ISSUE 13 | SEPTEMBER 2018
WHERE CREATIVITY COMES TO PLAY...
SAMII LUND I N F O @ T H E E Y E C R E AT I V E . C O M
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on the cover A RT I S T : M A R K C O N L A N @MARKCONLAN W W W. M A R K C O N L A N . C O M
28 Gilbert Road Preston pinkysstore.com @pinkys_store_melbourne
CLAIRE RITCHIE 60.
HAPPY IN FINLAND 46.
B A L L PA R K M U S I C 56.
SKETCH MARKS 94
G LO S T S T U D I O S 84. ALEX THE ASTRONAUT 64.
MARK CONLAN 28.
ELLEN PORTEUS 78.
NEVER JADED 14. M O L LY C O O M B S MARR
discover these amazing creatives and many more within the next 94 pages...
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not your average EDITOR’S LETTER Recently I wrote a little Instagram post about my experiences with mental health journey over the last few months. I hate calling it a journey. It’s more like a rollercoaster ride of fear and adrenaline. But journey sounds much more approachable. I touched on my ‘journey’ briefly in the instagram post as I had just discovered an amazing new podcast called “Buffy the Business Slayer”, that had prompted me to finally speak up and out about it. Now, I know that an editor’s letter is supposed to be full of joy leading you into the new issue and saying how amazing it is and what a great time you’re about to have reading it, but even though yes, this new issue is the BEST YET and you should totally keep reading, I’m going to take a gamble….and change things up a bit. In the next couple of pages, I’m going to open up about this ‘taboo’ subject of mental health instead, and try (really try) to portray a powerful message to you, my right-brained peers, about what mental illness means to me as a creative.
down that hole with no line to the outside world. Those on the ground above you, look down on you and treat you as if you’re broken - maybe they’re kind about it, but really, does kindness help? Why can’t they climb on down and pick you up? They don’t understand how alone you feel, and it’s impossible to explain it to them. “See a councillor” they say. “Talk to me”, “Just tell me what you’re feeling!” But you can’t. It’s not that easy. If it were, maybe you could “get over it” as easily as they ask you to. It’s not their fault , they don’t know. For over 10 years, I’ve suffered inside my own body feeling as though I can never EVER feel for another human the way ‘normal’ people do because of all the trauma inside my head and heart. I find it hard to make friends because, hey, what if they find out that I’m nuts!? This is something I feel every single moment of every damn day. I sit across from people and honestly think about whether they can see it in my eyes that my anxiety is at new heights that day, and all I want to do is crawl into a ball and cuddle my cat? What if they see that I’m not the happy, bubbly human they expect me to be? I’m not inspiring. I’m broken. I feel like a fraud. Like I’m faking my way through life to just make it through. And really, that’s no way to live.
“Art helped gave me strength when I thought I couldn’t get off the floor, it helped me find my voice when I thought I’d never be heard, and it allowed me to open my eyes to something greater than the pain that I was feeling.”
Let’s just start with the fact that I know that not all creatives deal with mental illness. I’m not going to stereotype the whole lot of us and say that we are all in the same basket here, but it is a well known fact that creative people are more susceptible to anxiety, bipolar and depression than leftbrainers, meaning there’s a hell of a lot of us in that basket and it’s getting a little overcrowded. So it’s time to speak up.
I alone, battle with my thoughts (good or bad) every damn day. Although, as much as I can say creativity causes my depression, it also has saved me when I really needed it the most. I nearly lost my life (correction, took my own life) when I was 16 years old after a few years battling PTSD caused from a traumatic event that occurred when I was in high school. I’m not going to lie and say it was art that woke me up when I needed it, however, it was art that helped me heal and ultimately lead me to saving myself. Art helped gave me strength when I thought I couldn’t get off the floor, it helped me find my voice when I thought I’d never be heard, and it allowed me to open my eyes to something greater than the pain that I was feeling. Art helped me get back to reality. Now, for those that have depression, you know exactly what I’m talking about when I say it’s a dark, deep hole that seems excruciatingly impossible to dig your way out of. It’s as if you’re
What I’ve discovered recently about the creative industry through incredible artists such as Frances Cannon and yes, Buffy The Business Slayer, is that within our little art community, we’re all extremely similar with our fears and mental blocks. We’re all budding entrepreneurs that are struggling to create sustainable and successful brands, and MOST of us (emphasis on most), are suffering internally with a huge amount of fear and anxiety which at times, can be so overwhelming that it takes over every ounce of confidence and passion that you have for your craft. Now, there have been many moments where I’ve given up. Handed in the towel. Told myself I don’t need this, I don’t love this, this is shit. People are hard. Life is difficult. I want to be free. I lied to every single person around me (including my incredible Eye team) about why I folded the mag in 2018. Truth is, it wasn’t about redirection or financials (although both of things played a part in my anxiety issues at the time). It was in fact, because I was struggling to be the person I thought I needed to be to be able to continue to produce this publication.
I felt judged. I felt ridiculed. I felt useless and at times wanted to leave the country just to escape it. I felt as though nothing I did was good enough. I hated talking to people. I hated getting emails every day. I hated that people relied on me. I hated that I was letting them down. I was so wrapped up in this never-ending negative shit storm that I dug myself a little hole of depression where I settled in with a blanket burrito and dark curtains to comfort myself and hide from reality. Scarily, I was home there. Everything else just felt too alien to me. I convinced myself and others around me that I was doing it because the magazine needed restructuring to be able to take the next step and that I needed a ‘break’ to figure it out first. HA! Good one bro. The REALITY of what was happening around me at this time was SUCCESS. Huge success. I was crippled with fear and a lack of confidence. I was cowering from all the attention I was getting from people around me and my triggers were being poked and prodded and I had no idea how to deal with them, and I never spoke to my peers about it because who would actually understand?! Jump forward to today and we’re now three issues back from the mental breakdown and learning to deal with my feelings one day at a time. Instead of running from the happy, I’m running TO the happy - and even though I definitely have my moments (daily), I’m finding that I’m on a better path than I’ve ever been with my self-care and understanding. The Eye Creative has this incredible platform for a creative voice. It allows people to share the in’s and out’s of their worlds and what matters to them. And this matters to me. All of it. The magazine, the community, the artists, the writers,
my team, my peers, the art, the words, the meaning and THE SUPPORT. Buffy the Business Slayer has changed my life. It’s shown me that I shouldn’t be ashamed to be the way I am and feel the way I feel, because dealing
“I’m bloody proud of it. I’m bloody proud of me. I’m bloody proud of you.” with mental illness is normal. Depression isn’t for emo’s, anxiety isn’t a made-up illness for drama queens, and PTSD is excruciating and debilitating and can be a part of anyone’s life that has suffered trauma. I deal with all of this. All of it. And you know what? I’m bloody proud of it. I’m bloody proud of me. I’m bloody proud of you. Do yourselves a favour and give yourself a break once in a while. Pat yourself on the back for surviving. Give yourself a high-five for getting through. Talk to people about your issues, your feelings and your world. It helps. It really fucking helps. And remember…. We’re not alone. We’re in this together.
vow studios RUN! JELLYFISH, RUN! Is what this coat is called, but what I ask, is the jellyfish running from? Must be all those people clawing at it with their money waving in the air frantically like those at a gorman seconds sale. Thereâ€™s not much to say about this coat to get you to buy it except: JUST LOOK AT THAT JELLYFISH! Get it now vowstudio.com.au
carli mcmartin With a unique talent for illustration she never knew she had, Carli McMartin reveals to us what extraordinary beauty can naturally come from exploring creativity with her stunning line-work illustrations. With her recent collection of Houses of Britain, Carli leads us on a tour of European architecture through this simple, yet detailed drawings that are oh-so-cute and swoon worthy. Her shop opens September 2018. www.carlimcmartin.com/shop
claire ishino claireishino.com/shop “Grow Your Own Way” The title of this artwork sings to my soul the way Matt Corby’s angelic voice does my soul on a Monday morning on the way to work. It’s no secret that the world has an obsession with plants lately, and if you’re anything like me and spend your time mostly googling how to keep your plants alive after the second day, then you may want to invest in this artwork instead. (It’s wayyy safer for the real plants).
connie lichti connielichti.com/shop Give me polka dots all day and all night for the rest of my life. Honestly, anything with polka dots on it and it’s mine. It has to be. It’s like an unwritten law or something. (Or at least that’s what I tell my partner). Connie is a huge fav of ours here at The Eye Creative. I dare you to suss out her site without buying something.
honey ginger toast www.honeygingertoast.com Don’t you just love how the world is getting on the glitter trend lately? Honestly, the footpath could be covered in glitter and I would stomach-dive onto it and glide my way through to get my coffee in the morning. That’s what makes this necklace so good. You don’t need a footpath of glitter when you have this around your neck. www.theeyecreative.com
whimsy kaleidoscope roger & peach A certain supermarket (That I will not name because they're not my favs - unlike Aldi; ya legends), has decided to recall their efforts on the single use plastic bag ban because people 'got upset'. Look grandma. Grab your Roger and Peach bag and strut into the supermarket to grab your bread and milk with PRIDE. Get one to match your outfit, catwalk your way through the automatic doors and into a present-day, enviro-friendly world and be proud to be a part of the change. Because we sure as hell are. www.rogerandpeach.com.au
natalie miller nataliemiller.bigcartel.com â€˜Indigoâ€™ 2018 Ah....Natalie Miller.....Can we all just sit and look at this masterpiece for a second please? It's a dream. A woven, colourful, artistic dream. Stalk Nat's dreamy work hon IG: @natalie_miller_design 12.
You know those glamorous people on planes that you walk past and they're elegantly propped up with an eye mask on looking like an Instagram model at 3.30am somewhere over the Atlantic? Yeh. That's not me. But wearing one of these eye masks from whimsy kaleidoscope, I can sure imagine that I am. linktr.ee/whimsykaleidoscope
frock me out Frock me out in all the things!!! Please clear some space in your closet and send your unwanted shit to your local op shop, because there's about to be a click frenzy at frockmeout.com.au! Get on board this amazing Aussie label creating cute af garments for every woman!
beauty pantry Schmeer some chocolate on your face and call it a day. But for real though. Beauty Pantry has your self-care days handled with their range of raw face masks. Best part is, this little chocolate number is only $9 (exc postage). Whatâ€™s more delicious than that?! beautypantry.com.au
words by amy farnworth
There comes a time in every creative’s life when you doubt your own abilities – that selfdeprecating monster rears its ugly head and makes you feel useless. You tell yourself your work isn’t worthy of shit, and nobody will ever pick it up, or respect you for what you do. You become, for want of a better word, Jaded. The Urban Dictionary defines Jaded as: ‘A state of disillusionment and sadness. You see through everything and have no illusions about what is true. So many negative things have happened that it becomes difficult to stay positive about what once gave you hope and joy.’ In fact, the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition doesn’t stray far from this modern-day description either, stating the word Jaded to mean: ‘Bored or lacking enthusiasm, typically after having had too much of something.’
