Sunday, April 5, 2009

getting to know you #10

One of my favorite things to do lately is find out where all of my favorite designers/artists live. I like seeing where the hubs of creativity are around the world. Australia keeps popping up. Susan Fitzgerald, who owns Spin Spin, has a lovely little studio where she prints her gorgeous tea towels and other goods. I just love her bold colors and the "t" is brilliant.

please tell us who you are, and a bit about your business/art.
I'm trained as a graphic designer but hate the idea of 'working for the man' and 'pumping out design' for a living, so a couple of years ago I started working on my own designs with a vague idea of bringing them to life. I also started making soft toys and took a screenprinting course. From there I began experimenting with printing my own designs on fabric (in my living room!) and then started making toys and tea towels with the fabric. Recently I moved into a shared studio space in Kensington, Melbourne so I have the room to really play around with ideas without worrying about getting paint everywhere (and so my living room isn't full of printing equipment!)

describe your creative/creating process.
I rarely sit down with a plan – usually ideas just morph into life of their own accord. When I've got a chunk of time to 'work', I don't usually have a fixed agenda - just a few broad aims. This means that I can flitter about and not get any one thing finished (I'm a Pisces so I have a good excuse) but that also leaves me room to experiment and play around with ideas. It's also important for me to work on what feels right at any one time because if my heart's not in it, the results will show. Also, if you're really excited about a project, you get the momentum going and it's good to run with it.

what are your favorite places to shop (both on and off etsy?)
There are way too many great shops in Melbourne... Zakkaya in Fitzroy is full of so many cute Japanese things, from wood-mounted stamps to ceramics. Patchwork in Central Park in Malvern has more beautiful fabric than you can imagine. Douglas & Hope in Fitzroy has lovely quilts and other bits and pieces. Industria in Fitzroy is full of remnants of times past and unusual & interesting furniture, and Arthur's Circus in North Melbourne is great for vintage toys and other wares. And then there's Amazon/Etsy (faves include Aunty Cookie, Something's Hiding in Here, PataPri and many more) for hours of online spending joy.

how do you describe your personal style?
I'd say my style is minimal, muted and with a focus on the practical. That said, a lot of the things I've been working on at the moment are full of bright colours and contrast. I'm also a fan of one- and two-colour design and simple repeated patterns. Typography and nature are big influences, along with materials - linen, wood, uncoated paper.

what is your top piece of advice for someone trying to run their own business?
That's tricky, as I've only recently started myself! I can say that if you're thinking about stepping out by yourself, do all the things you're supposed to do – make a business plan, a budget etc - but if you really feel you need to run with it and you're in a position to, go for it (even if it's just part-time) and don't get bogged down in or put off by the boring bits. You'll never know unless you try and if you have passion and excitement for what you're doing, you'll do all you can to make it work.

name five things that are a constant in your daily routine.
In no particular order:
1. Coffee and/or tea (english breakfast or earl grey, depending on the mood).
2. Internet and email - I have been known to spend too much time looking at the lovely things that are out there.
3. Wondering what on earth to have for dinner and secretly hoping my boyfriend will whip up something delicious (which he often does!)
4. Eating apples or grapes or peaches or pears – I'm not quite yet a fruitarian, but am not far off.
5. I probably should put something else that isn't food! Um, organizing - I'm not a neat-freak, but I like things to look good (there's an interior decorator in my trying to get out, I swear.)

what is your ideal day?
Waking up feeling well rested and then going for a walk around the park, followed by a good coffee. If it's a work day I like getting into the studio early, but I'd be walking to the local cafe for another coffee not long after arriving. The day would be productive and I'd get to work on a range of things, from developing a new design, some colour test printing, more printing and maybe some sewing. Dinner would either be take-away from a great local Thai or Mexican place, a simple home-cooked meal or food at the local pub with a chilled beer. Then either hanging out with friends or a bit of couch time with some magazine reading or knitting and to bed late, reading a good book.

tell us something about yourself that we might find surprising.
My first job out of my undergrad honours degree was picking apples in an orchard - I must have felt the need to get back to basics after too much staring at the computer! But it led to my first freelance job - working on the website for the orchard - so it helped me see that sometimes you've got to go with what seems right and see what happens.

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