It has been incredibly long since my last Art Biz Mama interview. I don’t think I have even done one on this new site. Either way I am so incredibly honored to share my lovely friend Concetta’s interview with you! These days I find myself really needing to re-read all of the awesome wisdom that has been shared in these interviews. Enjoy!
Please share a short intro to you and your business.
I am a London-based mosaic artist and mum to two little ones aged 5 and 4. I make mosaics to commission, to sell and exhibit. I also teach weekly classes from my home studio & facilitate community mosaic making. I am currently helping a group of children with special needs and their parents to make 6 giant mosaic insects for their centre garden! I am passionate about contemporary mosaic art (most people don’t know it exists – you have to discover it!) and about teaching others that they too can make stunning mosaic art. My web site is dedicated to teaching mosaics – including a whole section on mosaic projects with children that all parents can do at home – and to the more artful and soulful aspects of life. The site was re-launched last week and to celebrate I am having a giveway of a year long access to an Experimental Art E-course and a piece of mosaic jewellery! So do visit before the giveaway closes on Sunday 6th November!
First, let me say a huge “Thank You” for taking the time to answer these questions. I know how busy you are so it really means a lot to all of us that you took the time to be here today!
Thank you Dana for the privelege of being interviewed by you.:)
So let me start by asking when did you make the decision to start your creative business?
My website went up in 2004, which is the year I did my first commission. Quite by accident, I developed this sideline in making mosaics and sold a few pieces here and there, but my main job, until Jan 2009 was as a social worker / trainer.
How has having children affected your business and creativity?
My daughter was born in January 2006 and my son in April 2007 (yup, it was full on!). I went back to social work after having both of them but I have to thank my children for making me re-evaluate my life. In September 2008 I realised that, whilst I loved my job, a different kind of life was calling me. This, coupled with the need for me to have more flexible work so that I can be here for my kids (after school, when they are sick, which as you know, is very often when they are little!) gave me the kick up the back side that I needed to change to an art career. This was a huge step for me as I loved my work and had spent 20 years building my social work career. Howver, ‘art’ felt like a track of my life that had followed me silently, waiting for me to step onto it. I finally did in January 2009 and I have not looked back. Of course, the presence of children in my life causes me not to have as much ‘unbroken’ time as at times I would want, but, overwhelmingly, they have given me the courage to follow my heart.
Would you please share what a “typical day” is like for you? Is there school or childcare, etc. while you are working on your biz?
My youngest has just started full time school so the ‘work’ day is between 9 and 3. I find this quite hard as I am often in my creative peak in the afternoons and have to drop what I am doing! But it has only been 2 months since he started, so I am allowing myself time to adjust and find a new rhythm. In reality, I struggle to maintain a balance between work and home care. The home gets neglected when work is full-on (which is most of the time!)
My aim is to do school drop-off, do some exercise (this is a bit hit and miss!) then start my work. I then pick up children at 3pm and try to be in their zone and the ‘home zone’ until after bed time. I will also work in the evenings 4 nights out of 7 (made easier by the fact that my husband does too, so we sit at the kitchen table together working which is nice!).
The last year has been full to brimming with work – lots of community mosaic projects, which need very thorough preparation, as well as a nice number of commissions and exhibition opportunities. On top of this, I have just launched my new web site (which felt much like having a baby!) and I find that when I am knee deep in a creative project, all else falls to the wayside.
How many hours do you give to your business each week? Are you working during the days/evenings/weekends?
About 28-30 hours.
I know this is a subject that is always being addressed but I need to bring up balance. Do you feel you have a healthy balance between your work life and your family life?
This is a massive issue for me. I am struggling to keep a balance between lots of things. Firstly, ‘work’ as ‘making’ and ‘work’ as ‘admin / development / web presence’. I love computers and the web, but I also struggle with how easy it is to get sucked into a life ‘on screen’. I have to constantly pull back. That is the beauty of mosaic making for me – it is so physical and a great antidote to admin and screen time. I have started switching my computer OFF (rather than having it on standby and easy to look at). That helps a lot!
Secondly, I am struggling to maintain a balance between work and rest / relaxation / home rhythms. On these two areas, I have to be honest and say that I make some headway and then projects roll in and I lose all the little gains I made. But then I brush myself off and try again to get balance (that’s me this week!).
The balance between work and family is a bit easier – because most of the time, when the children are around, I try and switch off from the work part of my life (sometimes hard when there are deadlines). Also, my husband is just the best dad in the world and works very hard to be around during family times and at bedtimes.
As a family we are also very challenged by living in London which is a very fast city. We find it is a constant struggle to unwind and relax as both our works require more time than is available to us. For me, I have had to make some brave choices as a creative business owner in the last few months – namely to turn down 4 exhibiting opportunities. It is very easy for us as creative business mums to feel they have to say ‘yes’ to all these wonderful possibilities, especially when we are still early on in our business. But I have had to say to myself, what is the point of having switched to a creative career so that I am in control, if the ‘opportunities’ and ‘possibilities’ then take over and I end up feeling overwhelmed and out of my control? My days and my stress levels are governed mostly by the choices I make. So if I am unhappy with the balance, I have the power to change that. That has been a big lesson (and I am still working on it!).
Our other antidote as a family has been to get into green spaces, particularly at the weekends. We took on a disused allotment in June and we go there as a family to dig, plant and care for the land. Perfect.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with us today? Any words of wisdom for other artists/moms out there who wish to create a business out of their art?
Its has been said before but the following has been true for me. Listen to your inner voice, to what is calling for your attention.
Be inspired by others and their journey but do not try and do their journey. That is theirs and their alone and only YOU can walk your path.
Lastly, a dear friend sometimes tells me this old English saying, “If you are stressed its because you are trying to squeeze a pint into a quart pot!“. Whenever life feels overwhelming, I remember that saying and realize that I have the power to make choices that will change my situation.
Thank you so much Concetta. It was great to have you!
You can find Concetta at her beautiful new site, glitteringshards.com