So, when you have an impressive collection of designs that are far from boring, never dull and definitely don’t lack in any kind of enthusiasm, naming your brand, ‘Never Jaded’, seems to be fitting, especially if it’s taken you a while to confidently accept your talents. And that’s exactly what happened to Jade Murray. Her spunky, graphically infused works are a breath of fresh air – her Instagram page is a smorgasbord of colour; cleverly executed designs and witty captions juxtaposed onto a range of t-shirts and vinyl that highlight the weird and catch the eye with creepy, cynical visuals. Currently in her final semester of a Creative Industries Bachelor on the Sunshine Coast, Jade explained that it took three years of hard graft and self-criticism before she was able to confidently expose her own original design style. After shying away from what came as second nature in favour of producing work she thought was expected of her, the 21-year-old Queenslander managed to develop Never Jaded after a much-needed kick up the arse from a supportive lecturer.
She told The Eye: “Finding my original design style came after three years of university. I had originally been creating graphic design work I thought my teachers wanted, designs that would fit the brief – not pushing any boundaries and basically flying under the radar. “Although I had hundreds of personal creations that I did for fun in my spare time that mostly consisted of ramblings of weird art, I felt they had no real purpose. I began making up band names and started designing CD covers, band posters, t-shirts and skateboards for each group to continue creating the vision for my personal style. “And then my teacher, Dr Debra Livingston, saw one of my designs in class and asked to see if I had done any more work like that; I hesitated to show her the rest of my collection but did so. She insisted I do my final design portfolio with all my unseen designs and leave out my original university work I was using for assessments.
“On the first page of that winning portfolio I put my favourite quote, which has been attributed to Marilyn Monroe - ‘Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.’ “I trusted in my teacher’s opinion even though I was shy to share my designs. I thought people wouldn’t understand them and I was thinking I would get bad marks on the final assessment.” In an ironic twist of fate, after finally putting faith in her own abilities (something, as I mentioned earlier, we’ve all struggled to do at some point in our creative lives), Jade ended up winning first place for graphic design and illustration at her university’s portfolio awards night, proving that staying true to herself and developing a body of work that spoke to her on higher personal levels was worth the agony. “From that point I began further exploring my own design style and created Never Jaded. Never Jaded is a platform from which I can share my work, connect with other designers and find potential clients. “My style definitely chose me as it has developed, morphed and grown over time. Finding what I am comfortable doing and what makes me happy came from trial and error after giving many different design styles a go.” Creating work that pleases you and provides fulfilment is integral to a harmonious and successful working lifestyle, and Jade says she produces her work through the pure enjoyment of her design process; catapulting her personality into her art and developing something unique. She said: “If my designs aim to say anything in particular it would be that weird is good. My personality is shown through my work,
which I think makes my style unique, with a clear fascination with all things bizarre. I seem to have a knack for creating creepy and morbid designs that make the viewer look and think twice. “I usually combine concepts from real life into my graphic designs as I believe that it can only work visually with plenty of detail going into each design. Creating each design, I begin with an open mind and no specific idea or theme I want to link with an image. This helps in creating my own design originality.” With music significantly influencing her work, Jade often reflects on how much listening to certain songs can change a whole project, and this is clearly evident in the designs she produces. Taking a look at her socials provides evidence to back that up, as the majority of her works look as if they’ve come straight from the album cover of a quirky, off-the-wall band who are intent on making waves through not only their music but their album artwork too. And even though she initially began designing for herself and her friends, as her confidence grew, and as her natural rhythm began to take hold, Jade ventured into the foray of commercial and freelance work. She said: “I have done a few commercial jobs but prefer to be able to create work where I can keep my own original design style. “The most important thing about being creative for me is being able to express your personality through your work and being able to connect with other like-minded creatives.” Moving to Canada in November, albeit temporarily, Jade will embark on the next stage of her life after uni and is keen to ensure selling her work and continuing her design projects remains her number one priority. “My aim is to continue doing freelance work and selling my designs. I aim to begin a Never Jaded clothing range once I get back from Canada and hope to have my designs printed on shirts.” By building a larger social media platform for herself and carrying out freelance work, the prospects certainly look healthy and exciting for Jade. And for a young woman who was once unsure about the direction of her creativity; being true to herself, and rejecting that ‘jaded’ definition, will no doubt, prove to be the best decision she could make. Jade adds: “On the first page of that winning portfolio I put my favourite quote, which has been attributed to Marilyn Monroe ‘Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.’ And Jade, we couldn’t agree more! Jade sells all her designs though her Instagram page, where you can find framed prints along with personalised devil series images, tattoo designs and images for people to use for their own businesses.
social stalk @never.jaded
theo THE LABEL
words by amy farnworth
When a clothing brand bounces into your life that offers sustainability, quality, a reasonable price tag, and reeks of positive moralistic ethics, it would be stupid not to grab it by the balls and hold onto it for as long as possible. That’s why this month, we’re featuring the simply incredible products by Theo The Label, a Melbourne-based Fashion Brand run by 28-year-old Esther Kirwan. From idea inception right through to creation, Esther has a firm grip on every stage of Theo’s design process, her deep-seated beliefs and morals driving her to produce the best quality garments in the most ethical of ways, which means she knows exactly who is making her products, and where they’re being manufactured. “When I was at fashion school I watched the documentary, China Blue, and decided then and there to shop my values and know exactly who was making my clothing. I found most ethical clothing brands to be outside of my budget, not to my taste, or just samesame with every other label out there (this was around 2013), and so I started my own! I do all the pattern-making and sampling myself, then I head over to Bali to meet with the makers, do handovers of new collections and sourcing of textiles.” Theo The Label’s ethos, Esther explains, is to live slowly and intentionally, however, it can sometimes be difficult to convey this message through a fashion brand, as she’s constantly torn between marketing a beautiful product and then telling people they don’t actually need new products to live a purposeful life. “I’ve found the balance lies in recognising I don’t need ‘stuff’ at all, but when I do want to purchase something, I can choose to support a company that shares my values and contribute to a movement I believe in. “A large part of slow living is about quality and the ability to recognise it. I have a love-hate relationship with marketing and a large part of the ‘hate’ side is that good marketing makes it difficult for everyday consumers to know the difference between what is and isn’t a quality product! Theo stuff is good quality! “Timelessness and wearability are a result of design quality, and I like to keep things super simple in this space by choosing classic silhouettes and adding thoughtful details here and there. Theo clothing is designed to equip us to live rather than create confines, so I’m all about practicality and comfort. Neutral colourways and natural fibres play a big part in achieving all these factors.” Esther says she always looks for natural fibres with a priority for certified organics and sources most of Theo textiles in Bali from local suppliers. And ensuring she stays in direct contact with her manufacturers is essential not only for her sanity, but to enable her to know exactly what’s happening in the supply chain.
“Makers are the backbone of Theo because we literally would not have a product without them. I met my production manager in Indonesia through word of mouth and we still work together today. And that’s how I crossed paths with Theo’s first makers, husband and wife Kholil and Wiwik. “Since meeting them around five years ago, we have a level of trust and understanding that you could only develop face to face. We have also worked with Kholil’s brother Riyadi and his sister in-law Ghandi, who have been able to return home instead of working underpaid jobs in the city, as a result of Theo’s growth! “The Balinese garment industry is made up of small factories and home workers, hidden from tourists, behind hotels, and in rural villages, so if you haven’t visited your makers directly and your product is made in Bali, you most likely don’t have an ethical manufacturing model.” Currently, Esther is running a pop-up shop in the South Melbourne Market until January 2019 and will be in Sydney with the Big Design Market from 7-9 December. Theo’s online story is open 24/7 and Esther would highly recommend joining the Theo Tribe to receive emails for pre-orders, sales and launches! She said: “We make really small quantities compared to other brands, which means sizes sell out really quickly so if you’re in the tribe you get notified and can place orders before they’re even available on the site.” And with big dreams afoot for where to take Theo in terms of creating a bigger impact in the slow living space, Esther reckons the journey is going to be nothing but fun. “I’m a serial project-starter, and I feel most creative when I give myself permission to dream freely and explore the ‘what-if’s,’ so there are a few options out there that I’m tempted to take on with Theo, and that’s got me really excited for the future!”
social stalk @theothelabel
“... Theo clothing is designed to equip us to live rather than create confines, so I’m all about practicality and comfort...”
“... I’m a serial project-starter, and I feel most creative when I give myself permission to dream freely and explore the ‘what-if’s...”
words by courtney rothberg
Sometimes one’s trip to the top involves the most treacherous terrain you’ve ever seen, making unplanned stops at destinations you’d rather forget and getting so disoriented you’re no longer sure where you were going to begin with. Other times it can be a swift one. Minimal stops. The express train if you will. It still requires struggle and bravery but those moments harnessed can transform your life. Meet Mark Conlan, case in point. Killer creative, insane illustrator and without a doubt, living his best life.
An Irish native, living in Melbourne with his soon to be wife, he’s the youngest of three kids and sums early life up as great. “We were always encouraged to pursue what we wanted and we weren’t pushed to do anything we didn’t want to. That’s pretty sweet in my opinion.” A doodler for as long as he can remember, Mark wanted to be a cartoonist, acknowledging he wasn’t too far off the mark in the end. “I would get art sets and art materials for presents for birthdays and Christmas. That made me very content. My brother is a creative too, so I always looked up to him and aspired to be just like him.” When it came time to choose which career path he wanted to go down, Mark decided to study animation and whilst he doesn’t focus directly on it now, the principals and skills learned through that study really helped him develop his illustration prowess.
Never wanting to miss the moment ingenuity strikes, he’s rarely without a sketchbook, a moleskine his number one choice, the contents often a progression of ideas that are essentially a visual diary. “I do nearly 100% of my sketching in a notebook. I just love having journals and being able to come back to them when you’re stuck for an idea or need some old inspiration.” Knowing we all source inspiration from different places, I’m intrigued what helps spark ideas for Mark. “I like to try to remain open to be inspired by as much as I can. Like if I can draw inspiration from a walk in the park, a bird in the tree, a song, art and pretty much everything in between then I believe I am less limited and more susceptible to inspiration. But as you can see from my work, there is a lot of nature and emotion there, I guess these would be the elements that inspire me most.” It’s true, his works are littered with plants and landscapes, solar systems and everyday environments, connection between two people or the adventures of just one. It’s easy to imagine yourself in that scene, being that subject even with the distorted body proportions. It makes his work incredibly relatable. “I often try not to focus on the head and face as much as I think the emotion of the character can be emphasised through the pose and/or the whole scene.”
“I guess you could say that. I like to create art that makes me happy so hopefully that appeals to other too. I like to think if I can portray a message of happiness and positivity then I feel accomplished. I think this can be achieved through composition, shapes and colour that I use too.” As I trawled through his work, I came across a print called My Entire Universe. It is a man standing behind a woman with his arms wrapped around her. Her silhouette is there but everything inside the lines is the solar system. It’s worth noting he released the print in a reverse version of two women because “some of you ladies love ladies and the guys who dig other guys. Let love be love”. Conlan for Prime Minister, I shout at my screen. Anyway, I digress. The print. It’s incredibly romantic, glaringly obvious but right outside the box. The concept is genius. “I think we are all romantics, right? Whether some of us like to admit to it or not. I am not 100% sure where this concept came from, again this is why I love drawing so much as you can arrive at concepts like this while you’re in the flow. The human brain is a wonderful thing. I love to explore subjects that fascinate me too and the universe is surely one of them while love is one of our core foundations. Without it we don’t really have very much else.” I smile because he’s right and because I love his honesty.
Only with a heart of stone could you avoid feelings of happiness and joy when observing Mark’s work, the vibrancy alone is sure to put a spring in your step for the rest of the day. Is it deliberate?
