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Artist’s Block

by Anastasia Catris in Personal Comments: 1 tags: advice, artist block, help

You’ve sharpened all your pencils, put your entire marker pen collection in order of size and colour, sorted all of your pdfs into handy folders, now let’s put that pen to paper… oh… wait…

Art Block. It can come at any time and without any explanation. One minute your blasting out commissions like crazy, the next minute, you’re struggling to draw a stick man. Artist’s Block can be frustrating at the best of times, but when you’re a professional artist it can stand in the way of you making next month’s rent! It can make you doubt your abilities, question every little mistake and, worst of all, completely stop you in your tracks.

So, here are a few tips I have found work for me personally when I am struggling. They may not all work for you, but we’re all different, so why not tell me what does work for you and together we can come up with a handy list of ideas for the next time we all have a bit of imagination constipation.

1. Step Away from the Computer/Drawing Table


It may sound simple, but just stepping away from your work (when you can afford to) can really help put your art into perspective. Why not go for a walk, to the gym or even to a local gallery or museum? Try to get your mind of your own art work and maybe soak up the art of others. Browse DeviantArt and find some inspirational pieces, or go to a craft fair or convention. You might find some new techniques or methods that you can use in the current project you are stuck on.

2. Exercise

Working as an artist can be a very sedentary job. As such, we rarely get enough exercise unless we really take the time to go to the gym or for a run. Exercise can help clear your mind, make you feel more energetic and alert and, most importantly, make you healthier. Going for an hour in the gym before sitting down to work can help you focus your mind on your work. You may even get some ideas when you’re stuck in your own mind on the treadmill.

3. Enroll in an art workshop or life drawing class

Being surrounded by artists all creating and working together can be inspirational. Plus, the bonus of a class is that the teacher will generally give you a subject to focus on, meaning you don’t have to draw from your own imagination. This will get the creative juices flowing without straining your brain too much. Hopefully, you will get into the groove a little bit and take that momentum back to the studio with you.

4. Draw some Fan Art

Harley Quinn Queen 1

Fan art can be a great way to get over an imagination slump. As you are working with already established characters, with set in stone costumes, hair and props, it takes some of the pressure off of your imagination while also getting you to flex your artistic muscles. Why not try some gender bending, costume re-design or setting characters in different time periods. You may soon find that your re-imaginations of characters will turn into your own character designs.

5. Dealing with Intimidation

Maybe you have to adapt your style? Deal with a new type of layout you are not familiar with? Whatever the design problem, do not be scared by it. Everyone has this problem every now and again and it’s how we, as artists, learn. I felt very blocked when I was working on the Kerrang! Komic as it was a size I hadn’t experimented with that much. I found stepping away and researching magazine comic strips like Pandora, really helped me gain perspective. Then thumb-nailing out as many different options as I could before settling on a final design made me feel much more comfortable before moving on to pencils.

6. Ask your friends for help

Even if your friends are not artistic themselves, that doesn’t mean they can’t help. Maybe they could take you out for a drink or go to the cinema with you to get your mind off of things. Also, they might be the same audience you are aiming your art towards. If you are drawing a book full of superheroes, ask some of your friends who like superheroes to see what you’ve done so far. They may not be able to give you advice on exactly how to improve it artistically, but they can at least tell you if it’s good or not.

7. Remember that you are only human!

This is probably the most important thing for you to remember when dealing with art block. A lot of the time art block can come from putting too much pressure on yourself, taking on too much work, or stepping outside your comfort zone. These are all things that commercial artists have to do in order to get by at some point or another, but the best thing you can do is learn from them. Learn how much is too much, learn your limits (only then can you comfortably exceed them) and learn how you as a person handle stress.

A lot of these options may seem like procrastination and…well… they kinda are, but that’s I like to think of them as progressive procrastination.

If it were up to me, I’d be drawing and working 24 hours a day, but that would slowly kill me. The problem with being freelance is that there is no set schedule or time period for you to work in. This can be both a blessing and a curse. If I didn’t take the time to step out of my head every so often I would spend half of my day chained to my drawing table and the other half stuck to my phone or laptop, checking e-mails and writing promos on social media.

Art and writing are expressions of life at the end of the day, and if you don’t have one, how can you be expected to express it?

