The Second BIG Year, The Mother-artist, & maintaining the pace

Dancing is great training for motherhood. Late nights, long hours, niggling problems, bursts of energy, anticipation, nerves, accolades, post show blues, lots of waiting and then sometimes the blur of days into nights into days. Like dance, parenting is also too hard a pursuit to take on if you are not madly in love with the vocation.(JP, Dancing for two)
Lilly and I both work as artists with ‘portfolio’ careers, simultaneously navigating arts practice, performing, creating, teaching, researching, documenting, presenting and outreach, and though well prepared, we have discovered that running a small BIG business is all this and more.
I am a mother artist. Lilly is a mother artist. 
We think about starting the Mother Artist Network and laugh that it would then be a MAN. 
We share an outrageously rigorous work ethic and check in every day seven days a week re BIG things. We talk about sustaining the pace. And the impossibility of it. 
We have seen first-hand so many small businesses where the front woman/man looks like they are drowning. Where it seems so much is sacrificed for the work. We agree to not drown. 
So we talk about keeping track, about the possibility of having just 5 dedicated to-do days for BIG.
We think about what’s coming as we dive into the second year.
We have just had word that BIG is to land in Singapore, Japan and with several other international stockists. We’ve also had requests from stockists in Prague, Milan and France. Don’t get too excited – we still have boxes of BIG pages sitting beside us that we don’t have time to take to stockists who might want them!
We are beside ourselves at the artists who have confirmed for the Treasure Maps edition. 
We have a feeling it could all get bigger.
We wonder how we will navigate all of this and get some sleep.
I wrote Dancing for Two over three years ago and come back to it now, although somehow I manage it all with a little less urgency despite the addition of new child and a very BIG mag.
Making it all work for me means prioritising, surrounding myself with others who have a like minded work ethic, living with pressure and a bit of guilt, multi-tasking, endless drama when you least expect it, getting used to making a plan b or c or z, projecting calm onto an unsettled infant while battling 24hr funding deadlines, making key creative decisions with The Wiggles playing in the background (and yes, we have sent them a magazine!), ridiculous ‘after hours’ in the studio, writing articles in portable home offices (set up in various libraries) in 45 minute time blocks and scheduling meetings at home in hopeful sleep times. (JP, Dancing for two)
For us both here in the BIG overflow our kids are making it possible to breathe and to see it all differently each day.  We wonder where they will take us tomorrow. 
 Do you have a small business that is also an art project? How do you find time to breathe?
on Oct 27, 2011


  • by Cath


    Have you seen the book, “A Divided Heart”? It’s full of stories about people just like you and Lilly… balancing the artistic life and motherhood. Personally, I think that when it all seems too much, you need to get help – usually paid help. Some childcare, a cleaner, a book keeper or a virtual assistant make all the difference.

  • by Jo


    Hi Cath, yes we know the divided heart well as some of our friends are featured and we love Rachels’ work – she may just well pop up here as a guest ;) A virtual assistant sounds fab…any takers?!

  • by Earthly Joyride


    On holidays now, and everything seems possible – there wll be enough time for all those creative pursuits and for all those growing children. My mantra is to hold the space – and it will be filled.

Comments are closed.