Using a range of products when creating by hand, the constant exploration is important for his craft. “It keeps my brain satisfied in some ways. I think if you spend all your time on one medium you can get all booked up quicker. By exploring you’re exercising your creativity in a fun manner which keeps it all fresh and exciting.” We all know that as creatives, our work develops over time. We learn more, we get better but often that can only happen if you allow yourself the time to foster that artistic outlet. “If you’re exploring your creativity on a regular means, which I am sure most artists do, then you will always be developing your style. Sometimes you may not even notice the changes until you go back and put an old and new piece next to each other. For me, I think I am still finding my voice as an illustrator so I hope my style continues to develop alongside me on this journey.” The lines of his illustrations are always so clean, having found a wonderful balance between solid negative space amongst some heavy detail, which has been a by-product of allowing himself the space to explore without boundaries. “I personally love sketching. It’s not only a means to relax but a means to develop my ideas and of course further my skills. I used to have a very messy style and sometimes the sketches wouldn’t even make sense. Suddenly one day I found this clean lined approach which allowed me to communicate much clearer. I gained a lot of confidence being able to communicate in this manner too. Once you gain that confidence you can just keep taking it further and further.”
Mark’s ability to get a message across in a wordless illustration is second to none. So when you add animation to the mix, it’s like dynamite. Take his Unexpected Discoveries animated short, it filled me with childlike wonder. I was enraptured by the adventure of it and the underlying message to look up from your phone and discover the world around you. It’s not a new conversation but the execution made me think differently about it. In a tech driven world, he knows the pitfalls that come with it and the need to unplug. “I think we all struggle with this, especially in the world of social media. It’s so easy to get wrapped up on how well content is doing, comparing ourselves to other creatives and spending too much time over analysing. I think it’s important to sometimes switch off and focus on now. I usually find I do better work when I can achieve this, mainly because I am not comparing what I am doing, instead focusing on what I love to do and generally this yields the best results.” Working on a series of short animation with an Irish company, he believes the medium can help tell many important stories that impact us all.
“I think I am still finding my voice as an illustrator so I hope my style continues to develop alongside me on this journey.” social stalk @markconlan
While there is so much doom and gloom going on in the world around us, Mark’s Instragram feed is pure paradise. The language he uses, the emoji’s, it all culminates to leave you feeling nothing but love. “I try to be as upbeat and positive as I can. Of course I have shitty days too but when you’re doing what you love everyday its hard not to be upbeat.” Even though he has cracked the code for making his vocation his vacation, he is still vulnerable to shitty days where your brain just draws a blank. He is human after all. Admitting to suffering from anxiety for many years, nowadays he has a better handle on it. “It can be crippling for both your personal and work life. But I always say to myself whenever I feel anxious that anxiety is just another way for me to feel alive, don’t fight it and harness it as much as you can. Creativity is a great outlet as you can really express yourself in a way that will allow you to deal with the emotions and the unknowns of it.” Having a mind that can be quite sporadic, he admits he gets stressed easily but he sees that as a positive because he obviously puts pressure on himself to succeed. “My mind can range from blank to switched off to a beautiful melting pot full of ideas and creativity. At the best of the times, my mind is peaceful and full of love which allows me to translate this into my work quite smoothly.”
researching companies that had worked with illustrators before and getting in touch. There was a lot of disappointment at the beginning but its become more stable lately. It definitely wasn’t an overnight success but if you’re willing to work hard there’s always a chance to succeed quicker.” He’s managed to work with some big names on the world stage like Adobe, Airbnb & The New York Times. Always flattered at being given the chance to work with any of these companies, the most exciting part is knowing they have big audiences and never quite knowing who may come across your work when the project goes live. Feet firmly on the ground, Mark doesn’t consider this the norm now, treating them just like any other client and continuing to produce his best work. “I think you have to just take in your stride. I am not one to get too wrapped up in things. You need to stay humble and keep producing that work that caught peoples eyes in the first place.”
just break this down for a “My mind can range from blank to Let’s moment though. Three years not a long time. In fact it’s switched off to a beautiful melting isextremely short when talking pot full of ideas and creativity. At the in terms of a career. To have ascended to the level of success best of the times, my mind is peaceful Mark has, to be so in demand all work seeks you out, is and full of love which allows me to that something to praise. Obviously plays a pivotal role but translate this into my work quite talent what else has contributed to his triumph? Off the bat he’s smoothly.”
Working as an illustrator for just under three years now, he admits he didn’t really think it was a viable career but after doing a lot of research he took the plunge. “I began to realise how widely illustration is used as a form of communication, which was comforting. Of course I was nervous initially but I remained positive and backed my talent. It was important to remain unique and be clear with my messaging and storytelling in order to gain some attention. I just had to go for it. Literally living the dream every day now.” It can be easy to throw around the term ‘overnight success’ or to think someone made it to the top with ease but as Mark explains, that’s simply not the case. “Nobody knows who you are until you start getting your name and work in front of them. So I began
extremely down to earth and an all round lovely guy. Nothing is too much and he’s personal even though I’ve never met him before. He exudes warmth and good vibes and my encounter with him, albeit brief, has me wanting to work with him too. Someone who has that sort of energy you just want to slurp up, be the fattest dish sponge you can be, then go on your way, inspired and ready to rip in. Is it his personality that makes him just as in demand as his art? Maybe, I doubt he’d admit it though. Either way you look at it, his success should serve as a reminder that dreams can become your reality. The advice he lives by, be yourself. “Find your own voice, it will take you further than anything else.”
sea ZEPHYR STUDIOS
words by courtney rothberg It’s so easy to define someone based on their life choices. Alex Byford, by all social accounts, is a wife, dog lover, environmentalist, resin artist and the brain child behind Sea Zephyr Studios. That’s on paper. But in real life, where the Earth spins and ocean waves break, she is much more than the sum total of all of those combined. Growing up in the Blue Mountains, the daughter of two school teachers, life was rainforest walks and cold houses until they relocated west at the age of twelve so her father could assume his first principal position in a tiny town of 100 people. “My Dad was my teacher and my Mum taught my brother, it was 45 minutes to the closest shops and we would take an esky to bring cold groceries home in. No fast food and the only pub burnt down just before we moved there.” When I ask her where home is, her tone changes, in the kind of way where one reflects with a little sadness but the warmest of hearts. “The only place I associate as home is Harrington, NSW,
where my Grandma lived. We would visit then eventually moved to be close to her while I was in high school. My mum still lives there now.” An art lover from a young age, she was exposed to techniques and tools through her Grandma Joy, a talented artist who never stuck to one medium. “She made watercolours, sculptures, bonsai, she collected things and was a bit of a hoarder. Her house was like a museum, everything was precious to her. She would never take a compliment or show you her work, not believing in herself that she had a talent but would always show me how to do things.” Admitting they have much in common, I immediately understand her tone change when reflecting on where home is. Alex has been showered with immense support from her family through her artistic endeavours, which all creatives know is like finding that infamous pot of gold. “My Mum would walk past my room as a teenager and I would have an easel and paints set up all over the floor, paint all over my hands. She would just laugh and take a photo. Nowadays it’s my husband walking past the dining room table and he just let’s me be me.” she says, smile on face. “He’s pushing me to start doing markets and get out there a bit more but I just don’t have the confidence.”
Clearly talented she concedes art was all she had at school, not the academic subjects her parents would have excelled at. Taking a year off after finishing and moving in with friends a few hours from home, she fell into a depressed state. “Feeling lost and worthless after an awful HSC result, boy troubles and heart break, I felt like I was at the bottom of a deep, silent, dark ocean. Life was going on above me but I couldn’t get to the surface.” Returning home and enrolling at Uni to study a Bachelor of Visual Arts, her first day was one she’d been searching for for as long as she could remember. “My lecturer scrunched up a piece of paper, threw it on the table and said ‘This is a drawing’. I was complete. I found my people for probably the first time in my life. I would do anything to be back in that studio again, broke, but inspired, curiously creative and with everything at my fingertips. Some days we would spend at least 12 hours in the studio, I’d only go home to sleep.” The way she talks about it, you know the creative juice runs deep in her veins and is without a doubt what keeps her heart pumping. While she currently resides on the Gold Coast, loving the coastal beauty but disliking the local hill on a Sunday that is a watering hole for hipsters trying to outdo each other in the cool stakes, she has traversed the globe in search of adventure, and while her memories are magical, she recounts her first overseas experience when moving to London as more of a shit storm than the clear blue waters of Positano in summer. She moved over on a working/holiday visa with an ex-boyfriend who was denied entry because unbeknownst to her, he didn’t actually hold a visa. “I remember the mascara burning my eyes I was crying so much, not because he wasn’t with me but because I was alone. I thought the Underground was a band. I still have the train ticket and tube map from that experience.” It was a hard time in London then, the riots were happening, the city was on curfew but while her start was tough, it was a life changing experience and she’d move back in a heartbeat, which may be on the cards given that’s where her husband hails from.
After finally moving back to Australia after 3 years abroad, she was watching The Block one night and Megan Weston’s resin work was in one of the rooms and the rest is history. She fell madly in love and needed to try it for herself. After a rough first attempt on her own, buying resin from some old salty dogs in a surfboard store, she booked into a class and immersed herself completely. “It was like being back in the studio again, creative people, just doing our thing, individually, but together. I must have bought half the shop when the class was over.” From that moment on, she hit the ground running. “I love that you can never, ever re-create the same thing. As much as I am the artist I feel like I owe a lot to the resin, it has a mind of its own. You can leave something to set, come back the next day and its completely changed again. I don’t really measure the colour pigments I mix in, I just get inspired by a colour then try to go with it.” Some of her stunning creations look like she’s trapped the ocean inside or as if you’re looking into a tiny Antarctic glacier. “They’re my favourite, it’s literally like a fierce stormy ocean has been frozen in time. Its kind of a translucent resin mixed with a solid colour resin, the trick is the translucent has to be poured first.”
Alex makes a lot of jewellery in her body of work, for both men and women, but initially started making artwork on boards to hang but found the process stressful. “You really only have 15-20 minutes max to pour until it starts to set or just stops moving into different colours as much. I made a bangle and loved it, although it set within the same time I then had to de-mould it, sand and buff it.” While she loves that the process isn’t overly so quickly when creating jewellery, she would happily skip one part of it. “Excessive sanding, I fucking dread it. It’s time consuming and because I prefer a matte finish it means I have to sand everything!” I guess it’s something to think about when buying some of her tiny stud earrings and realising the hours of work that went into them. Inspired by and gravitating to colours of the natural world, her Instagram feed worthy of making anyone with vision swoon, she’s recently been adding glitter into her jewels to step things up a notch. “Sometimes I think my earrings are alter egos, I’m not even sure I have the confidence to wear some of the pieces I make.” That said, she still loves the fantasy that comes with their creation.
just in my DNA to shy away from praise or attention, like my Grandma did. I am the loudest fan for my creative friends, I push them to take risks because I know they have a true talent and I know all that separates them and I from achieving our dreams is jumping, taking that leap of faith outside the comfort zone. It’s truly fucking terrifying. The only thing I am certain of is when it is just me and art, it goes away. Doubt and fear leave me. I am content, whole and happy.” Her candour hits me in the chest. It’s not easy to talk about these things that hold us back and I know she’s not alone.
