and I’m looking into other mediums to branch out into. After watching some YouTube videos and following some incredible artists on Insta (see Sanjana’s Art!), I’m really keen to start working with ink and seeing how that can impact the boldness of my artwork. I LOVE colour (this coming from the girl who mostly wears black …) and the vibrancy of the Dr. PH Martin’s Bombay Indian Ink has got me hooked before I even get a chance to use them, and I can already see that it will add a little something extra to my backgrounds. It also happens to be my birthday coming up this weekend, so perhaps I should treat myself?
I’m also working hard to expand my portfolio on my Redbubble (see Art Sweeties), creating a few digital paintings each week. It’s not a style I see over-taking my traditional art anytime soon, but it’s a welcome change from the often difficult processes that come with watercolour. I’ve just completed another series of pieces, these ratties based off a photoshoot I did of my ratties a couple of years ago, and it was certainly a lot of fun.
I’ve also been revisiting an old project of mine … plushies!! I LOVED making these guys back in the day, and I did start taking orders for them. Sadly, as I hand-sew, each individual rat was taking me so long to do that I just couldn’t charge what they cost me in time and hope to sell them, so they became a bit of a hobby that I would work in when I had a moment. Presently, I’m working on them in my evenings whilst watching some cartoons to chill out, and adding the pre-mades to my new Etsy store (see Art Sweeties Etsy).
There’s also been a lot going on in my life outside of art at the moment! Sadly, it’s not anything that’s going especially smoothly, mind. We are hoping very much to move out of our current little one bed basement home and move into a larger house, firstly so that my partner and I both have more room to expand our businesses. and secondly so that we can finally welcome out first doggy into our lives! It’s been an actual dream my entire life to have my own dog, and I really hope that I can make that dream a reality before this year is out … but finding a home that meets out requirements, and takes pets, is much harder in our town than we thought it would be, and there’s been a lot of disappointment in the time we’ve been looking. It’s one of those things we just have to keep plugging away it, and fortunately my work keeps me from obsessing on it too much …
As ever, I am open for commissions and taking pre-orders for Christmas slots at the moment, so get in touch if you’re interested! Otherwise, thanks for reading, and I’ll try and bring some regular updates over the coming weeks!
So, it’s been many years since I last updated my WordPress account, truthfully I just got so busy with the Facebook Page and the commissions that I just forgot to get back to this. But after the whooooole heap of drama that’s come with a recent instance of art theft by an individual named Maria Nicole Dean, and lots of people asking me for updates on it, I thought I would pick up the ‘pen’ and explain the situation.
It all started with a fellow artist sending me a screenshot of what appeared to be my art, only traced and recoloured by another individual claiming it as theirs. Now, I wasn’t so angry at first, after all this particular drawing has been used without my permission a lot over the years and in every instance all it took was a polite email from me for it to get sorted. Not this time. The individual swiftly blocked me, and decided the best way to handle this situation was to then start stalking my various social media pages and finding more of my artwork to trace.
The next step was getting in touch with Instagram and, if you’ve ever had to report IP violations on Instagram yourself, you know how impossible that is. Instagram refused to acknowledge the clear violation of my intellectual property, and kept the content up. As you can imagine, that was pretty disheartening, but this person had only a small following and little interaction with her posts, so it didn’t seem like the end of the world.
Then, they started to post my drawings on her Redbubble. I think the most insulting part of all this was just how bad her tracings were … yet there she was thinking that she could make her fortune selling stolen art on Redbubble. To their credit, Redbubble were quick to remove the first designs, and after she continued to post they decided to suspend her account.
At this point I took to my personal Facebook account to have a good rant about the situation, and friends quickly jumped to my defense commenting on the Instagram images and tagging myself as the original artist. The individual needed to make their account private a handful of times, and I thought that would be the end of it … yeh, crazy right?
Fast forward, and they have traced yet more of my artwork (even going so far as to look back at pieces I created over a year ago and posted on my Facebook page) and had also created a TeeSpring account to sell her stolen content on. TeeSpring also suspended her account. She proceeded to create yet another, but seems pretty aware that I am watching and reporting and has not attempted to upload my stolen content on that particular account.
