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Working From Home – Bobbi Rae

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#workingfromhome is a way of helping out newcomers to the home studio life and hopefully reassuring people that it’s possible to be productive while everything around you is up in the air.


Number five in a new series of self isolation insights, we’ve been trying to sit down with Bobbi Rae for the best part of a year now. She’s on a real hot streak and this COVID-19 situation couldn’t have come at a worse time in a lot of ways. But it’s all about adapting and turning things into a positive. Bobbi also imparts her wisdom on late mornings and late nights and how it’s important to work when it’s best for you, rather than conforming to a structure just because it’s what everybody does.


Read the other #workingfromhome interviews with Sam DunnTom J Newell, Simon Beale & Drew Millward


We also have a post about how to set up your own home photography studio

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do…

Helloo, I’m Bobbi Rae. Off of bobbirae.co.uk or just ’Bobbi,’ if we’ve met in real life. I’m an illustrator and multidisciplinary artist – based in Leeds, only a stone’s throw away from Awesome Merch HQ. I make bold, cartoonish, often facetious work which generally leans on a feminist slant. I draw, paint murals and at the moment, I’m working on a mix of 2D and 3D stuff for my upcoming exhibition, TAKING UP SPACE. There’s been a few delays, of course, but i’m working with the Ellie at The Gallery at 164 to get it out there as soon as is safely possible.

How are you doing? It’s an odd time right now…

I’m okay, you know. Some days are better than others, as we all know. I had some struggles with a case of unrelenting panic at first, but thankfully I seem to be over the worst of that now and I’m just doing my best to stay safe, well and out of trouble. I’m lucky to have already worked from home for the most part, so have plenty to keep me entertained!

How are you adapting to this new normality?

It was a pretty anxious couple of weeks at the start, but  i’m slowly getting there; doing what I can from home, keeping things rolling and trying not to stress over things that are out of my control.

Things are hard for organising the exhibition; trying to bring its associated workshops online is a new challenge (one that I am not greatly equipped for, nor am I particularly comfortable with) – but hey, we’re all just doing what we can right now. Anyway, it’ll be a good opportunity for me to try something new and provide the people who might watch, a much needed ‘something to do’ during groundhog day.

What attracted you to our Mercht platform?

I think the first time I used Mercht was in 2015? I was totally skint and wanted to make tshirts for a project that I was running. It wasn’t at all about money at the time, at all. I just wanted people to be able to buy the tshirts but I had no facilities to make them myself, nor a place to store any stock. I managed to sell a few over the minimum amount that you needed to print and the profit that I received from those few sales was a real bonus. Since then, I’ve used Mercht to test the waters on a bunch of my designs and see which ones are the most popular.

There’s no risk involved, which is really great. I never have to buy a bunch of stock that I am not sure if I can sell. It also means there’s way less waste since you folks only print what’s needed. I’m always impressed with the profit that I can make from a Mercht campaign and I cannot belieeeeve how well my latest launch of the Don’t Let ‘Em Grind U Down design is going – that’s literally going to pay all of my bills for a whole month and it’s only been going 2 days! I know I’m starting to sound like a used car salesman but I honestly love Mercht. I’m always telling other creatives that they need to get on it.

Do you have any productivity or organisation tips for people who are new to working from home?

Working from home is something that I’ve become very used to and whilst I often get frustrated that i’m not very good at it – or ‘shit at adulting’, I think there’s probably a few things that I take for granted that give me the ability to crack on from home all day every day, and might help others who are new to this situation…

Firstly, I never do a 9-5. I’m awful at getting up early and often feel productive late at night. For years, I kicked myself about it; it really bugged me that I couldn’t get up in the morning but since I stopped putting so much pressure on myself to do so, and accepted that I just work on a slightly different schedule, it’s actually become a lot easier to wake up. You’ve gotta find the routine that works for you, and not be too harsh on yourself if what your body wants when it actually comes to it, differs from what you think it ‘should’.

I often give myself too many things in a day, not because i necessarily intend to complete everything on my list, but because I like the variety and I can move to a different task if something’s really not working. There’s a danger of jobs accumulating but that’s where we prioritize! You can’t sit around all day just doing the stuff from the ‘want to do’ side of the list, there’s always a couple of ‘got to do’s in every day that can’t be avoided and you’ve gotta trudge through whether it’s ‘working’ or not.

I recommend a LOT of breaks. Not long ones. Just a quick five minutes here and there to make a drink or just move around a little bit. It’s good to get the brain juices mixing up and remember that you have legs when you’ve been sat drawing for hours.

Lastly, don’t forget to brush your teeth. I know it’s difficult when you’re not going anywhere and whether you get dressed or not is up to you (i live in painty joggers and overalls most days) – but tooth decay is a thing. And it’s real. Take care of your pearlies!

Who is inspiring you right now?

That lot that keep working to provide health and childcare and food and empty our bins and deliver our post are all keeping me working right now. I see what they’re doing and I’m like damn, the least I could do is make some nice work from home to keep a few people entertained.

There’s loads of amazing stuff going on online now. I’ve seen loads of artists turn to video platforms to offer free workshops – which is something that i’m working on myself – but it absolutely terrifies me so I really admire those who’ve been able to adapt so quickly. Stephanie Unger did an exhibition inside the game Animal Crossing. I’ve never played so I couldn’t go – but thought it was a great idea and the screen shots looked amazing!

Where can people find you?

If people wanna hear more about my exhibition, or find out how they can get involved, I’ve got a crowdfunder on the go at the moment and there’s a bunch of information on there. You can find all the links in my instagram bio, or @bobbiraecouk if you prefer twitter. My shop is always open and of course I have my active Mercht campaign.

I’ll be back at art markets soon, out painting murals and preparing for the TAKING UP SPACE exhibition at The Gallery at 164. In the meantime, keep an eye out for the online workshops that i’m rustling up in collaboration with some real talented makers from all around Leeds!

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