I’m constantly remodelling things over on this website and today marks the day when my illustration portfolio – which has been sitting quite comfortably on this website for a long time – has migrated over to its own website. This change has been a long time coming; I’ve always felt that my illustration portfolio felt a little out of place on this site – the home of my weird projects, videos, shop, etc and it felt too disjointed. People would turn up on my website expecting a portfolio and getting this weird mish-mash of things. To be fair, my weird mish-mash works for a lot of people, but if you’re looking for an illustrator specifically, you probably don’t care about my youtube videos or random nonsense, you just wanna see my illustrations straight away.

My portfolio can now be found at:

www.sarahbatesillustration.com

PS: This post needed an image so I’m using one of my favourite pieces from Inktober 2017. See all of my inktober illustrations (and buy a poster, if you want) over here.

 

Other the past week I’ve been creating some fantastic colouring pages to sell over in the new section on my online shop. I’m really pleased with how they’ve come out and the quality is much improved from my last colouring book. Because of that, I’ve decided to start work on my SECOND colouring book, which I’m aiming to be ready for February 2018 😄

Until then, go check out the colouring pages that are available to download! 

Cards for Cancer made it into my local newspaper this week. I found out because a family friend turned up at my parents house with a copy. I forgot to check, of course.

 

You can buy the cards through that link above, or check out the full Cards for Cancer page for more information.

More about Cards for Cancer will be happening in late November! Watch this space 🙂

If you’ve been following the madness going on over on my Facebook page, you may have noticed my new book – The Book of Llama – is now available to preorder. This is the first collection of Llamas in Pajamas and I’m a little bit excited about it *cough*understatement*cough*.

Here is an obligitory place where you can buy the thing:

 

I am, as always, fantastic at marketing.

So yeah, that happened. There was a whole Kickstarter about it, but the Kickstarter didn’t fund, which is okay because I learnt a LOT from it. It was an extremely fun experience as well, because I connected with some really funny people who gave me a lot of really good advice about making comics. I also had a great time making the things for the Kickstarter, and it’s stuff I can use for future promotional material, so it’s really hard to see the Kickstarter as a failure. People keep apologising to me because it didn’t fund, but honestly I’m just exceptionally grateful to all the people who shared it and took a chance on me and this project!

So the preorder is up instead, which has actually gone extraordinarily well. I broke my 24 hour target in about 5 hours. No, seriously. I didn’t anticipate how many people would actually want this book until I put it up for sale.

The next steps are pretty straight forward, and I’ve done most of them already. I’m currently waiting on the final proof copy of the book, which should arrive this week – and once that’s been cleared, all I need to do is hit an “Approve” button and people can start buying the books directly from Amazon. I’ve got to get the preorders sent out to people before that, and that should only take me a day or so. So, yeah, it’s all been pretty straight forward! Isn’t it nice when a plan comes together?

On a similar note, check out the new website design! It’s different. I’m currently a major identity shift in terms of my art and business, and thse shifts tend to come with a change in website design. I’m not sure why. In any case, here it is! Ta da!

That’s all I have to say about that, it’s 4am and I should probably do the whole sleeping thing 🙂

Until next time!

Sarah

xx

 

Is anyone thinking about Christmas yet? It’s only August, but let’s talk about Christmas Cards 😉 Last year I ran Cards for Cancer with the goal of raising money to help my parents with funeral costs after the death of my brother Matthew. I mentioned at beginning of this year that I would be bringing Cards for Cancer back again, this time to raise money for different charities.
 
Well, I’m happy to say that I’m still organising this and the charity I will be raising money for this year is the Christies Charity, which helps support the Christies hospital in cancer research, patient care, and more. I’ll be putting 50% of all the profits raised through Cards for Cancertowards the charity.
 
Here are the designs I’ve made for the project this year – which one is your favourite? I’ll be selling them in packs of 10, so you will get two of each card in the pack, and each comes with a little explanation on the back of the card giving more information about the project.
 
