The Mums of East End Prints

The Mums of East End Prints

Mothers Day is coming up and March is the month for celebrating the efforts and achievements of women the world over. We thought it was high time we shone a light on some of the radical mums in our artist community. We caught up with Sophie Ward, Hanna Melin Sylvia Moritz, Jill White of Rocket 68 and Garima Dhawan. We asked them about the relationship between motherhood and their creative practice, tips for self care and life hacks!

Clockwise from Left: Sophie, Jill and Garima.

EEP: Could you tell us about how you juggle being a mum with your artistic endeavours?

Hanna Melin: The kids inspire me a lot, as well as things we do and see. Love a museum gift shop (kids and I are in there, husband in the gallery...) or a good section of kids books. All of that gives me the inspiration to go back to the studio and work when the kids are in school and nursery. When the kids are back home I have to stop being an artist. Probably when they get older, I can continue working, but for now, I don't want to miss out on things before they grow up.

Sylvia Moritz: I’m fortunate to run my business alongside my partner, so we’re able to share responsibility of our 2 year old daughter half-half. One parent will entertain the little one, or go out for the day, while the other frantically checks-off to-do lists. We are also very lucky to have my mum helping out wherever she can.

Garima Dhawan: I am learning to work with my daughter in all its mayhem and excitement. Aanya is now 2.5yrs and we paint and make things together and she has always had her own little work table next to mine. I get a few hours quiet work time when she goes to nursery part or takes a nap, but that goes fast.

Jill White: When my daughter was younger and at school it was real juggle. I usually worked late in to the night (silly hours!) as my husband worked shift work. I actually liked working late and found I was at my most creative! I was also teaching art and design part time as I was building the company up, so some evenings I was marking work too. I never wanted to give up though as I had a goal to get the creative business off the ground. I tried to to make the most of half terms and holidays and spend time with my daughter, doing things she enjoyed.

Sophie Ward: Very badly. 

EEP: What achievements are you most proud of?

Garima: I am proud that I have ventured my own path, have been able to keep going in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. The last four years have definitely been challenging and rewarding. I got married, had my daughter, we moved across continents three times, sorting out visas and every possible hurdle thrown into the mix. I am grateful that I can continue doing my art because it brings me immense happiness.

Hanna: Still living off my art 15 years down the line. That makes me proud.

Jill: I am proud of the fact I have managed to get Rocket68 going and that I have my designs in many national and international outlets. My designs have been licensed by a multitude of companies. I also sell online and have built up a strong customer base and many loyal customers! Nearly two years ago Rocket68 opened the doors to it's own little shop and studio, a wonderful space to work and showcase my work. My daughter has helped me with my work at the shop and studio with packing and admin.

Sylvia: Even though it is said a lot, I truly am most proud of little Rosa. She fills me with happiness and joy and keeps me working towards a better future. 

Sophie: I think my OH! Show, which was really all about me dealing with new motherhood and was very personal. A lot of my work acts like public service broadcasts trying to support other women but these pieces were all personal reminders to myself only that life and parenthood is full of dark and light. You just gotta ride a lot of it out.

Hanna (left) and Sylvia (right)

EEP: Could you give us a life hack or trick you have learned in your career?

Garima: I take one day at a time and congratulate myself for taking every small step forward. Yes, I have big overall goals and an endless to do list, but it can get overwhelming very quickly and it’s easy for me to lose site of my priorities. My determination is to keep my life clear and meaningful.

Sophie: I became a lot more disciplined once I had kids because I lost the freedom to work whenever I wanted to and instead had to work in the evenings or during naps and finally, once more work came in, I could afford to pay for childcare. This means I’m quite good at not procrastinating, I’ll make sure it’s tidy in the house (I work from home) or do any emails etc before I drop the kids off at school and nursery so that I use that free time better. I ALWAYS keep my shoes on like you would if you were at a studio or ‘real’ job. I know that’s weird but if I take my shoes off or put comfy clothes on or basically slob out then my work mode mindset is effected.

Hanna: Spread your art. Posters, prints, t-shirts, fabric; the list goes on. If I make art I like, I try to contact as many companies as possible to get it printed on to different things. I've got some knickers with cats on I've made, as well as bedding designs with astronauts.

Sylvia: I think having a clear divide between work and your child means you can totally focus on one or the other. Trying to do two things at once, never seems very successful!

EEP: If you could give a piece of advice to young creatives embarking on parenthood, what would it be?

Sophie: Do it! Parenthood gives you more higher highs then you’ve ever experienced before and more drive and determination then at any other stage of your life. I think it also makes you realise your self worth because time is money. No more bloody freebies or favours for some ‘amazing’ client because you’re now paying for childcare and any free time you have is precious. It harder to be creative sometimes, now I have kids, I think the inspiration doesn’t come as easily because it’s harder to submerge yourself in culture or whatever inspires you. 

Sylvia: Having children will change the way you live your life. You will dedicate your time and energy to somebody else for a long time! Carve out a space in your home and a certain time of day, that is dedicated to you and your creative endeavour, without it your creativity will suffer. 

Jill: My advice to any young creatives would be to get help when you need it! At my studio I have a part time assistant who helps with all sorts of tasks which I simply do not have time to do. I also use a sales company for short term sales work, as its not my forte & although it is an expense it is a godsend

Hanna: Be very strict with routines. Out for an hour, then back home for their nap. That leaves you time to do work or catch up on emails (probably all you want to do is sleep though..). Be boring. No lunches or anything that will make you miss out of an hour of the baby sleeping back home.

Garima: Haha! It gets better. When I first had my daughter I was so exhausted all the time. I was used to creating in a quiet studio and have my space and time and the freedom to move. I had no idea how life changes after having a child, but bit by bit we are figuring out together as a family.

EEP: Do you have any tips for squeezing in some self-care when the going gets tough and the days are full of endless multitasking?

Sophie: Wine!

Jill: I love to unwind by walking my dog and going to the gym. I plug in to my music and have some 'me' time. My daughter is 18 now so she is now much more independent. And, if I can afford it, a back and shoulders massage!

Sylvia: If you’re alone with your child during the day and you have work tasks to do, it can be hard to find time for yourself, but it’s really important. In the creative industry it’s rare that a work task can’t be put off until later. Turning off phones and laptops helps with focus and napping at the same time as your child is very rewarding!

Garima: I go for a run in the park after I drop my daughter off to her nursery, and go for a couple of yoga classes a week and an occasional art lesson or workshop. I am still looking for a printmaking studio where I can go regularly to work on new ideas. I am a better mom and wife, when I take the time to do eat well, exercise and do things that make me happy.

Woman by Sophie Ward

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