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    Five tips on working from home


    By Jes Egan 

    Working from home seems like a great idea in theory. Ever tried it? All of a sudden you look at the clock and it’s 3pm, you’re still in your PJ’s and you’ve not actually done anything that actually classifies as work. Here are a few of my tips to get you started working from home.


    Shower, get dressed and get ready for work. It may be a bonus working from home that you don’t need to make the effort as you’re not leaving the house. Think again: if you take advantage of this it can keep you in the wrong mindset. You want to try and position yourself that you are actually at work. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t need to have your face made up or your good clothes on, but set your day up like you are going into work. Start in your normal routine, shower, get dressed, have breakfast and your morning coffee. Then take a seat and get ready to work.

    Sit down

    You need a place to work – seems obvious, right? It is, but allocating a specified space for you to sit down and work can help to make you focussed and keep you in the right mindset. While you are in that space, focus on making it where you do your work. If you have a separate office or desk that is great, however not everyone will have this option in the house, so making do with a kitchen table or the couch are often the compromise that needs to be made. If you can try and have one space that you do your work, instead of moving around from seat to seat, this will help you train yourself that when in this space it is work time. You need to be comfortable so pick a seat that you are comfortable in. You don’t want to keep getting up (and getting distracted) but don’t get too comfortable, otherwise you may be like me and be tempted to have a little nap on the couch.


    Do your best work in the morning? Or not quite a morning person? Part of the bonus of working from home is picking your hours. Ideally if you can set work hours, give yourself a certain amount of time to do what you need to. It can easily be the case that you’ll still be working long after you planned to stop because you haven’t had to leave the ‘office’ to get dinner etc. Having a work / life balance is desired, however this is a difficult balance to find when your work and life are in the same place. I find setting hours that you are going to be doing what you need can help with this as it can make you focus on completing the job and hopefully stop you from getting too distracted.


    Being a huge fan of lists I can’t recommend this more. I write at least one a day. When working from home set yourself a list of tasks to do in the time frame you have set. This can help set a focus for the day and stops you from finding something else to do when you get up to get a coffee. It also stops you from looking at the clock at 6pm then realising that you haven’t really achieved what you wanted throughout the day and wondering where the day went. Put the items that you least want to do at the top of that list, tick them off first so it’s not as tempting to procrastinate. If there is one large task for the day, break it down into smaller tasks in the order that you need to do them and work through them systematically. Tick the items on your list off as you go so you can see how you are progressing.

    Minimise the distractions

    Distractions can be one of the hardest things to mitigate. Do you know what you get most easily distracted by? If you’re on the computer, is it surfing the internet or email? Close all of your browser windows and only have visible the page / program that you need to work in. Same goes with your phone. Put it just out of reach, so if a call comes through you can hear it but you’re not tempted to pick it up to check Instagram or to send a message. Any other things that easily distract you, try and keep them out of your line of sight or hearing range where you can.

    Jes is a ‘practical creative’ and a very busy lady, doing the business in a digital agency, being an artist, a university lecturer, and small business owner who can creatively be found cutting up a storm at Follow Jes on Instagram and Facebook.

    Posted by: Emma Clark
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    Australian Women in Art: Jacqui Stockdale


    This the first post in a new series on contemporary Australian Women in Art, by creative all-rounder Annette Wagner. 

    Like most of you, I’m inspired by so many amazing artists, both male and female. I especially have a long list of Australian female artists that I sincerely admire, and have many questions I’d like to ask each and every one of them. It’s no secret that being an artist anywhere requires dedication and determination, however, I want to understand specifically what it takes to be a female artist, here in Australia. It’s no feminist stance; it is merely a closer look and more importantly, a show of support. I’ll be chatting to women currently exploring, actively creating and nationally and internationally contributing to the art world. I’ll ask them questions that aim to explore their beginnings, influences, career highs and lows, finding representation, challenges of being a female artist in Australia, being acknowledged overseas and what they are doing now that we can all support.

