What Happens When You're an Artist/Maker/Designer/Self-Employed Creative & You Have a Tiny Baby....

From the series of 'Top Tips to Myself.... 20 Years Ago...'  - the Artist's handbook I wish that I'd had all that time ago when I started out.  Enjoy.

What happens to my work when I/we have a baby?  

I hear you, what happens?  

No-one knows, each story is different.  Sometimes parenting and being a self-employed artist can work wonders, for others it can be the kaibosh on what was once a good thing.  I can only tell you how I found it to be and share with you the fruits of my knowledge about having a family, alongside having a career in the arts.

Good things first:

  • Your time is yours to make choices with.
  • We all of us can fit in a TINY bit of work per day
  • Doing something creative alongside bringing-up-baby keeps us sane
  • Boredom is an artist's friend.  All that time to think new things up.
  • Your mates will encourage you along the way, including the new ones you'll meet.
  • You are an artist/creative/designer/maker and just because you might take a period of time off (like ten years or so) you are still an artist, no-one can EVER take that away from you.

Not Such Good things:

  • Your bound to be knackered.
  • During such a massive change in our life, we can feel a bit wobbly from time to time and this can effect our confidence levels.
  • Extended family is around much more - perhaps taking you further from your work?
  • Each day can feel slow if you are the sole carer during the working week, a drop in mojo can occur.  
  • Did I mention that you might be a bit tired?
  • Monies can deplete a bit as a result of not making and selling works, and the cost of nappies of course.

I had a beautiful shop when my son came along (now 11) and of course, that had to go - rather I thought it had to go,  I often berate myself for actually doing the deed & letting it go, perhaps I should have held out Sheryl Sandberg 'Lean in' style?  (well worth a read dear hearts) ah well, I'll never know now reader. Decisions need to be made at the time and yes of course, the grass IS always greener on the other side.

So before my baby came along I had during a rubbish pregnancy which saw me in and out of hospital. Once he was born, we were elated of course, elated and knackered.

Having a tiny baby and making artwork was tough but herewith the all important gem of my experience.. less became so much more.  My drawings became faster recordings of what I was studying.  No time to shade, no time to flaff, get the information down - fast.  Job done.

My drawing board became neglected - work when the baby sleeps?  Yeah right... sleep when the baby sleeps, please sleep, you will be so much nicer to everyone, including yourself.  

Bedtimes used to consist of me going to be at 8.30pm.  No joke, when Carl was on paternity leave, I went to bed early doors and slept -  he did the 8.30pm until 1am shift, then it was over to me, those straight 5hrs saved me as I'm proper rubbish without shuteye.

Over the months my drawing board became barren and I became frazzled.  

Enter the wonderful world of keeping sketchbooks.

On realising that I was going slightly bonkers Carl suggested that I keep my hand in drawing.  Rather brave of him really as looking back it must have felt like putting his head into the lions mouth.  

He was right though, I did need to do something, some tiny thing creative to save me going bonkers.

Sample page from my sketchbooks when the babies were tiny...

Sample page from my sketchbooks when the babies were tiny...

So, although it feels a little like me showing you my underwear drawer, above is a random page one of my from my sketchbooks, I have about 5/6 of that time..   Small, swift entries added up to a beautiful visual records of a very happy (if super-trying) period of our lives.

In time, these sketchbooks proved to be the basis of a series of paintings called 'Table top' which you can view here.

'Table top' pretty much marked my return to work.  I guess H was going on 3 and M was under a year old when I began to find my creative hand again.  It does come reader, and comes back all the stronger for some time off too.

Don't lose heart for your artwork because your head is full of baby and you're lost a fug of tiredness.  Allow yourself some time to do what has to be done, you'll be back so much stronger for it.  Take heart and buy yourself a sketchbook.

I'll do my best to answer any questions you might have.

Much love, Samantha