Rebecca Cahill Roots talks to us about what creativity means to her as a mother | Tombow

10 March 2022

Rebecca Cahill Roots talks to us about what creativity means to her as a mother


With Mother’s Day just around the corner, we asked Illustrator and Lettering artist Rebecca Cahill Roots how she will be celebrating and what creativity means to her as a mother.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your work?

Hi, I’m Rebecca and you can mostly find me balancing my creative illustration work with the rollercoaster of a job that is being a parent. I have a six-year old daughter and one year old son and we live in South East London.  After studying at Goldsmith’s University I worked behind the scenes in theatre for 8 years until finally taking the leap and setting up as a freelance illustrator and lettering artist. I have written two books on lettering and teach workshops around the UK alongside creating my own product range for my brand, Betty Etiquette.

How will you be celebrating Mother’s Day this year?

It’s usually me that organises the birthday and celebration card making and baking in our house so Mother’s day is a real surprise to see what my husband and daughter come up with each year. I absolutely love a glue covered scribbly tissue paper slightly wonky hand made card and as my daughter gets older it’s amazing to see her little imagination coming up with the ideas not being led by us anymore. I think this year will be a slightly random breakfast in bed made by my daughter before we head off to visit our Mum’s to share some more homemade cake and card action.

What did you used to do for your mum when you were a child on this special day?

I am one of four children so Mother’s Days involved my poor mum being subjected to another round of our makes and drawings and trying to find a space for them all that kept everyone happy.  Our house was full of creativity so something like making cards on Mother’s Day would have kept us all distracted around the kitchen table or at the sewing machine. Now I’m a Mum I’m sure that what my Mother would really have wanted was five minutes peace on her own!

What has been the biggest learning curve when sharing your creative passion with your children?

I have learnt lots about my own process of work through drawing, painting, sewing and baking with my children so far. I often give up on ideas or get too bogged down in the outcome and not the joy of the process so I have had to change how I work and talk about my work when with them. I want them to keep the freedom of experimentation and joy in the process for as long as possible without fear of other people’s judgment of their creations. So I praise the ideas not the final picture, especially the ones that don’t quite work out how they had expected.

And never leave your two year old near your Tombow ABT pens. I learnt this the hard way as my daughter tested several out on her drawings one day in a kind of stabby angry motion until the tips were all squished and bent!

What creative skills did you learn from your Mother and Grandmother?

I am really lucky that there are lots of skills my Mum and Grandma passed down to me and that I use everyday. My parents support all our craziest drawing, making, weaving, clay experiments and ensured we had good quality art materials around in the house to work with.  I have really fond memories of making and painting salt dough with my Mum, learning how to thread a sewing machine on her lap and squidging paint on to folded paper to press down and see butterflies emerge.

When we went to stay with my Grandparents my Grandma would get us to help bake with her and set out craft activities like blowing and decorating eggs at Easter.  These precious moments felt like just fun things to try at the time but I see now that I was learning skills I still use today and being filled up with creative curiosity.

Do you have any top tips for helping parents get started with creative activities with their children?

The biggest thing is, try not to make things too complicated when you are starting out. If it takes you 25 minutes to set up something for them to do like whittling some potatoes to print with or the like, they will invariably do it for approximately 4 mins before they are done. Pick simple things that they can start and come back to. A mix of activity that has clear instructions, like colouring in sheets and open free choice ones like simply leaving out a big pile of pipe cleaners and some masking tape. Let them lead you and learn to see what makes them excited, as it’s probably not what you first thought.

Try to let go of the fear of colouring outside the lines, mixing the paint colours up or drawing on an odd bit of the paper. All that stuff will be drilled into them eventually at school or by peers.  Just let them play and experiment and try to have a go too. You might find it’s actually good for your mental health too!

What Tombow products would you like to receive for a Mother’s Day treat?

I use my Tombow ABT pens almost everyday in the studio and even though I have used them for years I still get really excited when I open a new pack. My favourite colour packs are the Candy and Vintage sets as those colour combinations are lovely to work with.

I’m doing lots of planning at the moment so one of the creative journaling kits would be a real treat. Or perhaps some more colours of the Irojiten pencils that come in such a vast range and eventually I’d love to have more natural tones to add to my collection.


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