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Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

About Illustrator Sam Miller

As promised I thought I would tell you a bit about myself, so I am not a totally anonymous blogger. I am an artist and illustrator living in Edinburgh with my daughter, usually known as the Monkey!

Monkey Dancing by Sam Miller

The Monkey Dancing by Sam Miller UK

Edinburgh is a beautiful, friendly city to live in and I love it as much as my hometown of Sheffield, so it must be good! When I speak to people they tend to be surprised that I have been here for the last 20 years as I do have a bit of a hint of a Sheffield accent! #understatement

I have always wanted to be an artist, from the moment I was old enough to know you could be anything , that is all I have ever wanted to do, and still is. I trained and worked as a Theatre Designer for a few years, then travelled for a couple more, before moving to Scotland.

I then trained as an Art Therapist and worked in galleries, schools and daycentres with a range of people with physical and mental problems. This was fantastic, rewarding work and I still think about the people I worked with. I am very proud of what they achieved through art, and know how important this was for them. Unfortunately I was an NHS Cutback, so this all finished but this did push me to start doing illustration fulltime.

Apart from my daughter, my friends and family, my art is the most important thing in my life. This has been quite a hard year for personal reasons but this keeps me going and makes me very happy and positive about life.

I love what I do, each commission is special and I put as much care in it as I possibly can, I want every piece I do to be perfect. I capture the character and life of a person in every portrait, or develop images for a brand that will highlight it in the best possible way.

Illustrations for Plant 'n' Grow by Sam Miller UK.

Illustrations for the instructions for Plant ‘n’ Grow Boxes by Sam Miller UK.

Floralicious Box with Illustrations by Sam Miller UK.

Plant ‘n’ Grow Floralicious Box with illustrations by Sam Miller UK.

I am a very positive person generally but as I have said before, I am also a scaredy cat, so each time I give someone a piece of work I am nervous, but so far I have ony had fantastic responses, so I do realise this is silly, but as one of life’s worriers I am not sure that will ever change!

I am also doing a 365 days Drawing Challenge, illustrating a different person each day for a year. This can be anyone at all, me and the monkey are constantlyon the look-out for interesting people. If we don’t manage to get a photo, we both memorise as many details as possible so I can still draw them. I have 300 still to go, so do get in touch if you would like to be a part of this.

Edinburgh Fashion Week Children's Show

Edinburgh Fashion Week

Judy Murray Bra Edinburgh Charity Fashion Show

Charity Event Ed Fashion Week

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My aim is to spread my art further, to push myself into new situations, to become more well known and start drawing everywhere. I will be doing my first Live Illustration Event this Friday for the ‘This is Edinburgh’ Party.

My ultimate aim is to be invited to events such as the front row of fashion shows to draw the models as they pass by. I did this at Edinburgh Fashion Week this year, and I would be happy to travel to London, Milan, Paris or New York to carry on!!

So if you have an event that needs an illustrator to come and make it even more special, or would like a commission for anything do get in touch, just email sam@sammiller.co.uk

I woud also love to hear any comments, or anything about yourself so please do join in, thanks, Sam XX

 

 


Newbies Guide to using #Hashtags on Facebook and Twitter

Hi Everyone, I’m back again, this is going to be my last (slightly) technical post for a while as I’d like to tell you more about my illustrations and a bit about myself next time, so I am not a totally anonymous ranter!

I have been thinking a lot about #hashtags and trying to find out a bit more about them, and whether to use them on Facebook and Twitter.

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STOP! Should you use #Hashtags in Facbook and Twitter?

I have started to use them regularly on twitter, mainly using one’s that are already there, such as #365Dayschallenge for my project and #illustration, generally for everything I do! It does make me feel like I am part of a bigger community, and opening myself up to new people by joining in using these. I do feel I have already reached a wider audience, and have found more people to follow myself by looking at these, so I would recommend searching on key words that interest you, or are relevant to you.

All the advice I have read is totally in agreement that 1-2 hashtags can increase the views you get to a post, but more than that can actually reduce your views as it can seen as spamming. However one particular person I follow Dress Like a Mum, uses a whole string of hashtags for each post, and does it with a kind of crazy flair which I think works, so it might be good to play around with this theory.

I have also been wondering about making my own hashtags, and occasionally throw one in a tweet and see what happens.