Using Etsy as her selling platform, she admits to feelings of anxiety when someone purchases her goods. “If I sell something I am excited then filled with dread. What if they hate it? What if they’re disappointed? Utter panic sets in. I want to hide and throw everything out. Its a process I am trying to be brave with. To have more self confidence.” We keep coming back to this confidence topic so I dig deeper and ask her what she’s afraid of. “I’ve never had anything negative happen to me with my artwork. It’s the total opposite. I’ve been asked to teach resin classes, I’ve recently been offered free resin to film my works using it. My final artworks at University sold out on opening night. Everything externally to me has always been kind and positive. Internally it is a mental battle, introvert by nature, it’s
But if all else fails, she’s counting on a job as a donut taste tester, noting she will happily work for free. Make that both of us.
If there was one thing Grandma Joy would want to say to Alex, and any of us experiencing those same feelings, it would be something like this; Don’t let your family and friends be the only ones who experience your creativity. It’s okay to be afraid. Every great that has come before you has felt those same feelings too but don’t let the walls of your mind contain your success. There’s an entire world of people out there who deserve to experience the light your art brings. Acknowledge the fear, for a moment, then flip it the bird and move on. You’ve got this, girl.
social stalk @seazephyrstudios 38.
“...The only thing I am certain of is when it is just me and art, it goes away. Doubt and fear leave me. I am content, whole and happy.”
luke john matthew arnold
words by charlotte goodsir
Luke Arnold is an Australian actor who is most famous for his role in INXS: Never Tear Us Apart aka the documentary that bought Australians who still watch Channel 9 to tears, and was responsible for the influx of listeners to WSFM. He is not, however to be confused with Luke John Matthew Arnold, Australian artist and whom this article is about. If you are looking for actor Luke Arnold I suggest you ignore this article or will be very disappointed, shocked and maybe slightly confused. If you have continued reading, welcome, buckle up, and let me introduce you to the real Luke Arnold, a Sydney based artist I guarantee you already know. Luke John Matthew Arnold has bounced his way into Instagram fame after the marriage equality debate of 2017 where he created a series of striking colourful artworks helping the “YES” vote secure a victory. You may also know him for his artworks on ‘Change the Date,’ supporting the discussion to change Australia Day to a day that doesn’t mark the invasion of our native people. But before Thelma Plum wore his t-shirt, and Toni Collette posted his artwork, he was just a kid who liked making stuff, and this is where we begin our deep dive into Luke John Matthew Arnold.
running, I have a feeling I will become a fulltime garage-hermit for like 6 months which excites and scares me all at the same time. I couldn’t stop making shit. You know how some people get hangry when a snack is out of arm’s length, I get the same way if I can’t draw or make something pretty much every day. I’m very systematic with creating work. I have a stack of sketchbooks taller than me that I just add to every night. I think it’s a sort of obsession for me, it’s my switch-off to the world. Some people watch trash TV to zone out, where as I get set up at the dining table and just draw and paint and make clay pots. So I don’t know if I’m constantly inspired, or just find it a necessary and cheap form of daily therapy?”
Growing up in the Sutherland Shire (NSW), he was always making stuff from magical amulets, comic books about a duck with a passion for shooting guns, who really turned the tables on hunting season, and was that kid in the class who had more doodles in the margins of his school books than room to write. Post school he completed a visual arts degree in in Object Design and Jewellery, and went on to learn silversmithing, which he practised for 10 years. “I had the freedom to explore any material, so I bounced around from metal to wood to clay and to textiles. I used to blanket stitch all my designs out of fabric as wall hangings and plush objects, which I really miss doing (..) I absolutely love drawing, but I’m big on tactile, textured objects and feel that they all sort of roll into one another…” his art has always been a side hustle, but during the day he is still surrounded by creatives and runs art programs for different communities in Sydney. “I work with some incredible local artists who inspire me to keep my art chugging along, which kind of fuels the dream,” however his art is still a passion project operating out of his mums garage.
Which kind of leads us to now. No doubt you would have seen LJMA’s (we’re on a acronym basis now) work all over Instagram, the internet, and in your favourite local bars during the national same-sex marriage postal vote late last year. A black background with a bold rainbow and headlines like “Australia says I do”, and FUC YAS was shared on social media thousands of times and his art was used by bars and brands to show their support.
So when he gets home it all starts with ‘two whiskies and a strong 90’s female vocalist [..] I think it takes me back to my teenage days where a lot of my work stems from. I probably spend anywhere from 1-3 hours a day. However, once I have my studio up and
It all started when Kat Dopper (founder of Heaps Gay and a bunch of other incredible inclusive parties, events etc.) asked if Luke’s artwork could be used in the campaign. ‘It’s not often you get the opportunity to be a part of something so important and big and to feel you might have played even the smallest part in the push towards equality. Those works will always be my ‘I did good’ works. The whole marriage equality thing was pretty surreal, seeing my work all over Sydney and my mates all over Oz sending me pics of my stuff popping up in random places was incredible. I wouldn’t call it ‘fame’ but it’s been a trip watching the stuff I make in my pj’s whilst listening Tina Arena’s ‘Don’t Ask’ blaring from my laptop (she’s my guilty pleasure #chains) take on a life of its own. I think I just laugh when really cool shit happens, like my two highlights: Thelma Plum rocking my tee and Toni Collette sharing my work. Mind blown.’
social stalk @lukejohnmatthewarnold
‘It’s definitely opened new doors. A freelance illustration business kind of accidently manifested, which has been a huge learning experience but a lot of fun working with some really cool businesses, musicians and some of my fave pubs and parties. It’s also got my work out there with people buying prints and asking for commissioned pieces which I still think is insane, but love it. Most importantly it’s kicked me up the ass to get me making more and its helped fund my art studio that I’m slowly putting together’ So who inspires Luke? He’s inspired by a lot of artists, such as: Keith Haring, Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori, Lorien Stern, Claire Ritchie, Eric Bridgeman and Ozzy Wrong. ‘I think one of the most consistent things I’m drawn to in their work is they’re really strong and confident use of colour. I want to learn to work like that and to create work with a strong presence(...) The hardest part is probably just having the confidence to create things and put it out there. I think that’s why I like using words a lot, with phrases like “I don’t know what the fuck I am doing” acts as a sort of creative confessional.
So where can you see more of Luke John Matthew Arnold? He has some tees, hoodies and other fashion musts coming out as a partnership with The Club of Odd Volumes! (inserting some time for you to squeal here) He also has a website www.lukejohnmatthewarnold.com . It has a shop full of fun things from stickers to prints to ceramic dishes with dicks on them. On a personal note it has become to life goal to have “Dick City” framed like the piece of art it is, as soon as i move into my own place to keep all my future Bumble dates in line. You can also find him on Instagram @lukejohnmatthewarnold and yes, he is aware about how annoying my horrendously long name is. I asked him about it and he said “I feel my parents picked up a bible instead of a baby naming book and here we are”
togr aph er: K Hair Make U ishka J ense : Jas p: C Mod mine H laire Hu n ec n el: H ayle kenber t y Bo g wde n
happy IN FINLAND words by ashlea codner
Rosie’s surroundings are very important to her. As she describes her renovated pre-war brick home in Hobart, I can tell that she takes pride in the detailing that creates her ideal space, warm and welcoming, oozing in character. “I surround myself with objects of beauty and things with meaning. I’m a bit of a collector. I have collections of ceramics, kokeshi dolls and babushka dolls and pieces of china gathered from the Hobart foreshore. At last count we had over 6kgs of china stashed in an old blue colander.” Since she was a child Rosie has used her hands as an outlet to satisfy her creative appetite. “I’d spend hours making paper dolls and designing a range of outfits for them. Or constructing and furnishing dolls houses from cardboard boxes. Over the years I’ve dabbled in textile weaving, shibori dying, quilting, screen printing, pottery, and dress making.” Interestingly, Rosie studied Modern English History and it was during her PHD that she decided to make a change and move on to being a full time creative - and we are so pleased that she did! Starting with polymer clay necklaces and earrings, her designs were highly sought after and it was impossible for her to keep up with customer demand. Rosie morphed into creating acrylic and brass earrings allowed her to scale up to a whole new platform of creativity, which founded the birth of Happy in Finland. “Onwards and upwards! Luckily, I’m not emotionally tied to any one creative material or technique. I’m happy to change things up when it’s needed. Moving into brass is an example of this. Plus, I like shiny things.” “I don’t have a typical day. That’s what I love about working for myself.” Rosie expresses how the autonomy that comes with working for herself, being able to start her day sipping coffee and checking her socials and sometimes having the occasional nap are highlights to her creative career, but she is also mindful of the more scrupulous details involved in running your own business.
“I split my time between the studio and home, depending in what needs to be done on any given day. My day can be taken up by photographing new stock, making wholesale orders, posting retail orders, applying for markets, posting social media with the occasional nap thrown in. Recently, I have tried setting boundaries, like not answering business emails on the weekend. But I don’t always succeed.” With the growing desire for independent design, people crave something new and Rosie’s designs certainly achieve that. Good investments and supporting individuals are factors that influence Rosie’s own purchases. Doing things such as working in markets has allowed her to be mindful of what she is purchasing but it has also allowed her to take advantage of connecting with like-minded creatives.
an exclusive collection for a chain store in the USA.” Whilst the internet can be powerful, there is no denying that the clever and mindfully developed ideas that Rosie conspires are what catches the attention of her retail customers as well as stockists. Having international stockists is a huge
taking my sketch book and camera to try and capture it all.” Although Rosie isn’t fussed by what is ‘on trend’, she is practical in her desire for the business to succeed. During the design process she ensures that she is creating something that appeals to a broad range of people, as well as having something different and a little more curated than the ordinary is desirable. Being in touch with her customers is invaluable for this process. She admits that like most, she can be influenced by the zeitgeist but always strives to stand out. “When I start thinking about a collection, I usually start with what I call the ‘Mother’ of the collection- the piece that I really love and that provides the inspiration for all the other, more subdued pieces. The Mother is the biggest and craziest piece usually only appeals to the boldest customers. I work backwards from there, getting smaller and more contained, all the way down to the tiny studs.”
“...There’s a spot on the footpath near my house where there’s a small patch painted in this amazing grass green paint. I look at it every time I walk over it and each time it makes me happy inside. I love how nature uses and mixes colour.”
“In 2008 I landed my first stockist in Melbourne by hopping on a plane and traipsing around the city with my handmade catalogue (with hand stitched binding). I was pretty excited! This year things have taken off internationally. I think that’s mostly down to the power of Instagram. It amazes me that my earrings are available in Spain, Canada, the USA and New Zealand. I also just recently completed
plus for Rosie (obvious reasons aside) as it gives higher incentive for her love of travel! “I’d say I’m definitely more inspired by things outside that space. I love travelling. It provides such a different perspective. A few years ago I spent some time in the Joshua Tree National Park. The colours were amazing and the landscapes huge! I’m off to Japan soon and I’ll definitely me
social stalk @happy_in_finland
Photographer: Kishka Jensen Make Up: Claire Hunt Hair: Jasmine Heckenberg Model: Hayley Bowden
“Inspiration can come from the smallest thing. Like an old sign or paint on the pavement. I’m usually attracted to colour and then shape. There’s a spot on the footpath near my house where there’s a small patch painted in this amazing grass green paint. I look at it every time I walk over it and each time it makes me happy inside. I love how nature uses and mixes colour. That old adage that red & pink should never be seen…a load of rubbish. It appears in nature all the time; so do green and pink, one of my favourite combinations.” Rosie strives to make her designs distinct by using colour and multiple pieces, her last collections being heavily influenced by the desire to create movement. “I was thinking about the evolution of the collections recently and there is a strong sense of lineage and a continuation of themes (at least to my eye).” Looking through Rosie’s collection you can see that she is certainly a colour enthusiast. The designs that don’t stand out in colour, challenge subtle lines and are bold in their eclectic appearance. “This Summer’s collection looks different, but really it’s just an extension of earlier works; a return to strong shapes, namely the circle, and the continuation of the idea of shape, colour, movement and light working together.”
