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I HEART Colouring Books Competition



I HEART Colouring Books Competition


With the release of I HEART Unicorns, I HEART Mermaids and I HEART Drag Queens; my newest colouring books published by Trapeze Books; and to celebrate I HEART Unicorns already reaching over 2000 sales worldwide(!); I have decided to run an exclusive giveaway for all of my lovely friends, family, supporters and colourists.



And, considering the themes of these gorgeous books – the prizes are suitably glittery, sparkly and all things fabulous!

The grand prize for this giveaway is A SPARKLY COLOURING BOOK GOODIE BAG! 

This includes…

1 copy of I HEART Unicorns

1 copy of I HEART Mermaids 

1 copy of I HEART Drag Queens

PS… Get Lippy Holographic Collection: Fantasy (Containing holographic liquid lip gloss, lip liner and glitter)

PS… Holographic Unicorn Tears Nails with Self Adhesive

Pack of 12x Crayola Coloured Pencils

Primark Home 10x Unicorn Hanging Photo Clips

PS… Unicorn Horn Make Up Brush Set

White chocolate coins

PS… Rainbow Highlighter Powder


contest


Runners up will also receive a smaller goodie bag themed around either mermaids, unicorns or drag queens (only 3 runners up will be chosen). In order to enter, all you have to do is sheck the RaffleCopter giveaway Widget at the bottom of this post. Each entry in the competition will count as a raffle entry and the raffle will be drawn on the 12th December.

Terms and Conditions (Please read…)

I Heart Unicorns/Drag Queens/Mermaids published by Trapeze (an imprint of the Orion Publishing Group)

This contest is run by Anastasia Catris and is in no way associated with Orion, Trapeze, Crayola or Primark.

All prizes were provided by Anastasia Catris. Anastasia Catris takes no responsibility for any ingredients within the PS… range of toiletry products or white chocolate coins. Contestants use these items at their discretion in accordance with the ingredients dictated on the packaging.

According to Primark’s website, their make up does not conduct and does not commission any animal testing. They also state that their terms of trade with their suppliers make it clear that cosmetic products and their ingredients must not be tested on animals. Nor do they have stores or outlets in China which requires animal testing by law.

Please note that attempts will be made to contact the winner on the day of the raffle draw (12th December). If I hear back from them before the last post on the 13th December, and the winner’s residence is in the UK, Royal Mail advise that they should receive their prize before Christmas. Please note that people entering the contest from outside of the UK, where it is based, may not receive their prize before Christmas due to holiday post closures and restrictions.


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I REALLY Heart Drag Queens



I REALLY Heart Drag Queens


I didn’t know what a Lesbian was until I was 14. I had heard the term Gay, but only when used for men and even then it was in the confines of a pretty Catholic upbringing. I had no Gay friends (as far as I knew). I didn’t know or understand the term Bisexual until I watched the film ‘Chasing Amy’ when I was 16 and even then it didn’t exactly bring up anything particularly constructive beyond the usual stereotypes of Bisexuals making a ‘choice’ to be Straight or Gay depending on who they were with at the time. Even Willow, one of my teenage role models from ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’, always considered herself having discovered being a Lesbian rather than just admitting to the fact that she had loved Oz, a cis-gendered male, before loving Tara. Queer role models were not exactly easy to find for a relatively sheltered Catholic school girl from Cardiff.



I started going out and drinking with my friends when I was 16. I managed to get a relatively realistic looking fake ID and was super proud that a couple of the establishments in town would fall for it. For this purpose (even though it was half a lifetime ago now), I won’t mention the bars or the people working in them by name as I would hate for them to get into any trouble (it was a really good fake ID… and having been a bartender since then I know how difficult it can be to age-guess sometimes).