Wednesday Wish List

Inspired by my good friend Lisa (CthulhuWakes) and her blog ‘A Star Fell On Her’, I have decided to start some themed blog post days as a way to get my blogging organized. Having been away from the blog-o-sphere for over a year now thanks to my old website breaking, it’s nice to get back to the exercise of writing regularly, even if it is only to say hi to you guys or make some announcements.

I’m also really looking forward to getting more involved in the blogging community. I follow a lot of my artist friends who I have been lucky enough to meet at cons around the world, but it would be nice to meet some bloggers from the spectral world of the internet too. So if you like blogging about art, comics, books, films, games and anything geeky in-between, I’d love to hear from you. If you could make a comment with a link to your own blog, I’d love to check it out.

All that being said, why not get started with my Wednesday Wish List! On my travels around conventions (and constantly scouring the internet for ideas), I have found a few awesome goodies that I think need to be brought to your attention. So, without further ado, here they are…

Wednesday Wish List

‘See You Space Cowboy’ Tote Bag by Megan Lara on Society6 – $22

If you are a regular convention goer you will probably recognize the artwork of Megan Lara a mile off (Firefly Nouveau,  Nintendo Nouveau). The Art Nouveau inspired, pop culture referencing beauty of her pieces is astounding. Granted, I am the target market; not only do I absolutely LOVE Art Nouveau, but I am obviously a massive geek, so her gorgeous, classic, elegant designs are perfect for me. I found this piece – ‘See You Space Cowboy’, inspired by ‘Cowboy Bebop’ – on Society6 and immediately knew I had to have it (She also has shirts available on Red Bubble). I opted to get it as a Tote Bag so I could wear it proudly to my next con. Corgis, guns, art nouveau – what more could I want?

Rat Queens Tunic Tank Top – $30


If you haven’t read Rat Queens yet then I really don’t know what you are doing with your lives! It is an amazing bad ass comic full of fantastic female characters and some amazing one liners. If you love role playing games, kick ass fight scenes and tales of bad mouthed babes and drunken debauchery, this is for you! Check out my review over on Chaos Hour if you are interested. The thing I LOVE about the merch for this book is, much like the book itself, it is representative of women of all shapes and sizes. The models on their site are beautiful, normal looking girls, and the clothes really compliment their shapes. While I love the design of this vest, there is also a gorgeous off-the-shoulder sweater that is perfect for us more ‘heavy up top’ ladies as it looks very complimentary. Style & Sexiness +10!

Razer Deathadder Soap from Soapasaurus – £7

Razer Death Adder Soap

There are so many awesome soaps to choose from on this website, I really didn’t know which one to showcase to you all. Seriously, you should go check out the site as all of their stuff is fun, quirky and (having met them at cons) smells gorgeous. This one won out, however, as it is definitely on my new house wish list. The mister and I are big gamers and even built our own PCs. While mine mostly has Guild Wars related kit (SteelSeries Guild Wars 2 Gaming Keyboard), he is a bit of a Razer fan boy, so this would be a perfect fit for our future bathroom. Scented with lime, this is a perfect ‘wake up’ soap, and looks awesome to boot. Warning: May increase your pwning skill.

Dirty Teacup Designs’ ‘Fashion Villain’ Gift Cards – $15 for 5

Dirty Teacup - Fashion Villains

I was lucky enough to work with Dirty Teacup Designs on the Unstoppable Cards’ ‘Dead Divas’ set. I love her macabre characters mixed with her feminine style. These cards are a great way of getting samples of her artwork at a nice affordable price, plus they would make perfect birthday/thank you/note cards to send to that Wednesday Addams in your life (you know we all have one and if you don’t, it’s you).

Teatube Test Tube Tea Infuser by Think Geek – $11.99

Tea Infuser

For those of you who don’t know me, I LOVE tea. Yes, I am a blue haired girl who loves tea (Ramona jokes may now ensue). But, for reasons unbeknownst to me, I have a very strange aversion to metal (i.e. chains, jewelry, etc), so Tea Infusers tend to pass me by (which is a shame, because this owl shaped one – also from ThinkGeek – is adorable). So imagine my happiness when I found this lovely little test tube shaped tea infuser. Perfect for science geeks and Aperture employees alike.

