Lianne Williams

Introducing a new community, GESSO: for primed creatives

News & Events, Creative Lifestyle, Business & BloggingLianne Williams2 Comments

THIS IS A CALL FOR CREATIVE BLOGGERS: Artists, Illustrators, Makers, Designers & The Rest

Are you an artist, illustrator, maker, creative? Do you blog about art, creativity or what you make? Do you want to become a more satisfied creative and need accountability and encouragement? Do you want to be a part of something that prioritises being creative over full time blogging or social media (but still fancy exploiting it to our advantage)? Are you looking to collaborate and network with other people like you or at least with some understanding of your world and lifestyle? Would you like support and advice related to our industry or to possibly meet and collaborate with other creatives in your area? To have a laugh and put the fun back into creativity & blogging?

Then let me introduce you to my spanking new community called GESSO

GESSO was created for people just like us. Passionate, fun, enthusiastic, supportive creatives, primed and ready to take action with their work, business or just to become better artists. With a focus on becoming better creatives rather then just growing follower numbers we support happy, healthy art making, whether you're a seasoned illustrator or someone very new and trying to find their way in the world.

I wanted to make a space that encouraged creatives to make more stuff, link up with their passions, find new friends and maybe do a bit of work. I believe that blogging is a fantastic way to connect with other creatives across the world, as well as showcase our work to new clients, but it should never ever take us away from what really matters... our Art. Whether that's painting, drawing, sewing, photography, writing, crafts, embroidery, calligraphy, gardening, design, illustration, collage, pottery WHATEVER. If you're zapped from the current 24/7/365 culture of the internet and have perhaps even considered quitting entirely.... this group might just help heal you a little bit. 

This collective is already honoured to include the talents of:

Lauren from Oh Hay, a Scottish educated but now London based junior graphic designer who runs the popular Twitter account @CBloggersChat, a weekly chat for creative bloggers across the globe.

Lauren knows her stuff when it comes to social media, graphics, lettering and illustration. Combining her design skills with creativity and personal meaning she'll often either be making a mess with inks or digitising it up on iPad using ProCreate. She's hoping to create more work that reflects on social issues that are close to her heart.

Kelly from Kelly Lianne, an incredible UK artist and illustrator who's work I've featured on my blog before. Kelly is awesome, not only because we're name twins (yay) but because she is one of the nicest bloggers and creatives out there.

Her work is a beautiful reflection on magic, spirituality and the natural world. Check out her gorgeous oracle cards and watercolour paintings of space and the zodiac. 

Jessica from Jessica Andersdotter creates some of the best digital abstract art and photo manipulation I've seen... possibly ever... Her work is truly special.

Based in Sweden, Jessica blogs about the process and thoughts behind her artwork as well as living a creative life and trying to figure out the 'weasel' as she calls it, of inspiration.

Check out her shop to get an idea for the beautiful work she makes.

Charlotte from Charlotte Kathleen is our emerging artist, also from the UK and represents every individual out there who has harboured a long term passion for creativity but just hasn't got round to manifesting exactly what they want from it yet.

With a passion for lettering and a strong background in graphics Charlotte is currently trying to figure out her creative calling in life. I can't wait to see what she get's up to.

Jemma aka Dorkface is an award winning blogger and artist creating stunning artwork and illustrations dripping in colour & fun.

Originally from Liverpool and now based in Plymouth Jemma also hosts the incredibly popular @TheGirlGang on Twitter which is known throughout the blogging community for its inclusive and supportive nature.

Selling and designing a whole range of products Jemma is not only talented, but knowledgeable too.

Last but not least, I hope, is meeee, Lianne. I'm an Artist & Illustrator from Kent who specialises in portrait art and realistic drawing, however I have been known to dabble. My artwork has been exhibited and sold worldwide and I am a published writer, having articles and tutorials published in Colored Pencil Magazine.

I am currently on maternity leave and trying to adjust my creative path towards doing more illustration.

How to join GESSO

Our collective welcomes all abilities, styles and you do not need to be a professional to participate. Our only requirements are:

  • That you have a blog (or intend to create a blog or website to showcase your creativity)
  • Are over the age of 18. (purely for legal reasons)
  • You want to live your best creative life.
  • Believe in action over words.

Time wasters and those only interested in self promotion need not apply and you will be removed from the group without warning if you are found to be abusing the trust of the group. 

