Currently I am illustrating a regular column by Gina Morris which is called “Diary of a New Mum”. I have just finished my fourth installment and it’s been an interesting experience.
Firstly, doing some work again for the Big Issue is a strange thing for me. The Big Ish will always be an important part of my life – I was part of a tiny team that launched a magazine that is still in print 8 years later. For most of my year or so there I was entirely responsible for the design, layout and print production of the magazine. Having never done this kind of thing before, every single day I was stressed, challenged, and exhausted, yet amazed that I was able to get it together every two weeks. It was the steepest learning curve I have ever been on.
In no other job will I meet such an huge array of people. The editorial staff and the homeless vendors all worked out of the one office. We sat behind computers while vendors dropped in for coffees and gossips and to pick up a pile of magazines to take back out and sell on street corners. The staff were all passionate and slightly crazed (oh yes, you know we were!), the board of directors who occasionally stopped by drove huge cars and had very nice suits but most had kind eyes and clear visions, and the vendors were from a section of our society I had previously had no exposure too with my safe Private schooling – their stories of homelessness, drug, alcohol and gambling addictions would weigh heavily but their personal victories when they managed to sell an enormous amount of magazines or even just one or two, or move into a flat or find a new job were always inspiring.
In no other job will I work until three am and then lock up, step quietly over a vendor who had made our front steps home for him and his two dogs and catch a cab home only to get up and do it all again the next day.
In no other job will I be asked out on a date by a guy who is as high as a kite, sporting new stolen sneakers (and proud to tell me so!), with syringes lined up in his top pocket like a row of pens. It was difficult to turn him down, only because I had heard the whispers in the staff kitchen that he had killed people.
In no other job will a huge smelly guy wearing a father christmas hat and a pair of crazy 70s sunglasses regularly give me huge hugs and make me feel like it’s all worth it.
And in no other job will I catch crabs from innocently sitting in the staff lounge on an extremely festy couch… mmm.
Putting that magazine together is one of my major lifetime achievements but I was daily discovering my personal and creative limitations and professional weaknesses.
So not only is there all that, but there’s Gina and her stories of her little girl, Lillah Rae. Lillah Rae is only six weeks old so far in these entries so I am being called on to illustrate breast pumping, baby acne, mother’s group and all these other scenes which now seem so far away to me and my little girl who is 2 and a bit and getting more independant every day. It’s weird and kind of emotional to remember exactly how I felt on my first mother’s group get together, and how exactly you hold a breast pump. I am surprised at how much I have put out of my mind, yet how quickly it comes rushing back. None of it is exactly inspiring me to go there again in a hurry.
Anyway, if you’re in Australia, find a vendor, have a chat and lash out on a three dollar copy of the Big Issue – because it rocks.