Well, that’s all from me today. Hope you enjoyed my little foray back into blogging. Let me know what you think below. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep this up and join in some discussions with you lovely folk. 

Secret Creator-Owned Project Revealed

Secret Creator-owned Project Finally Revealed!

I have been teasing you with this for a while now. Those of you who follow my Facebook page may have heard rumblings of a super secret personal project in the works and a while ago I said that I would tell you more as soon as my Facebook page reached 666 likes (surely that was a bit of a hint)

Well, my Facebook page reached its goal over the weekend and as promised, here is the reveal for my new creator-owned project. In a few months I will be launching a Kickstarter Project for my first Creator-Owned Illustrated Book, The Cirque Du Mort.


The book will be a variety of short stories based around a ghostly circus of tragic performers. Each of the characters will have their own unique back story and reason for haunting the big top of the Cirque Du Mort. These stories will be accompanied by illustrations, pin ups and playbills.

I have already begun character design and written most of the script and, I have to say, I’m pretty happy with how it is looking so far. One of the things I really wanted to achieve with this piece was to create a whole host of unique and diverse characters from a range of backgrounds and just see where they take me with their own stories.


Some are tragic, others amusing, some just plain disturbing; but all brought under the stage lights together in a fun compilation of art and storytelling.

This book will be perfect for you if you were (like me) a bit of a Wednesday Addams growing up. Ideal for lovers of Living Dead Dolls, burlesque, steampunk, or Carnivale. Characters so far range from the conjoined Opera singers, Mallory and Felicity, who you have already met on Facebook; and Antoinette, the decapitated magician.


I will be updating you regularly from now on via my Facebook Group in regards to characters and works in progress. All of this will lead up to a Kickstarter Project which I hope all of you will be excited to take part in. I already have a whole bunch of prizes and perks in mind and I am really hyped to get started.

Are there any types of character you would like to see in the Cirque Du Mort? Why not leave a comment below.

MCM Ireland Roundup

by Anastasia Catris in Convention Comments: 0 tags: Convention, Dublin, Ireland, Ireland MCM

MCM Ireland Roundup

Well, I have just returned from my first international convention and it was amazing. I have been a professional guest at overseas cons before, like NYCC, but I have never actually exhibited as an artist so this was a pretty big step for me. I decided from the outset that I was going to travel by plane (despite the ferry being a much easier choice) as this meant I would get the much needed practice of collecting all of my con-gear into one suitcase (and under 20kg at that!)

I actually managed to get all of my stock and display items in my suitcase with no real trouble, hitting in at 19kg at the airport. I actually took a little bit more stock than I needed as I wanted to test how I would do at a larger 3 day con like New York, so I was pretty happy that I managed to go under target. The flight was nice and simple, only one hour up and down! Before you knew it I was in Dublin and it was absolutely beautiful!

I have been to Ireland a couple of times in the past, Dublin twice and Ulster once, so it wasn’t too much of a shock, but as I was selling there for the first time, the Euro was probably my biggest challenge. Lucky for me the Bureau De Change managed to swap me a whole bunch of change as soon as I landed, so I managed to sort out my float for the weekend (That was honestly a huge worry for me!)

I made my way to the hotel first and dropped off all of my stuff then headed straight to the RDS where I got to work on setting up my table. I didn’t have my usual set up of metal grid shelves as they would have been far too heavy to take, so I settled for a flat table display with a few acrylic stands for artwork.

Dublin Set Up

All in all I was pretty happy with how it looked, though I would like to get a banner stand or something to add height for the next overseas con as I felt a little lost among the sea of tables. Sadly my tiered stand managed to get damaged on the first day as there were no tables on the end of the artist rows separating us from the crowds, so our tables got knocked about quite a bit.

I managed to meet some lovely artists and was lucky to be sat right next to Bearlands – a very cool independent comic, the creators of which I have met a couple of times at various cons. If you like Care Bears and the Walking Dead (!) then this is the comic for you. I also got to hang out with the awesome Steve from Beyond The Bunker who I met for the first time at London Super Con. If you haven’t checked out his brilliant comic, Moon, then you definitely should.

