We had the good fortune of connecting with Maggi McDonald and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Maggi, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
Starting out as an artist I was doing all the things all the time. I never said no to anything and worked pretty much 7 days a week. There was this excitement and also fear that if I took my foot of the pedal for only just a second I will lose momentum and everything I was working so hard for would dissapear. Which of course is not how it works but a very normal thought process when you are building something up from nothing, even more so when you’re self taught and feeling a bit like an imposter.

I pushed myself really hard and after two years of going at full speed I burnt out spectacularly. Mental burnout, creative burnout and physical burnout. Recovering took a good six months and I had to learn to pace myself and some days only do the critical things to keep my business going because there just wasn’t enough energy to do everything I was doing before. I learnt that I didn’t need to work 7 days and that protecting my health and creative energy was important. I started working Monday to Friday only and using my weekends to recharge for the week. I unplugged from social media from Friday night to Monday morning which is something I still do now.

I think balance is something that comes with time and that it’s a natural progression from the early days of hustling and working hard to a more leveled approach and a slightly slower pace. Of course we want to work as hard as we can for something we are so passionate about and slowing down is by no means saying that we are slacking off. We just work a bit smarter and with a bit more confidence in ourselves and our process because we’ve learnt how to do that.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I grew up in a creative household and did a bit of art in school and always dreamed of becoming an artist one day. Life happened and after some personal trauma I realised that life is too short and enrolled in a design course. That was 7 years ago and I’ve been running my creative business full time now for 6 years. I’m an abstract artist and surface pattern designer based in Sydney, Australia and I create bright abstract artworks in bold colours. I sell my art mainly online and through Instagram and I also teach workshops. Running a small business is a tough gig and there are many ups and downs – learning to outsource and not do everything just because you can has been a huge lesson for me. As creatives we are more than capable of doing most things and if we don’t know how to do something we can easily teach ourselves. This makes it easy to overlook the importance of outsourcing where you can to free up our valuable time to create instead of being the photographer, bookkeeper, admin assistant and web designer.

I work from my studio at home and it can be quite isolating at times – I have learnt that I have to make a point of booking in time outside the studio once a week to help me step out of my bubble. I love catching up with an artist friend for coffee or I might go to a gallery or art store out of my area – as creatives we are so connected to our work that we need to step away at times to get perspective and clarity and look at our practice with fresh eyes.

As a self taught artist the struggle with Imposter Syndrome is real and something that I know many creatives deal with. I’ve learnt to unplug from social media and stop scrolling when I start feeling like a fraud – comparison will make imposter syndrome feel intense and we tend to forget that we are only seeing a snap shot of a very individual journey.

I absolutely love what I do and that my artworks get to travel all over the world and live in cool places. I love nothing more than the smell of paint and the feeling I get when I’m painting and I feel very lucky to have found my purpose in life.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I am lucky to live in beautiful Sydney, Australia and we are spoilt with so many beautiful beaches and places to visit. My favourite place to swim is Shelly Beach Ocean Pool and then to grab a coffee I head to Shelly Park Shop. They also do the best waffles and acai bowls. For beautiful harbour views and great cocktails head to Opera Bar in Circular Quay. It’s right next to the famous Sydney Opera House and you can spend a lovely afternoon watching the ferries come and go in the harbour while sipping on a glass of something. A ferry ride to Watson’s Bay is a must – stop in at the Watson’s Bay Hotel for fish & chips and another beautiful view of the city and the harbour.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My husband and son definitely deserve a huge shoutout as they have been supporting me since the very start of my creative journey and put up with the mess that a home studio brings with it. They are definitely my voice of reason and they keep me very grounded. I come from a creative family and my parents encouraged us to be creative from a young age which has definitely help shape the way I look at the world and the role that creativity plays in our lives. I am forever grateful to them.

My talented artist friend Marnie McKnight is an inspiration and very wise when it comes to being a full time artist and we love nothing more than talking art and business when we get together.

Website: www.maggimcdonald.com

Instagram: @maggimcdonaldart

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/maggimcdonaldartist

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZHlsVInQAkE9TWe3iqhuSA

Image Credits
Polly Jane Photography Leah Ladson Photography Sarah Rowan

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