If you have a child and a job, you know how hard it can be to find time for anything else—let alone making art. But for working moms Marissa Huber and Heather Kirtland, giving up on their dreams wasn’t an option. In fact, their shared commitment to creating amidst the madness of everyday life inadvertently led them to make a masterpiece: Carve Out Time For Art, a community that connects busy artists and empowers them to nurture their creativity by fostering conversations, providing resources, and showing them that they are not alone.
Heather and Marissa with their newly published book, The Motherhood of Art.
As a company also built to support and celebrate artists, we were thrilled to learn of the mission behind Carve Out Time for Art—and to chat with Marissa and Heather about how they got their start and continue to walk the talk, even in 2020.
Simply Framed: How did you two come up with the idea for this incredible community?
Marissa Huber: We joke that it was by accident. But really, when I became a mother in 2013 while working a full-time job, a lot of people told me that I wouldn’t have time for my art. Surprisingly, I found that creating art was what I most needed in my limited free time—and that realization made me more confident, focused, and efficient as an artist.
I set out to interview 10 other artist mothers on my blog. I shared the content on Instagram, and encouraged everyone to use #carveouttimeforart to document whenever they were able to do just that. I received such wonderful feedback, and the project lit me up.
Early on, I interviewed Heather and we bonded over our passion for encouraging others, showing up even when the circumstances were less than ideal, and being kind to yourself. We started to rally friends—around a 5-day hashtag challenge, or phone dates, or sharing “a day in the life” on our Instagram feed. And it grew from there.
Heather Kirtland: I’d struggled with my identity as a new mom and had been searching for this type of connection for years, so I was instantly drawn to Marissa’s project. I initially approached her about creating a book on the topic (which has since been published and is available here!) and from there, we started our Instagram account and were delighted by how quickly it grew from a place of support for mother artists into a diverse creative community.
Art by Heather Kirtland floated in our Natural Gallery frame.
SF: How have your personal processes for carving out time for art changed since launching this community? What tips or resources have you implemented in your own lives?
HK: I’m so inspired by the work and ideas that people share, and I’m always learning from our interviews. I’ve since created a kit to help me start and stop creating more easily.
MH: Interviewing 80+ artists, hosting 200+ takeovers and having countless other meetings and conversations within our community has stretched my mind to what’s possible. I’ve found that nobody has everything figured out, which is both humbling and freeing! I’m inspired to continue on my path, surrounded by people who support my need to create no matter what.
Among the best pieces of advice I’ve heard repeated over the years, the biggest is to just put in the work. Don’t give up. Keep moving forward. The creative process has highs and lows, but the work is created by showing up. Inspired by my late father’s career as a financial advisor, I see it as creative compound interest: Those 5-15 minute increments of work don’t feel like much in the moment, but when you look back over time, you see those baby steps add up to huge results.
SF: Such great advice, especially during this crazy year. How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your process for creating art? What new challenges (or surprise benefits!) has this year brought?
HK: I’m a hairstylist, so work shut down for 3 months at the same time the schools closed—and I found myself thrown back into those early days of motherhood, when the stress and demand on my time were super high. I felt the mom guilt, and was worried about my family’s safety, and was grieving for those suffering. There was no alone time, and it was hard to find any normalcy. And yet, I was surprised by my ability to create through the chaos by simply allowing myself to slow down. I learned that the need to rush is entirely self-induced, and that it’s okay for things to take more time. I’m also so grateful to have clients who continued to purchase work throughout the lockdown.
MH: It’s been such a strange, emotional time. I’ve felt everything from guilt to anxiety and exhaustion to gratitude for my family’s health and my ability to work remotely in my corporate career. Many of us are isolated, but there’s a camaraderie in the shared experience that makes us feel connected.
In March and April, I paused my creative work to help my kids and pivot in my professional career. Since we’ve adjusted, there’s been more time for art. I no longer commute 10 hours a week, so I can shift that time toward making art. Instead of sitting in traffic, I can wake up early or stay up late and get some time in the studio, create digital artwork, or journal thoughts for a new project. I’ve also found new sources of inspiration while taking walks with my family, and cooking more.
Original art by Marissa Huber custom framed in a Natural Gallery frame.
SF: Lastly, let’s talk about your partnership with Simply Framed! What led you to seek custom framing for your original art? Which products or services have you found to be most beneficial? Any favorite frame styles?
HK: Framing is the last step to completing art. It makes such a difference and gives the piece a presence. Many clients find it difficult and complicated, but Simply Framed makes it a piece of cake! I especially love the neon Max Plexibox frames and can’t wait to complement some new paintings with them.
MH: I also love the Max Plexibox frames. I grew up in the 80s, so the neon colors thrill me to my core! I also really like the Gallery Deep in Walnut with a wide mat; it’s a sophisticated way to elevate any piece. You make it easy for us to provide a beautiful finished product that a client can tweak to fit their aesthetic, receive in the mail, and hang in their home. I have artwork I’ve purchased from friends that I haven’t gotten around to framing yet, because it’s just one more thing on my to-do list. I appreciate that Simply Framed has beautiful, affordable frames and that if something is not a standardized size, it’s not an issue.