We only had one rock/alternative bar at the time. And it was only worth going to on a Wednesday when the drinks were ridiculously cheap, and that was a school night. So Fridays/Saturdays were for extreme cheese. 70’s, 80’s and 90’s hits and even some musical mash ups. Think Steps, S Club 7 and all of the wonderful glory in its heyday. So a group of us underage, naive girls would head to our local Drag Club. Of course we would flirt and drink, not really thinking of the dangers that could come out of it. But we were young and stupid. There was something about being in a Gay bar which made us feel like we were free to dance and have fun without any of the usual come-ons and awkward conversations which would follow when we explained to these older guys that we were too young and not interested.

We managed to make friends and I slowly got to know people outside of my sheltered Catholic upbringing. Soon we were meeting up on Fridays with larger groups of people. We were talking about Gay rights, Pride, drag and I was slowly learning about the importance of pronouns, prejudice and checking my language (I am still learning. We all are). It was the best learning I received from my final year in High School.



We got to know a few of the Drag performers and I’m pretty sure that they knew how old we were. Years later I spoke to one of them and they said that they often got groups of young people coming to their shows as a gateway into the Gay community and that it was safer to let them come into that bar, underage, and keep them safe from the bullying they could experience in other clubs than it was to kick them out for having a drink.

It says a lot that I only really remember three instances of prejudice from my time hanging out at these clubs (and one was on the street, not in the bar itself).

Once was when I was being chatted up by a guy while I was watching a Drag show with my friends. I told him I wasn’t interested and even went so far as to tell him my age (he was in his 20s). He proceeded to come on to me despite this and was saying things along the lines of ‘age doesn’t matter’ and ‘the more fun for me’. It was very intrusive. It was this point that one of the Drag Queens clocked the incident and swooped in like some beautiful protective mother hen. She started berating him from the stage over the microphones and calling him out for his penis size and all manner of possible inadequacies. Of course he shouted back at her calling her all sorts of triggering words which I won’t repeat here. But she just laughed and sent him on his way, using her Queenly power to summon the bouncers to escort him out. She was a bloody hero. I had seen people take on stage abuse at things such as pantomime before, but nothing like this and she just shrugged it off as just another day ‘like water off a duck’s back’ and went back to work.



The second time was while we were all dancing. The Queen on stage had a set where she would throw paper plates into the crowd and get us to all dance to ‘Zorba The Greek’. As a Greek girl myself, this was always my favourite part of the night. During this dance, a man came over and started to grind against me and my friends, groping us and generally being very touchy feely. A bunch of the guys we were hanging out with saw this and began to grind against him, making him feel very awkward. He moved away immediately but as this was a Gay club, he couldn’t exactly go and say they were acting inappropriately so he just left us alone. The power was reversed. It was a pretty special thing to watch. Especially as if something like that had gone down in any other bar in Cardiff it would have most likely ended up with a fight.

The third time I remember was when me and a few of our friends were walking back to the taxi rank. We were being wolf whistled and cat called as we walked down the street which was most commonly known at the time for housing the most gay bars. A guy started following me and trying to talk to me. One of the girls I was with held my hand and told him to back off. He proceeded to shout homophobic abuse at her and suggest that he could change us etc. etc… the usual garbage. He even suggested that we both share him. She turned around and kicked him in the groin and we all ran away laughing. I think about how I would feel in that situation if I was alone and not with a group of Queer warriors and I feel a little bit sick.

These experiences are so tame in comparison to what so many of my Queer friends have experienced. I was so lucky. I was coming from a place of cis-gendered, white, able-bodied, middle class privilege that I didn’t even know about. As I grew up I met friends who had been thrown out of their homes, abandoned by their families, beaten, abused and generally had to fight tooth-and-nail just to be who they were.

I have also had the privilege of having been a ‘passing’ Bisexual. I have known about my sexuality for as long as I knew there was a word for it (though even now the language is constantly changing – I suppose I would consider myself Pansexual now that I am more aware of Non-Binary, Intersex and Transgender people. But I identified as Bi for so long it is just a term I am comfortable with). But I have only ever introduced my family to my cis-male partners. This was not through any choice, it just so happened that many of my long term relationships were with men. As such I have never had to ‘come out’ to my family, despite all of my friends knowing about my sexuality and me never having been particularly closed off about it.



