We had the good fortune of connecting with Marnie McKnight and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Marnie, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
While my children were small, family was my number one priority and I was a stay-at-home-mum. However, I indulged my creativity while they slept, painting, sewing or restoring furniture, while always able to drop everything at a moments notice. When they became school age, I was able to turn my art hobby into a full time job, allowing me to work within school hours and still be around to pick them up from school or host play dates. On the downside, as with any small business, there is always something to do, so at the weekends, I have to remind myself to step away from the studio and make time for myself and my family.
The balance is hard to maintain, as families needs constantly change due to environment, age, schooling etc, but luckily I can be flexible and have learnt to continuously adjust to change. I am still working at overcoming a deep rooted guilt when it comes to doing stuff purely for myself, not the family or my business. It is definitely a work in progress.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a full time artist based in Sydney, Australia, primarily known for my abstract works based around the themes of water in all its forms. Up until about 6 years ago, I had been a stay at home mother so there was no big financial dilemma to give up a day job and see if this art thing took off so I was able to jump right in. In the first month of creating, I was lucky to have a friend who saw two of my paintings and brought them to her store and sold them immediately, The next day, she ordered 14 more, so it was a dream start for any artist and I am eternally grateful to her.
While I am still with her, I didn’t put all my eggs in one basket and over time tried alternative ways of selling and promoting my art until I formulated the right path and business model for myself. It still continues to evolve which keeps it exciting and soul destroying all at once. For example, Instagram was my go-to for marketing, but it is moving so differently these days, I have fallen out of love with it and am now exploring other avenues. The only constants in my business are the updates in e-commerce, and the truly analog love of creating art. I know that if one day the digital world swallowed itself, I would still be in the studio painting and creating because that is my happy place. It has been my crutch through tough times and has been a way to express myself when confused and misunderstood, but more often than ever, it is a pure release of joy and gratitude which I look forward to every day.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We would start by visiting Bondi Beach, not because it is the best beach in Sydney, but because it is the most famous. Lined with great places to eat and drink, it also hosts the most amazing cliff side walk to nearby Coogee Beach which is particularly stunning if timed with the annual Sculpture By The Sea exhibition. A visit to The Rocks in the city would be next on the list. It is fantastic to explore the narrow cobbled streets and capture vistas of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. If we were feeling adventurous, I would bring them to The Australian where we could eat crocodile and Emu pizzas, or else go to the Opera Bar at Circular Quay for oysters, chips and dive bombing seagulls.
After the obvious tourist spots were ticked off, I would explore the outer reaches of Southern Sydney where you can visit koalas at Symbio wildlife park and head to nearby Stanwell Park beach for an ice cream.
Sydney is blessed with multiple rivers and national parks as well as it’s beautiful coastline, so I love to bring visitors on bush walks to local watering holes and secluded beaches, spotting kangaroo poo, echidnas and breaching whales all from within the suburbs. Launching our tinny (small boat) to fish or to pause at some random island in the middle of the local river is always a highlight too, especially if we catch dinner out of it.
A trip to the Sydney Cricket Ground for a day time game is also a must on my list, to introduce Aussie Rules Football to the uninitiated. Accompanied by a meal in Surry Hills afterwards, it is a great night out. If a band is playing at The Camelot Lounge in Marrickville, the experience is complete.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My husband Ryan is my biggest champion. He has encouraged me from the start and continues to be my biggest supporter.