Alarna Zinn is a Queensland-based illustrator/designer and parent of three-year-old Ada. Bron Bates asked her about the evolution of her life as a creative through her transition into motherhood.
When did you start working as a creative?
I left school thinking I’d have to get a ‘real job’, but I didn’t last long. I decided to study graphic design and from there I used those skills to create a product line of stationery and other bits and pieces. I just did what I loved and it seemed to fall into place. Social media helps a lot when you don’t have a lot of start-up money. I was also much younger and not having much to lose was a definite advantage!
Has becoming a mother changed you?
It’s taught me to be very patient. I really wasn’t in the past! You don’t have much choice but to be calm and live in the moment, which is a great thing.
How do you and your partner negotiate child rearing together?
Luckily, we have a lot of similar values, so we haven’t found too many challenges in terms of how we raise Ada. My partner has the flexibility to work from home a couple of days per week, and although it’s not totally equal, we strive to share the load of both household and parenting duties. Having a daughter, we feel strongly about setting this example for her.
What’s one thing you wish you’d known before you became a mum?
How hard it would be to combine being a mother and being a creative. For me, both are all consuming and something has to give a little. It’s a hard balancing act and personally I find it difficult to nurture both at the same time. Getting into the zone creatively only to been interrupted to attend to motherhood duties is so frustrating. After much trial and error, I’ve realised what works best for me is having dedicated blocks of uninterrupted work time. Of course this isn’t always possible and in that case I can only do the best I can and be gentle on myself when I achieve far less than I was hoping.
I’ve come to the realisation that being creative doesn’t always mean I have to be commercially successful.
What kind of choices have you made to allow yourself space for creative work and family life?
This has taken a long time to work out for me! We moved interstate when Ada was a one year old, leaving behind my village of family and friends. That was so much more challenging than I’d ever anticipated and I ended up having no time for my creative life, as much as I tried. I became very unhappy and unfulfilled.
Luckily, we moved back home last year and now I have a lot more support from both family and friends, which allows me to take dedicated time blocks for my own work and I try not to feel guilty when I do it. My partner also decided to have a much more flexible work schedule where he can work from home more often, which has been fantastic as we can both juggle the day to day and always changing calendar of events, deadlines, school runs, appointments etc.
Also, I’ve come to the realisation that being creative doesn’t always mean I have to be commercially successful. For this time in my life, with a small child, sometimes creativity for me might be teaching my daughter a craft, gardening, baking or a doing a personal project that I’ll make no money from. That’s just as important to indulge in because all these things keep that creativity spark alive. For a long time after I had Ada, I felt guilty for doing indulgent things like this, as I saw it as time taken away from her and a waste of our family’s money.
What’s the best parenting advice you’ve been given?
That every day is different and to do whatever works best for you and your family. It’s really easy to get so worked up in all the challenges you come up against daily, but really when one problem is solved, another one will be sure to pop up. One week will be complete parental bliss and the next will be a nightmare, so when I am having a bad day, I just like to think that this afternoon, tomorrow or next week this problem will have passed.
What’s the best creative advice you’ve been given?
Just keep creating, even if it’s bad.
What drives your creativity?
I think like most creatives it just brings me alive. It’s such a love/hate relationship, but the challenges are worth it when you get to do something that you love.
Creativity for me might be teaching my daughter a craft, gardening, baking or doing a personal project that I’ll make no money from. That’s just as important to indulge in because all these things keep that creativity spark alive.
What’s something about you not very many people know?
I am very shy and introverted, I really have to push myself out of my comfort zone, especially when meeting new people.
What does being a mother mean to you?
Being a mother to me is just having the privilege to be a part of this amazing little person’s life. It’s awe inspiring getting to know this small human and who she is each day.
What’s next on the cards for you and what would be your ultimate creative project?
I’m not picky! I’m up for most things and I love to collaborate, if I find it interesting, I’m all for it. I did say to myself that I didn’t want to make products again. However, I have lots of ideas that I’d be very interested to explore this year.
31 year-old Alarna Zinn is an illustrator and designer who lives with her partner and three-year-old daughter, Ada, in Queensland. Check out her website and follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.