Our group is currently using an program called Slack to chat with each other so you will be required to download this to access the group. There are desktop and app versions, so it's very versatile. It is simply a sophisticated messenger service that's a bit easier to keep track of then WhatsApp! You will also need to provide us with an email address so we can add you to the group. Okay? Okay.

So what are you waiting for?

If GESSO sounds right down your alley why not get in touch and I'll add you to our community today. Simply fill in the form below and say Hi!

Name *
Say Hi, describe a bit about yourself, don't forget to include your blog details.

Once we've added you will be directed to our group rules, which are pretty standard and then we can get started introducing ourselves. Depending on numbers we may move the group to a forum in the future to help organise our discussions but for now, we are small, sweet and looking forward to meeting you.

I hope you'll join us on this new adventure. Who knows where things could end up!


Introducing Razor House Illustration

News & Events, Business & Blogging, Art & IllustrationLianne Williams1 Comment

I've finally bitten the bullet and have decided to go into illustration.

Introducing Razor House Illustration, my new brand/tag/pseudonym that I will be studying under for the next few months with MATS and hopefully trading under from then onward. More on that in a second.

I've been a traditional artist for a while now, probably for a good ten years or so. First abstract art, then photorealism and portraits. And even though I've enjoyed it, something was missing.

For me, there was never that sensation that this was going to be my big dream. It was close, but it didn't drive me fully into madness and obsession. There were parts I really didn't enjoy. There were things that other artists got thrilled by that I found boring, for instance although art and drawing got me excited, SUPER excited, I could never get myself interested in exhibiting. Galleries just left me cold. There was just no spark. This reluctance held me back professionally because I knew there was no where else I could go as an artist.... Artist's exhibit their work. That's supposed to be their passion and ultimate goal and I just found it all a bit unpleasant and that troubled me greatly.

What happens to an artist that doesn't find her industry interesting? 

I toyed with what the problem could be... was it confidence... impostor syndrome... should I create my own gallery/creative environment and determine what being an Artist meant on my own terms? I thought about it all and I came up with some interesting solutions but still, I dragged my feet and day dreamed and nothing changed. So I had to ask the question:

Do I really want to even be an artist?

This was a scary question to ask. My reactions were volatile, full of sadness, fear, shame, guilt, hopelessness. At times I became very depressed trying to answer this. On one hand I LOVED making. The idea of never making art again seemed insane. There was no way I could stop, I couldn't even do it as a hobby, making art was ME, it was my purpose. Yet looking at my relationship with it professionally I just couldn't squeeze myself into the artist shaped mould that I was supposed to be. For a while I lived with the reality that I was going to be an artist, but a really bad artist. An artist that would never succeed. And that was pretty weighty and uncomfortable.

So how did I come to decide that Illustration would be the way forward?

Earlier this year I was given the opportunity to go back to university and study fine art. Something that was supposed to be really important and special to me. Something I had been thinking about and promising myself for a while. And my instant reaction when it became a reality... 'No'.

'No thank you. I'd prefer to study Illustration'.

Followed by this deeply strange feeling of 'what the hell have I just said, I can't be an illustrator, I'm rubbish at illustration, this is ridiculous'.

So my training in creativity and art blocks instantly kicked in and started probing myself further because an outburst like that doesn't come from nowhere. Illustration? Really? When? How? Why?

A little excavation into my portfolio, personal art collection, even my Pinterest boards would show how very, very, very interested I am in illustration. Work I collect or admire... usually very illustrative, the techniques I prefer to use- perfect for illustration, the project briefs I get excited over and want to work on- all for illustrators. Even my favourite commissions have been illustrations. But then the voice of doubt would creep in... but it's all digital now Lianne, and you can't do digital and you don't know much about design and you're too realistic, and you won't enjoy designing children's books or any of that comic style stuff.

Yet the idea wouldn't leave me.

I began fantasising, sitting in my studio painting little flowers for ceramics... sketching portraits for fashion and beauty brands... brush lettering and calligraphy days... wearing my own geometric fabric prints... blackwork and dotwork designs for tattoos... pinup artwork for cabaret or cosmetic packaging... I'm day dreaming even now. THIS was where my heart lay. This is what got me excited. I didn't want my work in galleries because I wanted my work in people's homes, in the shops, on their bodies. I wanted to be an illustrator.