    I’m very pleased to introduce Jacqui Stockdale, our first contributor. I’ve admired Jacqui Stockdale’s work for a long time as it evokes something quite powerful from her poised stills, like a theatrical performance unfolding.

    Jacqui has won the Doug Moran Contemporary Photography Prize 2012, is a past winner of the Belle Art Prize and the Hutchins Art Prize. She’s had residencies in Barcelona, her work has been shown at the Louvre, Paris and is in collections nationally and internationally.

    Best known for her theatrical portrait photography, figurative paintings, drawings and collages, her practice explores cultural identity, folklore and the transformative nature of masquerade and ritual in society. Her most recent work, The Boho series, currently showing as part of the Adelaide Biennial 2016, is a series of portrait photographs, which are part performative direction and part collaboration.

    Jacqui Stockdale The Boho landscapesJacqui with her works The Boho Landscapes

    Collaboration with the subjects, including Paul Kelly, Missy Higgins and the striking physical presence of Arun Roberts who Jacqui discovered and felt compelled to include in her series. She has also collaborated with friend and artist Kate Rhodes who worked with her to transform the imminent magical object, a spear, embedding it with personal objects, elevating its underlying meaning and importance. Collaboration with Rose Chong Costumes, which transforms the subjects and transport you to her setting along with her enormous painted backgrounds of Australian bush landscapes, reminiscent of the Impressionists from the Heidelberg School. The framing sets the stage. Combined, the outcome engages the audience and completes the theatrical translation.

    After recently meeting with Jacqui, she explained how almost fortuitously this project came together, with both subjects and objects presenting themselves to her during the process of the series. The success of this is evident with all elements coming together, and working well, demonstrating her skill, confidence, intuition and most importantly it allows the viewer to be lost in her performance.

    What in your personal life influenced you to choose and pursue a career in the arts?

    A combination of having a natural flair for drawing and painting as a kid, encouragement from both parents and an artistic sensibility. The fear of having to choose to be a nurse.

    What other jobs did you have before you committed to your art full time?

    I worked at KFC, was a cleaner and a life model.

    How many proposals did you write before you got your first grant/residency/exhibition?

    Good question! In my attempt to write a grant, I would feel ill and dizzy. It took a long time to get good at it, maybe two decades, but now I am fluent. I’d say I wrote about six before I landed a yes.

    I discussed this further with Jacqui when we met, and she said that getting assistance from others helped enormously. People who were stronger writers, or were familiar with proposal writing and she stressed how important their support has been, and continues to be, to review her work and provide feedback.

    'Where I Stood' Missy HigginsPart of her work Where I Stood with Missy Higgins

    How did you achieve gallery representation?

    Once I finished my art degree at the VCA I moved to Hobart and after two years I was approached by Dick Bett and represented by Bett Gallery. It was a good start.

    Was there a turning point in your career that made you believe that the status of an artist is equal to a ‘worker’?

    I’m not sure if it is equal, it’s just very different, and there are pros and cons to being either.

    Were you ever discouraged or had setbacks that derailed your career?

    Yes, of course. There was a time in my mid-thirties that I felt like there was no one out there. I had just returned to Melbourne after 10 years of living in Hobart, Sydney and Darwin and expected to be picked up by a gallery straight away. When this did not happen, given I was working solidly, I began to get really down. You can see in the work I made from that period how dark I was feeling.

    But maybe the work was really rich with meaning, not sure! It started to pick up once I was approached by Helen Gory Galerie in 2006.

    What are your least favourite and most favourite things about being an artist?

    Least favourite thing is dealing with my tax, most favourite is working on my own terms and having the luxury of living a very creative life.

    What do you do to keep yourself optimistic and motivated?

    I dance swing and tango, do ten yoga salutations in the morning, then give thanks to the day, run really slowly around the hood, eat good food, breath deeply, jump on the trampoline with my son, laugh with friends and have ping pong parties every so often.

    Do you think there is a gender imbalance in Australia supporting female artists operating in our current contemporary art system?

    Yes, but I don’t feel it personally.

