Give us an overview of your career
I’ve been an illustrator for 15 years. Mostly in editorial, then I ended up mostly working in fashion, illustrating and visual merchandising with clients like Hermes, Charlotte Olympia, Harrods, Browns, Joseph… I always enjoyed observing people, and often drew absurd situations and conversations during work or as a result of eaves-dropping.
I set up my blog in 2011 as a way to document these things. From that I began to get work which felt more like a representation of my life, including AnOther magazine, Garage mag and The Guardian. I also draw a lot about family life. Having two kids definitely provides me with material for my blog. I also lecture at Nottingham Trent uni, and I’m just starting at University of the Arts London (UAL) and I’m just finishing a book.
How has your work changed since having children?
I don’t feel my work has changed much in terms of my commercial work, but when it comes to my blog it has changed a lot. It’s more honest about life, and about my own feelings and the sense of success and failure as a parent. I think this has made my drawing style more simple and descriptive, too. I am much more sure about who I am as an illustrator, and what I have to say.
What does your typical working day look like?
6:30am: I am rudely awakened by a stroppy four-year-old with morning-breath.
7:00am: Feed the kids whatever strange foods they require. Often involving pasta.
8:00am: Repeat to eldest daughter with no effect; phrases like ‘have you brushed your teeth?’, ‘have you brushed your hair?’, ‘put on your clothes’,’ hurry up please’, etc for a minimum of 45 minutes.
9:00am: School and nursery drop-off.
9:30am: Get to studio.
10 – 17.00: Draw/paint or work at the university. Email clients, find new work, draw images for my book/blog, etc.
5.10pm: Pick up kids.
18.00: Provide dinner for them to reject.
19.00: Bath/arguments/clean up.
20.00: Bed for kids.
21:00 – 23:00: More drawing based on experiences of the day.
Tell us about your family life series, and the forthcoming book
I’ve been doing drawings about the kids and family since I was first pregnant. I feel like women often separate their family life from professional life. When I worked in fashion all the time, if I had to leave a shoot early to get the kids I would lie and say I had to go to a meeting. I wanted to talk about being a mother, not hide it. But I still wanted to be creative.
I’m better at explaining scenarios with an image and a quote than writing about it. You get get the message across quickly, too; more so than asking people to read a lot of copy. A good friend of mine, Pinny, saw the family drawings on my blog and suggested I do a book. I now have a publisher called Pavilion who I am working with on a 130-page hardback book called “The Quick Guide To Parenting” (my surname’s Quick) which is coming out on 8 September 2016.
Does the process of creating something humorous out of the mundanities and stresses of everyday parent-life make these moments easier to deal with?
It does, absolutely. My youngest daughter often wears hulk or spiderman outfits. Once, when she was having a full-blown shit-hitting-fan- tantrum at a friends house because I said it was time to leave, I thought `”this is brilliant” and I took a few reference shots on my phone, formatted them ready to draw and by this time she had calmed down so we left. I wasn’t cross because I knew this would be a drawing that lots of parents would be able to relate to, and she was perplexed/confused because the tantrum had really had the wrong effect.
What do your kids think of your work?
The eldest, who is eight, likes it and often says “ooh perhaps this one could go in your book?” the youngest one is not remotely interested. Both of them are good at allowing me to take shots of them for reference though. I can say “hold the egg and look angry” and they’d do it without any problems now. Which is useful.