Could you imagine the thrill of having your work in Anthropologie? Or being asked to illustrate for Penhaligons or Jo Malone? Or to design a new print for Lindy Bop or The Pretty Dress Company? Or to illustrate Dita Von Teese's tour programme? I genuinely feel giddy with excitement at the idea. I could, and would, literally, stay up all night to make those things happen. To make those things flawless.


But the battle didn't end there. I was deeply uncomfortable with this new direction. I felt like a complete fraud despite even DOING illustration already professionally. To actually label myself as an illustrator, formally, and try and compete for agents and briefs sounded horrific. It was harder then calling myself an Artist. It's thrown up many concerns about my ability, my taste, my resources... I'm not good enough, I'm not clever enough, I'm not cool enough, I'm not nerdy enough, I'm not edgy enough, I'm not sweet enough, I'm not committed enough, II'm not young enough, I'm not local enough, I'm not a man, I'm not bookish enough, I'm not... there were a thousand reasons why I shouldn't pursue this. And that's how I knew it's what I wanted to do.

I was afraid.

I've learnt enough over the past few years that none of the above really matters.

I am a beginner. I am allowing myself to be a beginner, despite already knowing a bit about illustration, I want to give myself the luxury and security of being a complete beginner. I don't want to get anything right. I want to make all the mistakes. I want to get it all wrong and learn and learn and learn. I want to be SELFISH about it. That's how much I want to do this. So although my head is screaming it me 'this is hard, this is going to be tough, they're going to ridicule you' I am dragging myself into the world of illustration and I am SO excited. I don't even care if I do well or not.

The plan:

This is all going to co-exist alongside my traditional art because I'm still massively proud of that and now that the pressure is off to make it my primary business I can RELAX again and start enjoying it once more. Things are looking good. They're looking healthy.

To allow myself ultimate space and freedom I have separated my new illustration brand from my previous artwork, just so I can have a fresh start from all expectations and previous clients. That's why I created Razor House Illustration. I don't know what it's going to be, what I'm going to make, or whether it will be any good. It's just a space to share it for now.

Razor House is an illustration name I've been holding onto since I was in my early twenties... reluctant to let go of, but too terrified to manifest. But now it's here. Now it exists. There is a new section on my website where you can find out more about that when I officially launch (whenever that will be) but this blog will cover both my art and illustration- so follow here for news and announcements. This website is becoming an umbrella site for all my projects including so just follow me here and you'll hear about everything one way or another.

Finally, MATS. Make Art That Sells is a website owned by art agency Lilla Rogers who teaches illustration and art licensing. Looking around for what degree I wanted to take left me a bit underwhelmed. I had very particular ideas about what I wanted to learn and I kept hearing the same advice... I don't care if our artists have degrees, I want to see their portfolios... when we employ new staff I have to tell them to forget everything they've learnt in college because it's so dated and then we teach them everything here... The idea of an end of year degree show tempted me greatly but I asked myself, do I want to be represented by an agency or do I want to make stuff I love.

I chose love.

I'm under no obligation to succeed at this and would I rather spend 4 years and £££££ on a degree I don't particularly need or spend ££ and making a bunch of things I love, learning tons about the illustration industry as it is right now and get started on a portfolio that I can showcase in a few months, not years? Being a self taught artist in the first place, it was an easy decision for me to make. I shopped around, read the reviews, asked questions and feedback from previous students and decided to sign up to the Hot Markets courses on MATS.

Do I make work anything like Lilla wants? Nope? Will everything be relevant to me? Nope. Will I be their new artist in their talent search? Nope. But I figured it was a good place to start.

Two weeks in now and I am LOVING it. I'll write about my experience of MATS separately but I am honestly back in love with Art. I am dreadful. But I'm learning so much. Bolt fabric was my first assignment. So much fun. The results were amateur but I've caught the bug. My brain is whirring. My heart is pounding. I'm scribbling down ideas and creating every day. I am HAPPY. This is what I've missed. Good work follows on from the passion to learn.

The value in leaving your creative comfort zone

Creative LifestyleLianne Williams3 Comments
The Value in leaving your creative comfort zone.jpg

It all started with a badly made hand-tied bouquet

My husband and children had clubbed together over Christmas and signed me up to do a workshop at our local florist, which just so happens to be not only one of the best in the county, but the same florist that did our own wedding flowers 10 years ago.

To say I was emotionally invested was an understatement.

After months of being cooped up in doors, too pregnant to move and generally feeling isolated, I was champing at the bit and desperate to get back into the real world, stretch my creative muscles and maybe even talk to some adults, for once.