    Do you feel that Australian female artists have fewer resources, crucial financial support, to go into making and producing art?

    Yes, I think they do, particularly within the realm of motherhood and needing to take more time away from their practice to raise children than men do, though this is gradually shifting as men step in. I know some women who feel guilty about going to the studio while their kids are in childcare. It made me work really hard during those hours, but I always managed a manicure/pedicure. I must say that regardless of these inequalities, I have always surrounded myself with very positive, independent female visual artists (and musicians). Their drive to forge on rubs off on you.

    Beyond the specific political and ideological issues involved in the subjection of women, what does success really mean and how is it achieved to you?

    Success to me means working steadily on my practice over many years and making a living from my art (as well as being subsidised by teaching, grants, nice patrons).

    What is the best advice you have ever been given?

    10% talent 90% perseverance.

    Jacqui has recently collaborated on film and animation with Michelle Jarni, producing a short film about the process of her ‘Super Naturale’ series of portraits.  You can also check out her new series The Boho at various locations in Adelaide and Melbourne.  

    Annette Wagner is a designer, marketer, creative consultant, artist and writer. She is also on the board of the Creative Women’s Circle. Obsessively passionate about the arts and the creative process, she is determined to not talk art-speak and instead focus on supporting and sharing concepts and insights most creative types crave to know.

    Posted by: Emma Clark
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    How to quit your day job

    day job

    By Emma Clark Gratton

    You’ve been working on a creative side gig alongside your main job for a while now. You’ve got a few regular clients, are making money and are in demand. Most of all, it’s so fun and rewarding that you spend all your lunch breaks and evenings working on your ‘hobby’. If this sounds like you, it might be time to take a leap and pursue your creative project full time.

    The world is full of accountants-turned-writers, executives-turned-photographers and administrators-turned-artists. Kurt Vonnegut ran a car dealership, Emily Bronte worked as a nanny and artist Barbara Kruger worked as a commercial graphic designer. The road from salaried employee to creative entrepreneur is well worn, but like most major life changes, can be intimidating.

    There are plenty of motivational posters out there about chasing dreams, being true to yourself and feeling #blessed, but blindly taking a leap isn’t always the most responsible move. The proven path to success – not just financial success, but personal satisfaction – is to back up your dream-chasing with a firm plan of attack, a healthy dose of courage and a touch of faith.

    Make sure it’s financially viable

    If you’ve been juggling a day job plus a side project, you will want to ensure that you have enough work to stay afloat without your regular salary. Everybody’s situation is different, but I would recommend that you aim to replace at least 50 per cent of your day-job income. This might take a bit longer than you had planned, but it will help eliminate the fear of total failure. That said, sometimes taking a leap with no safety net can be the kick in the pants you need to hustle and work harder than you thought possible.

    Set a deadline

    Like most things that are worthwhile, leaving your regular salary and venturing into the unknown is scary. And you might find yourself making excuses, delaying your resignation or holding off for way longer than you intended. The trick here is to give yourself a deadline – the end of the year, your birthday, some random date in November – and stick to it. Even better, tell people about it (not your boss!) so they keep you accountable.

    It’s not life or death

    Remember, you can always go back! Or at least find some other part-time employment more in line with your goals while you focus on building up a business. For example, an IT professional with a side gig as a wedding florist might quit her main job and find part time work in a florist shop while focusing on her own business, until she has enough work to go full time.

    Be prepared – mentally and emotionally

    Working for yourself is really, really hard. It’s also rewarding, satisfying and in some cases, can make you megabucks. The image of an entrepreneur beginning work at midday, working from a café for a few hours then invoicing for thousands is extremely rare. In my experience, it’s more likely to look like lots of weekend work, constant hustling and a steep learning curve. It’s easy to become accustomed to the lifestyle that is tied to a steady paycheck. Your 9-5 will become your 24/7, so be prepared that you will need a huge amount of self-discipline, motivation and courage to stay afloat.

