A Brief Blog about Commissions, Why I Don’t Do Them, and Earning a Living as An Artist

Gosh.. that’s quite a big subject.   I’ve been turning commissions down for a while, but recently I seem to have annoyed one or two folks, and I saw an artist I admire comment that “Commissions stifle creativity.”  I understood immediately what they meant..

It’s like this:

I love making art and trying out new techniques.  I have a job a couple of days a week in a picture framers. Which is great. The rest of the time I make art. Or think about making art.  There is never enough time.

I’m a latecomer to making art.  I drew a bit always.  I took ‘A’ level Art in my early 40’s, then went on to an HND in Fine Art.  Then I painted a bit and made lino prints and sold a few things.  Art was never a serious contender in the making-a-living stakes for me.  Time passes.  You get older and wonder what you are doing with your life.  (Trust me, you will.)  The world alters.  There is the internet.  You share drawings and someone asks you to illustrate a poetry book (Thank you x).  You start to draw and make things  and you start trying to sell them..

If you are making art you develop and grow by doing it.  I’m learning as I go.  When I grow up I’d like to illustrate picture books.  It’s harder than it looks but I’m learning and teaching myself.  I like applying my illustrations to products and I like designing things.  Happily other people seem to like these too and want to buy them.  I like trying  different materials and art forms. Sometimes I’m ok at these and people want to buy them.

The Bit About Commissions:

I don’t make much money doing art, but I have a plan.  My plan involves learning enough to be an illustrator; drawing and designing things that I can use on lots of products to earn me money; learning new skills and techniques that will help me with both of those.

I meander a bit off course quite often.  I’ve tried etching and taught myself to paint with watercolour.  It’s interesting and each technique teaches me something I can carry over into the other stuff I do.

I’ve been making needle felt animals lately.  I’m enjoying it.  I’ve sold everything I’ve made, mostly within minutes of it going on sale.  I’ve had lots of requests for commissions.  If I’d agreed to all those requests I would have made the first 3 things over and over.  I would have learnt no new techniques.  I would have got bored.  I wouldn’t have sold any more than I have.  I would have been stressed about deadlines.  I wouldn’t have developed.  It would have brought me no more work other than more of the same.

It’s the same with everything.  If you ask me to make you something, I have to think about the price, the time, if it’s going to help me to get where I want to be professionally. I’m really sad that I can’t keep everyone happy.

So.  Commissions (Can) Stifle Creativity.  I know lots of artists are happy with them.  Right now they’re not for me.

This is me. Trying. Learning.  Needing to do new things all the time.  Aiming for the sky.  Hoping it’ll all work out.  Hoping you’ll enjoy what I do and that I’m spreading a little joy.

And if you like what I do you can support me by following me on Twitter , Facebook, buying from my shop, or generally shouting and cheering.

Thank you xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Few Edinburgh Bears

 

CattravellingEarlier this month I managed to pack my bags and head off to Edinburgh, with my daughter, for a few days.  Naturally, I was on the look out for bears.

The signs were there. 37438782952_56f11d5916_o

 

 

The first bears we met were a bit on the stiff side to say the least..

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..and this was not at all what we’d expected from the famous Edinburgh pandas.  IMG_4657

 

 

Those are in the National Museum of Scotland which is lovely and well worth a visit. It also serves excellent cake.

 

We did catch up with a real live panda at Edinburgh Zoo, but I didn’t manage to get a photo. These chaps were more co-operative IMG_4691(and more terrifying).

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I think my last Edinburgh bear is my favourite.   It’s the memorial to Wotjek, the WWII ‘Soldier’ bear, in Princes Street Gardens.  You can read about him here.

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There was also whisky, getting wet, history and tales of body snatchers in the kirkyard after dark, but you should go and find out about those for yourself.

I’ll be back soon with needle felting, new drawings and other things I’m making.

Thank you for reading and don’t forget to look at the new things in my shop.

 

 

 

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My Creative Place #mycreativeplace

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This is my work space. Sometimes I swap the cat for my laptop and graphics tablet.  I usually have flowers, a selection of bears, and cut out characters from projects I’m working on.

Are you an artist, illustrator, writer, musician, blogger, maker, knitter, craftsperson?  What to you create and where? Do you have a studio, kitchen table, desk, armchair, tree?  It would be lovely to see your creative space.  Take a photo and share it on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, anywhere else you can think of, with the hastag #mycreativeplace

Jools x

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Beard

A silly animation.

Beard

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Pasta Machine Printing

I love prints as an art form, but apart from some basic lino printing and screen printing I haven’t done any myself.  Print making seems a bit of a daunting thing to try, requiring expensive equipment and space. I’ve always particularly wanted to try dry point etching, so I got really excited when I saw an artist on Twitter talking about PRINTING AN ETCHING WITH A PASTA MACHINE!  Gosh.

Naturally I rushed out to buy one. Luckily my local cookshop had a modest one on sale and I got some sheets of flexible clear plastic from a nearby model shop.

This is what I did:

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The plastic sheets I bought were A4, so I cut them up so that they were small enough to feed through the pasta machine. They don’t need to be clear, but it’s handy if you want to trace over a drawing. I scratched my design with a pointed implement I found in an old box of tools. I’ve no idea what it’s really for. Any pointed tool you can comfortably hold should work.

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I used block printing ink as it was available. It worked fine. I’m going to try printing with acrylic paint with a drying retardant mixed in. I found the best way to ink the design was to rub the ink into the scratches with a cloth, then rubbing of the excess with a dry cloth.

2I printed onto cartridge paper, as I had some. Soak it in water for a few minutes first and pat dry.  You’ll need to experiment with how wet the paper needs to be.  Put the paper onto another piece of paper and some felt and place the inked plate face down on your paper. Fold the other side over. Be careful to hold the plate and paper together as you feed it into your pasta roller.

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Wind the handle! You’ll need to guide the bottom end so that it doesn’t catch on the bottom of the machine as it emerges.

 

 

This is what I made:71

There are several demonstrations of this by artists on YouTube. Worth a visit.

I’m looking forward to experimenting and printing lots more 🙂

 

 

 

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New Things

There are a bunch of  new greetings cards in my shop this month, including these dinosaur and space cards, cardwhich come with any age badge you like (I sold a 95 years badge last week).  You can check out all my new cards designs at BearsGetCrafty: there’s one for lovers of GIN (with the choice of a super badge or magnet), something naughty,  something nice, and bears, of course.  😉

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Mr Fox Sewing Kit Prototype

As usual, I also have lots of ideas and work in progress. 🙂   Greetings cards with stickers and sewing kits will be arriving soon!   I’m also thinking about cards with moving parts and pop-ups.

digiOver at BearsGetDigital there is lots of new art to download, digital drawings and watercolour paintings to use in card making, on websites….whatever you fancy. 🙂

I have several new illustrations, for poems by Dom Conlon, on www.inkology.co.uk.  universe_boxEnjoy his darkly funny stories while you’re there too.

 

In between all of that, there have been a few fun things appearing on my work desk:

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To see more of what I draw and make you can check out my Instagram account BearsGetCrafty or follow me on Twitterbers

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Bears Make Music…

MUG TEMPLATE

January has been a busy month for designing and making new products. These handsome animals can be found on a mug, along with several other new designs.

I’m also busily designing greetings cards which have a life beyond the mantelpiece. More about that soon. In the meantime, take a look at my first set of designs which are already available.

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