At this point, things were getting ridiculous. I have over twenty accounts blocked on my Instagram that belong to her, and she has continued to follow me and my fans on fan pages she has created for herself. Most recently she has taken to tracing artwork that I produced only a handful of days ago, artwork that I created specifically for the purpose of raising money for a rat rescue. She has accused me of being the stalker, despite obviously checking my pages multiple times a day and having spies follow me to read my Instagram stories.
Currently, I have several IP violation reports sent and awaiting feedback on, but I know this isn’t the last of it, and I am speaking to a lawyer. But the big plus of this situation is the HUGE amount of support that I’ve received from friends, family, and my fans since this all went down … I have been able to raise money for charity’s, reach out to a larger fan base, and I’ve currently so much work to do right now I don’t know what to do with myself! It’s been an eye-opener in a lot of ways … this individual clearly has no support and few friends, they idolise Youtuber’s and the drama that surrounds their lives, and it genuinely amazes me that there are people like that out there. You cannot create a loyal fanbase, you cannot reach out to other creators or be part of the art world, without the support of other artists around you, and this person has shut themselves off from that. They are creating a reputation for themselves that will follow them about like a bad smell, when they try and apply for apprenticeships, jobs, they try and reach out to new clients … all it will take is a Google search and their credibility is ruined.
I will also include side-by-side line-art comparisons between the first few images that this individual has stolen. There have sadly been many more since I created these comparisons, which aren’t too hard to spot on her Instagram page.
I am not posting this to fuel a witch hunt … more to make everyone aware of the realities of sharing your artwork online and what you’ll inevitably have to fight one day. Most artists have been here, or will be here at some point during their career, and it’s important to remember that you are strong enough to get through it. I hate the phrase ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’ because it makes it sound like an excuse, but this person wouldn’t be tracing my artwork if they didn’t enjoy what I draw. It’s a shame they think that they can take shortcuts, because I’m hella approachable and always happy to support new and growing artists from any background.
Thanks to anyone who took the time to read this, and thank you once more to all the support that even complete strangers have offered me through all this … the art community is strong, and I still have such huge faith in it!
It’s close to a month later and as much as I had hoped it would be over, I am still sadly getting messages and screenshots of this individual still insisting on using my stolen artwork.
Since creating this post, things turned a sharp 180, and Maria admitted to copying my artwork in an Instagram story apology, saying that her mental health was part of the reason for acting the way that she did.
She even posted a public acknowledgement of her apology on her Twitter Page.
It seemed like the entire ordeal was over. I truthfully wanted to reject her apology at first (after all, I owed her nothing, and she showed zero consideration for the mental well-being of anybody but herself, even in her apology), but I was keen for it to be over and I have ultimately always been a forgiving person. It was better to forgive and forget, or so I thought. In the end, she DID post my reply to her, and when I called her out on that and mentioned my disappointment that she had not asked me first before sharing a private conversation, she threw another tantrum and blocked me again.
It wasn’t hugely surprising, and I was glad for the block (her following me on Instagram made me very uncomfortable) and it seemed she spiraled into a pit of shame after this. But for me it was over, and I could move on and start to focus on my artwork again without the stress of dealing with an art theft, and second guessing everything I post knowing that it was going to be traced by this girl. It has been good for me, in one sense, because the drama that ensued brought a lot of attention to my art and I’ve since made some really good friends out of it that have had my back ever since … and it seems my fans and friends have been keeping a keen eye on Maria and all her platforms in the time since, as was made evident when I started to get screenshots showing that she was BACK to using my stolen art to advertise.
As of this moment, I have not made contact. Drama is what she thrives on, and I suspect she’s not been getting nearly enough attention these last few weeks and is trying to see whether using my art again will bring it to her. She made a big show over how much she had changed, over how she made a mistake but was learning from it, but seeing is believing and all I’m seeing is a girl who has learned nothing. Who never intended to learn anything. I had made this post private after her apology, but it will remain public from this point on … hopefully others will learn from her many many mistakes, because she certainly won’t.
