I find new hobbies that I want to try out about as frequently as I go to the kettle to make cups of tea (and tea making is literally on my CV, so you can take a safe guess that that's a lot). It's one of the curses of enthusiasm, I guess. But one hobby that's stayed at the forefront of my desires is signwriting and painting, and that's all because of this lady, Esther of Sylvie Signs. Her incredible craftsmanship and gorgeous work can be seen in her etsy shop, and her general loveliness can be seen below:
What are you enthusiastic about?
My children, Eric and Max. They are really good eggs, and they’re the only people who think I’m funny, which is weird because I’m hilarious. The good thing about kids is that they LOVE enthusiasm. “Wow, kids, look at that tree!” “Oh wow, Mummy, what a great tree!” The other day I was wearing tights and my son said “oh Mummy, I LOVE your trousers! They’re so cool!” (What a little ledge.)
Painting letters. I love it so much that I go into a trance like state when I’m in the flow.
Running - I am a total beginner and only started running a couple of months ago after a bereavement. Having staunchly avoided almost all exercise my whole life, I’m honestly amazed by the impact it has on my mood.
Why do you keep doing what you’re doing?
Because I have to! It sounds cheesy but I feel so antsy and stodgy if I’m not drawing and painting. I read once that creativity is a muscle that you have to exercise, if you don’t use it you lose it. This was definitely the case for me. I did very little for years and felt really flat, like I had nothing in me. When my children were born I started sketching again, making myself draw something each day, just doodle. It was a slow start but eventually the floodgates opened and now I determined to keep going. I have found it important to do something for myself alongside raising my children, for my own sanity but also to give them a different perspective on life.
What’s the impact you want to make?
I want to continue the craft of sign writing. It’s long been described as a dying art, but I don’t think that’s the case anymore. There’s been a renaissance of traditional crafts in recent years, and signwriting is at the forefront. I’ve always loved the character of hand painted letters. There’s such warmth in the imperfections. I’m so glad to be preserving these ancients skills for another generation.
On a personal level, I want to be a good role model for my sons, and raise two strong, feminist men who will recognise their privilege and use it to raise others up with them.
Best advice you've ever been given?
Two contradictory pieces of advice:
1: Everything is relative
2: Keep perspective
I have a tendency to be a bit of a stress head so I need to remind myself to not beat myself up for caring, but also to remember the big picture.
Who's your Enthusiastic hero?
I was a cynical indie kid in the 90s. I thought it was cool not to care. When I met my husband he taught me how much more fun it is to be enthusiastic, to seek out stuff you love and celebrate it. He’s a man of many interest and hobbies: a super geek, a sports fanatic, a petrol head. He’s my best mate and we have loads of fun - what more could you want from your Enthusiastic hero?
If money were no object, what would you be doing?
I’m sure everyone says it, but travelling. It can be hard work travelling with small children, but I’m sure if we went first class it would be much easier! And painting, lots more painting! No laundry, no cleaning, just painting!