I decided to go out on my own as a freelancer in 2014. For 4 years I threw everything I had into my business. I was all about work and travel, I worked to my own schedule and could work for hours on end, totally focussed and uninterrupted until last December when…
This guy arrived…
This is Arlo, otherwise known as the Squidge.
This kid has been 90%, possibly at times 99% of my life, for the last 10 months and he is the very reason my perspective has shifted again and I am questioning everything about my work and who I work with and what I want to do.
I always feel I have worn many hats as a sole trader. I have gone from being an architect to a graphic designer, illustrator, artist, calligrapher, letterer, muralist, teacher plus I do all the admin roles required in a small business...and now I am a mum, which at present, is the biggest hat of all.
I always struggle to answer the question what do you do? People always ask it and I feel like there isn’t one straight answer. So often I just say “I draw stuff” especially if the person isn’t a creative type.
And until recently, the answer has always been work related as well – but now I am wondering what it means…
I have been really questioning who I am as a person, as a designer, as an artist, as a brand. What do I want to be doing? What’s next? How do I make this mum-life/freelance-life work?
In a weird way I don’t care as much - I used to worry will I get the job, and be a bit of a people pleaser, bending my back to meet client demands, my time now is so precious and I just don’t have time for people who don’t value my work.
And because my time is precious I have spent a bit of time in the last year asking…
What are my strengths? What am I actually good at in this over saturated Instagram world of lettering & calligraphy? What should I put my energy into? Abstract calligraphy vs. lettering, commercial illustration vs. art vs. branding vs. bread & butter design vs. book illustration
Self-doubt & imposter syndrome has been rearing its ugly head again.
How are you meant to be a mum and work? Some days it feels like I am a ‘stay at home working mum’. It is definitely harder to be consistent work wise, and it feels as an artist, if you don’t have much of a social media presence then people forget you exist.
If you are a freelance mum, or dad, and have any tips to share with me please reach out, send me an email or a message on social media. I would love to connect.
But I do feel like I have a nice balance going at the moment, mainly thanks to my amazing partner and mum, I have been able to take on some client work and work on my business. I can fit my hours in around Arlo. I get cuddles and giggles during the day. I would love this to continue, especially while Arlo is little.
When you work for yourself you are never guaranteed work - NZ has pretty good maternity leave, you get nearly 6 months of payments, but I have been very conscious of what was next - I feel like I can’t get complacent if freelance is what I want to continue to do, I need to be proactive, need to start chipping away at Instagram again, marketing myself…creating some work.
One of the best things to happen is how productive I can now be in short slots of time – give me 2 free hours and I am like a freelance ninja!
One of the not so great things is my current work space - For 3 years I had a great studio space that was just mine…just before Arlo was born I moved my studio home and now I share a very condensed space with a whole lot of laundry & baby stuff and it is not so conducive to working creatively.
Mum life and work life will be forever merged for me I think. I am grateful, and feel lucky, that I can have it this way but I also know it is because of the decisions we have made about how we want to live our lives. And that a lot of hard work is going on behind the scenes of this business to make sure I can keep it this way, especially while Arlo is little.