This year I became single for the first time in five years. I was single at 30 and it was actually incredibly liberating. It was at this time that I got offered the colouring book ‘I Heart Drag Queens’. As I was coming up with ideas for the book (mostly watching ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’, ‘To Wong Foo’, ‘Priscilla Queen of the Desert’ and listening to the soundtrack to Rikki Beadle-Blair’s musical ‘Stonewall’ on repeat) I began reminiscing about the fun I had growing up in the gay community in Cardiff. The Drag Queens, the parties, the nights out, but mostly how safe I felt to be myself and explore my sexuality. You often hear Drag Queens described as ‘Fierce’ and you have no idea how true that is.

I knew that when the book came out I wanted to make sure there were at least a few pages dedicated to representing different genders and sexualities, as well as the different types of Queen including Bearded Queens, Androgynous Queens, Fashion and Pageant Queens and Plus-Sized Queens. I wanted to represent different races and body types as best I can and, most importantly, I didn’t want it to fall into the category of Drag Queens just being ‘guys in dresses’. I really wanted to show their fierce beauty. I hope I’ve done that in some small way as well as made it fun.



With the launch of ‘I Heart Drag Queens’ in October I knew I was going to be posting about this a lot on social media and all over the internet. So, earlier in the year, I decided to finally tell my parents about my sexuality. It was the easiest conversation it could have possibly been. I knew they had always suspected and I had never gone out of my way to hide my affections and attractions to women, but I knew that by not openly telling them I was keeping them out of an important part of who I was.

Again I note my privilege in that I know how lucky I am to come from a family of amazingly understanding and open people. Despite being a majority Catholic family, my family have always been accepting, caring and loving towards all of us and go out of their way to understand and fight for us on a daily basis. Little freedoms like not having to check my pronouns or language or hide my crushes for celebrities around them are finally gone. I could not be happier for having such an amazing family and friendship circle who is always encouraging me to be myself. If there is one thing I regret it would be waiting so long to let them know officially (even if they always had an inkling).


So, while working on a colouring book may not seem like the most enlightening or life-changing experience, I just wanted to share with you a few of the thoughts that have been floating around in my head since I started work on it earlier in the year. ‘I Heart Drag Queens’ is now available to buy on Amazon and from most local retailers. Working on this book was an honour and a privilege and I hope I did some of those beautiful, fierce and strong queens proud; because I really do ‘Heart’ Drag and everything it represents in my small little life of growing up in the LGBTQ+ community.

But mostly, I hope that the book is still fun! Fill it with rainbows, glitter and sparkle and enjoy every page. I know I did. Patreons can view preview pages from ‘I Heart Drag Queens’ over on my Patreon now. You can also view previews of pages from the book via the ‘Look Inside’ option on Amazon, or visit my Gallery here. 


Marvel ‘Fleer Ultra Spider-Man’ Sketchcards Aprroved



Marvel ‘Fleer Ultra Spider-Man’ Approved Cards


As a lifelong Marvel fan, this was a very big deal for me and I am super proud of the work I did on this set. I had a bit of a stressful start to this year, with a lot of things happening in my personal life that started to effect my work. This was one of those jobs that I knew I had to finish no matter what was happening in my life, and I am so happy that I had it to concentrate on. I cannot wait to work with Upper Deck and Marvel again in the future.

I used this set as an excuse to re-work an old puzzle piece I did many years ago, of the film versions of the Avengers. This was one of my first major sketchcard commissions and I sold it at Bristol Comic Con (only my second comic con that I had exhibited at). It was also my first project working with Copic Markers (which have since become a staple of my sketchcard work).


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The original piece was a whole card bigger than the newer ‘official’ piece, so it’s awesome to see what I can do with the small space now considering how daunting I remember it once being. I also added in a few new Avengers to have it keep with the flow of the Spider-verse as well as a little bit more up-to-date with the films (though I kept a traditional comic book line up).A lot of things have changed since those first cards and I am pretty happy with how far my art has come in that time. Can’t wait to see where I go next and here’s to more improvements!

