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Working From Home – Drew Millward

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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.


The third in an ongoing series (as long as this lockdown lasts) of self isolation insights, we speak to the man behind all your favourite Leeds based illustration work, Drew Millward. There was an ultimately unsuccessful coup a few years to install Drew as the King of Leeds, but his legend grows stronger every day, as does his work. Even fatherhood can’t keep him down, but will this virus? Read below to find out and check out his tee up on Mercht right now.


Read the other #workingfromhome interviews with Sam Dunn & Tom J Newell

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do…
My name is Drew Millward. I live in a small village, approximately 17 miles North West of Leeds, with my wife, Laura (38yo) and my son, Amos (2.75yo). It’s nice. It’s quiet. It’s even quieter than usual at the moment. I draw pictures for a living, for anyone who needs pictures drawing and occasionally for the sheer fun of it.
I like to make work that has a final use, be that a poster, a can design, a shirt, a print… anything really, but I like to find a use for the final outcome, otherwise it feels like a frivolous waste of time.

2. How are you doing? It’s an odd time right now…
Good. I feel like maternity/paternity leave is fresh enough in my mind that it feels a little like that, crossed with that weird period between Christmas and New Year. In reality, it’s not had a massive impact on my day to day existence. I work from home, I work alone and when I’m not doing that I’m hanging out with my son, all of which I can continue to do.
The gravity of the situation sometime rears its ugly head and I turn into a neurotic mess, but there’s nothing new about that. As someone who suffers with anxiety, amongst other things, I’ve been running these sorts of situations in my mind for years. Kind of like a pessimist never being disappointed.
It’s harder going to stay focused some days, but to a greater or lesser extent I’ve always used the act of drawing and making work as an escape, so it’s nice to come to the studio and focus on that.

3. How are you adapting to this new normality?
I’m incredibly lucky to be in a position where I have never been reliant on a single source of income. I don’t do craft/poster/art shows, really, so that’s not something that has hit. I don’t do a great deal of editorial stuff that has dwindled for a lot of people (although the death of printed matter can’t be pinned on Cvid-19, that’s been going for a long time). I’ve had a couple of posters either delayed or cancelled, but i was lucky that I had a few busy weeks/months prior to this, so in some cases it’s a matter of changing dates, or it just being put on ice for a while.
Financially, it’s not the easiest of times (although I’d argue that the last ten years or so have not exactly been the sun drenched uplands for anyone, barring the 1%), but it just makes you have to take stock and work out where your efforts are best spent. it’s a great time to make work for fun and try to work out a way of making that pay a few bills.
I’m sure like a lot or artists, am not really driven by money, so when it’s there, it’s great, but working for it and trying to find an audience is all I’ve ever known, really, so even though things change, I feel like a lot of creative freelance folk are built to weather these sorts of storms… even these big ones that threaten to cause the downfall of society as we know it. Fuck it, if that happens, at least we can make stuff look nice.

4. What attracted you to our Mercht platform?
It’s something I’ve used a bunch in the past. It works. Whenever I’ve printed shirts in the past, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this, but you sell a bunch, but then it’s simply a job in itself, answering emails asking for specific sizes… Now, if my job were to run a clothing company, dealing with stock levels and catering to customers is a big part of that. But I’m not a clothing company, I draw pictures and anything other than doing that feels like it’s a pain in the arse (without meaning to sound ungrateful).
So being able to run a pre order for a set amount of time means that everyone gets what they want, I don’t have to work out stock/size breakdowns which inevitably leaves me with a bunch of shirts I end up using as rags or giving away, and I know that things will be handled well and I can rest easy and continue to draw. The fact that there’s no up front costs is great, as you are not then tying up a bunch of funds in stock which may or may not sell.

5. Do you have any productivity or organisation tips for people who are new to working from home?
I’ve been doing this for about 16 years now and I’ve still not found any secret formula to it and anyone who tells you otherwise is a liar. They can tell you what works for them, but it may well not work for you.
On a personal level, having a separate work/living space is great, but not everyone has that luxury. I spent a good ten years working in spare bedrooms, some small some big, but they all worked because they had to.

I like working alone and I’ve never had the desire to share a studio or use a co-working space, initially because the idea of doubling my rent and outgoings each month was impossible and later it was simply unappealing, so i spent a long time saving up to build a studio behind our house, which meant I can keep work and home separate, but still have a dedicated space that I can lock the door of and forget about.

Work in jogging bottoms, work in pyjamas, work in a suit, start at 9am, start at lunch time, work in bed, buy a desk, get one of those wanky head set mics…. just find what works for you.

6. Who is inspiring you right now?
Honestly, I’m absolutely floored by the outpouring of positivity and help that is coming from the creative community. Gigs online, collaborations, fund raising, people helping people. It’s like we’ve all suddenly realised how the internet should be used. It’s fucking awesome.

7. Where can people find you?

drewmillward.com or @drewmillward on most platforms, otherwise I’ll be hiking in the dales with a child on my back, although that’s taken on a real ‘The Road’ vibe recently.

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