Meet The Maker: Arrietty Wachsmann

Meet The Maker: Arrietty Wachsmann

Jill of all trades

One of the busiest young people we know: Arrietty is a commercial screen printer by day, juggling a full time Masters degree, a garden of chooks (and other animals), an online ceramic hustle, a drawing practice and a rich personal life, all at once. We talked about being young, finding balance and carving out the life you dream for yourself.

All photos are taken by her partner in love and life, Dan - a truly magical power couple.

Tell us a little about where you live and what you do?

Well, my name is Arrietty Wachsmann and I am currently studying to be a quirky high school art teacher whilst working in commercial screenprinting. I live in Sydney on the Eora Nation of the Gadigal and Wangal people. I have been working in the print industry for about 2 years and I absolutely love it! I also have 9 animals at home, 5 chickens, 3 rabbits and a cat. So, a lot of my time is spent sitting in the sun in the backyard with all the babies. 


What drew you to commercial screen printing? How did you learn this trade?  

I majored in Printmedia in my bachelor’s degree and fell in love. I loved everything I learnt there and all the amazing techniques that could be used to create such unique pieces of work. I started off working in commercial letterpress, which is a VERY niche market. That quickly went into commercial screen printing, and I’ve now been plodding along, printing for work and myself for about 2 years now.

Tell us about your workplace. 

My current workplace is probably the best place I will ever work. It is a small business where we have lots of commercial jobs, like uniforms for dancing schools, construction companies, and sports leagues. We mainly spend our days with music on, exposing screens, unpacking stock, printing and talking smack. On Fridays we start early and leave early, sometimes ending with a beer.  

What are the challenges about this work? Mentally, physically or socially? How do you balance them?

Within this work it is pretty easy breezy. I don’t take work home with me and my colleagues are great. The biggest challenge would be the physical toll commercial screenprinting takes on the body.  
There is a lot of leaning over, uneven distribution of weight, heavy lifting to get a nice print. I see a chiropractor and remedial masseuse semi regularly and try my best to keep up my exercises. I really notice a difference if I skip too many days. This is a contributing factor to becoming a teacher as it will be more sustainable on my body. Which is a bit sad as I wish I could print forever.

How do you manage your time between work, uni, personal projects, love and animals? 

Managing my time is a full-time job within itself. I am currently doing a Master's degree full time, working in commercial screen-printing part time, maintaining the house chores, looking after animals, social life and sleep.  
Whilst I’m doing my degree, I am knuckling down and powering through, to be honest. I don’t yet have the best work-life balance. Generally, art and creative things get done on days off. During the week is just survival.  
After work I tend to the animals, and I try to sneak some creativity or personal projects in, but mostly, I’m too exhausted.



Where do you see yourself going, ideally with work/life/personal practice? And how are your trying to get there? 

I am very excited to have a family one day. Currently I am working on getting a stable grounding and foundation to start my family.  
My partner Dan and I want to buy a house in Launceston (Sydney is completely unattainable), grow our careers to support our family as best we can. Being down in Tassie, we would be able to buy more land, because getting a goat is a must for both of us.

What’s the most exciting part about your work? 

The most exciting part about my work would be seeing the in-house pooch Indi every day and being able to screen-print my own work.  
Indi is my bosses 13-year-old Jack Russell (pictured) that always finds anything soft-ish to lay on, including rubbish, like plastic and cardboard. Oh, and of course the sunny spots.  

My bosses are also super lovely and approachable when it comes to doing my own prints. I just draw up my designs, scan them and play with them over on Photoshop. There are a few steps to get it ready to expose onto a screen, but my boss does that for me. Then once the screen is exposed, I can print that design pretty much whenever.



What’s most important to you in life? And how do you honour that? 

As I have grown older and moved out, as have my siblings, family has become so important. I try my best to see my family as much as possible, reach out, and be there for support. I recently became a first-time aunty, and I will be flying 5 hours over to Perth and then driving for 3 hours just to meet him (he will be around 3 months by then!). I’m so excited!!

What does an average day being you look like? 

It’s pretty busy. I wake up around 6.30am and depending on the day, I might have work, uni or work AND uni. Those days are very hard.  

When I’m at work, it starts with seeing where I can slot myself in with the work available. We generally ease into the day. I’ll start with folding stock and packing it away to be picked up, or clean some squeegees, or coat screens with emulsion. Throughout the day, we will print jobs on the big machine carousel, the hand printing jacks (my boss made a space saving set-up that beats a hand printing round carousel any day!) We also do a lot of reclaiming screens, which means they can have a different design. And then just general cleaning and maintenance.  
We finish around 4.30pm so I make my way home to have a little bit of a rest, have dinner and then do some uni work. Most nights I do sneak a little bath in to help my muscles.



What’s one of your favourite projects? 

I have worked on a few projects that have been so exciting and wonderful. My absolute favourite one must be my artwork for the Grad show for my Honours year in my Bachelor degree. It was a year of work where I was able to delve deep into ideas of femininity, textiles and comfort through a major artwork and thesis paper. It was such a special time where I had the undivided attention of my supervisor and unlimited studio access.

What would your DJ name be? 

My partner Dan came up with this one: DJ Bunny Mummy. Captures me to a tee!! 



You can follow Arrietty’s art here. You can check our Dan’s photography here.  
Arrietty and Dan live and work on the lands of the Gadigal and Wangal people of Eora Nation. Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.


Leave a comment