Behind the Scenes with Helen from Poss & Wom

Hello my fellow Australians and worldwide handmade lovers! I’m so delighted today to present my interview with Helen from Poss & Wom. Since launching her business in 2010, Helen has been celebrating and revitalising classic Australiana with her representations of much loved Aussie icons such as possums, koalas and wombats!

Australian Children's Art by Poss & Wom

Poss & Wom is…

A unique and quirky Australian children’s brand created by myself, Helen Shadforth, a Sunshine Coast designer and mother of two. When I was pregnant with my first daughter I became very uninspired with nursery décor that was available to me, I couldn’t find the right colours and everything was either too girly, too boyish, too bright, too gaudy or too commercial. I also wanted something Australian but most of the items (when I managed to find them) were just not the look I was after! This is when I decided I would take it on board to just do something myself.

Poss the possum and Wom the wombat are two characters that were inspired by motherhood and my pug, Daisy. When my first daughter was born I nick named her ‘Possum’ which was shortened to ‘Poss’. One day I was thinking if she was a boy I probably would have nick named her ‘Wombat’ which would shorten to ‘Wom’ and voila! The concept of ‘Poss & Wom’ was born!

Each design is created with love and consists of soft, soothing colour tones that are beautiful and understated and most of the designs are gender-neutral. Poss & Wom fine art prints are created using the gicleé process – vibrant pigment ink onto museum quality archival rag paper with a 90 year expected lifetime. I print all of them myself and they are far from commercial or ‘run-of-the-mill’. They come ready to mount and frame. I also offer the option to have them mounted behind a mat board for that extra finishing touch. I have designed them to fit into store bought ready-made frames. I also make all of my cards and stationery and take a lot of pride in the packaging and presentation too.

I have recently added to my range with a selection of beautiful fabric wall decals, organic cotton tote bags and handmade Wom softies that my mum helps me make. I am also excited to say that a children’s story book is in the making!!!

Australian Children's Art by Poss & Wom

My artistic / educational background is…

I am an accomplished graphic designer by trade, with over 12 years experience in Australia as well as internationally. I ran my own graphic design business for 3 years before I put it all on hold to have my first daughter and this is when I had the epiphany that is Poss & Wom. My graphic design business is now sitting in the shadows while I stay at home with my two girls and create Poss & Wom (my third baby).

My design style is influenced by…

Unique beauty – The Australian flora and fauna are so unique and so beautiful it needs to be honoured and celebrated more.

Icons – in the footprints of Beatrix Potter, I am trying to create a new, modern day icon. Something that is uniquely Australian but Modern, fresh and beautiful at the same time.

Quirk, humour and not taking life seriously – Why can’t a wombat sleep in a deck chair? The beauty of being an artist is that you make anything be whatever you want it to be! I love making people smile and I don’t mind if sometimes people think I’m a little wacky in the process.

Subtlety – Simple design with strong character and a subtle nature. I love soothing colours that reflect nature.

Australian Children's Art by Poss & Wom

The first handmade product that I made for my store was…

My art prints. I bought a shiny new giclee printer which I just love. I am so proud of my work and print and package them all myself. The cards and invitations are all done this way too.

The next handmade item I plan to make is…

I am currently collaborating with an extremely talented, local singer/songwriter who has come to know my characters so well and we are putting together a book that we plan to create and launch by ourselves. Yes, Poss & Wom is going paperback! Oh I am so excited!

Australian Children's Art by Poss & Wom

When I grew up I wanted to be a…

I have always loved animals and I remember at a very young age I wanted to be a marine biologist. I used to walk down to the rockpools near my house and study shells,  sea slugs and all kinds of weird and wonderful things. But as I became older I realized my flair for art and I used to doodle constantly, just ask my family. No piece of paper laying around was left untouched from having some sort of silly looking character drawn on it!

So I guess there always was part of me that knew I was meant to illustrate, particularly for children. I ended up deciding to become a graphic designer because I thought taking a more commercial career would be more successful in earning a living.

I am happy with my decisions and I believe all my years as a designer has refined my skills and has also taught me a better business sense too.

Australian Children's Art by Poss & Wom

The motto I live by is…

Don’t take things so seriously! There’s just no point sweating the small stuff and at the end of the day, things always work themselves out. I like to just ride the wave.

Three things that make me smile each day are…

My children laughing, my husband when his hair is sticking up in the air (yes, it happens everyday!), my pug trying to wag her tail but it’s actually her whole backside that wags

Australian Children's Art by Poss & Wom - Helen Shadforth

Australian Children's Art by Poss & Wom

If I were a superhero, my superpower would be…

To fly. If I could fly, I would just do it all day long. I would love to fly around and do loops and twists without any worry that I will land on my scone. Oh and of course I would wear a flappy cape and shiny eye mask too!

Three things most people don’t know about me are…

Most of the time I actually have no idea what I am doing, I am the queen of ‘winging’ it! I saw my first real wombat only 6 weeks ago! I am a mean player on the spoons!

Thank you Helen, we truly enjoyed getting to know you a bit better.

If you would like to view more of Helen’s work, you can visit her website, Etsy store, or Facebook page.

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