I wish I had got to know my other neighbors a little better, but I suppose that is the problem with attending a con on your own. Splitting Borders who were sat just behind me, were a lovely couple of people and their comic is absolutely gorgeous. Anthea West, who was also sat behind me had a gorgeous mixture of fan art and unique art work. Definitely worth checking out. I also had the pleasure of meeting  Gavin McCumiskey, the writer behind Innocent Tales and Lady Jekyll, whose artwork (and hair) I absolutely fell in love with!

Also, in BIG NEWS! Lyndie Greenwood from Sleepy Hollow actually stopped by my stall to say hi. She remembered me from Birmingham MCM and was kind enough to buy one of my original pieces of fan art; a duo-shade ‘Alien’ piece I did a few years ago that I have always been pretty proud of. Apparently she is a big fan of the Alien franchise, so I threw in an Alien sketch card as well.

I’d love to go back next year and I thought MCM did a brilliant job with their first overseas conventions. The people at the RDS were very friendly and came to check up on the artists on both days, which was a nice touch. Gary, who cared for the Comic Village, was also a frequent visitor checking up on all of us and getting feedback. Looking forward to visiting Belfast in June for the Northern Ireland MCM.

Cover photo is courtesy of

Birmingham MCM Roundup

by Anastasia Catris in Convention Comments: 0 tags: Birmingham MCM, Convention, MCM

Birmingham MCM Roundup

I am not going to lie, this was a pretty slow convention for me. This year is very much a learning curve and I am trying my best to go to as many conventions in the UK and Ireland as possible to test out which ones work for me and the logistics of travel/accomodation/stock etc… So, Birmingham was a good learning experience.

I haven’t been to a convention up in Birmingham since it was held in the Think Tank Museum, so this was new territory for me. But I knew that this was a big one. For one, it was being held in the NEC! As Birmingham is only 2 hours drive away from where I live, I decided to travel up on the day of the con, which was a mistake in itself as I arrived dead on entry time and couldn’t even find the organizer’s booth as all of the security were sending me in different directions. Due to me having been on holiday when the bookings went live back in January, I missed out on a table in the Artists’ Alley and ended up having to shell out more than double the price to get a retail table instead. This turned out to be another mistake as I didn’t realize how heavily memorabilia oriented this particular MCM was and consequently was in between two very large stands at the end of a very busy row full of merch – masking my small art table considerably.

On the plus side, I got to get away from my table for a few moments on the Sunday to meet the cast of Sleepy Hollow – one of my favourite TV shows at the moment. Nicole Beharie (Abbie Mills), Lyndie Greenwood (Jenny Mills) and Katia Winter (Katrina Crane) were all extremely sweet and even gave me hugs. I managed to get a photo with Lyndie and Katia, but sadly Nicole was stuck behind a desk (but she gave a me a hug anyway 😛 ). I managed to do a little bit of fan art to give to them all as a gift and they all seemed to really like it and were very encouraging of my work, which is always nice.

Sleepy Hollow 1

Sleepy Hollow 2

Sleepy Hollow 3

I love the fact that Nicole even noticed that I had used the Book of Revelations as stock in the background of this piece, but I suppose when you spend most of your filming days staring at it as a prop, you would recognize it pretty easily! The ladies were kind enough to sign my copy of the art work, so now I have my very own Special Edition Sleepy Hollow print to remind me of the experience. If you would like to see the original artwork that I took to them, please visit the gallery entry here.

I also managed to meet up with the lovely Liza and Jason from Cult-Stuff Cards, with whom I worked on the Beyond Stoker’s Dracula Sketch Card set. I am hoping to return to the next Birmingham MCM con (which is apparently much more sketch card orientated) with them in November.

So all in all, although the weekend was quite slow, it was still beneficial for catching up on business and networking with Sketch Card companies, so I’m very glad to have gone. Here is hoping that next time I manage to make my way into the Artists’ Alley so I don’t get lost among the dealers.

Cover photo is courtesy of

Featured for a Second Time on A Medic’s World!

by Anastasia Catris in Artwork Comments: 0 tags: Announcement

Featured for a Second Time on A Medic’s World!

The awesome Tom Shewbridge has featured me for a SECOND TIME on his brilliant site ‘A Medic’s World’. I was first featured as Tom’s Sketch Card/Artist of the day on the 24th July 2013 with my Sketch-Card-A-Day Challenge piece, Supergirl. This time I have been featured for one of my official Unstoppable ‘Dead Divas’ cards.