You can see a few of my favourite sketchcards from the set below, or check out the gallery to view all of my contributions to the set. Hope you enjoy them! 



Where’s Trump Release and Giveaway!


Where’s Trump Release and Giveaway!


To celebrate the release of ‘Where’s Trump?: Find Donald Trump in his Race to the White House’ I am giving away a free signed copy to one lucky reader! All you have to do is use the Raffelcopter Widget below and follow the simple instructions to enter the raffle.

The giveaway runs until the 9th August at 12am GMT. You can enter multiple times using some of the options below, so get tweeting and generally commenting. If you already have a copy or a digital Kindle copy of the book, please consider leaving a review for it on Amazon.


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Perna Studios’ ‘Spellcasters 2’ Sketchcard Set


Perna Studios’ ‘Spellcasters 2’ Sketchcard Set


As Perna Studios have started shipping out orders of Spellcasters 2, the artists are now allowed to reveal their contributions to the set. I always absolutely love working with Perna Studios. The subjects they deal with are always very fun and speak a lot to my own favourite subject matter, from Hallowe’en to Classic Fairy Tales and now enchanted creatures (which, as you know, I have a colouring book full of!). For this particular set, artists were asked to draw specifically examples of unicorns, faeries, mermaids, dragons and elves. I had so much fun working on different styles of unicorn and mermaid and may even consider a sketch book of mermaid designs in the future.

The mermaids I drew were lion fish, koi, octopus and flame angel inspired and I had so many more ideas that I would have liked to have played with. I also love my tropical zebra unicorn as I thought that would be a bit different and of course, the Hell/Demon-hybrid unicorn. I hope you like the cards. I contributed 20 to the set altogether, which you can see in the gallery below or on my portfolio page.




Be a Superhero For Babies


Sketchcards


Be A Superhero for Babies


A few months ago I was approached by a lovely gent named Steve Frank who is fundraising for March of Dimes ‘March For Babies’ campaign. He was asking around the sketchcard community to see if any of us had the time to spare a few PSCs which he would then auction off to raise money for this deserving charity.

The March of Dimes helps to fund research into premature birth and the complications that may arise from it; it also helps by supporting families with premature newborns and those in intensive care. Steve is also fundraising via his personal Fundraising Page which you can find here.

I managed to draw up five PSCs altogether which I hope will go someway to helping him raise his fundraising goal and, more importantly, help this worthwhile charity and their cause. I drew up some characters who I know tend to be quite popular at auction (Black Cat, Captain Marvel, Harley Quinn and Spider Gwen) and I threw in an illustration of Sadness, a character from one of my favourite recent children’s films ‘Inside Out’.

Thanks to my awesome supporters on Patreon: Mike, Phill, Paddy, Jeff, Kath, Effy, Dave, Chris, Gav, Elaine, Katie, Michelle and Laura for helping me out by supporting me throughout May and giving me the time to work on more charity work and increase my portfolio. You guys rock!


 

DC Justice League Approved Cards



DC Justice League Approved Cards


Only the other week I shared with you the preview that  George Nadeau posted of my upcoming contribution to the DC/Cryptozoic Sketchcard set Justice League. Well, I am happy to announce that not only did all of my cards get approved by DC and Cryptozoic, but I am now able to show you each and every one of them. The set is due for release in 4 weeks (June 29th) and features some absolutely amazing artists that I am very proud to be counted among. Thanks again to Cryptozoic for the opportunity and I cannot wait to work with you again.

You can see the full range of 56 (!) cards I contributed in my Portfollio here. But below are a few of my favourites. I also did a little rainbow theme of one of the most popular versions of the JL team. Who is your favourite?


