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When Virginia Woolf sat at her writing desk and wrote these five words, she could only imagine a world where women would have the creative freedom [of men] to create, to write, to make, to concentrate on their own projects. The luxury of a dedicated workspace can perhaps be taken for granted in many professions, but for the Artists, Makers and many Self Employed folk, a place for uninterrupted concentration and reflection is still the Holy Grail of their chances of success.
Thumbnail began back in 2005, a Husband and Wife Partnership, based at home - in our kitchen to be precise. At the time our two children were aged 5 and 3 and I was an 'at home Mum'. Keith swapped his suits and ties for shorts and crocs and left the world of Magazine Publishing behind him. And so we began, amid the endless rounds of nursery sessions, lunchboxes, play dates and the general exhausting hilarity of raising small people.
Of course they didn't stay small for very long and our work demanded a place where 300g, 100% cotton, acid free art paper would not be confused with a colouring in sheet! The Garage was swiftly converted into Thumbnail HQ where we rejoiced in more space and could at last invest in kit which could be locked away from tiny fingers - in particular, the enormous guillotine with a machete capable of slicing 400 sheets a go!
But...there was still a connecting door into our house and now the children were the age of the constant friends around, sleepovers, music playing and providing Thumbnail with a joyful yet constantly disruptive backdrop of noise and distraction. We began to look around the garden for our next workspace...
Here is a series of pics beginning in 2013, showing the development of Thumbnail HQ as it is today. Our Cabin has revolutionised our business. Overnight we were catapulted into a working life which was entirely ours. I think it is true to say that we have become more Creative, less burdened with guilt and stress of trying to wear too many hats - when we are 'at work', it is our place to focus and be purposeful.
Thank you Virginia who pioneered for so much and at such devastating personal cost. I like to think the 'Room of One's Own' can, if necessary, be a state of mind, as ours had to be for so many years. Allow yourself to go to your Room, to work there, to Create there - or just for the sheer pleasure of being there.
FINDING INSPIRATION IN LOCKDOWN - WEEK 10
'A ROOM OF ONE'S OWN'
FINDING INSPIRATION IN LOCKDOWN - WEEK 11
“ALWAYS WITH THE SPIRIT OF FIRST BEGINNING”
In 15 years of working and living as a Cottage Industry, this sentence has been the ultimate backbone to our daily effort. There is no better advice we could give anyone who is considering working for themselves. Every single moment of every single day in every week, month, year - the ability to find newness, excitement and enthusiasm in your tasks. To shed the negativity of what may have gone before in favour of the present moment.
When something is actually new, brand new, we seem to afford it more of our creative brilliance and pride. We can probably all cast our minds back as far as our own school days and the uplifting feeling of a new term. We wore our new shoes, a year group further up the school, we wrote the date in our best handwriting on the reassuring thickly backed first page of the exercise book. So at what point in the term did we stop caring? When did the daily grind eclipse our feeling of invincible good intention? When did we get bored? And how can we get back to where we began?
Welcome to the world of the small business!
During this phase of the Lockdown we are giving our workspace at Thumbnail a long overdue makeover. We have emptied and sorted every box and file in a cathartic bid to rid ourselves of all those drawers full of rubber bands and disembodied screws. DIY unfortunately takes a little longer than the drawer tidying stage and so progress is slow and steady towards our new look HQ:
Stage 1 completed: Empty cabin with sanded and varnished floor.
To stay inspired at Thumbnail, Keith and I have learnt the highly valued skill of overcoming adversity. We get up every day and do our best to apply the spirit of new beginning in all that we do. Sometimes 'new beginnings' can actually mean new things and self improvement, like sanding floors, but most often it simply means that even after a bad day, be sure to get a good rest and start again tomorrow with fresh eyes and a positive smile. Try to retain the excitement of running your very own business, just as you did at the start of your venture, taking pride in your achievements and working with others to maximise your results. This is how you can remain inspired and energised to create new opportunities.
Join us again next week to check out how we are progressing towards our new beginning...
FINDING INSPIRATION IN LOCKDOWN - WEEK 12
Several Solar Orbits back, one of our Artists approached us about an Art Book Project. Like so many before her, Maggie Smith had always dreamed of publishing her own Book, of seeing her name in Print, of knowing a permanent archive of her creative achievement would be catalogued and stored in The British Library. Maggie Smith Artist, Painter and Printmaker, forever captured in a beautifully bound collection to showcase her Artworks.
Two things about that first paragraph;
1. I have used 'Solar Orbits' as a time frame for a reason.
2. When she began the planning for the Book, I am not sure she ever thought that her fully titled accolade might in fact become, Maggie Smith Artist, Painter & Printmaker and Author!!!
So Maggie set about busily planning the collection - which of her paintings and beautiful printmaking pieces would make the cut in her Art Book? What would be the cover piece? How could she time the project's completion with her own busy life and professional commitments?
The heart-wrenching sound of cerebral brakes applied with the force of a devastating and complete emotional emergency stop!
Of course, it is nobody's place to comment here on the whys and wherefores of Maggie's alarming halt in mid course. Suffice to say, the Book was on hold...Maggie's Art was on hold...Maggie was on hold.
Repair was at the pace of the repair itself, not at the speed of Maggie's pressures. It was during this time of meditative reflection and rebuilding that Maggie found comfort in journaling her daily life; breaking down daily goals into bitesize targets and enjoying the sense of achievement when ticking them off. Being Creative of course meant the journal quickly became awash with sketches, quotations, musings and thoughts about what Maggie was processing in her recovery.
And so 'Through the Artist's Window' by Maggie Smith (2019) Published by Thumbnail Media, was born!
By her own admission, this is not the Book that Maggie set out to write. Rather, it is one about the long journey out of her dark tunnel. 'It is a Book to uplift people and give hope to those who are struggling with moments of self doubt'.
Whether or not you are an Artist, this is a delight to read, it's honest, human, modest, thoughtful, inspirational and caring; Seasons will inevitably come and go, the tides will turn, the sun will orbit the earth, as a measuring timeline for us to afix our man-made Calendar. Birth, death, re-birth provide us with a in-built natural clock by which to set our lifetime. Nature's indomitable force threads through Maggie's Book to remind us who we are and who we can allow ourselves to be, if we acknowledge and embrace the challenges of our busy, modern lives and make way for creativity.
Please visit Maggie's online profiles at Facebook and Instagram where you can follow her Blog during Covid-19 and see the beautiful landscapes and surroundings of her Devon based Studio.
The Book is available to purchase via Maggie's website: