Very often I get asked why on earth I changed from a financially safe teaching career to that of a self-taught, freelance illustrator. The answer is rather complex which is why I decided to start a blog called "Frau Dreilings Wunderkiste" (Mrs Dreiling's box of wonder). Lets open the lid and peek inside...
I have always been someone with the head in the clouds. I loved to paint and draw and invent stories from a very early age on. Usually, when people feel that kind of creative energy in them they foster it or maybe even make a profession out of this. At that stage of my life this was not possible for me. The reason was simple: while my childhood was quite idyllic ( or at least I chose to remember it that way ) my adolescence not so much. Think Rapunzel locked up in a tower by her own family in modern days, mix in some domestic violence and constant emotional abuse and base all of this on religious motifs and you have a rough understanding of my teen and early twenties. Until I finally plucked up the courage to leave.
During all of this, art had been a good friend though, either in visual or musical form. It was an escape and a way to keep my head in the clouds. But I knew that it would not have been appreciated if I had made the decision to become a professional artist and at that point I was quite frankly too scared, too damaged and weak to put up yet another fight with my family.
When you suppress an important part of yourself for a long time you feel only "half full" without even knowing it. Something is always missing but you can't put your finger on it really. Years later only, my children brought back art to me. Since they were very little, I noticed more and more that it immensely fulfilled me to make art for and with them. When we looked at picture books I saw their faces brighten up or frown in deep thoughts and I wanted to be able to achieve the same - influence children with my work. Artistic work.
So I finally knew what I wanted to do in life, but reality was that I had invested six years and lots of money into studying in Germany and getting accreditation and my teachers registration in Australia. Not to mention the effort it takes to do all this with little kids clinging at your legs. Only to give it all up for a dream?
I have to thank my husband Alex for supporting me in every step of this journey - from my first pathetic Photoshop attempts over to looking after the kids when I couldn't, over to being my cheer squad when I was doubting myself, my art, this entire idea. Lastly but not least he accepted the fact that his income would be the only meaningful one for a very long time for our family without ever questioning this or making me feel bad about it. I would have stopped this endeavour a long time ago if it wasn't for him.
By now you can probably tell, changing careers and starting something you have no training for is not always a walk in the park. It often goes hand in hand with embarrassing mistakes, frustration and disappointment. The fact that I am working from home with three active children and a dog while by now having to meet tight deadlines is sometimes tricky. There often also seems to be the conception in people of me sitting at home scribbling cute pictures for fun when in reality I literally work my butt off and invest (NOT make) crazy amounts of money.
But I wouldn't want it any other way and that is probably the ultimate answer to the question "Why did you do it?" - it is because I'm wired to be an illustrator. Its simply how I think and feel any second of the day. I see stories and little characters everywhere and so I don't really mind trying to work on them for hours on end. And I truly believe that if you love something so much you become better and better at it and one day you will be successful and able to make a living from it.
Today, despite my "dark past" I am well. Thanks to my husband, my family, my friends but also thanks to my art that developed over the years into something that enables me to be myself and think freely.
With this I'm shutting the lid of my Wunderkiste again. Until next time!
Have a great day!