After all those years belligerently and stubborning refusing the jeering calls of the paintbrush, I now find myself well and truly addicted to watercolours. I sleep, I dream of painting, I wake up, and I’m thinking of what I want to paint next, even when I eat I find myself wondering … can I paint with mushy peas? How well would they mix with my favourite yellow? Could a moldy canvas be the new artistic breakthrough that I’ve been searching for?
Either way, today I have been feeling quite under the weather, so instead of hiding under my duvet with baby rats I figured I’d put on some Doctor Who and paint with baby rats. By that I mean, the baby rats are on my shoulder eating treats, not that I use them to paint with. I didn’t have any real goal in mind, just that loading my paper with water and flicking paints on there looked pretty, and it slowly morphed into yet another ratty drawing, adding promarkers for good measure.
I’m really happy with how this turned out, so happy that I think I’ll get some prints made up of it next week. The yellow is perhaps a bit more intense than it really needed to be, and some areas of the ‘nebula’ background is a bit too sharp, but will work on that for the next one!
Two posts in less than two weeks? Surely I’m just spoiling you? But in all seriousness, it’s nice to have things to write about again!
Last week I was asked if I would like a stall at the Compassionate Christmas Fair, held down in Halisham this December, and I’m very excited about it. The fairs aim is to promote a cruelty free lifestyle, selling vegan products and raising money for a number of different vegan and animal charities in the UK. Compassion and love for our fellow beings is something that I hold very dear to my heart, and I have been vegan for almost four years now, so it means a lot to me to finally be able to get involved in something that I feel so positively about.
I have been working on a number of artworks, my ‘Friends not Food’ series, that explores the beauty and compassion and love of the animals often overlook and exploited by many. It has been a good excercise for me, working with such varied features and shapes, animals that are certainly out of my comfort zone when it comes to drawing, and it has given me a chance to really dig my toes into the watercolours. I am a long way from mastering the medium, that’s for sure, but I am starting to understand how these paints work, and what you can get them to do!
All of these so far have been on 5×7″ paper, a good size for prints, I figure! But I also finished this A4 piece last night. I’m not as happy with how this turned out compared to those above, but I suppose the composition is very different from what I have been working with previous, focusing mainly on the silly, characterful faces that these animals pull. But still, it was an enjoyable piece to pain.
It also pleases me to say that all the materials I work with don’t contain animal derivatives, so that’s always a big bonus!
It has been a while since I made a decent update to this page, what with my Facebook, Etsy and Tumblr pages taking up most of the time I had dedicated to networking each day, but I have experienced a number of changes over the past two months that have inspired me to put pen to paper (ok, fingers to keyboard) and give this blogging lark another shot.
The most notable development since my last update has been my decision to quit my part time office job, a position that caused me a great deal of stress, and focus all of my energy on Sweet Illustrations. It has been a rocky month, to put it lightly, though I am still earning more than I was before I took the plunge, and in my eyes that’s as good an achievement as any!
Having seven whole days a week to dedicate to my artwork has allowed me to explore mediums and styles that I simply felt I couldn’t dedicate the time to before, and my recently completed artworks have got me thinking about how much my art and, most importantly, my approach to art has changed since I first realised that I was actually pretty ok at it.
To start this tale, I’m going to take you on a magical journey back in time, where a younger, much smaller and much more naive little Holly stood outside of her art class at break time, talking to Mr. Endicott, the only art teacher that I have ever felt I learned from and who inspired me to do something with my talents. It was during my GCSE years that I really started to commit myself to the idea that I loved art, and to allow myself the time to work on my skills, and to feel confident enough in what I was producing to feel proud to show my family and my teachers. I loved drawing in graphite, drawing animals and cartoon characters, and presenting them in my art classes as my finished products. Endicott would give me advice and constructive criticism on my work, and over time my skills continued to improve, but there was something I really could not cope with. And that was painting. I refused to paint, because when I tried it look awful. I realise now that I was approaching paint in entirely the wrong way, that I was expecting the same results I got with my pencils without having to put in the effort, and it frustrated me. I outright refused to work in paint, no matter how often he would try and encourage me too, and as a result of this I spent most of my life never touching a paintbrush and certainly never touching paint. When it came to university we were expected to do our design proposals in paint, namely using gouache, but the method was simply filling and shading, and I almost always managed to find a way around that by using gel pens and pencils. When university was over I stopped drawing completely, too depressed to find any joy in it any more until, by chance, I was bought some promarkers and, when a friend lost one of her ratties, I decided I would try drawing them for her. I got back into art again, but still I refused the paints! I stuck with the markers, eventually moving onto graphite and coloured pencil.