Photographer: Kishka Jensen Make Up: Claire Hunt Hair: Jasmine Heckenberg Model: Hayley Bowden
words by charlotte goodsir
SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY: A writer’s journey with Molly Coombs Marr
PRELUDE At the inception of every issue, our editor sends a list of every artist that will be featured in the next issue, it’s kind of a first, in first served kind of thing. As I scrolled through websites, my eyes did a “stop, drop and roll” when I came across Molly Coombs Marr’s. Before I knew it I could hear my voice reverberate, ‘shut up and take my money.’ Now, this was strange for two reasons, initially because I was at work, and although I work as a ‘creative’ (legitimate job title) and sell things (legitimate role of said job), I was not supposed to be internet shopping, or researching people for an article. But if you can’t tell by now I’m a first class rebel, sure I’m in bed by 9pm most nights, but that’s not the point. CHAPTER ONE: AN AUSTRALIAN LOVE STORY We all have stuff we love about Australia, for me it’s a “freedom sausage” after you vote for politicians you don’t believe in, the way we named a swimming pool after a PM drowned suspiciously, and possibly my favourite childhood memory, a school trip to Canberra where we got to visit Questacon and stop at Maccas on the way home. Like me, mega babe and pixie haired cutie, Molly Coombs Marr has some real things that are special about her Australian childhood that have shaped her life and her artform that are about to make your ears cry with joy. CHAPTER TWO: A SUNBURNT COUNTRY… Picture this. You’re driving along, winding, red dirt road. Your end destination? A beautiful, hidden beach where you’ll spend the day. With your parents and sister beside you. There is ice cream, and hot chips for you to devour as you point out native birds along the journey.
social stalk @mollycm
Sound fab? Well this is where our story begins, Molly Coombs Marr is an Australian jewelry designer that creates earrings and brooches inspired by native Australian flora and fauna. The above daydream is a fond memory from her childhood. Growing up in a small country town with her family, was a defining point of her life, and inspiration for her nostalgic jewelry design business that has gone from passion project to full time creation. www.theeyecreative.com
CHAPTER THREE: HATCHING Molly had her first experience with polymer clay, the brightly coloured material all of her designs are made from, whilst studying at the University of New South Wales Art and Design school (formerly known as COFA) nestled in the heart of Sydney. Inspired by other artists like Ken Done, Jenny Kee, Linda Jackson, Reg Mombassa as well as the colourful Australiana style of the 80s and 90s, she thought she’d save some money on buying jewelry and give making her own a red hot go. Molly explains, “I really loved the art of silversmithing, but the actual setup costs involved in the field are so high that I never thought of it as a plausible career for myself. I was also a poor uni student and couldn’t justify spending money on my own jewellery so, in all honesty, I turned to polymer clay because I was a cheap-ass. I surprisingly fell in love with it straight away as it’s such a versatile and playful material.” And so with the Australian outback as her muse, Coombs Marr started creating bespoke earrings for herself, and found that friends started asking if they could have a pair of their own. Then something clicked and she started sharing her love for all things Australiana with the world, and the world was ready. CHAPTER FOUR: METAMORPHOSIS In September 2017, Molly moved away from a traditional nine-to-five and started pursuing her passion project full time, she admits that although it was daunting at first, it is incredibly rewarding. Working from her home in Sydney, with her cat Francis,
Molly tries to stick to a strict work regime, getting up at a reasonable hour, showering, breakfast before even checking her emails, “if I don’t hop out of my pjs it’s a long day of 10% productivity and 90% lounging about.” Turning her passion into a business has been a challenging, especially when it comes to materials and packaging. As an artists whose wearable art is an ode to Australia, her morals stand strong and she shops local when she can. Molly aims to get all of her supplies through local suppliers and makers, “It can certainly be tricky finding what I need in Australia for a
supplier based in Victoria.” CHAPTER FIVE: SELF AWARENESS Molly mainly sells her jewelry online, but has a strong presents at markets, which she runs with her mum and partner. Molly explains that’s the best bit about being your own boss, ‘you never really need to go into business mode The market stalls they help me out at always have such a social vibe it.(..) I’ve found we’ll always seem more approachable and attract a really friendly crowd if we are relaxing with a beer and enjoying the day like everyone else. Markets are also my chance to chat with people and show them who I really am”
“if I don’t hop out of my pjs it’s a long day of 10% productivity and 90% lounging about.”
price I can justify paying and I’ve often had to compromise on what I end up with, but in my mind, it’s worth it, as my whole brand is based on Australia and it would be such a cop-out to take my money elsewhere. I buy small batches of plain, kraft brown packaging from a small party favour shop, my branding collateral from a print-house in Alexandria, handmade, sterling silver earring hooks from a woman in rural NSW and polymer clay from an Australian
EPILOGUE: FLOURISHING So what’s next for this rising star in the Australian jewelry design world? “I’d love to venture further into the world of fashion design in the future. I definitely see my jewellery continuing and growing as there is no end to the inspiration I find in Australiana, but it would be amazing to see it alongside some other mediums of design. I’ve been dabbling with illustration and fabric design lately and I’m getting really excited about future possibilities and experimentations. Who knows - maybe in 5 years time my jewellery could be paired with a clothing line to call my own…” This was how my interview with Molly Coombs Marr ended, and yet again, made me say, “shut up and take my money”.
bal l park MUSIC words by alex dyson
Hello! My name is Alex Dyson and I have been given the task, nay, the honour, of writing an article about the delightfully talented Brisbane 5-piece indie band Ball Park Music. In fact, this is it! You’re reading it! It’s an exciting proposition interviewing BPM, and one I’ve actually had the pleasure of doing multiple times in my role as breakfast host on Australian youth radio station and certified organic tune farm Triple J. However, this is my first crack at trying to condense their personality- or at least the personality of their lead singer and song writer Sam Cromack- into print. So given I’m devoid of my usually improvised, often pun-laden, and occasionally humorous banter, I must confess right now- I don’t really
know how to officially start it. Not because I’ve got writers block or anything, oh no, quite the contrary. In fact there’s too many ways I want to start it. Five in fact. 1- A stupidly bold statement. 2- A personal anecdote. 3- Dropping an out-of-context quote. 4- Chat about what Sam is doing right now I.e. When he picked up my call, 5- The same way Ball Park Music started. As I’m indecisive instead of picking one way, I thought instead I’d just give you every start…in random order so that ultimately there will be a whole chunk of good starts and then, before you know it, it’ll just be the end. But yes, what better way to begin than with start number 5. The exact same way Ball Park Music themselves started all those years ago. With a question…
First, I need you to imagine it’s 2010. You’re sitting in the office of a record label. Frames sit on wall cradling silver and gold vinyl. Potted plants droop in the corner. The company has liked your first two singles and they want to sign you, but before you put pen to paper a guy in a suit asks you to write down the one thing you would value most in your act. What would it be? Would you want your band to be known for? Be synonymous with? To achieve? You look sideways at your bandmates and shrug, but you’re not allowed to talk to them, so you instead stare at the worksheet and just put the first thing you can think of. What would you write? “BIGGEST BAND IN AUSTRALIA”? “EXCELLENT LIVE SHOWS.”? “WEARING TEAPOTS ON YOUR HEADS”?
just made this effort to try and better ourselves at every step without having to be a blockbuster. It’s been a consistent run, we haven’t taken any major steps backwards, and now you look back and think ‘holy shit, we’re 5 albums deep now and people seem to still give a shit.” Nowhere was more obvious of people giving a shit than at the recent Splendour in the Grass festival, where the band cycled through their catalogue to an overflowing GW McLennan tent, rocking out on tracks like Fence Sitter and Hands Off My Body, but also providing some strip backed moments such as Coming Down and It's Nice to Be Alice. I asked Sam about the Ball Park Live set-
“Would you like the regular version, or decunted version?” Sam Cromack and the rest of his band did exactly this exercise in 2010, and when the results came in, they were rather surprising. “Everybody said their #1 value was longevity. We wanted to be a band that still meant something in 20 years, and I think the fact we all wrote that really surprised everyone. But it’s been something that’s underpinned everything we’ve done.” It’s hard to think of an Australian band that has been as consistent as BPM over the last decade. Five albums in and eight Hottest 100 entries over eight years. They’ve taken Australia by storm, but like, not a crazy storm that rips roofs off and sends the whole town into chaos; a nice storm with Instagrammable clouds and a good amount of rain for the farmers. I asked Sam about how BPM compares their career to others in the industry, and he is typically circumspect. “To be honest in the early days it was impossible not to be jealous of those things happening around you. You see those artists have a particular song blow up to the enth degree, they’re known world wide what feels like overnight and you just feel argh, we’re never going to take that next step. I think we really beat ourselves up and wondered if we were going anywhere. But then I think now, we’ve been able to take stock more, and yeah, I’m grateful we’ve done this slow burn and
There’s definitely a few major standouts in the set, but we have fans saying the same thing to us, they come there thinking song A or song B will be the hit of the night, and then they go, aw shit, I didn’t realise I knew as many of these songs as I did. Again we just feel so honoured that the music has felt like that to people, like on the inside you don’t ever feel like anything special - you’ve just worked hard and done what we think is out best just tried to write the best songs we can, and it feels incredible to be able to play a set where there’s only a handful of songs that aren’t as well known, and in some ways they’re kind of the fun one’s. It’s almost a thrill to play something that’s a bit of a fan favourite or an album track or whatever. All this chat about seeing Ball Park Music Live leads me on perfectly to article beginning number 2- A personal anecdote-
“Who are these guys, they are tight!” This quote is told to to me by Triple J live music engineer Greg Wales backstage at the Hifi bar in Brisbane. It’s 2010, I’m 22 years old, and I’m helping triple J put on a live music event for Ausmusic month, the idea behind which is to not only feature up-and-coming Australian acts, but pair them with big heritage acts for a special one-off song. The person who said this quote was Dave McCormack, lead singer of the band Custard who had been recruited to sing his classic song Apartment, with the very young and enthusiastic Ball Park Music as his backing band. Apparently, this is what he said after the first run through. I ask Sam if he remembers this night as it’s the first time him and I met. He remembers it well, but not because he met me… Well, that’s a funny night for me too because that’s the first night I sort of hit it off with my wife. It’s not technically the first night we met, but that was the night where there were a few special looks across the room and you could tell something’s a’bubblin’. So that is a pretty special night to remember for me. But yeah, what a great night all round, playing with Dave McCormack was a bit of a childhood dream, I felt like all my Christmas’ had come at once that night. I remember my parents came to that gig too, and I felt like I can actually remember their looks toward me and I think that was one of those night where they were like- look, maybe we should go home, he’s drunk, he’s having way too much fun, we’re way down the priority list tonight.”