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DC Justice League Preview


Justice League Preview


DC Justice League Preview

I am extremely proud to announce my involvement in the upcoming Cryptozoic trading card set, Justice League, in association with DC Comics. You can find more information on the trading card set, including what other amazing inserts each of the packs will contain, here. Thank you to George Nadeau for allowing me to show these three cards as previews of the work I did on this set.

Featured in this image are Swamp Thing (New 52 Justice League Dark), Katana (New 52 Justice League of America) and Firestorm (New 52 Justice League). You can also expect characters from a wide variety of other Justice League titles throughout the ages. Really hope you like them and I honestly cannot wait for this set to be released later in the year.

Don’t forget to subscribe to this blog via e-mail to be kept up to date with further announcements, including all the contributed images from this set when Cryptozoic allows. 


 

 

Dementia Awareness Week


Dementia Awareness Week #DAW2016

Writing this post is actually pretty difficult for me, I’m not going to lie.

On one hand, I want to help raise awareness for Dementia Awareness Week, the awareness-raising brain-child of The Alzheimer’s Society UKan organisation which pledges to help lead the fight against Dementia. And I don’t want to do that in a somber way. I want to give you free art and ask you to help me raise money for them by auctioning off some beautiful books. This requires excitement and happiness and general celebration of life and the lives we are trying to help make better; not sobering facts and statistics, or in my case heavy personal experiences.

But, on the other hand, there are those heavy personal experiences which make it difficult for me to talk about Dementia without wanting to punch that disease* square in the face! (*Technically Dementia is a series of brain damaging symptoms of other diseases, including Alzheimers, or brought on by a series of strokes, or any number of other factors which you can learn more about here. But for the purpose of this narrative, let’s pretend it is a disease and that diseases have faces).


I’ve tried about three times to write something about my experiences with Dementia in this post, each time I have deleted them and started from scratch. In all honesty, it’s really difficult to write about. I lost my Nan a few years ago to the disease (technically, she was lost to other things physically, but we lost her to dementia a little while before she passed) and it was a very hard time with some not very pleasant experiences. Maybe I will talk more freely about them throughout the week.

But for now I am going to concentrate on the pleasant experiences. Her nurses. Her nurses were amazing. She was in a Catholic care home run by the Church and there were several Nuns on the staff , but one of the nurses who stood out was the most accepting and caring of people. On the night my Nan passed, despite never having known her without the disease (so only knowing the frustrated woman who would lash out and didn’t speak much sense), she stayed after her shift had ended and sat with her all night, praying with her and holding her hand.

The nurses also allowed me and my younger brother, my cousins, auntie and uncle, mum and dad, my Nan’s sister and so many others to sleep at the nursing home in the conservatory and on sofas in the hall, or in Nan’s room with her, for the whole week when we had been told she was going to pass soon. At one point there were so many of us in her little room that there was no room for us to sit. We were sat on the floor eating sandwiches from the 24 hour Tesco down the road, just talking all through the night and day. It was a little like the family parties that Nan would have loved.

And singing. Despite everything, Nan still sang, right up until she started to get very ill. She couldn’t always remember our names, or got our faces mixed up, but she probably still knew the words to every song she ever loved. We always knew that no matter how horrible it got, if we started humming something, she would most likely pick it up and begin to sing along.


Dementia is horrible.  It steals a person away and leaves behind some one who is so frustrated with their own mind. They still know us. They still love us. It just takes so much time for them to find us in their disease ravaged brains that they sometimes lose their way. And that is so hard to watch.

But thanks to charities like The Alzheimer’s Society there are new treatments being researched every day. New wonderful nurses and carers and support systems being trained to help us to give them a map and find their way back to us. Even if only briefly. Because, honestly, those brief moments mean the world.

So… I’m going to stop writing now. If anything because just writing this has taken me far too long as I keep on having to go back over it and re-write things. I tried very hard to keep to the happy stuff. The celebration. The stuff that we should all remember about a person’s final days rather than the bad stuff… And even that made me cry a bit which is why I think I’m going to stop now.