Floristry seemed like an easy way to tick all those boxes and either way, I got to twirl amongst roses and lilies all evening and take home a beautiful bouquet at the end of it. Win. Win.

What I hadn't considered though, despite being a complete and utter beginner, was how much I wanted to be good at it. It wasn't enough to just appreciate the experience and learn, I wanted to be good at it. Really good at it. After years of low confidence I felt like I NEEDED to be good at it. And what was worse was that at no point did my intellect or experience kick in and say 'Hmmm, Lianne, you know things don't work like this. This is gonna hurt you if you keep thinking this way!'

I was blind. I did not see it coming.

So the day comes and I am stood there, struggling with mess of stems, my cheeks burning with shame, as the other students chatted away having a lovely time, feeling completely useless... The instructor has to come over and completely dismantle my attempt and make it for me.

I went home and cried, completely and utterly defeated.

It didn't matter that hand-ties are considered one of the hardest skills to master. That it was my first time ever. I was consumed by a very deep sadness. I hardly slept. I had never felt this way in my life. So the next morning I did the most logical thing:

I emailed my teacher and said, 'I quit'.

I'd like to think I know how my brain works when it came to creativity. I'd like to think I know all my weaknesses, strengths and requirements. That I was predictable and consistent. Brave. That I knew exactly what I needed to do to overcome any obstacle including the fear of being a beginner. But what I took for granted was I knew how to do all that with something I WAS ALREADY GOOD AT. Something I'd already had experience battling with. Something I wasn't afraid of. To confront all these problems in a completely new territory knocked me sideways and kicked me when I was down for good measure.

Of course my instructor wasn't going to listen to my whining though, and after a bit of much needed tough love she convinced me to return and try again.

This was when my true gift, the real magic of creativity, began to kick in.

Reader, I am not a creative person... My gift is that I am persistent. Every single time I make a mistake or get knocked down I WILL pick myself up and keep running at that target. I might kick and scream and sulk and throw all my toys out the pram but once I'm ready, you better get the hell out of my way, because I'm coming for you. 

The following week I march back into the florist and I. Am. Ready. Flowers will not defeat me!

With a new level of determination, and of course everything I learnt from the previous lesson I stand there, focused and waiting to confront my demons.

I choose my stems, some pink roses, a gorgeous green orchid and my foliage and get to work. 

Floral Explosion Floristry Workshop.jpg

This time things feel different.

I'm focused but open minded. If I can't do this, then it's okay. I'm a beginner and I am learning. My teacher gives me a tiny bit more support and checks my progress incrementally, with very little correction. I let my muscle memory guide me, feeling the bouquet and carefully, thoughtfully putting it together in a way that pleased me.

It is all new. I am completely out of my creative comfort zone but I am doing okay. I am managing.

Last week was my final workshop and after several weeks exploring country-style jug arrangements, oasis, tropical flowers and fragile peonies I can happily say I feel rewarded.

By leaving my comfort zone and attempting something creative that was completely new for me I was able to examine all the weak points and strengths of my learning process and grow as an artist and person.

It exposed a lot of toxic learning patterns that I'd established as a child- the feeling that if I wasn't perfect at my first attempt, then I was useless and it was not worth reattempting. High pressure, aggressive Grammar school education wrecked my self confidence and during this workshop it all came unravelling. I felt weak. I felt destroyed at times. But finally, as an adult, I was able to pick myself up and go 'No one is judging you anymore. Let's have fun with this'.

I healed a deep, paralysing trauma with a few flowers

I loved my arrangements. I LOVED going to my classes and choosing my flowers and making mistakes and asking for help. I never felt that shame from my first class again. Driven by my curiosity I even visited the shop during the week to buy more flowers and foliage and practised in my own time. I started to find it deeply relaxing.

What a contrast to the previous month.

The value in leaving your comfort zone is that it's the only way you can deepen and heal your existing creative process.

It's like an MOT for your soul. It tests everything you think you know about yourself and your creativity and if you persist, if you forgive yourself, you will be rewarded with extraordinary gifts- confidence, resilience, pride. All those things the books tell you will happen and you continue to say 'yeah, yeah, I know, i'll be fine' but really, you haven't a clue until you do it. Action is more important then words. You've really got to throw yourself in the deep end. You can't learn to swim by reading a book on it. It only takes you so far. You have to live it.

You have to struggle to find a reason to fight back and know you're strength. To believe it.