Photographer: Dean Hanson
Photographer: Dean Hanson
Well, that’s a funny night for me too because that’s the first night I sort of hit it off with my wife. It’s not technically the first night we met, but that was the night where there were a few special looks across the room and you could tell something’s a’bubblin’. So that is a pretty special night to remember for me. But yeah, what a great night all round, playing with Dave McCormack was a bit of a childhood dream, I felt like all my Christmas’ had come at once that night. I remember my parents came to that gig too, and I felt like I can actually remember their looks toward me and I think that was one of those night where they were like- look, maybe we should go home, he’s drunk, he’s having way too much fun, we’re way down the priority list tonight.” It’s interesting, this bringing up of ‘wife meeting’ makes me remember another personal anecdote, so I may as well hit you with article beginning 2.5. There I was, 2018 now, standing in my blue linen suit. Beside me, my best friend of over a decade, about to be married to the love of his life. Toasts were made. A glass was broken. (The bride was of Jewish Heritage so the husband stepping on a glass was the tradition. Apparently it’s the last time he’s allowed to “put his foot down.”) And finally, it came time for the very first bridal dance. Being the resident DJ of the bridal party, it was my job to hit play on the song, an acoustic version of Ball Park’s Exactly How You Are. It was very cute and special. I ask Sam about this phenomenon where his band can not only rock out with Dave McCormack in Brisbane, but also provide the soundtrack to a couple’s first waltz together.
offensive content, on their latest album Ball Park Music had to send a few more emails than usual to sort out which version of their song was going where. “Everyone was legit losing it on these email chains, cos it ended up getting really complicated because ‘Exactly How You Are’ has the word “shit” in the second verse, which we were able to keep for triple j…but then there’s an extended clean version which doesn’t have the cunt OR the shit so there were like all these different versions so there was regular version, full clean version, de-shit version, de-cunt version, everyone was just like in hysterics.” I have to laugh at this as well, Sam’s wry sense of humour somehow being able to couple the extreme with the banal amazingly well. Which bring me to article start #4. What is the lead singer of one of Australia’s most popular bands, someone who I most recently saw playing to thousands of people, all singing his lyrics back at him, doing right now? Sam Cromack is currently folding the laundry. Or as he puts it- “I’m being a domesticated nice boy.” It’s another great juxtaposition - the mental image of a rockstar having to pair the socks -that goes to the core of the Ball Park Music Experience. Like most human experiences, even laundry is something Sam thinks deeply, and is able to dissect. “It’s the worst part of that whole chain of events. You put it into the basket, into the machine, onto the line, back in to the basket, then the fold, it’s the worst part.”
“Well actually, thats the thing we’ve had a lot of, which I don’t know if many other bands have this, we’ve had our songs played at people’s weddings A LOT. Like, people write to us A LOT.”
He’s probably getting the bag packed for his upcoming massive tour with other Aussie indie legends San Cisco, a co-headline tour which apparently took a lot of planning.
This could have something to do with Sam’s propensity for writing love songs.
“We’ve sort of tried to set something up like this for years. We’ve spoken to San Cisco in the past, we’ve spoken to Jungle Giants, we all have a similarity in style, we all know each other, but it’s just the hardest thing to organise. Everyone’s got their own album campaigns and touring schedules, there’s always argy bargy. But we were looking to tour at this time anyway and we were really wanting to have a punt stepping into those bigger venues. We were always a bit on the fence about whether we could really pull the numbers. That was when we thought maybe we can try and do this with someone who was doing the same thing.”
“I have definitely written a lot of love songs. They’re pretty unashamed. I just really grew up on a diet of love songs so I’ve always felt really comfortable writing them, and I’m definitely a big bleeding heart. Also, a lot of Beatles records. For the first half of their career before they had the privelige of experimenting a bit more they were just smashing out the love songs. They’ve even confessed in interveiws that thery werent necesarily coming from a personal experience a lot of the time, they were literally writing what they thought people would want to hear from a love song and I guess that’s really rubbed off on me. My parents were also playing some golden oldies like Elvis and Roy Orbison. They’re like your… wait, what’s at the bottom of the food pyramid?” The grains and pastas and stuff? “Yeah. And at the top [in the sweets section] as a teenager you’ve got your Red Hot Chilli Peppers and your Incubus, you should probably only have a little bit of them. You don’t want to overdo it.” But the question remains, which of BPM’s vast library of love are happy couples choosing the most? “And the two front runners are iFly and Exactly How You Are, the first has the word FUCK in it over and over again, and EHYA has the word c%^& in it in the first line!” It’s true. I only had it pointed out to me recently as well. The delightful, heartfelt ballad from Ball Park’s latest album also manages to drop the biggest swear the english language currently has. Which brings me to article beginning number 3- an out of context quote. “Would you like the regular version, or de-cunted version” Sam Cromack tries to explain the administration behind releasing a song with profanity. Apparently, with so many different radio stations and streaming services having different rules around
And so fortuitously it came to be, Sam and the gang joining not only San Cisco but Shire up-n-comer Ruby Fields to make thousands of people jump around Australia. And cry around Australia. And sing around Australia. And think around Australia. Which brings me to my final start of this article. Start #1. The start which when you look at it’s actual place is now probably more of an end, but one I had to leave until the end otherwise you wouldn’t believe me. It is the stupidly bold statement. Ball Park Music are the perfect band. There are very few acts I know of that can not only be as sweet enough to be a wedding waltz, as badass enough to drop the c-bomb in it. Bold enough to cover Bohemian Rhapsody in a Splendour set, but funny enough to cover the Friends theme at Groovin’ the Moo. Small enough to decide team up with another band to play big venues, but big enough for American hip hop artist Travis Scott to pick one of their tracks to be on the NBA 2k19 soundtrack, (which was announced just a few days ago.) And finally, and probably most importantly, be nice enough and downto-earth enough to discuss it all whilst folding underpants. So thank you Sam Cromack. Long Live Ball Park Music.
social stalk @ballparkmusic
ie Pearson Model: Cass elcher er: Alex Scho Photograph
words by naomi crawford
It was one of those days during spring where you feel completely at ease with the world. Where all you need is a jacket and sunnies and you’re good to go. It was a day like this that I first came across Claire Ritchie at the Rose Street Market in Melbourne’s inner north and fell in love with all that she had. From shirts, to pouches, to scrunchies – Claire offers more than just material. For as long as she can remember, she says, she has always wanted to create – “I have some cheeky memories of sneaking into mum’s studio at a very young age to use her sewing machine. I used to pull apart clothing in an attempt to figure out how they would go back together again.” Her process of printing her designs onto fabric has come from experimenting with a variety of tools over the years – from acrylics, paper, canvas, wood – even the odd front door mat! “I used to screen print onto fabric, but I was quite restricted because of space and time. After spending some time focusing on my illustration it naturally became time to transfer my artwork onto fabric.” But this was not enough for Claire. Conscious of her footprint, she strives to keep as lowwaste as possible; a value that she continues to challenge herself to improve upon. This led her to experiment with other processes – “After
conducting some research I realised that digital printing onto fabric not only uses no water, but it is a high-quality process of transferring artwork. So that’s where I am at now.’ And not only does Claire produce low-waste products in her work, she also produces every single piece herself – a super impressive feat for an individual at the best of times, but more-so for someone with two little ones! “Sometimes I feel completely mad for taking it on, especially with two young ones. It was never really the plan to hand make everything myself, but I just really love the end to end process and how meaningful that is to my work.” It is this handmade feel that sets Claire apart – every piece is made with care and consideration and at a low cost to the environment. Truly, drawing inspiration from the environment plays a role in the finished designs. While she maintains that she draws what comes naturally to her, there remains a theme of nature across many of the finished designs. When asked about this, Claire responded with “I do love gardening. My drawing has always made me feel calm and grounded, and pottering in my garden gives me that same feeling.” In terms of her process and style, Clare states that she tries “to keep drawing what comes naturally… not to force a style that doesn’t feel right. And these shapes and motifs are my go-to. I’ve always loved drawing flowers.” Claire added that she “once had a boyfriend who told me I used to much floral in my work. Of course, I ignored this. Ha.” Atta girl.
Photographer: Whip Appeal of Sweden.
In that respect, her work has a lush feminine vibe, filled with flowers and rainbows and the moon. Claire grew up as the eldest of four girls under the guidance of an incredibly strong-minded mum – “Mum stands up to those who challenge her, male and female, and I think this power and approach to life has translated to a sense of pride in my work. A pride around creating artwork which is of a female nature.” I feel it’s safe to say that these feelings of grounded-ness and proud femininity resonate with those that come across her work. Diving into the depths of Claire’s social media, it’s impossible not to feel a world of possibility – gulping up the refreshing, yet grounding designs that Claire posts to her feed as a teaser for her work to come.
“Things tend to happen very organically with new pieces, I just let it flow from one thing to the next.” And while there is a natural flow that occurs through her work, Claire notes that she is not exempt from the pressures of being an artist. In terms of having an online presence, she mentions that she doesn’t necessarily feel a social pressure, but that she feels “it is important to take breaks from social media and to check in with yourself often.”
“it is important to take breaks from social media and to check in with yourself often.”
Where some of her patterns come across as minimalistic, there is a richness of colour and depth that create a sense of fullness and thoughtful design – “I definitely feel my patterns are positive. I use a lot of bright, bold colour and this always gets people smiling. I just try to draw what feels right, whether its focusing on the shape or the colour. I let my feeling guide the pattern.”
With a core rotation of products on the go, Claire states that the plan is usually to keep things fresh by introducing the same pieces with a new design. But she doesn’t necessarily plan for a pattern to end up on a particular product –
“Recently I have been feeling the pull to create more patterns and artwork. I’m still making my little range of clothing and accessories, and I will also be adding more paper goods over the next month. Middle to longer term I really want to grow what I do and to inspire others to feel that they can do what they love too… I think it is important to ask yourself why you do what you do, and it is also equally as important to be at peace with what you do. I create because I love it and it makes me feel happy, I want to have a career that works in-sync with my personal life.”