I have now looked at some experts to see if there are any rules for making up your own and basically it seems not. The advice is to check whether your #hashtag is already being used, and if it is, and you want to use it to spread the same ideas, you can simply join in. When you start typing it into a tweet if it exists already a box will appear below your tweet giving you this, or similiar options to choose from.

But if you do want to use one for a particular purpose, to spread your brand, create a link in some way, start a group or anything like that, you can create your own.

To create your own, merely put the # symbol first, then the words you want to use together, with no spaces, straight after it, and off you go! You can then tweet this out to your followers so they can start using it too so it isn’t merely lost, like my #Iamnotagymbunny seems to have been!!

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The Gym Instructor from my recent trial. #Iamnotagymbunny

I am going to experiment by using #sammillerart and see if this starts trending, or at least gets used a couple of times! I will let you know how I get on, and feel free to use it too, or let me know if you have created your own new hashtag.

There is loads of advice on creating your own hashtag, I found Tech for Luddites really helpful.

I have also been wondering about using hashtags on Facebook as well, as I have seen a few people using this and thought it might be useful. However I have looked into this and not found much positive feedback. It seems that it is incredibly useful on Twitter as it groups together everything with that hashtag, so if you want to search for a topic you can simply type it in and find info straight away.

But, this is very different on Facebook due to the different privacy settings, and Facebooks unique way of sharing and withholding love. It depends on these and how popular a post is, or how relevant or close you are to a person whether that hashtag is given any status. So it seems this is not the ideal platform for using them.

More detailed advice and stats about using hashtags on Facebook can be found on this page by MarketerGizmo. Or to get the history of hashtags, how Chris Messina gave birth to the very first one in August 2007, and other interesting nerd facts please do visit Gigaom.com

I am going to experiment with hashtags on both Facebook and Twitter and see what results I get. I would love to know your own experiences of using them, and whether they have been helpful or not.

Look forward to hearing from you, Sam XX


How long should a Blog Post be?

Hello, I’m back with more thoughts about the old blogging business. I am finding that the more I do, the more I want to find out about the best most effective way to blog, if there is such a thing.

I was discussing with a friend at Portfolio-Oomph, how long we should make our blog posts. I have been going for short and sweet as my own attention span has massively decreased since I became a Mum. Any longer and I think my head might explode, or I will go into a panic thinking that I haven’t done the other 500 things I still have to do that day!

Plus, if I can’t focus on something for too long, I can’t expect someone else to sit down and read my rants for ages! I suppose that is how I like people to talk too, my family are not the biggest talkers so I find it quite difficult to listen to anyone who takes ages to tell you something, or get to the point. (Disclaimer here, my daughter is not in the quiet or get to the point category, but she is funny and cute so I don’t mind her going on!!)

Also sometimes I realise I can get to the point a bit too quickly and have said something I probably shouldn’t have! Anyway I realise I am going on a bit myself so will get to the point now.

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A standard recommendation I have found on a few blogs seems to be that a good post should be about 600 words, enough time to engage your audience but not too long to lose their interest. I find this quite a manageable length as I feel I can say what I want to, and then go back to illustrating and the rest of my life!

However, I have found lots of differing advice to this, and I found some particularly interesting advice from Joe Bunting. He gives a great breakdown of how the different length of posts affect your SEO. He explains that the shorter ones tend to get more comments, but the longer ones can get more shares and ranking on search engines. The highest ranking being the ones with 2,450 words…maybe that is not for me…yet!

Do take a look at what he says about blog post length as I found it gave me a lot to consider.

All this has also made me think about the whole blogging phenomenon. When I decided to start blogging regularly it was because I wanted to share things about my art and my life, but now I am spending more time considering how blogs work and how best to develop mine. Basically blogging about blogging! There does seem to be a huge amount of people out there doing this, at a much more impressive and qualified level than me but they are blogging about blogging!

I am hoping that the things I am learning as a beginner will be useful and interesting for other bloggers who are just starting out, and once I find my own way I do plan for the focus to definitely return to my art. But for now I am kind of enjoying the whole learning experience as it feels like a whole new world is opening up.

Right now though it’s back to the drawing board – literally. I am off to finish a couple of commissions and do my daily drawing for my 365 Days Project. Have a great day.

I would love to know any of your thoughts on anything I have written or anything really!