If you would like to help The Alzheimer’s Society spread awareness of Dementia and #DAW2016, please consider checking out my current eBay Auction (Link here) for three copies of ‘Draw Your Way To A Younger Brain’, or visit The Alzheimer’s Society and donate to a brilliant cause. You can also tweet your message about Dementia using the hashtag #DAW2016.

Here is a little giveaway for an original page of artwork from ‘Draw Your Way To A Younger Brain’ to help you spread the word about the cause and the auction. The blog comment is only a way for me to track the entries, please check the other options available once you have commented, in the RaffleCopter widget. 


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Patreon Launch and Giveaway!


If you follow my Twitter or Facebook you may have seen the exciting rumblings lately regarding my upcoming Patreon Campaign. Well… IT’S FINALLY HERE!

This is a brand new venture for me and a very exciting one. I have been following and supporting a number of my friends over on Patreon for quite a while now* and have always wanted to start one of my very own, now I have!

One of the serious benefits from Patreon, for me, is that it will help me create a more structured schedule for my work. Working as a freelance illustrator is an extremely time consuming job and I spend so much time hunting down new work, sending out speculation emails**, marketing and advertising my work and, of course, working on commercial art; that I very rarely have time to myself to work on my own projects.

With the financial help that Patreon can hopefully provide, I will be able to spend more time drawing things that I am passionate about and less time hunting down commercial work to pay the bills.

This does not mean that I will not still be working for awesome companies like DC, Dynamite and IDW, as well as publishing books. In fact, it means that I will be able to afford more time to work on my portfolio pieces so that I can improve my standing with these companies as well as work on my own self-published books.


So… How Can You Help Launch My Patreon?

Well, firstly, being here and reading this is a huge help, so thank you! But there are lots of other ways you can help too. My Patreon launches on Tuesday 10th May (Today… unless you are reading this in the future in which case it WAS Tuesday 10th May, but you can still help out! Just keep reading…) and here are a few ways you can help make the first day a huge success:

  • Share the link to my Patreon on your Facebook wall, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Patreon or to your Kickstarter/IndieGoGo friends (here is the link for you www.patreon.com/AnastasiaCatris )
  • Visit the Patreon Page and watch the video.
  • Like the video on YouTube, comment on it and/or share it around. (here is the link for the video www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xWQnQBQSPQ )
  • Share this blog post, or re-blog it on your own blog.
  • Like this blog post, comment and generally help raise it’s search engine optimization by being awesome.
  • Pledge to the Patreon. I mean, this would be amazing, it really would be going above and beyond. I’m sure you will see something you like on the pledge list.
  • And finally – enter the Raffle Copter Giveaway below! I mean, if you’re doing all of these awesome things anyway, you may as well get the chance to win some awesome goodies out of it right?

If you are reading in the future, you can still do all of the above things, you may just not be eligible to win anything in return. But if you back the Patreon, you get a whole host of awesome pledge rewards anyway!


Giveaway Time!

Well, I’m pretty sure this is what you’ve been waiting for, am I right? As part of the awesome, exciting, super launch day, I am also giving away some goodie bags full of fun amazing things, including:

  • Copies of Colour Me Mindful, Draw Your Way to a Younger Brain or Cirque Du Mort.
  • Sketch Cards.
  • Prints.
  • Original Artwork.
  • Pin Badges, Bookmarks, Post Cards and much, much more!

Each goodie bag contains a selection of the above and is a surprise. The more people who enter, the more goodie bags I will be giving out, so be sure to spread the word to all of your friends to be in with a chance of winning more.

The competition will end on Friday 13th May, when winners will be contacted via e-mail. So you will have 3 whole days to complete as many RaffleCopter tasks as you can to gain your entry tickets. Good luck everyone! And thank you so much for taking part!

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* Seriously guys, check out Al Davison, Reaperfox, Wolfskulljack, Kat Nicholson and Emma Vieceli who are all creating amazing work and tell them I said Hi!

** Speculation work or ‘Spec’ work is when you draw something as an ‘audition’ for a company and send it to them in the hopes of getting work with them.