I'm always looking for ways to intentionally connect with the faces that I come across online. In thinking about how to utilize my blog space more, I recently came up with the idea to offer interviews (or, less formal, coffee time) with artists around the web that I admire. I love hearing how other makers spend their days, how they deal with the struggles that come along with the job, and where they find their inspiration. I am very pleased to share with you my first Coffee with a Creative, Esther Clark. Esther and I have not yet met in person, but have discovered that we share many similar passions and interests as we have gotten to know each other online over the past year or so. She is a talented artist, hard worker, and overall beautiful human. Her work is delicate and graceful, exuding an old-world quality that is quite simply, gorgeous! I hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as I have.
What's one of your first memories where art played an integral role in your life?
I have been doing art for as long as I can remember, and it's hard to pin-point one early memory! I had a best friend growing up who was also really creative, and the two of us loved to get together and write and illustrate our own books! We spent hours drawing and making up stories, and those are some of my sweetest childhood memories! I often think back to those times when I am feeling burned out or in need of inspiration!
Why do you create now?
I create for two reasons: firstly, to provide for my husband and I - it's our main source of income at the moment. But also because, as cheesy as it sounds, I don't know how to live without creating. My job is also my passion and my favorite pastime, and it's hard to separate between creating for practical reasons and for pleasure. If I'm not creating in some way, be it new prints for my online shop, wedding invitations for a client, or fixing up our new house, I feel so stifled and restless. Art is definitely my vocation!
What do you consider a successful day's work?
I am a big list-maker - nothing brings more satisfaction than being able to check items off a list of tasks! I consider my day to be pretty successful as long as I've completed most (because honestly, days rarely go as we plan and it's nearly impossible to complete everything we want to!) of the tasks I've set for myself. That to-do list can vary greatly from day to day, so there isn't really a set amount of work I need to accomplish in order to feel successful. Some days, I want to complete a myriad of small tasks, while on other days I feel good if I get one major design project done.
How do you seek out opportunities in your work?
My business has two facets: freelance work for clients, and a small online shop of paper goods. Client work is my main focus, and I get most of my clients from Instagram or Pinterest. Since most people find me on social media, I have to maintain a pretty consistent and frequent presence on my platforms to showcase new work and draw people in. I'm still figuring out how to seek out new opportunities for my shop! I'm hoping to expand into wholesaling my prints and cards this year, and I would also like to create some new products! I really appreciate having the shop side of my business because it allows me to try new things and push myself, since I don't have anyone but myself to answer to. I can be a lot more experimental when I'm not working for a client!
What are some things that you struggle with in the creative life?
One of the biggest things I struggle with is work-life balance. My husband and I both own small businesses that are under two and a half years old, so we are both in the "hustle" phase and are putting lots of hours into our companies. I work a lot more than 40 hours a week and take days off very rarely. Since I work from home and since my job is also my passion, it's hard to draw a line and say, "okay, Esther, enough is enough!" I really appreciate a slower pace of life, I get stressed and anxious easily, and I never saw myself as a business owner, so it's been difficult to learn keep up with the amount of work I have. It's also hard to not have more time for myself and for my husband. It's a constant struggle to maintain my health and the health of my relationships while also accomplishing what I need to in a day!
Who are some other artists/makers that have inspired you along the way?
There are so many inspiring artists out there!! Some of my favorites for photography and interiors are Emilie Anne Szabo, Mur Lifestyle, and Gillian Stevens. Other painters/illustrators/calligraphers I love are Carleigh Courey Design and Gemma Koomen!
What do you listen to while you work?
I am a huge British period drama fan! More often than not, I will be working with Poldark or Downton Abbey on in the background. I don't mind watching things over and over again, so I've seen both shows an embarrassing number of times! I will sometimes choose a podcast (Me & Orla's "Hashtag Authentic" is a favorite) or music, but it's usually a period drama, haha!
What are you enjoying in your down-time currently?
I don't have much down time, but when I do, I usually choose to do some work on a home improvement project or bake something tasty!