Balancing work with her family, Claire acknowledges that she wants her family to see her happy in her work. “Pressure will always be there, and pressure doesn’t need to be negative, these pressures are what we put on ourselves and will only ever be temporary. Plus, I like to do happy dances sometimes.”
social stalk @claire__ritchie
ALEX the astronaut words by courtney rothberg
We’re in a moment of time where celebrity is consuming. Thanks to social media, it’s exploitation and self promotion in the most unashamed of ways. So when we find someone in the spotlight who shuns that lifestyle and is trying to make a positive impact on the world via their platform, it’s the breath of fresh air our heavily polluted lungs desperately need. Alex Lynn is a singer-songwriter. She is raw and honest, Australian to her core and a voice her generation needs. Hell, a voice our country needs. She’s Alex the Astronaut, with gravity having little to do with why her feet are so firmly planted on the ground. Seemingly gifted with both academic nous and creative artistry, she returned home last year after studying astrophysics in New York while on a soccer scholarship. Continuing to focus on music in between classes and training, Alex is now working towards the release of her much anticipated third album. Vocally stunning, she has made a name for herself by sharing her life experiences with a delivery that is both upbeat and at times desolate, finding a space in between genres where she’s standing on her own and creating a distinctive sound that will give her longevity in an industry that can spit you out just as fast as it took you in. Alex is spreading happiness like confetti but instead of being stuck in your hair, it’s in your head and changing the way your heart feels. Debuting on triple j’s hottest 100 last year at #23 for her song Not Worth Hiding, detailing a beautiful coming of age story about her struggle with her sexuality, she sings about the confines society can put on any of us if we let them. Every minority in the world can learn from her songs, where she is pushing a sense of inclusion and acceptance no matter where you come from and hopes one day, just like the rest of us dreaming of equality, that everyone is entitled to the same privileges as that of a white male. Lyrically unambiguous, she writes in such a beautiful way that connects and resonates immediately. Coupled with her very candid film clips, it’s impossible not to break into a spontaneous body roll-cum-shoulder shrug when her music graces your ears. It was a dreary day on the coast as I sat perched on my bed and gave Alex a call, her voice down the line was even more cheerful than I was expecting. Like an overly energetic child on Christmas morning. The further into the call we got, I realised this is just her. Enthusiasm in abundance. Having just released a new single titled Waste of Time, she’s at it again sharing her journey about control and learning to let go. Admitting to being a bit of a control freak, it’s often part and parcel coming from an academic and sporting background that requires an immense amount of structure. “This has been the first year where I haven’t been studying and haven’t been playing sport as much so I’m kind of learning to have a more balanced approach to life, which is new and took some adjusting.” While gigging in NYC, that continued lack of structure reared it’s ugly head in the form of stress and many sleepless nights spent ruminating over every tiny detail that was to come during an upcoming 10 minute set, even though the audience was mostly her friends. After conquering a few of those shows, the learning curve was steep. “Even if I vomited on stage or if I forgot every lyric to every song it wouldn’t be the worst thing. I would still come off and it would still be fine and I could still have another go. The more
comfortable you are then the better the show is going to be so I think I learnt mistakes are fine and you don’t have to fixate on them. I think that kind of stuck with me so when I came back to Australia and I had people listening to the music I could actually have fun with it.” Knowing it’s a path she’s going to have to tread forever, her head is in the right space to keep pushing through those barriers. “Music is very abstract. If you’re sitting down with a blank page, getting form A to B is more indirect and individual than anything else. So that lack of control, I guess a system in place, you have to learn as you go along and the shows are the things that teach you to be better at shows.” The growth between Waste of Time and the release of her debut EP in early 2017 has most notably come from the dust settling. Naturally in the beginning she was thrilled to simply be playing for
“... I think I’m learning to let go and just go back to being that twelve year old again.” people, that others wanted to hear her music but acknowledging she’s now at a point where her focus has shifted to delving deeper as an artist and developing her song writing and show craft. “You come into music and there have never been people involved before. It was just me as a little twelve year old playing songs and writing songs. I was learning how to do it and I was excited about it so I’d listen to music and try to learn from that music whereas when people started getting involved I had to think I need to write a really good song so that they like it. I think I’m learning to let go and just go back to being that twelve year old again.” Loving what we’ve heard already, it’s intriguing to think how wide her reach could be when anchoring back to her uninhibited roots. Already on the receiving end of some very supportive comments floating around in cyber space, one self described burly man admits her songs made him tear up. “It’s so heart warming, especially when you have an aspect of fear involved with releasing music. There’s always that worry that it’s not going to be good or people aren’t going to like it or you’re going to get mean comments or something like that. The Internet is terrifying. I’m kind of proud of that and it makes me feel like I really can do this and I can release music that will help people feel more connected with the world around them. The fact that I have some sort of good impact on someone’s day is a very cool thing.”
Photographer: Evo Producer: Tim Burnett Hair and Make up: Celeste Gubb Styling: Lucy Stars
With Paul Kelly as her biggest musical influence, she covered his song If I Could Start Today Again for Like a Version and describes the experience as overwhelming. Following a right of passage for so many Aussie musos, it’s understandable her feelings of trepidation when the opportunity arose, following in the footsteps of many greats that had gone before her. “It’s a very prestigious thing so when you get in there, I felt all that pressure. I think if you look in my eyes, they’re completely dilated, you can see how nervous I was. I was shaking. I was just scared that I was not going to do well and that people were going to be mean to me on the internet. I was just kind of hoping that I didn’t fuck up, I guess. You walk away and I got that feeling of relief but then when you listen back it’s like “Wow, that was really cool”. But I think going in and feeling that pressure, once you’ve gotten through that it’s very enlightening. I’ve done that now. I’ve ticked that off. Now I can look back and have fun with it rather than feel that pressure.” Playing her own song wasn’t the daunting part, it was covering her idol’s track and trying to make it as good as she could. “Ben and Liam were really helpful, good comic relief and compassionate. They know how nerve wracking it is for artists.” Even with her success to date, Alex remains very humble, at times coming across like she doesn’t fully grasp how incredible she is. All you have to do is ask Elton John, who was happy to blow her trumpet and shine a light on her pure talent for his radio show. With praise not getting much higher than that, Alex recalls the experience with a gear change from general excitement to that of immense appreciation. “I was in England playing a few shows, supporting Lisa Mitchell in Bush Hall. I had 2 days in London and I got an email from my manager in the middle of the night saying I was going to be on the show and it didn’t really register I don’t think. Like I thought it might be a tribute show or something. Apple sent me all the dates to listen and then I thought this might be a thing so I googled it and realised it was a radio show and it all clicked very slowly. I stayed up to listen in the night and like, it was just weird. It was really cool but really weird. I was just thinking “This is Elton John talking, Elton John.” I didn’t know how into music he was and how supportive of Australian music he was. It was just surreal.”
Being appreciated by other artists within your craft is one of the highest compliments you can get so being able to collaborate goes one step further. Just ask the boys from Skeggs who wanted a piece of her honest voice for some backing vocals on their new album, meeting at a festival where a swap of band merch fostered a friendship beyond their profession. “They are just really lovely boys, sensitive and clever and really welcome you in. I sang on their album and they asked if I wanted to do the song at Splendour. Everything just aligned and it was crazy. I’ve never sung for that amount of people in my life. I was a bit nervous but also just a bit in awe. I was just kind of smiling the whole time. Toby gave me the lead guitar and ran away from the stage. Luckily it was only two chords, I didn’t know what was happening. It was cool to have two very different genres and artists come together. I think it’s good for people to see that we’re all in it together. There isn’t that separation. For them to support female artists, they have a female tour manager, they’re really good guys who are perceptive of the issues that are going on.” While chatting about Splendour and being around so many big name acts, I asked if she ever gets star struck and her answer caught me completely off guard. “Murray the red Wiggle was there. I was kind of very uncool about that. He walked past and my friends were with me and I was like that’s Murray the red wiggle. He looked back and heard me.”, she says laughing awkwardly. Like I said earlier, feet firmly planted on the ground. A story teller beyond her years, she knows that it’s not always rainbows and unicorns, the tougher times though providing good ingredients for her sweet-sounding, infectious folk-pop songs. Reminiscing about her teenage years, her advice to herself would be simple; “Chill out. I think when you’re 15 you’re worried about what the world is going to look like for you when you’re older. It takes away from what you’re doing at the time. Take a deep breath and just go with it.” Even to me as a 34 year old that advice is still very sound. Without a doubt, Alex is who you want your kid growing up idolising, not some glitzy RnB star (I say that loosely because it’s not the 90s anymore Toto), writhing on a bonnet and grinding their way to the top. Whilst she is extremely playful, vulnerability is the only mask Alex is willing to wear.
social stalk @alex.the.astronaut
Photographer: Evo Producer: Tim Burnett Hair and Make up: Celeste Gubb Styling: Lucy Stars
liquorice MOON words by ashlea codner
“My entire life I have been in search of creative avenues that inspire and excite me. Being creative isn’t something that I do, it’s who I am.” That’s Eve Simmons, and she is an absolute bloody babe! Not only does the Queenslander juggle being a single mum to her two gorgeous kids, but she’s a self-employed ceramic goddess who creates some of the most sustainable, functional items I’ve seen in all my time writing for The Eye. She’s a go-getter with a can-do attitude, whose words really struck a chord with me. And I’m not ashamed to say, I’m a massive, MASSIVE, fan! Over the last three years, some incredibly inspirational pottery artists have graced the pages of this growing magazine, and I have loved every single one of them. Some have been off-the-wall quirky (think Bonnie Hislop), and some have been idyllically quaint (think Amy Hick), but to come across a designer whose back story has not only inspired me to think about my future as a writer and potential maker, but who has created a range of items that I would absolutely love to kit my own house out with, well (considering I don’t even have my own house), that’s no mean feat! Eve’s love of ceramics started when she was just a wee nipper. Growing up above a pottery shop on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, she and her sister would play in the studio, messing about with hot wax and making pots with their grandmother. But it took until 2014 for her brand, Liquorice Moon Studios, to come to fruition, and the self-taught ceramic wonder woman says she became instantly hooked on clay after a period of sporadic exploration during the time her youngest child was nearing school age. Eve said: “I bought a pottery wheel and gradually taught myself to throw pots through practice and YouTube tutorials (whilst being a stay at home mum and working weekends as a face painter and doing photography).
“I started firing my pieces at a local pottery group, took photos of the finished products and started posting them on Instagram. “My dream was to work from home so that I could always be available for my kids as they went through school and to not put them in before or after school care like so many 9-5 jobs require. “I honestly didn’t expect to sell anything! To my surprise, interest grew, and I quickly found the need to set up my online Etsy shop. From there I bought a small kiln, converted my garage into a studio, began stocking a handful of stores throughout Australia, and I haven’t looked back.”
– did she tend to wake up in the middle of the night and devour bags and bags of moon-shaped liquorice? Had there been a lucid, sleep-deprived daydream in which the moon had actually turned black and sticky? Was her studio shaped like a moon and covered in liquorice? Unfortunately for me, the reality of her brand name acquisition isn’t that arbitrary.
she realised that was where her heart lay. “I get inspired and energised with new ideas very easily (this can cause havoc when trying to stick to one subject!). Inspiration often comes from simple things such as patterns, shapes and textures created by the earth. I constantly experiment with new ideas and often don’t follow the rules, so inspiration often comes from mistakes or ‘happy accidents’, as my daughter calls them. “I guess I simply make things that I would use in my home. I aim to create functional pieces that enrich our simple daily rituals; like having a coffee, serving a meal to your family or putting on your jewellery in the morning.
“It’s a lot of work to manage while doing all the ‘mum jobs’ as well. But like all working parents, I cope...just!”
Not everything has been rosy for Eve though; after ploughing herself through a breast cancer battle in 2016, and overcoming a relationship break-up, the 35-year-old says maintaining a balanced life is a real juggle. “After cancer I promised myself I’d do more of what made my soul happy, so I make family and friends a priority. I’m lucky because I really enjoy my work, and I’m lucky to be a full-time potter – it still shocks (and scares) me a little when I think about it though.”
“The name Liquorice Moon was created for a few reasons. Firstly, all the other names I could think of were taken! Secondly, it was a play around with the idea that I do most of my work in the black of the night while my children sleep. And honestly, I just liked the sound of it and needed to go with something! I wish there was a more romantic story!”