The card is actually of Chardeath’s Web, a spider-like character from Bianca’s series of murderous femme fatales. The eBay seller who listed the card mistakenly listed it as Moonlight Flight (the pink haired witch character), most probably because of the white spotlight in the background which they have mistaken for a moon. I loved drawing this particular character as it was always a challenge to figure out what to do with her many arms and hands, but I had a lot of fun with it.

If you would like to see my other contributions to the Dead Divas set, be sure to visit my gallery entry.

Cover photo is © Unstoppable Cards ‘Dead Divas’ Sketch Card Set

Unstoppable’s Dead Divas Sketch Card Set Released

Unstoppable’s Dead Divas Sketch Card Set Released

On the 15th October 2013 I announced that I would be taking part in Unstoppable’s ‘Dead Divas’ set, in association with Bianca Thompson. Well, today they have been officially released online for purchase, meaning you can now see the artwork I submitted on this set, as well as know how many cards I contributed (It’s 40 by the way – gotta catch ‘em all!).

If you would like to collect the entire base card set, be sure to grab Sets A, B, and C. Each set comes with an original, randomly selected card by one of the many awesome artists (including Bianca herself) who worked on the set. The packs on Unstoppable’s site are priced at £14.99 each, but you can also buy 3 for £13.33 each and make a saving of 12%.

Below are a few of my favourite cards that I contributed to the set, but you can see all 40 sketch cards here. I am currently available for AP Commissions if anyone is interested, simply use my contact form. Please let me know in the messages below if you have picked up any of my sketch cards from the set. It’s always nice to know that my cards have gone to a good home.

Cover photo is © Unstoppable Cards ‘Dead Divas’ Sketch Card Set

London Super Comic Con Roundup

London Super Comic Con Roundup

I had heard a lot of good things about London Super Comic Con and as this was my first time to the event, I was very excited. Luckily for me, I have already done London MCM twice now, and LSCC was taking place in the Excel, so the logistics of getting there, accommodation, parking etc… were already sorted in my head. I traveled down on the Friday night and stayed in a Premier Inn 20 mins away from the centre (conveniently located next to a shopping mall – a place my mister and I discovered last year).

My dealer’s  table was located at the very end of Artists’ Alley (the fun of alphabetical order) in between some awesome people. On my left was Andy Doodle Baker, an extremely talented caricaturist, and on my right were the super friendly guys from Alien in the Outfield. It was the AITO guys first con as exhibitors and they did amazingly well. Their comic is an all ages 80’s style story about an alien who crash lands on Earth and joins a baseball team. It looks incredibly fun and you guys should check it out. Directly behind me were Nick Angel (7String) and Jon Lock (Afterlife Inc), who I have mentioned before, but unfortunately were segregated by banners so I didn’t get much chance to chat with them.

Also, just opposite our tables was the constantly busy desk of Jonathan Ross! This was pretty cool as, unlike so many celebrities who you see at cons, it was nice to see how enthusiastic he was towards his fans. He was always letting people cut in line to say hi and taking photos with people (even though so many celebs would  photo opp stands instead), he was also very encouraging of the other indie authors and artists, looking over their work and giving helpful comments. A good friend of mine was cosplaying the Other Mother from ‘Coraline’ and he was so excited to see her in costume that he mentioned he would send a pic of her onto his ‘mate’ Neil Gaiman! At the end of the con (and yes – he stayed the ENTIRE day, with very few and very small breaks) he even came over to the Artists’ Alley to say hi to the artists who had given him samples of their work and see their other stuff. I’m hoping I will get a chance to read over his newest comic before I see him again at Wales Comic Con in April.

Had a chance to catch up with some other creators in the evening, going out for a few drinks and some dinner with the lovely guys from Stiffs, The Pride, Lou Scannon and Moon. Sadly some one in my hotel decided it would be really fun to play dubstep until about 3 in the morning, so the next day (including the 5 hour drive home) was not as much fun and included much Red Bull chugging just to see the day through. But, all in all, this was a very fun, social con where I got to meet a lot of other creators and make some new friends.