I’ll also be selling these cards a little differently than I did last year as well. I actually found the experience of selling these cards to be a little stressful last year as I don’t have many helpers and have to be careful about managing stock as buying in more cards that sell mean less money towards the charity. As such, I’ll be selling these cards exclusively as a preorder, from the 1st October through to 1st December. The 1st December will be the last day you will be able to purchase these cards, and I will ship out the final orders in the first week of December!
I’ll give more information as the time comes but for now let me know what you think of the designs, and I’ll look forward to hearing your comments!
Talk soon,
Sarah

I went to Collectormania last weekend, and I’m still recovering from the awesomeness that was the weekend. Awesome and exhausting I might add. I also almost got murdered (but not really).

Despite the fact I went to Birmingham MCM a couple of months ago, I feel like this one actually counts as my “first” convention because I had a full table all to myself, and had actual, proper stock. At MCM I had art prints and did commissions, but limited space and very little planning. This time I had a whole table, which actually ended up feeling like WAY too much space for little ol’ me but it ended up being fantasticly good fun.

I met so many incredible people, including all the Artists Alley folk, and some brilliant people

The highlight of the entire thing for me had to be the ever growing development of what has now been dubbed “The Llama Army”. I had a little A6 pad of paper and encouraged everyone who stopped at my stall to draw a llama and add it to the gallery of Llamas, which soon evolved into the army. There were people who insisted they couldn’t draw a thing, or hadn’t drawn since they were kids, or were extremely shy about having a go… and they all drew llamas, and they were all beautiful 😀 My favourite experience was a little girl who seemed quite shy, she drew a llama and looked SO proud of it, I got the impression she didn’t think she could do it but she DID and it was just so lovely.

Here’s a video of most of the llamas that were drawn this weekend (some were taken home by their creators)

Other exciting things included getting to see Hodor from Game of Thrones from a distance and fangirling slightly, as well as actor Deep Roy, who is SUCH a lovely and talented guy. I didn’t meet either of them because I didn’t have time to properly meet them but watching them from a distance was neat, even though I did feel a little bit like a creepy stalker.

This guy:

He was awesome, and drew a llama while dressed as carnage. I approve.

I’m not sure when my next convention will be, but I’m already looking forward to it!

My Kickstarter ended a little over two weeks ago, and since it was rather successful, I’ve had a busy couple of months. Namely, I’ve been a busy bee getting the files ready to print. This has been an enormous learning curve for me – making sure the files are print ready isn’t something I have a lot of experience with, but I’m lucky I’m working with a very patient and helpful bunch over at Stones Ashford Ltd. I’ve had about 500 questions, but they’ve answered them without issue which has been extremely helpful!

I’ve also added the preorder to the new and improved Book Shop so if you want to grab a copy go right ahead and reserve yours. !

It’s gonna take me a while longer to get the book sent out – it’s still going back and forth between me edting it, thinking its fine, and then having Patrick check it and find more things to change. It’s the joys of self publishing while being dyslexic – you can check something 100 times but miss the glaringly obvious error, and then 101st time it jumps out at you like a glow in the dark tiger.

But it is coming! More updates to come…

Llamas in Pajamas Zine!

I’ve also been working on a couple of things Llamas in Pajamas related – namely I’ve just released the first Llamas in Pajamas zine. It’s an 18 page booklet with remastered versions of the first few Llamas in Pajamas comics that were released around a year ago. It’s something I wish I had when I was at the convention last month, basically to have something Llamas in Pajamas related that I could sell! They look great and I’ve already sold a handful online, I’ve got copies going to America, Australia, Europe, and of course in the UK. Knowing that Llamas in Pajamas is an internationally liked comic puts a giant smile on my face! 😀

There are more Llamas in Pajamas things in the works, but they’re a secret for now. Until then, enjoy the zine and I’ll catch up with you all soon!

