| Interview by Ronnie |
'Storytellers' is our special interview series, in which we talk to creatives whom we admire and find out how they are each preserving their personal stories. Today's interview is with Oana Befort, a talented graphic designer and illustrator currently living in Bucharest, Romania. Oana's illustrations are beautiful works of art, and I have to admit that I have admired her from afar for a while now. Needless to say, we are very honoured to have her here on our blog, giving us a glimpse into her life and her journey with memory keeping.
Can you tell us a bit about you and your family?
My name is Oana (pronounced “Wanna”), and I am a freelance graphic designer and illustrator currently living in Bucharest, Romania. I am Romanian, and my husband, Jeremy, is American. We have two beautiful kids, Samuel and Emma, whom we like to call “Romericans”.
What is a typical day like for you?
Between my husband’s work schedule, travels, and the kids growing and changing so quickly, I feel like I am always adapting to a new stage, and our days are not always the same. Nonetheless, I will try to describe a typical day from these past few weeks. Our mornings start around 6am–7am when we get Sammy ready for preschool, which he attends three times a week. If Jeremy is home, he takes Sammy to school, and that makes things easier for me since I don’t have to wake up Emma. Jeremy then works in town until he brings Sammy back home around 1.30pm. By the time they get back, I am spending my time with Emma, working on projects and emails (if I can), doing house chores, and getting lunch ready. After we all have lunch, it’s usually nap time for Emma and play time or homeschooling for Sammy while my husband works from home. Sometimes I get some more work done too or we might take a family stroll in the park together before getting dinner ready. Around 7pm, we get the kids ready for a warm bath, we read books, and then we get them ready for bed. Once the kids are asleep, and if a certain little baby doesn’t wake up every 15 minutes, Jeremy and I spend some time together talking, watching a movie, or working side by side until we remember that we should get some rest too.
How has becoming a mother changed you as an artist?
In an unexpected way, becoming a mother has made me more creative and willing to create something that my kids would enjoy later as well. Sure, I have less time to actually do creative work, but this has helped me to focus better, prioritise, and schedule. I am constantly adapting and scheduling my work whilst taking into account our family priorities and activities.
How do you feel when you see how much Samuel and Emma grow & change each day?
Oh my...I think I have so many mixed emotions at once. I feel so blessed that they were gifted to us; proud of every single thing that they accomplish; happy that they are happy, healthy, and growing, sad that it’s happening so fast; and all the while, I'm trying to grasp and savour every single moment.
Is there an aspect of their childhood that you wish you could freeze in time?
The times when we are all together – playing, chatting, and laughing together. Seeing the love in their eyes is something that I always want to keep in my heart, and it is my prayer that they will always feel loved and important, no matter what.
You have a beautiful eye when it comes to taking photos. Apart from your children, what do you like to photograph the most?
I love to notice and capture details and snippets of nature – there is so much beauty out there. I love chasing the warm sunlight and shadows, and I also like to photograph daily life as well as my work-in-progress illustrations.
Can you tell us when you use your Nikon D7000 or your iPhone for photos?
I use our Nikon for our family outings, blog posts, or work presentations, but my iPhone always comes in handy and ends up being used the most. Almost all the pictures that I share on my social media are taken with my iPhone.
I really like the Documenting Today series that you share on your blog. How do you feel when you look back over the photos and read the words that you've written?
I think this is my favorite personal series that I've share on the blog. I always feel nostalgic looking back at them and remembering other things related to the day as well. I love it.
The monthly portraits that you capture of Samuel and Emma are also very beautiful. How long have you been taking intentional portraits of your children, and what prompted you to start doing so?
When Sammy was born, we started taking pictures like crazy as we were so excited and we wanted to capture those fast-changing moments. Even now, we are always taking pictures of the kids – it’s just that I am more selective of what I share online. A few years agom I started following along with the 52 weekly portraits started by Jodi from Practicing Simplicity, and it has been a lot of fun. This year I felt like taking monthly portraits, and I like it more this way, since the kids are already present in my personal life posts.
Do you have any plans to combine your words and photos from your Documenting Today series as well as your portrait series into something physical and tangible, like an album or a book? What about your everyday Instagram photos and words?
I've always wanted to create some kind of yearly books with pictures of the kids and special events, but I've never gotten around to it, and I should. At the moment, I print photos out for us and the family, but I love the idea of a book a lot more.
Is there any other memory keeping that you do?
Besides printed pictures, I keep a journal of the things that Sammy says and the ones that Emma is slowly starting to say. I also love keeping drawings and paintings (they are just amazing), the kids' hands/feet prints, pressed flowers, and clothes that each one of them used to wear.
What sort of keepsakes have you held onto from your own childhood?
I have a few of my old drawings, pictures, a baby shoe that my mom gave me a few years ago, and a few old toys. My kids are actually playing with two of them now too.
Would you consider yourself a memory keeper?
I think I am to a certain level, but I can definitely get better at it.
What are the stories that you want to preserve, for yourself and for your family?
The little things, little moments, smiles and gestures, the everyday things. I think all of these little stories combined will make the memories that we will look back on one day and smile.
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You can read the other interviews in this series here.