Look forward to hearing from you, Sam X

 

 

 


3 Rules for Newbie Bloggers

As promised I am writing about my first experiences of blogging, and the advice I have found really useful so far. I have been trying to blog off and on for the last couple of years, but I didn’t really have anything I specifically wanted to say or share, and felt I was only doing it because people said I should, so would end up going to draw a picture instead! But, now I am happy to say I am doing it because I want to, and because I do have things I want to share, which I hope will mean my posts will be much more engaging and interesting. (Do let me know!)

I have been looking at other much more established and successful bloggers and soaking up all the advice they share, which I have found really useful and has given me the confidence to feel like I can start to do this. I have found that when you break down all the advice, there are definite themes coming through, so I have condensed it all into 3 simple blogging rules which are the things I have found the most inspiring and helpful, which make up the rules I will be living by. I realise I could have made 10, 20 …any number of rules and there is so much more involved, but I wanted to make this clear, concise and easy to follow so you can take a deep breath like me and plunge right in…

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RULE 1

Always speak with an authentic voice, your own voice. Do not try to replicate someone else, write in a natural way as though you are talking to someone. Basically be yourself, not a fake! Just as in real life, some people will totally click with you and love to know what you think and write, whereas others might not, but hey, (although I would obviously like everyone to love me) that’s life!

There is much more detailed advice on this and how to increase your blog traffic from What Katy Did

RULE 2

Comment on other people’s blogs and sites, and share the blogging love. This completely makes sense to me, I can’t expect people to give my blog their time but not look at anyone else’s. I have read more blogs in the last few months than ever before and have really enjoyed them and already feel they have helped me, and made me want to be a part of this exciting community out there, who knows where it might lead?

There is lovely advice from Mama Mim about how to be a friendly blogger.

RULE 3

Decide what you want to write about, have a purpose. Give advice and tips on subjects you know a lot about.

I realise this one might seem a bit hypocritical of me as I am a relative newbie and I’m kind of giving advice on blogging here, but these tips are one’s I have found helpful so far as a newbie, so I’m hoping they will be useful for other people just starting out on your blogging journey, and I’m by no means saying this as an expert!

Alexia P. Bullard is an expert who has great advice on all these rules, how to personalise your brand and particularly stresses the need to find your own strengths and use them.

My strength has always been my art so a lot of my posts will focus on this, but also the issues involved in running my own business and being a Mum which are all the things I love and are important to me, and so many people out there, so please do come back and share your own thoughts with me on any of these. Thanks so much X

 

 


Positive Reactions!

I am soooo pleased that I have started my 365 Days Project, it has really motivated me as I know that whatever else I am doing each day, I HAVE to fit in a drawing. I have been super-efficient getting all the rest of my orders and commissions done as quick as I can, so I can do this. It kind of feels like saving the best bit of food till last each day, so it’s like having a lovely chocolate cake but without the guilt!

The only thing that has suffered so far in this whirl of activity is my housework, today was the first time EVER that I haven’t had a clean school top for my daughter to wear. I did manage to cover up my rubbishness by putting her in an old PE top, which she thought was great as she will already be half ready for PE which is this afternoon! Genius!

It has also increased my confidence, as I am usually a bit cautious and worried whenever I send out a commission to someone, until they get back to me. I know this is silly as I have not had a bad comment so far but I can’t help it. But now I am putting new work out daily so just have to do it, so far I have had a great response to everything, so – so far so good. I have also had some brilliant people to draw already and was very pleased that Magazine Entrepreneur Mike Soutar, (who you might have seen on the Aprentice), has let me draw him and shared my pic.

021_Mike_Soutar_small 021_MikeSoutar

 

 

I have also stepped inside a gorgeous shop and managed to speak, and now have another stockist Cloudberry Gifts, to sell my wares, so I am now getting their order ready.

I have also been reading a few blogs with advice about how to develop your own blog which I plan to write about next time to show what I have learnt so far. I would love to get any tips or comments you have for me. Good or bad criticism accepted…honest!

I hope it is going to be a great 365 Days this year for all of us!

Please do lso get in touch if you would like to be part of my 365 Days Project project, or if you would like to commission a piece of work for your home or business, I’d love to hear from you X

 

 

 


Drawing People – is it ok?

Hi again, I’ve come into a bit of a dilemma a few times since starting this project and wondered what your opinions are.

