Saturday, 9 July 2011

Mum's working from home (or trying too)

Platapus T
Can you really be a mum and work from home?

Is it possible to work from home and produce an income from your artwork. This is my story so far:

I was happy working full-time as a senior graphic designer for Page Media Group, in Essex UK. I then fell pregnant, worked as close as I could to my due date and had our wonderful son. So after 4 months as an at home mum, I had to return back to work. My parents kindly had him whilst I worked. Well all seemed good but I missed him terribly when I worked. My parents had done more than enough for us and I felt I should let them enjoy their retirement more.

We had a dream to go to Australia. The weather is warm all year in Queensland and at the time we could have almost been mortgage free, allowing me to stay at home and be a full-time mum.

My parents had talked about going to Australia for most of my life and what with one thing and another put it off and now they regret they have missed their chance. We decided not to be the same. 

So after a very along and expensive process we finally got our permanent resident's visa's gave up our jobs (gulp) sold our house, we had spent 10 years lovingly restoring and took the biggest decision of our lives to move permanently to Australia.

Oh my, what a rollercoaster this has been... First the exchange rate dropped like a stone thanks to the financial crisis. Second the "in demand" job skills my husband used to get our visa was not so in demand when we got to Queensland. I got some work in Brisbane temping as a graphic designer to keep us afloat. It was so very hard moving all this way to have nothing.

Soccer/football mug

When I was not working, I decided to start on some things for my son. We didn’t have much in Aussie dollars so this gave him something to do on our limited budget. I did some word searches and made up some kids writing sheets. My first thought was to produce some playing cards. We used two packs of cards and played with the concept and started to illustrate it. I still haven't finished it... (another thing I must do!)

How to use your artistic skills to keep sane and current?
I was surfing one day when I stumbled on a link to Redbubble, it was Australian so I had no worries about tax laws etc.

Redbubble is a supportive community, where artists meet and share art and writing. Redbubble also has a print on demand (POD) service so you can sell your work as prints, sticker and cards.

Portrait of a Fox card

I had lots of artwork that I had brought to Australia (unfortunately I also left alot behind!) so I got uploading what I had (still have more to scan, another thing I must do!). The best thing was I got to see all my artwork together and I got to show it to the world. After all what is the point of painting if no-one gets to enjoy it.

I started working on some characters, dinosaurs and animals working closely with my son. This works well most of the time, but he does insist on some strange decisions sometimes!

After 6 worrying months my husband finally got the avionics job he wanted, the downside it was in colder Victoria and rural Victoria at that! It was the perfect job for him and I knew he needed to take it, or we would have had to start thinking about returning back to the UK.

Now hubby has full-time work, I'm now stuck at home, and going slowly mad. I decided I needed to up my game (or get a paper round or something!). I noticed that zazzle had a better sale rate from other redbubblers and the range of products you can create is excellent.

It's free and easy to create an online store on Zazzle to sell your art on t-shirts, posters, mugs, business cards, shoes, skateboards, tote bags, hats, posters, badges, keyrings and more.

I needed an income even if small to help with the day to day bills and to do my bit. So I started mylittleeden*

So now I’m working on more products, I have met people who have 17,000 products. But for me I have standards to keep. I need the work to be professional. So I’m happy to work just on quality and hope that that is going to be enough? I do hope so.

So far I have sold one mug! So I guess I have a long way to go...?

You can keep up to date with my progress on my facebook page, likers always welcome. I'm learning blogging at the mo. This is my first attempt.

There is so much I still have to if I want to be successful but it keeps my mind active and creativity running through my veins. I don't think I could have been just a mum at home, so for me this is an ideal solution.

During the day my son enjoys sitting on my lap and reviewing with me other artists work (although I do choose child friendly stuff!), this helps get your work noticed by others and is good to get more links back to your profile.

I do hope I have inspired you to give it a go if you are creative or if not just to pop over to my site to enjoy the art I produce.

Art may not make you rich but it helps to keep you sane! Well almost...

Sarah Trett - artist, illustrator, designer and mum


  1. Hi Sarah! I enjoyed reading your blog. I'm 'Adrella' over on the Zazzle forums (real name Cheryl :) I'm also based in Victoria (outer eastern suburbs at foot of the Dandenongs). I'll keep my fingers crossed for you that it all works out, but I'm sure it will because you're a very talented artist (I love your fox btw!) and I'm sure you'll do very, very, well. Cheers. :)

  2. Lovely works. ^.^ I do hope to see more. Thanks for making these.