Up next is Birmingham MCM Expo on the 22nd – 232rd March in the NEC. Looking forward to seeing some of you up there!

Cover photo is courtesy of

Cardiff Film & Comic Con Roundup

Another day, another very productive convention. I have to say, I LOVE home town cons! Just the feeling of walking around a hall you have been visiting since you were a tiny child and seeing every gig you have been to in the space which now is filled with Attack on Titan hoodies and Pikachu plushies. There’s something pretty cool about feeling at home in the otherwise stressful and difficult situation of selling your work.

Showmasters have once again put on a very organized and fruitful convention with some brilliant guests (John Rhys Davies for one!) and attractions, including the Iron Throne and 1960s Batmobile.  I was also lucky enough to meet Lee Merriwether, Cat Woman from the 1960s Batman!

Now, the Adam West film was actually my first introduction to Batman when I was about 3 years old. My dad had an old VHS and I still remember watching it on repeat with my little brother, laughing over Shark Repellant and the problems of disposing of a bomb on a busy pier! So meeting Cat Woman (who I can still remember lines from in my head) was a pretty big moment for me.

Cat Woman

I actually drew a sketch card specifically of her representation of Cat Woman as a gift and she liked it so much that she gave me an autographed photo as a trade. Herself and her daughter were both very encouraging of my work and I really hope to see them around the convention circuit again one day.

As the end of the weekend came, the kind staff of Showmasters popped round and I managed to book myself in for the next convention in November. So I am happy to announce that I will be returning to CCFC on Saturday 8th & Sunday 9th November 2014. This is a perfectly placed con for those of you looking for Christmas commissions or gifts for the geek in your life (yes, I am thinking that far ahead).

Cover photo is ©

Can Now Reveal Kerrang! Komic

by Anastasia Catris in Artwork Comments: 2 tags: Kerrang, WIP

Well, I hope you all got the chance to purchase the Kerrang! Komic while it was still available in shops. If not, I can now actually upload the comic that I contributed so you can see it here. I thought I would also show you the process I went through from sketch work to final product for anyone interested.

Step One – Roughs

Dave Grohl Rough

After I was sent the finalized script for the comic, I got to work straight away on the thumbnails and an eventual rough. I think I had about 5 thumbnails altogether trying to figure out the spacing and sizing of the panels. I hadn’t worked with such a tight frame work before as I am used to larger full page spreads, so this was a really good exercise for me. I actually looked through a load of old strips of Ray Zell’s Pandora to get a feel for the sizing and possible panel structure. Above is the finalized rough that I sent off to the editor for approval.

Step Two – Pencils & Inks

Kerrang progress

It took a little time for my approval to come through as the editor was obviously very busy putting the actual issue of Kerrang! together, so when it came through I had to move quite quickly. I wanted to get the finl piece through to him in plenty of time in case their were any big changes that needed to be made. He only made a few notes on the rough. One was that he decided to change the script to be a little more implicative of swearing rather than actually swearing, so we changed the dialogue in the final panel. He also wanted to zoom in on Dave Grohl in panels 4 and 5. I made these changes and went straight to inks. The rest of the process was all done without any more editorial notes as he seemed very happy with the way things were going.

Step 3 – Lettering 

Kerrang progress

I moved the cleaned up inks from Photoshop to Illustrator and digitally lettered the script. The good thing about doing this before colouring is you can add some nice colours/effects to the bubbles later on in the process. As this was quite a simple comic and had a lot lettering, I decided to add some colour to the bubbles/boxes just to make it a little more interesting.

Step 4 – Basic Colours

Kerrang progress

I then went in to basic colours. With a more intricate piece I would probably flat out all of the colours, but as this was the same figure in each panel with little detail (due to the size of the comic at reproduction size), not many colours were actually needed. Once I had the basic foreground tones sorted out I went in and added the background, detailing, light and shadow.

Final Piece

Kerrang Final Artwork

The final piece was then saved in a variety of ways (TIFFs, JPGs, CMYK & RGB) etc… and sent off to the editorial staff. This is simply to ensure that they have different file types in case they wanted it for internet use, or wanted to edit it in some way. I’m happy to say they were very happy with the final product and no changes were made to it.

Cover photo is © Kerrang! Magazine 2014