Monika Forsberg is one of my favorite artists and illustrators. Her beautiful and quirky work reinvents the world in a way that is like what you know, but slightly more magical. It feels like anything is possible and makes me feel childlike wonder and happiness. I was thrilled to find that her writing is just as magical and charming. I loved that this candid interview makes me realize that perhaps nobody feels they ever have enough time to do what they want, but maybe that's okay. Thank you for sharing, dear Monika. Now please make that book because I will absolutely buy it.
Tell us about yourself. How old are your children? Where can we find you?
I'm Monika and I moved from my native Sweden in my early 20's and ended up in London, United Kingdom. I never planned to stay but London suits me so well. I love this crazy city so so much. I have two sons, one is 14 and the other will turn 5 in a few weeks. You can find me in the park, on the Heath or in Walkyland.
How has your approach to painting, your processes, medium, or your inspiration changed since having children?
I used to, once upon a time (a long long long time ago before the children were born) procrastinate quite a bit. It'd always take a few days to start a new project and if I got stuck I'd have a nap and I'd de-stress that way. I was an animator and would work non stop for days and weeks. I could immerse myself in a project. And there was no little people that'd need breakfast, lunch and dinner. As well as being a human role model.
Since the birth of my second son I am mainly an illustrator and I have very little time to procrastinate. I sometimes feel like a shark, I never stop moving because if I did, I'd probably go 'What madness,' and become an office rat. It'd make sense.
For the 6 hours a day when my kids are at school I work on commissions and projects. It's intense. I have an office buddy that lives on the other side of the hill and we talk about work stuff. It's invaluable to have someone you can bounce ideas off with, someone whom is a bit removed from your work. The internet is a great place, you can be all alone yet only a few seconds away from civilisation.
My boyfriend is the best, we're a team. We share the responsibilities of family and time. He's an artist too, so we understand each other quite well. He is funny kind and he makes me coffee nearly every morning. He is handsome and he is the best daddy.
For us both to be self employed with varied income from means there are stress and worry and I have to slap myself about once a week and tell myself to not worry but to enjoy what I have got and GET A GRIP. I might sit rather still for 6 hours a day but the drama in my head is epic. I think I have a rich inner life. My real life is less dramatic. Life is quite confusing. It's a bit like a dream, hard to grasp.
Is it easy or difficult for you to find/make time to create? Did you have to give anything up? Do you have advice on what works for you?
I am very strict about my working hours. When kids at school I work. I seldom (read one day every 6 month or so) take a day off. I am a bit of a workaholic. It is my job though and it pays the rent, food and for necessities. I decided a few years ago now to take my drawing serious, to make it my job and made a plan. Every year since I've make a new plan of what I need to learn of what I wish to achieve, and by looking at what you WANT rather at what you missed, lost or failed at, you have a goal. Goals are good.
How does being an artist make you a better mother to your children? What do you hope they take away from seeing you as an artist doing something that fulfills you?
I think my children have made me a better person, a better artist. They have taught me so much and made me remember what it is like to be a child and how to drop things that aren't important. And to be and to see. And there is nothing like the love I feel for them. They hopefully look at us and go, "Oh my God what fools, I'm getting a PROPER job". Hahahhahahahahah. So, not sure if my art has made them better.
Where do you paint or create? What are your favorite things about your workspace and what would you improve? Do you ever create art with your kids?
I do all the computer work in our bedroom away from everyone. When the kids are at home I work amongst them in the kitchen and living room. But that is more like play. We do responsible things like cooking and homework too.
Do you have any tips to streamline / delegate / outsource household and childcare activities so that you can focus more time on your art? Has your lifestyle changed in any major ways?
To be honest we can't really afford child care. And I do like to spend time with my kids. This means there aren't much time for procrastination or lunch dates. When you have kids you yourself are second. The kids comes first and my boyfriend and I sometimes dream of five minutes of NOTHING. It is hard to explain to people whom haven't got kids how your life, every second of every minute of every hour of every day you are a parent. It is always and forever. I am lucky to have a great boyfriend whom shares the housework and the kids and we're both flexible so if I have a lot of work on he takes on more responsibility at home and vice versa.
Do you have any big goals or dreams for your art that you’d like to share? What would be your dream project?
I want to make a book. I started writing but got a bad case of the demons on my shoulders right now shouting, "YOU'RE RUBBISH and YOU CALL THAT WORDS ????" and a parrot laughing, "FAILURE FAILURE". So when I finished sword fighting these bad guys (in a pacifistic way) I'll get that done.
And I'd like to do so so so much more. There never is enough time.