I did get the old goauche set out during that time, though I used it exactly the same way that I used the markers … blocks of colours, refusing to utilise the many benefits that paint offered because, in my head, I still couldn’t paint. I would tell people that I couldn’t paint, that I was hopeless at painting, and further more I convinced myself that I didn’t need to paint. Whilst there are artists out there who find markers and photoshop and coloured pencils enough, I hadn’t come to this conclusion because I preferred the markers and pencils, but because I was too stubborn to give something a try. Because I had done a stupid thing and convinced myself that, because I couldn’t paint ten years ago, how can I possibly paint now? This is a mistake I see so many people making … people who tell themselves over and over that because they didn’t get the results they wanted years ago that it was impossible for them to do so now. People who say that ‘I tired but I can’t.’ But I was that person, for all that I had improved, I was still stuck in the same mindset as my sixteen year old self.
My journey into painting came about quite accidentally, rather recently. I bought myself some coloured ballpoint pens to do play around with, and realised that I needed an effective way to create some contrasting and dynamic backgrounds to the ballpoint subjects. I have an old watercolour set that was bought for me many many years ago, and dubiously I pulled them out, and after doing a little research I began playing around with throwing and splashing the watercolour onto the page. I loved it, I loved the result, and I loved naturally the results formed.
People loved them, and I sold them in a very short space of time, and got a number of comments from people saying how much they adored this new style. It was a huge boost for me, as although commissions had been coming in fairly steadily since I quit my job, I still didn’t feel particularly confident that I was doing the right thing. Little did I know, that by simply splashing some watercolour around on some paper, I had begun to chip away at this idea that I couldn’t paint, and a few days later I found a wonderful reference photo that I was really excited about, and after I had done the splashed I realised that, actually, I may as well see what I can do by still working with the watercolours.
Let me just say, this was about as hallelujah a moment as I could possibly ask for. I LOVED it, and I was able to apply what I had learned with the markers, and the coloured pencils, in a way that really complemented the medium. Watercolours suited me, and how who knew? Certainly not me. It was the first piece that I had finished that actually had me beaming with pride. I had achieved something that the sixteen year old me always told the world was impossible. I had painted something, and I liked it!
I am now exploring this new style that I have discovered, playing around with it as much as I can, adding other mediums when I can to see what sort of result I can get. Although I love doing the commissions, it’s nice to actually feel like an artist again, to know that I’m pushing myself. I have learned a very valuable lesson throughout all this, one that I wish I had learned earlier, and one that I hope everyone reading this can take from as well; you can’t expect to be good at something without first putting in the work to GET good at something. No matter how naturally gifted or talented you are, or you are not, everything that you do, that you want to get good at, requires patience, it requires an understanding that you won’t be producing a masterpiece of getting thousands of notes and likes on whatever platform you’re used to the first day, or the first month, or even the first year! What makes the difference between someone who is ‘good’ and someone who is not, is that one of these people didn’t give up.
I leave you now with a preview of the painting that I have been working on this evening.
HI folks! Well, it’s been an embarrassingly long time since I posted anything here, having found myself somewhat distracted and overwhelmed by several other things going on at the moment. But, I’m back! Whether I’m back for any longer than this single post remains to be seen, but there is something that has been playing on mind a lot lately that I feel the need to get down. And this feels like the most appropriate place.
Recently I got into a bit of a spat with another person after they removed the signature from another artists artwork with the intent to embroider it on … whatever they planned to embroider it on and sell. I do not regret contacting the artist involved, and although it caused some conflict what I did was an appropriate response that, I hope, other people would do that for me if they saw my artwork being altered and butchered without first getting my consent. Ever since, I have been particularly vocal about issues surrounding both copyright and artists getting their worth. Today I choose not to focus on the copyright issue, instead I want to focus on your worth.
