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  • Writer's picture Natasha Castelijn

Juggling a Family and an Art Career - Interview with Amica Whincop

‘We can only be where we are right now.

I am as good as I am right now.’ - Amica Whincop

Amica Whincop is an abstract artist from the Sunshine Coast in Australia. Her work features in several public collections. Amica has been profiled in publications including Grand Designs Australia, Art Edit, Australian Country Living & Home Design. Her paintings have been featured on Grand Designs Australia, The Block, Channel 9.

Natasha: Thank you for coming to The Artists ChatRoom to share with us about your journey.

Amica: It’s a pleasure to be here.

Amica: Hi, Natasha, thank you for inviting me along today.

N: Your art Career took off in 2016 while you still had little ones underfoot. How were those early days? Juggling Family and Juggling Life in General.

A: It was so mental. I went full-on. I was so desperate and passionate which gave me this crazy energy. Looking back, I can see how it took its toll - it was not healthy.

I woke up, I breathed art and I went to bed and I breathed art. I was learning all these new things fast – like social media. The energy came due to my determination to make this work and to go for it with everything I had. I was awesome because I need that energy to get my career off the ground.

Now I have slowed down and not so intense. Especially with kids, you don’t want your life out of whack - just work, work, work. There needs to be a healthy balance.

N: When we spoke the other day, we talked about how people do not understand how hard it is to run the business side of art?

A: Yeah, absolutely, most people don’t get it. There is so much to do. It’s crazy. Websites, social media, emails, photography, etc. We want to do well, we want to look professional. We want to look professional and there is so much to learn when it comes to the business side of an art career. This is why this kind of chat is so important to with to share artists.

N: That was difficult then, in the beginning. That was back then before COVID-19 - but today has new challenges, You have your painting, you're running your own business, and supervising the education of your two girls. How is that working for you?

A: I have had to let go of so much of what I wanted. Originally, I had a big vision; how this time was going to be amazing because now I have time to do everything I wanted to do. Things were going to be slower. I was going to declutter my house, clean my studio, create a beautiful new body of work. I had all these exciting ideas about what this time would allow.

None of those things happened. I have tidied the house and studio a little. Little distractions keep popping in. My kids in grade 11 and 9 are struggling in doing their school work and the new normal of schooling from home. They are now my priority.

I am trying to be gentle with myself. Trying not to have too high an expectation of myself. I don’t have to have this new body of work. I don’t have to have a Marie Kondo house.

N: Being Kind to yourself is very important. We put so much pressure on ourselves.

A: Yes and we want to do it all now. This pressure isn’t good for our own mental health. I read the other day that if we don’t take advantage of this time and we don’t achieve something new, like learn a language, then we have waisted this opportunity. This makes me cranky - people are going through so much stress losing business and income. We need to slow down and do what we can and not have any insane expectation.

N: And enjoy this time you have been given. You have high school kids, when again will you have this time to be at home and stay in your pj’s and help them with their essays. They will be gone soon.

A: Yes! Exactly. That’s part of being kind to yourself – being kind to your family.

N: This has made an impact on your schedule and your business. Have you had to pull in the reigns?

A: I have tried to have a routine every day. Exercise at the same time of day, go in my studio the at the same time of day to do the business. The kids know not to disturb me for half an hour while I work. If we don’t have some structure, we can get lost and it will be hard when we are back to normal. The routine keeps us grounded.

N: What are you looking forward to once the new normal comes in and we are no longer isolating ourselves? A: This breathing space has given me the opportunity to go back and look at the work I’ve done in the last couple of years. Look at the strong pieces and those that did not work so well. Make some decisions on what I want to do and where I want to go? This has given me an aerial perspective. Sometimes when we are looking at the project that is right in front of us right now it’s hard to see the bigger picture. It has been good to reflect on how far I’ve come. I feel like going forward, whenever this happens to be, I’ll have more energy and focus on the strong works that I’ve done before.

N: You mentioned works that aren’t strong. What do you do with the works that you aren’t happy with? We all have them.

A: Sometimes I go back and work into them. Sometimes they don't work anyway but I do try. Mostly they sit in the corner facing the wall. I try to keep the ball rolling with things that I can keep flowing with and leave the things that don’t alone.

N: It’s an ever-evolving process. It is not like now Amica has success she has now ‘arrived’.

A: That would be amazing, but I actually don’t think it is possible. When I first started, I was felt like my work was not good enough. I still feel that my work could be better, I’m not where I want to be. We can only be where we are right now. I am as good as I am right now. I just keep playing and experimenting to be as you said evolving in our work and process.

N: This is going to resonate with so many artists because here is a successful artist, featured in magazines, on home decor shows and in all outward appearances has it all together but is still struggling and wanting to be better.

N: We desire to get better and we look at our own work with more critical eyes.

A: Yes definitely. I am getting better at not being too critical. I am noticing and stop myself more and more these days.

I get so excited about the many possibilities and you know you have it in you. You have it in your head the vague idea of where you want to get to. You want to keep pushing my work. I can do more next time. It’s never 'I am a genius master and I have nailed it'. It is always how can I improve.

N: There are those moments when we do love our work.

A: Oh my gosh yes. I have them too. When I fall in love with my work and I want a nice person to buy it. It is what makes what I do worthwhile. When I create something, I can be proud of and love and find others who love it too.

N: Thank you Amica for candidly speaking and sharing about your struggles in your early days and the struggles we have now during the lockdown.

A: It has been a pleasure talking with you Natasha. I truly believe that it is important to share this so that other artists don’t get discouraged and lose sight of why they want to do this.

Recapping Amica's Chat:

  • Being an artist is hard work

  • You need to be kind to yourself

  • Have some structure to keep grounded

  • Take time to breathe and look back

  • Artists evolve over time and keep evolving

  • Even successful artists are critical of their own work

You can find Amica Whincop at:

This interview was an Instagram Live - The Artists Chat Room 2 May 2020

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