Love you like an octopus!

Sarah x

I very recently read an article that came up on my Facebook timeline – a beautiful article about dealing with the death of a friend. It was about grief, friendship, and the pain of loss. I read it, and if I’m honest the first emotion that came up was a kind of bitter anger. I thought “You think *you’re* feeling bad – how do you think their family is feeling?”, as if somehow my grief was more valid than people who were friends with my brother. As if I “deserved” to feel more pain than someone else because I was related to him.
 
I’m not proud of that reaction. I honestly feel ashamed that I felt that way, because grief is hard and awful, no matter who you were to the person that passed. I sat with the emotion, recognising it for what it was, I realised it was rooted in a jealousy that I had for people who were friends with my brother – they knew him in a whole other way, they had a whole different series of memories about who he was. I remember looking through photographs at his funeral, seeing him drunk and on nights out with his school and uni friends, and smiling because this was my brother in a way I had never seen – a regular mid-20 year old man who got drunk with his friends. It was funny to see him in that way, not because I didn’t know he did that, but because I never saw that side of him.
 
I’ve recently had an experience where someone has portrayed me in a very different light to how I see myself. They’ve painted this picture of me as an unpleasant person, and this who they believe I am. That’s the box they have put me in. It’s hard when you see yourself through someone elses eyes if that person doesn’t “see” you in the way you hope you come across. But it also shows you that “who you are” is fluid. “Who you are” isn’t fixed, we are complicated, multifaceted people who look different depending on the lens someone else is viewing us through. We have so little control over how people see us, and relinquishing that control is… a little challenging, honestly. Trying to convince other people you’re not a scary beast isn’t worth it, when you could be focussing on building relationships with the people who *do* care about you.
 
 Looking back at the article and the feeling it brought up, I realised that I have been quite selfish about my grief. Grieving is very much a “you do you” thing, where you can’t tell someone else how to do it, everyone just grieves very much in their own way. There’s nothing even remotely wrong with grieving selfishly, if that’s how I needed to to it. But also, I think, I’ve been almost keeping myself from admitting that it was more than just “my brother” that died. I said at the beginning that my family had all lost someone – My parents had lost a son, my sister-in-law had lost a husband, her parents had lost a son-in-law. I said it to try and keep everyone together during the hardest time of our lives, but also to remind us all that he wasn’t just a son, or a brother, or a husband, he was all of those things and more. He was something different to each of us, and we all knew him in our own way. But I neglected, I think, to include other people that knew him in their own way. Each individual facet of Matt’s personality was reflected in each of these individuals, and each one of those facets has gone forever. To ignore the grief of people who considered him a friend, or those who considered him an aquaintence, or even those who may not have even liked him very much – is to ignore those parts of who he was.
So when I felt jealous of my brothers friends for having a different relationship with him than I did, it’s almost like saying their version of him was “wrong”, like who Matt was was who saw him as. That idea is like saying who Matt was was a fixed identity, or like who I am is fixed and my reality is the only reality that matters. In letting go of that control – the control of how we see each other, it rubs up against that same fear of letting go of how people see me. I don’t want to be seen as this awful person that the above person has decided I am, but I can’t control that anymore than I can control how my boyfriend thinks that I am wonderful and worth love.
We are not one person or one identity. To hold onto the idea that all we are is in who we think we are is to discredit the complexity of what it means to be human. We put so much thought into our self image, and who we want to be seen as, whether through Facebook or in how we present ourselves in the day to day. We want people to see us in this certain way, our “idealised” self and we make friends with the people who see us in the way we want to see ourselves.
But we have no control over that. And really? Who someone else sees me is really… none of my business.
Matt connected with so many people through his own writing and his own story, he inspired people and changed lives. He was an incredible person – and he was my younger brother – and whoever he was to you, I hope you can forgive me for my selfish reaction to the grief of other people. And above all, I hope that you find some comfort in your grief. My blog, and my stories, and my illustrations can’t match Matts – we are pretty dramatically different people in outlook and writing style, but I don’t want to close off my grief and act like my family are the only people who can feel sad. Sharing your grief, sharing the loss of the person he was to you is to celebrate all of those aspects of who he was. If you need me, I’ll be here.
Love,
Sarah

