This blog post is a bit different from my usual musings, in that it signifies a big change to how I am approaching my creative business. I recently began a new chapter in my career, one which is very exciting but does lead focus away from my artwork.
I am now working full time as a zookeeper, which has been a career ambition of mine throughout my academic studies of Animal Science and Management, and Primate Conservation. Ex-situ conservation has always been extremely important to me for many reasons, particularly as zoos offer a unique gateway to studying animals which in turn leads to real life benefits for conserving species in the wild. Not only is there huge potential for scientific research (whether thats animal anatomy, physiology, behaviour, or welfare), zoos are excellent places to engage people and spread important messages about conservation and animal wellbeing. I think zoos are particularly important in urban areas, where children and young people have minimal interaction with wildlife. As such a child, my interest in animals came from books. Each week my parents would take me to the city library where I would always come away with a different animal book and a new “favourite animal” until I inevitably found another book of another species the next week. From bats to hippos, I wanted to look at pictures of animals as much as possible, and I even covered my bedroom from floor to ceiling in wild animal posters when all my other friends had pop stars and famous actors adorning their walls.
The school I attended had a concrete playground, and although we had a garden we rarely had animal encounters. Apart from the occasional toad that found its way into our kitchen (at much distress to my mum) or the newts we used to fish out from the pond in our local park (at much distress to the newts), wildlife was a bit of a mystery to me growing up. My first real life introduction to wild animals was at a zoo, and it was this first encounter that sparked what would be a lifetime fascination. I did my first ever behavioural research project in a zoo, and learned key skills that lead me to independent research in Mexico where I explored the effects of captive care for spider monkey rehabilitation from the illegal pet trade.
It was only natural then that my artwork focus so heavily on my interpretation of the natural world. I have always wanted to share my passion of animal behaviour, and whilst I struggled to clear my university debt, pay the bills, move out, and all the rest of that nonsense we call adulthood, I took to drawing animals through wood and print mediums. Now finally after years of dreaming that I may one day work with animals (years of voluntary placements and short term animal jobs was brilliant experience but never offered long term sustainability), I’ve found my place in my local zoo.
Where does this leave my small creative business? It’s not lost.That’s for sure. It is however taking a back seat as I don’t have the wealth of time I have grown accustomed to the past two years. In a nutshell this means that I will still be creating original works but it will most likely be limited to one or two a year. I will also be offering my small gift items but with a lead time of 5-6 weeks rather than seven days. The only items that will be with you within two weeks of ordering are my printed items (limited edition prints, tote bags, and cards), and of course you can still access my instant downloads, well, instantly.
I am forever grateful for the overwhelming support I’ve had from my friends, family, and complete strangers, who have invested in me and my artwork whether it be from purchases, custom orders, and encouraging interactions at events and online. Drawing animals, teaching myself pointillism and pyrography, and exploring creativity in a very raw form of personal expression has got me through tough times and has ultimately led me to my own little place in the countryside and to my new job. So thank you, thank you for reading this post and for taking an interest in my work and in me as a person.
If you would like to order one of my artworks or other creations in the lead up to Christmas (oh dear, yeh I’ve gone and said the big C word!), then please do so sooner than later as I cannot guarantee that I will be able to cater for everyone this year. It feels slightly odd that this time last year I was snowed under with preparations for the Christmas rush, and yet this time around I am winding down my business to make it manageable amidst my new commitments. I feel very positive though, because this isn’t the end of my artistic journey- it’s just merging with where I was always meant to be, with the animals.