I've renamed Beci Orpin - Beci Awesome.
Matt and I spent a joyful afternoon together, lying on the bed (don't get any ideas), reading her new book 'Find and Keep'. It's full to overflowing with colour, inspiration, and pure joy. I keep it by my bedside because as soon as I look at it, it buoys me. It's like happiness in print.
I've long been an avid fan of Beci Awesome. Since her Princess Tina days, when I'd avidly await her new releases, to recently when I met her at a flower bombing class at The School and rushed over to her and introduced myself (I am SUCH a nerd burger). I was so thrilled to be breathing in the same air as her. In a non-creepy way.
Beci is one of those rare creatures that constantly creates - and wins with her colourful and enchanting ways - plus she's super humble. And to add to that she has an equally awesome sister, Emily.
So without further ado, let's get down to why we're here - let's talk hear from the woman herself.
PMM: Beci Orpin.
Beci Orpin: YES hello!
In your book 'Find and Keep' you thank your parents for encouraging a creative childhood. Tell us about what growing up in the Orpin household was like.
Well actually I grew up across two different households for most of the time, as my parents got divorced when I was three and my sister (this is her) was one. We used to live with my mum during the week and spend weekends at dad's house. We lived in a commune with my mum for a while and that was super fun. She was all feminist theory and no TV and whole foods, but my dad let us occasionally eat junk food and Hubba Bubba and hire as many beta videos as we wanted. I think it was a good balance. In between both of them they read us lots of books, took us to lots of different classes (classical ballet, jazz ballet, flute, improv theatre, basket weaving, judo) and took us on fun holidays and outings. And of course they always encouraged us to do stuff, rather than sit on the couch.I think that was a biggie in how we both turned out.
You have two sons - how do you manage to keep active boys active, and your professional life thriving?
Honestly it's a constant struggle, but i have i've learnt a few tricks with boys (might apply to all kids but I have only had boys so I'm not sure) - keep them fed and take them out for a run - just like a puppy. My boys also thrive if you are able to give them one on one attention - which can be hard when you work from home and are an obsessive compulsive email-checker. But I find if I do the one-on-one thing, whether it be a bit of Lego building or reading books or drawing or talking about their day then that keeps them happy. I have also learnt that it's unfair to expect them to amuse themselves while I work. Neither of us ends up happy doing that. So I hang out with them when they get home from school and until after dinner and bed is done, and then go back to work when they sleep.
It was hard going to develop this kind of working routine for a while but now I am quite used to it, and even look forward to my night time sessions - it's really quiet and free from distractions. It almost disguises itself as "me time"! And it won't be like that forever. In the not-too-distant future they will be thinking I am completely uncool, so I'm going to lap up their demanding-ness while it's still happening.
Colour is so much a part of the Beci Orpin we know and love. Does it apply to all facets of your life?
YES for sure. Even without me noticing I find myself obsessing over what colour plates should go on that green table cloth, or an arrangement of scraps of colour paper on my desk. It can be quiet distracting really.
What's your favourite part of your job?
Without wanting to sound too sucky - almost every part. I do really like the beginnings of projects, getting all the bits together and experimenting. Subsequently I can suck at finishing things. I get it done eventually though. And variety. I like that I get to work on lots of different things.
And the best part of your day?
After we drop the kids off, Raph and I usually get coffee together. Even if it's just take-away we can talk in the car (his work is just around the corner). We are so busy independently, and Raph often works nights and weekends, and goes to bed early, so it can be hard to see each other aside from the daily routine. So coffee feels like a nice treat. I feel lucky we get to do things like that.
Do your children love creating too?
Ari definitely has the drawing gene - he creates literally hundreds of drawings without any prompting from me, or he is always asking to do painting or make something. Tyke is a bit older now (almost 10) and interested in different things - but he is creative in other ways - like writing stories, and of course Lego/minecraft creations. His mind is far more technical than mine will ever be.
How do you re-charge your batteries? What's time out look like for you?
I do have to work a lot so my "me" time has to be pretty well planned. I see a personal trainer once a week and have been doing that for almost three years - I never thought I would love exercise as much as I do! So much that this year i'm also doing bootcamp with some school mums! But the ultimate me time is riding my bike - I love it because it can fit into my day - I can ride to meetings and it feels like a bit of meditation on the way. We also go on a family holiday every year. That has become a pretty important ritual to us all now.
Juggling work and parenting is a crazy, crazy thing. What's your best tip to share?
YES IT IS. There are no tricks - it's hard work that's for sure. My tip is allocate kid time and working time and try not to overlap the both. As I said I try and hang out with my kids when they get home, and if I can't or need to go somewhere at night I tell them in advance so they don't get bummed out too much when I can't be there. Routine is kind of important to us - especially Monday to Friday - knowing what is going on in advance makes everything easier for everyone. Being organised is good too - but actually we are pretty crap at that. I can see how it would make our working/kid life much easier though. Getting organised is deinftely on my "to do" list.
What's coming up next for Beci Orpin?
Another crazy year - just how I like it. I'm working on one or two new books (can't say what or with whom just yet), and I have an exhibition planned for April with the amazing Kat Macleod, and a few other exhibitions later in the year too. Raph and I are also working on a new project for him - an exciting one which should launch in June. I'm trying to squeeze in bit more blogging, but most likely I will be wasting time on Instagram, Pinterest and Etsy instead. And then of course freelance work and my other usual follies.
In my dreams we will renovate our house this year - we even have the plans drawn up - but I think we will be too busy with everything else. So I might have to blow all our budget on a HUGE 40th birthday party (or series of parties). Yes that birthday is happening for me this year too! At first I was scared of it, but now I'm all BRING ON THE 40! Can't wait!
- Beci's book 'Find and Keep' is published by Hardie Grant and available in good bookstores or here.
- Check out Beci's website here and her blog here
- Raph runs Melbourne-based Taco Truck. Follow on Facebook (I do, and I don't even live there, I'm just living vicariously).
To enter, all you have to do is comment on this post, and tell me why you need 'Find and Keep' in your life.
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This is the sixth interview in my Yo Mama! series. Interviews with creative working mamas. Look out for them weekly.
images courtesy of Beci's website and via Save the Children website.