Inspire interview with Anna Lewis from Sketchy Muma

I love doodling, drawing and doing arty things with my two girls. My Mum discouraged me to do A level art. She told me you don’t need to study art to be an artist. She was probably right. Something I love popping up on my Facebook or Instagram feed are the Sketchy Muma drawings by the talented Anna Lewis. They are heartfelt, comical and always ooze emotion. There’s something calm about them although they document the ups and downs on parenthood. Anna lives with her husband and their (nearly) four-year old daughter in Cornwall. Here’s what Sketchy Muma Anna had to say about patience, constant learning and being unique…

Hey Anna, after seeing your amazing drawings, it’s great interviewing you for Lucky Things. So, what encouraged you to start your drawings in the first place? 
I have always drawn for as long as I can remember, its just part of who I am. I have done some pretty rubbish temp jobs in my time but did not mind as I always had my doodle pad with me. I had a studio before my daughter was born and became a self-employed illustrator doing children’s illustration. After I had her I became a stay at home mum due to circumstances and Sketchy Muma was just a creative outlet. As I gathered more pictures I thought I would put them into a book for when my daughter was older in case she ever became a full-time mum.
And do you remember what you had to go through to get your creative project going?
I have not had any challenges as such getting going as I was just doing it for the joy of drawing and with no real agenda. Doing commercial illustration can be quite restricting so this was quite freeing just doing something for my daughter and myself. It is since the social media popularity that a business has sort of evolved.
Sounds like you’ve had a varied career. I used to study for my HR qualification during the downtime in various temp jobs! How would you sum up your career now?
Self-employed writer illustrator documenting motherhood.
So, what are the three things have you learnt from your career?
If you love what you do everything flows a lot easier, I guess I have got a career now but I never really think of it like that because I just love doing it. I always wanted to draw for a job but I have done every job under the sun to get back to doing what I have always loved for a living.
Just because you don’t know how to do something at the moment it does not mean you can’t learn. Being self-employed has made me much more self-sufficient and keen to learn things that would have once intimidated me.
It’s easy to flit from one project to the next when creative but staying focused on one thing properly i.e. Sketchy Muma reaps deeper rewards.
I know lots of people thinking about making the big move from employed to self-employed or maybe they want to set up their own business. What’s your tip for those wanting to pursue a different career or a more creative career?
Find out what really makes you tick, I read some career books that helped me understand my core values. You may be really motivated by money or helping the community, or personal freedom etc.  I think fining out a bit more about what makes you tick keeps you aligned with what suits you.
I discovered lots of the things about being self-employed suit my personality. Also many people say ‘I am not creative’ but I think we all have creativity in us just in different ways, find out what yours is! (Cooking, teaching etc!)
It’s quite an achievement working on a book deal! Wow! How did you feel when you heard that you had a book deal? We’d love to hear more about this exciting adventure.
A lovely agent had found me last year and we had been working on a book proposal for quite a while and had quite a lot of interest, which was very exciting, in the end Quercus offered us a book deal and they have been just brilliant. I have illustrated a few published children’s books before but this feels so different because it’s much more personal work.
You seem pretty focused on your creative work. So, what does work-life balance mean to you? 
Everything. My partner was very seriously ill when our daughter was born and had a year off work having treatment. It was a very scary time and I am so grateful he survived. Although I love my work, my family is top of my priorities.

That must have been tough. Seeing our close ones go through serious illnesses is really hard. I’m with you there. What’s motto helps you when you’re dealing with tough things in life? 

“What can I learn from this?”
I wrote a blog post a while back on why doing art is good for our wellbeing. In what ways do you think looking at art or doing art help our mental wellbeing?
I like it because I really loose myself when I draw and am really in the moment and am not thinking of anything else. I suppose it is like mindfulness.
I’m a fan of mindfulness and trying it out more and more. How else can we look after own mental health and wellbeing? 
I just love swimming for re-booting, I just feel free when I swim.
I try to focus on one thing at a time, and not be too hurried along by today’s fast pace.
Re-booting is such a good word. Goodness, we all need to re-boot and re-charge! Lucky Things chats a lot about confidence. What’s your top tip for feeling confident? 
Remembering that you are unique, we all are! No one can be you and that’s your strength.
What are your three top tips for keeping kids entertained?
I go to the beach a lot even in the winter or somewhere outdoors as then my daughter can really use her imagination and make things out of driftwood, sticks etc. The sea air also wears her out!
Sometimes I get my daughter to wrap up loads her toys in cheap wrapping paper to give her teddies a birthday party, it seems to occupy her for ages!
Again I take my daughter swimming a lot as it feels like we have been out for the day then even if it’s only an hour!
What has your daughter taught you about life?
Patience! Now she is getting older I realise she is mirroring me a lot so it has made me want to be a bit of a trail blazer for her. She loves drawing and says she wants to be an artist so I like being able to show her it is possible!
I also think music is really important for our wellbeing. What grown-up tunes do you enjoy playing to your daughter?
My daughter loves Cyndi Lauper and Rage against the Machine!

Before we say bye, what are your three “lucky things”?  (You can’t say your family as that goes without saying – so basically anything in life you feel grateful for or really love)
My eyesight, looking at colour makes me really, really happy.
Having a passion, life is easier when you have one.
Living near the beach, I love the sea.
Thanks again to Anna for sharing her story and beautiful drawings. Don’t forget to follow Sketchy Muma on Facebook @sketchymuma or Instagram @sketchymuma
You can pre-order Sketchy Muma: Are you ready for motherhood? here. You can pick it up from 5 October 2017.
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