• Lorna

Just ten more years...


At school, anything creative was my thing - art, music, graphic design. I was so keen to study these when I left school, but I was encouraged to get a degree in something academic, versatile and at a well-respected university. I was told that drawing should remain a hobby and wasn't a career. I followed this advice, but that meant 4 years at university feeling like a fish out of water. 

After graduating, unsure what to do with my degree, I applied to the government Fast Stream, I was ridiculously casual in the application process because I truly didn't care if I got it or not. This confidence may have helped me and I got a place. I worked at the Ministry of Defence for one year. I loved walking past Big Ben to work in Whitehall, but within 5 minutes of arriving at work, that novelty soon wore off. I had been hired to think outside the box, yet, everything required of me during the day needed me to be content staying firmly inside a box. 

My call to leave came when taking the lift with a colleague when he broke the silence by sighing and said... "Just ten more years"... until what?! I asked... "Till I can retire" he responded. I knew I couldn't stay there any longer and although the pension was fabulous - I needed my life before my pension to be great as well. 

My first season at Treble Cone, NZ with the Rookie Academy

I took some career advice and, to my delight, the results were literally pepper-sprayed with design-related suggestions. With one extra too - a ski instructor. 

If you've followed me on instagram you'll be aware of my love of snow. My heart leapt at the suggestion to do this, and within a day, I had booked onto instructor training with the Rookie Academy in New Zealand. It was the best decision I ever made and led me down a path of teaching skiing for two winters a year (NZ & America/Europe) for ten years, and I truly loved it. . 

Choosing that lifestyle definitely wasn't all glamour or plain sailing, and there were absolutely times where I wished I'd been able to stay settled in my 9-5 world, times I craved living in one place, more time with my family, when moving in with strangers got old, or being in out in the cold all day became physically punishing.  But I knew I had picked the right path, because nothing would stop me following it, not even breaking my leg. When you truly love something, you'll find a way to do it, and if not, you'll find a reason not too. 

Along the way I created my own beanie company - Toots McSkibum -which was an amazingly fun creative outlet for me, and a steep learning curve... But that's another story!

Throughout my time teaching skiing, I was still really driven by my love of drawing too. So I chose to spend many of my long winter evenings developing my design skills too, which has led me here, loving creating illustrations full of wintry magic. 

I recently met some other designers at an event and they had all received the same advice leaving school, that drawing is a hobby and not a career. We had all taken a long route round to come back to what we loved to do. I do believe that this advice had come from a place of good intention, but how wonderful it would have been to have been encouraged from an earlier age down a path that makes you shine. 

Two years ago, I chose to trade the NZ winter for more time in the UK so that I could spend more time with close family and friends. I have never lived anywhere so beautiful as Wanaka, but there is nothing so beautiful as family too. I am really enjoying illustrating full time now, and it's lovely to be home in the UK too. I'm still managing to wangle a few months a year in the Alps too, for which I feel incredibly lucky.

I'd love to hear from you in the comments below! Thanks for reading, Lorna x

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Copyright Lorna Gibson 2021

Member of the AOI

© 2019 by Lorna Gibson