My 365 Days Project is a challenge I’ve set myself, to draw a new person every single day for a year, so far I am into my third week and loving it! However most of the people I am doing I have asked their permission and either taken a photo or been given one to use, and it’s all been very straight-forward.

However a couple of times I have drawn people without them knowing. Incluidng this Colourful Mystery girl. I did bump into her afterwards and she seemed quite flattered, and was very happy for me to use the picture, but did not want her photograph to be online.

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I have also drawn a lady I know, with every intention of telling her, but with the speed of the internet, someone else showed her the picture first! Again she was pleased, but with hindsight I think I should have shown her first but was excited to get it out there!

Also I am doing a few celebrities and some have agreed for me to go ahead and draw them which is great, but for others again I have the dilemma. Should I wait and ask them first and maybe never get a reply, or go ahead and tell them afterwards? And if it is a drawing and they didn’t like it what then?

I have every intention of telling people if I have drawn them but is it ok to do this without asking first?

Because it is not a photograph I am taking, it is an illustration I am having a little battle with myself. I am very careful to protect the privacy of someone, and would never take a photo showing their faces without their knowledge , but is an illustration the same?

Just getting myself in an ethical twist and wonderd what you guys thought? I would love to get your opinions as basically I am a worrier and would like to know if I should be worried about this or not!!

Remember I have 365 Days to do, so if you want to be involved and are happy for me to use you and a photograph do get in touch, email pics to sam@sammiller.co.uk Thanks X


Celebrity Endorsements and Nerves!

Hi Everyone, I’m very pleased to tell you I’ve had my first celebrity endorsements this week for my 365 Days project! Poppy Lee Friar who plays Eve, AND the writer and creator of the series Emma Reeves both said they loved my picture, which has made my day and week, and also gained me a big hug from my daughter telling me I was great! My favourite reward.

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It is always lovely to get feedback from people, (celebrities or not), and I am always thrilled to hear from people and companies who are pleased with the items I have made for them. The biggest compliment I find is when people come back again, and sometimes again and again…. I do put a lot of effort into making sure every product I send out or illustration I do for someone is exactly what they want, as I would hate to give someone a portrait that was just ‘ok’, or ‘almost right’, instead of perfect.

It is always a bit nervewracking sending a commission to someone to see what they think, and despite having a totally positive success rate, and numerous repeat orders from shops, individulas and companies, I am a complete scaredy cat! I still find it terrifying visiting a new possible stockist, just in case they say ‘no’. It’s silly really as the worst that can happen is I blush a bit and scurry out of the shop, never to darken it’s door again, but I wouldn’t actually be any worse off than before I went in.

WeeMan_products products1

For that reason I am determined this year to face my fears and walk right through the door, armed with my Wee Man bestsellers for back-up! Alternatively any stockists out there who would like some lovely original products that I promise sell really well, please just get in touch!

Let me know if there is anything you avoid doing, or that makes you nervous. Also please let me know any tips you have for conquering the butterflies!

Look forward to hearing from you X


365 Days Illustration Project – WEEK 1

Wow, that was a quick week! I’ve really enjoyed my first week of my 365 Days project, I feel like it has given me a complete focus and discipline, so that no matter what else I have to do I have still created something/someone each day.

I am also getting a bit obsessed, looking at everyone I see in real life, on TV and the virtual world, imagining them all as a potential new subject. So if you see someone staring at you in a peculiar way it could be me imagining you as my next drawing challenge!001_Coco_Ella Coco_photo1

 

005Jaime_snow 005Jaime_snow_photo

If you would like to be involved plese send me an email to sam@sammiller.co.uk

I can’t guarantee I will use every image I am sent, but hopefully you will be one of the chosen ones!
Look forward to seeing some of your gorgeous selves! Thanks, Sam X


365 Day Illustration Project

365 Days Illustration Project – Interesting People WANTED!!

I’ve started a project to do an image of a person every day for a year. I am very excited and already have a list of people I want to draw, but I also wondered if any of you guys would like to be involved? All I need is a photo of you, with your permission to use it publicly. I will choose the images that inspire me the most and draw you as part of the project. All I ask in return is that you share the finished image and credit me for it.

Please send an email to sam@sammiller.co.uk
Look forward to seeing some of your gorgeous selves!

Samdrawing


Sam Miller portrait being created!

I just thought I’d let you see how one of my portraits comes together, from the photographs to the sketches, and then the whole thing eing made.

SEQ 01

Let me know what you think…