Hi Josie and Zoe. Thanks for chatting with us! How are you both?
Honestly, I’m tired. But I’m okay — doing my best!
Could you tell us a bit about your creative practice?
I’m not particularly sure I have one specific approach to my creative practice. When I illustrate for myself, I feel like I have somewhat of an identifiable style, but professionally I’ve had to adapt to a really broad range of styles and project types. I feel like off the back of that I’ve learned to just go with the flow of whatever the project specifically needs. I guess I start with identifying that, then I’d do whatever I find to be easiest or most fun as a confidence boost, to get everything rolling. The rest just seems to come together after that.
I’ve actually just finished up at a full-time design role after five years so at the moment I’m spending a lot of my time rethinking what my creative practice is, or rather, what I want it to be. The past five years I’ve dug deep into print and digital design, copywriting, producing — a bunch of things.
Moving forward, I’m slowly bringing on projects to test out what I enjoy more out of all the things I can do. I’m wording this awfully, can you tell I’m not entirely sure right now? I get up each morning and try to have fun though.
How has COVID-19, or even just the year 2020, impacted your creativity and mental wellbeing? What are you looking forward to in 2021?
For me, honestly, I’ve been very lucky and done pretty well off the back of a crappy situation. I’ve been able to keep busy with work, but having so much time at home has really allowed me to put the energy into looking after myself and my health without having to sacrifice my creative output. Things like commuting time could be replaced by physiotherapy time, and having nothing to do when everything was locked down meant I could really focus on improving my own situation without having to navigate social or physical burnout.
The pandemic has changed workplace culture around WFH and I’m excited to see how this can improve workplace environments for those of us with chronic illness and disability.
What Zoe said, honestly. I was really fortunate to keep my job throughout all of 2020 and work from home for the most part. The time where everyone started venturing back into the office again was when I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, another chronic pain condition. I tried to balance returning to ‘normal’ with keeping some of the perks I’d found in working from home, like being able to lie and have a little rest if I needed it.
The gap between the before COVID work setup and the after was a pretty big catalyst for me shifting my entire approach to what I wanted to be doing with my career. I’ve realised I really need a setup and schedule that I could make work for me and my body.
What have you changed in your life lately to make it more enjoyable?
I feel like the pandemic has forced everything to slow right down. I’m trying to keep a bit of that pace in my life; putting less pressure on myself to always be doing something productive, creative, or social at every moment and just enjoying time to relax, recover and heal.
I finished up a full-time job and decided to not look for another one and try out freelance instead, so I could test out scheduling around my body, my pain, fatigue etc. I don’t word it that way to clients, but ultimately it’s what I’m doing, so clients if you’re seeing this, hello. I’m not sure if it’ll work out for me yet but I’m giving it a red hot go.
As an industry, how do you think we can better support creatives and their mental health? How do we bring about collective hope?
Being able to have work-life balance is so incredibly important. It’s absolutely essential and there is so much evidence to show that having that balance both improves mental health AND workplace productivity – it’s a win-win for everyone. I’m fortunate enough to work for a company that really cares about that and supports its staff over projects.
I feel there’s a culture in a lot of other places where the work comes first, even if that means countless hours of overtime being put in to get it done to the best possible standard. And, unfortunately, there’s an element of the design/creative community that celebrates that ‘hard work’ and heroes people’s efforts. That is a culture that needs to change.
We should be celebrating studios who can produce fantastic work within paid hours. We should be regulating closing times and allowing people to leave on time, without the guilt and shame of being the first one out of the office at the end of the day.
Again, Zoe hit the nail on the head. The damaging culture around working hard only being possible through long hours, or even just the standard 9 – 6, and staying in the office really needs to change. I know it’s been discussed for years now, but I hope that post the COVID WFH world we all had no choice but to be a part of, it actually does change. Not only is it just crap, but it’s inaccessible.
For the most part, those who can be in an office all day, stay late, and get up and do it again day after day, are able-bodied. It shuts out people who have brilliant minds but different needs for their bodies. This all sounds like physical health only, but it’s not, it really comes down to trusting people to get the work done when they can get it done (obviously within reason) and when you take care of your body, and actually rest, you’re inherently taking care of your mental health, too.
Lastly, what has working on this project meant to you?
Josie is a good friend of mine and I respect and love her work. We also share the same chronic illness and passion for changing work culture within the design industry and have been dying to combine that together in a collaborative creative piece for ages. Collective Hope has allowed us to finally do that, around such a relevant topic.
Zoe is an incredibly talented artist, illustrator, animator and human. When I was going through the process of being diagnosed with Endo (Google it, it’s a bitch of a process), Zoe was my go-to person. She’d already been through it all and she was there for me with all the info, heat packs and support. Put these two things together and you have a perfect recipe for a niche collab. We’ve both been looking for opportunities to do something this specific in regards to work culture and chronic illness for a while. We’ve had plenty of ideas, but as chronic illness goes, ironically very little energy for it. So to be given this little square of the internet was a treat. We had fun with it and we hope it raises some awareness.