This month I am celebrating SEVEN years of running my own creative business!! Seven years of being my own boss and building my dream. If you have followed me from the beginning (thank you!!!) then you will know things have definitely changed and evolved, there have been lots of ups and downs, but I wouldn't change it for the world.
I am an artist but also am, or have been, an illustrator/designer/calligrapher/muralist/teacher ...and a probably most importantly - I am now a single mother so one energetic nearly 3 year old. Before any of those things my background was actually in architecture! I studied it for 5 years and worked as one for 3. I always, always wanted to be an artist, but architecture was the “practical path”. It was emphasised in high school that “an arts degree won’t make you any money”. I took early retirement from Architecture and retrained in graphic design and illustration.
In 2014 I spent a week doing an abstract calligraphy course in Arezzo, Tuscany with Italian calligrapher Monica Dengo. After spending a week in this beautiful renaissance era studio with frescoes on the ceiling I knew there was no way I could go back to working in front of a computer, in an office, with someone telling me I had to be there between 9-5.
When I got back to New Zealand I decided to jump into running my own creative business. I said yes to a huge range of jobs, I did graphic design work, there was a big focus on calligraphy and hand lettering. In addition to private commissions and commercial work I have exhibited in a number of gallery shows, including my first solo show in 2015 and my first international exhibition in Germany in March 2016, and have painted murals in New Zealand and the USA. I also began teaching hand-lettering and calligraphy workshops and moved into my wonderful studio space at Studio One Toi Tu in Ponsonby.
In 2018 my first illustrated children’s book ‘A Kaleidoscope of Butterflies & other such collective nouns’ was published. You can read more about that and order your copy here.
I also created a side project called Our Wahine - an illustrated history of 125 extraordinary New Zealand women for Suffrage 125.
And then at the end of 2018 Arlo arrived, and so much changed. Becoming a mother made me really question who I was as a person, as a designer, as an artist, as a brand. I began questioning everything about my work, who I worked with and what I wanted to do.
I came out of maternity leave, started picking up some work and then COVID arrived. Jobs were cancelled, people weren’t hiring, things weren’t looking promising. So I began painting, I began exploring abstract art, something I had always wanted to explore more of. I began to move away from calligraphy and hand lettering. Painting is my happy place, it is where I feel calm. It brings me an immense amount of joy. This year it has helped me enormously during some of the hardest months of my life. It has helped me to process the loss of the family life I thought I would have, and the grief that came with that. Through my art I am intentionally working towards always trying to find beauty, joy and calm amongst the chaos.
Reaching this point of fully knowing and embracing that I am inherently an artist has taken a very very long time. 18 years in fact! There have been a lot of ‘shoulds’, a few wrong turns, a few plot twists, one baby, a global pandemic and a separation for me to be able to say this is who I am. My path has definitely not been a straight line, in fact when I look at where I finally am in my career, I have literally come full circle, to the days spent in the high school art department 18 years ago.
No matter how you got here, thank you. Thank you for supporting me by interacting with me online, buying my work, attending a workshop or sending some feedback. Whether it’s every day, once a week, once a month – it means a lot. I work so hard over here in this corner of the internet I’ve created. So thanks for stopping by and helping make my dreams come true.
To celebrate I am releasing 18 small original works on paper. I love being able to offer works on paper as a way for people to get their hands on a piece of original art without the cost of a large canvas. My hope is this makes my art more accessible.