Dork Face

Last weekend, a friend of mine put on Facebook that they were selling part of their table space at Birmingham MCM Expo. I’d told myself that, at some point this year, I would go to a comic con and have a stall and sell stuff. When I told myself that, I fully expected myself to be prepared and have a lot of stock and be ready. But, being the person I am, I saw my friend’s offer and was all “Hell yes, let’s do this thing!” and signed up. I wasn’t prepared. I had no stock except art prints.

What followed was a chaotic week getting everything prepped, not even being sure exactly how much table space I was going to get. Overprepping is better than underprepping and having an empty table, so I brought Too Much with me and my teeny stall looked okay since it was only a few days in the making.

And it was fun! I met so many awesome people. People who came up to my stall after seeing the llama comics and being all “OMIGOSH YES, THIS IS SO ME” was probably the highlight – getting to see peoples reactions to my work in the flesh. I was surrounded by amazing artists, sat next to me was Sammy Borras who’s work is SO GOOD, obviously my friend Ryuuza who is also AMAZING, on my row was Laura Howell and there were people like Sarah Graley… I have to admit I felt a bit like a fraud surrounded by all these amazing people. But the important thing was that I was there and I put myself out there and crossed off one of my goals for this year. And the biggest main thing – I learnt SO much about what to do differently next time.

One of these things is: Omigosh I REALLY need to get Llamas in Pajamas books made up. A lot of people were asking about them. I have bumped it up on my to do list.

The other incredibly important thing is that I bought this guy.

IT’S AN ALPACA AND IT’S WEARING PAJAMAS.

I HAD TO.

In other words, I have the willpower of a small child.

My absolutely favourite thing about the entire thing though was an experience I had drawing a commission for a young girl. She must’ve been around 12-13 years old and she seemed super shy about asking for a commission. When I gave her the drawing, her eyes lit up and she exclaimed “Oh my gosh, it’s SO cute!” and took it off me eagerly. She seemed to have a bit of a skip in her step afterwards and it really stuck with me. I think doing caracatures – even cheap £5 chibi caracatures like I was doing – you have to capture the Real person. You have to see them. When I’m drawing people, I want to see you, not just draw what I see on the surface, but the inner-you. I think maybe I captured that girls inner-person and that said “Hey. I see you. You’re awesome.” And that’s kind of why I love drawing. You get to capture people’s truths.

I’ve always felt that my website is a reflection of who I am as a person. Who I am as a person changes regularly – since I’m a human being I’m always evolving, changing, and growing. Because of this, every few months, I feel this deep, inner pull at my heart strings – “I’m growing”, it says. And as a result, my website feels outdated and I need to make a change.

So I did.

Welcome to the new design of Sarah and the Strange! It puts the blog back on the front page, and looks more simplistic and clutter-free. Does anyone remember when I would blog every week? I wrote tonnes of blogs, and had a pretty solid community of people who came and commented. I stopped blogging when illustration and (ironically) writing became my focus because I felt like I should focus on making products instead of wasting time writing blogs. But I really  miss blogging, writing my thoughts down, getting in touch with all the interweb people who find themselves somehow on my website. I wanna start it up again.

So I’m gonna.

My life right now is kind of in flux. I might be more financially secure than I have been for a long time, in that I have a very location independent job, and my kickstarter was a runaway success. But my living situation kind of turned on its head and I’m in a position where I have to move ASAP, and it feels a bit like having the rug pulled out from under you. Swings and roundabouts, ups and downs, life is a rollercoaster etc. I throw myself into my creative projects as an outlet for the insanity life throws at me!

I’ll figure it out 🙂