    Look for variety

    That said, self-employment could give you flexibility and uncap your earning potential. As a salaried employee, your income is limited to what your boss or your award decides. As a self-employed person, your income is limited to how hard and smart you work. It’s not unusual for a sole trader to have multiple income streams or offer a variety of services (I’m a furniture maker, a writer and a podcaster, for example) so always be on the look out for new ways to make cash and broaden your circle.

    Be a quitter!

    Once you’ve got enough cash in the bank, some regular clients and your deadline is fast approaching, get ready to quit. Depending on where you work, you may need to offer formal resignation with two weeks notice, so use those couple of weeks to truly prepare for self-employed life. You might need to open bank accounts, formally register your business and inform your clients that you will be more available.

    Leaving your day job is not for the faint-hearted, so take a deep breath and take a leap. The rewards will be worth it. Good luck!

    Emma Clark Gratton is an interior designer, writer and podcaster who, alongside her husband Lee, runs GRATTON, a timber furniture and architectural joinery company. She blogs at Worst House Best Street and posts endless photos of her sons on Instagram at @emmaclarkgratton

    Posted by: Emma Clark
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    Small town creative: how to live, work and create in a regional area


    By Jasmine Mansbridge

    I am writing this blog post while also preparing for a trip from my hometown in Hamilton, Victoria, to Sydney. So it really is a good time for me to think about what is means to be a creative person living outside of the city and how I have gone about finding and generating creative work opportunities.

    In my flying two day trip to Sydney, (which is all the time I can spare away from home at this time of year), I am meeting with a Gallery Director to discuss a future exhibition, face to face (so old school), and meeting up with both new and old friends. Prior to living in my current location, I spent many years living in the Northern Territory. I then moved to rural New South Wales. So over the years I have travelled many miles seeking to both develop opportunities for my work and educate my eye. This naturally leads to my first tip.

    Be prepared to travel

    While you can ‘network’ and meet people over social media these days, nothing beats good old-fashioned face-to-face hanging out. I feel like real communication is even more powerful nowadays, given the plethora of the watered-down online type. I actually get very nervous before I travel outside my comfort zone. It doesn’t come as naturally to me as it might seem. But the effort is always worth it. So be prepared to get out and about: to seminars, conferences, and CWC events! Once I even went to New York with my art, but that is another story.You have to be smart about your time, and of course you have to also do the work back at home, but factor travel into your game plan and you will be all the richer for it. If you are like me, you will come home overstimulated and full to the brim of ideas, but hey, when you live in the country, you will have plenty of time to think and absorb all you have taken in and work out your next best step.

    Make yourself known

    I am not talking about being a show-off, or arrogant, or forcing your ideas onto people (although these things work for some!). I am talking about finding out who is responsible for the ‘arts’ at your town council or in your local government. Allocate an hour or two a week to these kinds of meeting adventures. If you are shy, bring your business card or a small piece of work to help introduce yourself. You have to be yourself to sell yourself.

    Is there a gallery or two in your town? Go say hi, see if you can’t meet the relevant people in charge. Be polite and curious. It goes a long way. Ask to get on mailing lists. Show an interest, if there are things you would like to see happen, see how you can help. Volunteer, be friendly and look for opportunities no matter how small, to start being creative in your own community. Share your ideas and start conversations about the ideas of others. This all takes time and don’t expect instant results. Be patient and consistent.

    9553-JM-TDF-2015 (1)
    Potential employers

    If you want to be sustainably creative then you really must make money. Money will increase your ability to make your work the way you would like to and increase your ability to create as you please (and to pay bills!). It costs money to be an artist. I can hear you saying already: “How? No one buys my art.” My advice is simple. Do what you can with what you have. Start where you are right now. You have to think out of the square. You have to make a plan. You might make money in a way you haven’t yet tried.From my experience the kind of job you want to do generally has to be created. It is hard work, it is being CEO of yourself. Start by thinking about potential employers. Write a list of every school, newspaper, every charity and every people-based organisation in your town. All these places are potential employers. These are the places who may be able to employ you with money from grants or other funds. Once again you must make yourself known. Talk to principals, art teachers, disability services, your local Rotary Club, police, hospital. The list goes on. Find out if there are opportunities for you to teach, take photos, help, create, project manage, write or contribute in anyway with your creative talents. Find out where the needs are.From my experience enthusiasm is almost always met with appreciation from people who are usually doing the best job they can, with limited time and funding. There is potential employment everywhere, but you have to be prepared to work hard, be flexible and up skill (i.e get your working with children card and do a grant writing course), to fill the gaps you might have, to do the kind of creative job you want.