I have been guilty, as have many artists, of feeling somewhat uncomfortable and downright dirty for quoting a price for my artwork when people ask. Even to this day, it frightens me to give a quote anywhere over £30 because I’m still very much stuck in the ‘am I good enough’ mindset when it comes to my artwork. That people gladly pay that and more for my artwork has done only a little to calm me and to convince me that, actually, I do have a right to ask this of people when they show interest in my work.
A lot of artists, when they first start out, will experience this. They may find themselves, as did I, doing work for free based on the promise of ‘good exposure’ because we simply lack the confidence to ask for a fair fee. We find ourselves exploited by the people who know how to work ‘our kind’, and who can spot an unsure artist a mile away. Having been exploited in this way I find it incredibly insulting and frustrating when I see people using new artists in this way. On many an occasion I have butted in on the odd facebook conversation, stating that the artist would probably appreciate payment rather than empty promises for their hard work, and generally the artist is grateful that finally someone aside from themselves thinks their art is worth something. The turning point in my ‘career’, I suppose, was when someone first offered to pay me for my art. Until that point people were happy to get free doodles, and request more doodles, which I didn’t mind so much as they were friends. But when someone came up to me and said they would give me £15 for a drawing of their rat I almost cried. Here was someone who understood, someone who gave me the confidence in my talents and skills that I desperately needed. And it changed everything for me.
I still worry about my prices, when I upped them at the beginning of the year to try and reach something that at least resembled a minimum wage I didn’t sleep. I honestly didn’t sleep that night, convinced I would get several pm’s from people telling me how greedy and horrid I was, to wake up and find no more likes on my facebook group and that I would never see another commission come in again. But that didn’t happen. I woke up to find another commission had come through from someone who didn’t even blink at the new prices, and only once has it ever been brought up. I still under price myself, I’m painfully aware of that, but now I am at least earning enough for me to seriously consider moving onwards to full time self employment.
The lesson, really, is to never ever doubt your worth. I’m not saying you should overcharge, an inflation of ego can do even more damage to your business and career than a lack of, but you should try and remind yourself that, you know what? Your time IS worth something. Your talents ARE worth paying for. Don’t cut yourself short because you fear what people will say to you and because you doubt what you are capable of.
Today, after my office job forbidding me to come in thanks to the lack of work we have going at the moment, I decided to finish off the GiveAway prize that was given to celebrate Sweet Rattery Illustration’s second birthday!
The prize was for one of my rainbow pieces, however the winner wanted something that would fit better with their ink pieces that they had commissioned in the past. I decided that I’d use this opportunity to do some more work with the gouache, ink and promarkers combined, and I have to say I’m pretty happy with the result!
My realistic painting skills still leave much to be desired, but that will come in time I’m sure.
Well, I failed somewhat at keeping this updated, didn’t I? Oh well, just means I have more things to show all you lovely people!
Now that Christmas is over, things have slowed down somewhat, which means I’ve had time for a couple of personal pieces, and to work on my FanFiction and children’s book. The latter is something that I have been wanting to do and have been working on in bits and drabs for about a year now, though I have finally settled on an artwork style that I like and plan to use for the illustrations.
I had originally planned to use promarkers, a medium that I’m very comfortable with now and that I know can produce some delightful results. I wanted something soft, fluffy, adorable. More pastels rather than any big bright colours. The book itself is about rats, and a little girl’s relationship with her first pet rat, so I wanted something that really shows off what beautiful and adorable little critters they are. And so it became that the gouache stepped up to the plate, holding a splodgy hand upwards and volunteering itself as tribute. Sure enough, I fell in love with the result.
The first image is of the rat that the story is about – my darling Papa Zen. I’m not sure if the party hat will come as standard or not yet 😉 Papa Zen was my heart rat, my very best friend. He changed my life for the better, of that I’m certain. I feel that our relationship was something so beautiful that it could translate so well into a story of a little girl and her best friend.
The second is one of my beauuutiful girls, Panya. She’s a sweetheart, and such a stunning girl, too, so I couldn’t not paint her.
I think perhaps I need to decide whether to stick to pencil or work with a blank ink outline, so more experimentation is needed there. But overall this is what I want, this is the exact mood I want to see.