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How this Sydneysider launched a quirky side hustle at the height of COVID

  • December 10 2020
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How this Sydneysider launched a quirky side hustle at the height of COVID

By Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
December 10 2020

After seeing his regular work decline when COVID-19 hit Australia in March, one Sydneysider decided to try his hand at starting a new business largely based on his favourite childhood pastime – jigsaw puzzles.

How this Sydneysider launched a quirky side hustle at the height of COVID

How this Sydneysider launched a quirky side hustle at the height of COVID

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  • December 10 2020
  • Share

After seeing his regular work decline when COVID-19 hit Australia in March, one Sydneysider decided to try his hand at starting a new business largely based on his favourite childhood pastime – jigsaw puzzles.

How this Sydneysider launched a quirky side hustle at the height of COVID

In March this year, it was Scott Morrison himself who declared jigsaw puzzles essential supplies. Quizzed on what he meant by leaving the home for “essential supplies”, PM Morrison said at the height of Australia’s lockdown: “I will give you an example. Our kids are at home now, as are most kids, and Jenny went out yesterday and bought them a whole bunch of jigsaw puzzles.

“I can assure you over the next few months we will consider those jigsaw puzzles absolutely essential.”

Twenty-nine-year-old Aussie artist Dan Wakehurst took the PM’s words quite literally and turned his childhood hobby into a side hustle.

He channelled his background in film, media, advertising and technology to setup People Who Puzzle, which is now celebrated as Australia’s newest puzzle brand.

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Paying homage to the crisis that essentially set Dan on this path, his latest mega-detailed 1,000-piece puzzle is called “Lockdown” and depicts 60 characters scattered throughout a comically illustrated urban scene and a further 20 appearing in “the cloud”, capturing a broad range of experiences that Aussies can relate to.

People are depicted engaging in activities that became synonymous with staying at home during lockdown: working and studying from home, baking, binge-watching TV, gardening, receiving home deliveries, walking the dog, hand sanitising, dancing on TikTok and, of course, jigsaw puzzles.

Other playful highlights include: a grounded fleet of aircraft (satirically called “Emu Air”), people on video calls (including a man in only a business shirt and underpants), and a startled man being issued a fine by police while eating a kebab alone on a park bench (referring to the bizarre headline that sprung up in April during Sydney’s lockdown).

There’s even a panic buyer in a hazmat suit, gas mask and rubber gloves, surrounded by stacks of canned food, rolls of toilet paper and N95 face masks.

It was important to Mr Wakehurst that the artwork exhibited both humour and empathy.

“2020 has been a strange and difficult year for everyone, and I think we’ve all experienced degrees of anxiety or frustration. I wanted the artwork to reflect the absurdities that we’ve all been through together, in a humorous way,” he said.

How this Sydneysider launched a quirky side hustle at the height of COVID
How this Sydneysider launched a quirky side hustle at the height of COVID
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