    Make friends, in a variety of places, with a variety of people, across a variety of platforms

    I guess this is called networking (it is called networking!). But in my experience networking alone does not work. Just because someone has skills you admire, and you both love Elvis on Instagram does not mean you will be real life friends. You might be totally polar opposites on an important subject like your commitment to local business versus their ‘profit margin comes first always’ ethic. So network away, but be open to everyone in a room. Be friendly, but not scarily so, don’t be the, “I will jump off the cliff if you famous, iconic person tells me so”, kind of lady. Just be yourself and have an open mind. The one person you might gel and end up being great mates with might not be who you expected it to be.

    Share the love

    You don’t own your town, your community or your skill, there will be other painters and writers now and always. If you act like you do, then you will just end up lonely and small. If you start to get bothered by other people’s success, it means it is probably time for you to go to tip number one in this post, and travel again. Be humble, share the love. We all have something unique to offer and the more artists in your town doing their thing and doing it well, then the more likely it is that other people from other towns might do day trips to come to see ALL your cool stuff. So be expansive. Be positive and don’t complain about what you could help change. Be a back patting kind of person, refer other artists for jobs you might be too busy to do, or that they might be a better fit for. You don’t have to be best buddies with everyone, but it helps to be nice. And if there is no drama club? Don’t whine, start one. No murals? Ask if you can paint one! Contribute if you can, with what you are good at and everyone will benefit.

    Mind your own business

    Don’t worry about what you will do with all the money you will one day make. When your exhibitions have red dots as far as the eye can see, or when your book makes the New York Times bestseller list, that is not when you should start thinking about the business side of things. Start now managing yourself like a business, even if you are making just an itty bit of money. Get a tax file number. Get a shoe box (or make a file on your computer). Keep your receipts.  Pay an accountant to do your tax.

    Probably all the money you make in the beginning will go on making boring stuff like accountants happen. The garage full of collectable cars is on the horizon. Yes. Dream big but take care of the practical stuff. In this way you will have a foundation for the future of your finances. It also means that you can start to claim all those expenses to those conferences, exhibitions and CWC meetings you travel to. (Disclaimer: I am not an accountant, see your own accountant for specific advice on business/travel matters!)

    All the above has been written from my personal experience. There are highs and lows to living in a regional area when you are a creative person. The highs are that on average the living costs get cheaper the further you get from the city. For me, that means my family can live on one wage. It means I can afford to travel and make my artwork. It also means that I can focus on my work for long periods if need be and I can pick and choose what events I want to invest my energy in. These are all big highs. No commute, less stress, and as much community spirit as I will ever need. Did I mention more time to actually make creative work?!

    Then there are the lows, the FOMO that Brene Brown made famous. This feeling drops by from time to time. I have to watch that. The planning and effort required to travel can be draining and exhausting. The sense of isolation is also very real at times, and the snobbery you can experience from city folk, (sorry city readers – athough I must say CWC folk have never made me feel this way). There is also the fact that sometimes you feel like that if you just gave up and stopped being creative, no one would probably ever notice, (until 100 years after you’re gone, and your diaries are published to high acclaim).

    I am wanting to write more in this series and so if you are a CWC reader who also lives regionally, I would love to hear from you and possibly even write your story here. Please get in touch!

    Photo of Jasmine by Danielle Thomas from ONE DAY COLLECTIVE.

    Jasmine Mansbridge is a painter and mum to five kids. She regularly blogs about the intersection of creative work and family life, as well as her recent projects and travels. You can also find her on Instagram.

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