When I first came into contact with Liquorice Moon Studios, I had no idea about Eve’s backstory; no idea she had kids, no idea of her age, no idea about her struggles; so I conjured up all sorts of weird scenarios for why she would’ve chosen to name her brand Liquorice Moon Studios
Eve strikes me as the kind of person who isn’t afraid to just go with what suits her, experimenting with things, and rolling with the punches. She explained to me that she’s always been in search of creative avenues that inspire and excite her. And when she taught herself to make things out of clay,
“I strive to make pieces that show the heart, time and thought that I have put into it and hopefully that warmth transpires into the buyers’ home. “I use a lot of small bowls for trinkets, jewellery, serving the kids snacks, for dips and condiments when I have people over; so naturally I started making them because I find them so useful. I love hand painting, so these small bowls allow me to experiment with that. “There’s something about creating with clay that relaxes and calms the mind. It teaches me to slow down, be centred and in the moment. It entwines my love of sculpture, design, painting and photography, while constantly challenging me mentally and creatively.”
social stalk @liquorice_moon_studios
Eve’s story, and particularly those last words about being challenged, speak to me in so many ways, and in part I can draw some personal comparison with her ethics - she’s a powerhouse, a survivor, a fighter, and an inspirational joy – her wares have function and are practical, but are made with so much love you can virtually feel it; her talent is genuine, and she doesn’t let her past struggles define her; and that’s what makes me love her so much. In fact, I’d go as far as to say she’s my newest inspiration. Every time I sit down to write, whether as a journalist or a creative, I aim to tell a story, and I produce written work because I want others to read and gain enjoyment from my tales; I want others to find functionality in my work; so, in much the same vein, I’m channelling my energies and challenging myself in a similar way to how Eve does with Liquorice Moon. Writing teaches me to be mindful and helps me to pour my feelings into something worthwhile, and I get the feeling pottery does the same for Eve. One of the other major reasons I’m fan-girling over this talented beauty right now is her sheer determination in terms of the hard work she puts in to sustaining her brand.
When they sell, I wrap the pieces in tissue paper, bubble wrap, box them and post them off. “I spend most days of the week making my ceramics and attempting to keep up with emails, my Etsy store and social media enquiries. I do all areas of the business myself; from designing logos and hand cutting business cards, my web shop, hand formulating glazes and firing my work, photography, gift wrapping and sending out orders.
“All of my pottery is made from Australian stoneware clay. I purchase the clay and my glaze materials from our local pottery shop, called The Clay Shed.
Eve sells her pottery at Peregian Beach Markets twice a month (which she loves as it enables her to meet her customers), and she also has an online shop, which you can check out here - www. liquoricemoonstudios.etsy.com You’d be a fool not to!
“And the designing stage is happening constantly. I’m always observing patterns, shapes, ideas, making notes and doing sketches. When I’m creating a new range, I will often look at art, colours, patterns and just simply experiment. I get bored making the same thing over and over, so I’m always doing new patterns and trying new things. “After the pieces are finished, I photograph them, load the photos and info into my Etsy store and onto IG/FB, and hope to sell some.
“Creating ceramics incorporates so many of the things I need and love in a job. Using my hands, designing, painting, sculpture, photography, the earth, a mental challenge and being my own boss. “I often make mistakes, things hardly every turn out as I expected (especially when I have a deadline), and I often think to myself ‘what have I gotten myself into?!’ Yet if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you right? And Liquorice Moon Studios has certainly done that. “It’s a lot of work to manage while doing all the ‘mum jobs’ as well. But like all working parents, I cope...just!”
liz LAU STUDIO
Photographer: Sarah Spilsbusy Directed and styled by: Courtney Brookes Model: Akira Lopez
words by eliza spencer
In the back of a dusty warehouse in Sydney’s inner west, jewellery designer Liz Lau sits with golden afternoon light filling her cosy studio space. Sketches, prints and a fish mirror hang from the walls, and the only giveaway that this was once a toilet block is the cracked white tiling, and its proximity to the garage turned living area. Liz Lau Studio started last year, after a trip to Asia and an existential crisis. Liz now creates uniquely handcrafted jewellery pieces to wear around your wrist, neck, ears or pinned to your favourite jacket. “I’m an all or nothing person, so I threw myself in completely to create a brand and have since never looked back. I had imagined scenarios of making and selling my work for such a long time, that to be actually living it, is the most satisfying feeling I have ever felt. Working for Liz Lau Studio is working to live my childhood dream.”
Hustling to make her childhood dream a reality, you’ll often find Liz at one of Sydney’s weekly markets, music festivals and creative events like Finders Keepers. These markets have become a place to meet more creatives and connect with local communities. Joining the fray of small businesses has brought a new kind of appreciation to Liz’s world, and she’s started finding ways to support local Aussies wherever she can. “Since I have moved into Sydney’s Inner West, I have been fortunate enough to be within walking distance or a short bus ride away from most of my suppliers which are all small businesses themselves. I do have some suppliers from other states, but I make sure to support fellow Australian businesses. Jewellery purchased from Liz Lau Studio is also supporting other Australian endeavours and I wholeheartedly believe in putting back into our grassroots economy.” With a background in Industrial Design and a keen interest in fine arts, Liz’s jewellery mixes the two, with laser cut designs and hand painted charm. Her latest mini-collection examines the female form, exploring the balance and flow found in the artwork of Henri Matisse.
“My mini collection, Freedom, was aptly named, I was going through a big personal and work change while I was drawing them. Feeling crushed by living and working under the same roof, I was completely deprived of social and visual stimulation. Those drawings came about when I began working from a library, waiting to hire out a studio space for work. I drew out those designs and hashed out their details all from a table in Chatswood Library. When I was waiting for those designs to be cut and sent back to me, I was busy moving my home studio into a shared creative studio. Those pieces represent a huge and liberating change in my life and as soon as I began making them in my new studio I felt such a sense of freedom. To an outsider’s perspective, they may just be jewellery, but there is so much unseen behind every creation.” The unseen process of creating – imagining, drafting and designing is an inherently vulnerable one before a product even makes its way into markets. This vulnerability and imperfection is a huge part of Liz Lau Studio, where acrylic bodies of all shapes and sizes are celebrated. Finding time and space to foster that vulnerability didn’t come easy for Liz, who much like a lot of us in our early twenties, found out the hard way that life doesn’t always play out like your favourite comingof-age film. “I had a very idealistic view of what it was to be an adult. I thought that things would fall into place and generally, you would know what you were meant to be doing. I have come around to the fact that no one is a finished piece, everyone is a work in progress and it’s been very refreshing to see that. Everyone can relate to being a frazzled mess but not everyone will willingly express themselves that way. It seems to me that we place so much importance on portraying an image that is put together, yet true connection actually begins when you show fractures and vulnerability.” “I grew up in Australia, as a woman of Asian descent. There is such beautiful diversity in our streets, yet this was never reflected in our media. I’ve experienced racism and sexism, albeit those instances were not hugely traumatic, they were enough for me to distance myself from my culture and anything that was stereotypically ‘girly’. As I became older, I began accepting myself for who I was. I now cherish being Chinese and a woman and an Australian. I am and identify as all three of those things, as well as being my own person.” The new understanding of what it is to be a woman and all its beautiful and confusing implications found its way into Liz’s designs. Attaching a pair of hairy legs to their matching feet, she admits ‘I always get the legs and ankles mixed up,’ before setting aside another set of uniquely crafted hoops. “In this day and age, there is criticism for everybody and every body. My first range of jewellery was that of body parts dislocated from the body. I have depicted hair and wrinkles, something that we strangely shun, all in the midst of red manicures and pedicures to represent the polished exterior.”
“When people see my work and wear my jewellery I want them to feel a connection to it, so I aim to create pieces that can evoke such emotion. Liz Lau Studio has been, in a way, a healing process for myself. I am creating a platform to represent what I craved seeing when I was younger, and I believe what a lot of other people do as well.” Social media can be a haven for creatives looking for inspiration and representation, and Liz credits much of her drive to following fellow designers online. Not all of her inspiration comes from scrolling though, and with a healthy love for adventure, you might run into her next time you visit the great big city of Sydney. “Generally, doing things that are out of my routine will inspire me even if they are mundane. I love being a tourist in my own city, there are endless places to explore. Just last week, I discovered a beautiful marble staircase leading to a hidden little library in AGNSW (Art Gallery of New South Wales) even though I have been there countless times. I am a person who is easily moved and inspired. So, even just scrolling through my Instagram feed I will find the drive to make work that is on par with all these talented creatives. Instagram is a great tool to use because you curate exactly what you want to see. If you want to be inspired creatively, follow some kick-ass creatives and it will encourage you to make.” There’s inspiration everywhere for Liz and after listening to The Alchemist, she’s hooked on all things audio learning. Finding it the perfect way to get the romance of reading a good book for those who can’t sit still for long, podcasts and audiobooks have led Liz through some of the defining points of the last year. Her top recommendations? The serialised Criminal crime podcast for when you’ve got a bunch to get done, or Queer Eye’s Jonathan van Ness giving us all warm hearts and deep thoughts with Getting Curious.
into it, the more I have understood who I am and why I act the way I do.” Wanting to follow Liz’s path to creating and designing? She gave us some invaluable tips to help kick start your journey and stand out from the crowd of creators. “Every market is generally worth a shot! Weekly markets are always a great start-up to receive instant feedback. Make sure you are aware of the types of people that frequent those markets so that you can gauge if your product will resonate. Pay attention to the comments of people viewing your work. Their words are invaluable advice. On pricing, take your time to price appropriately. Your customers are not just purchasing the raw materials, they are purchasing your time and service as an independent artist/designer. It is very easy to undersell yourself and it is something I struggle with. During my school years, it was impressed in us that you cannot sustain yourself by creating. There was much more emphasis on subjects that were not art, design or performance. If you are smart with your skills and nurture them, you are able to make a living out of anything you want. Carve that niche for yourself. It took me a while to live this, but it is important to not let what others view as success belittle what you see as success. The exchange of knowledge is so powerful, especially for us artists and designers trying to figure out their place for their work. After all, there is no manual for any of this.” You can check out Liz’s jewellery on her website, www. lizlaustudio.com and follow her updates on Instagram at @lizlaustudio. Check out her Events page to find dates and locations to see her incredible, diverse and encouraging work in the flesh!
“I’ve also become very interested in astrology, which is something I never thought I would say. It is easily cast aside as a bunch of nonsense but the more I research
social stalk @lizlaustudio
â€œ...It seems to me that we place so much importance on portraying an image that is put together, yet true connection actually begins when you show fractures and vulnerability.â€? Photographer: Sarah Spilsbusy Directed and styled by: Courtney Brookes Model: Lola Rose Thompson
Photographer: Sarah Spilsbusy Directed and styled by: Courtney Brookes
e l len
When I was a young girl it was expected that when someone asked me what my favourite colour was that I say: pink. Everything was pink; from the duvet cover to the walls. The first teddy-bear I received when I was born, my newborn body-suit, and the bouquet of flowers that sat in my mother’s hospital room. Pink. Pink. Pink. So of course, being surrounded by brothers and the blues, greens, reds, and blacks of boys colours, I didn’t care much for pink.
words by kayla gaskell
But my issues with the colour have faded over the years and I now have pink (as well as blue) on my duvet. I have pink ornaments, patterns with pinks on shirts and scarves. I even have a pink duck on my shelf, gifted by a friend a few years ago. Reclaiming the colour meant too things: acknowledging that pink isn’t a girl’s colour and that the colour can be used to both calm and motivate. Ellen Porteus too, it seems, knows the value of colours as her typical palette takes advantage of a range of bright colours, in particular, pink. ‘Pink’ encompasses a wide variety of colours and shades, all of which give off a different feeling, impression, or flavour. Bright pinks are energetic and motivational whereas soft pinks are calming and refreshing. Porteus takes full advantage of this in her work, not just with pink but with a range of colours, keeping her palette bright and fun to look at. Porteus’ work is all about self-reflection and positivity. She uses bright colours to motivate and inspire her audience. She uses it to draw attention to social issues and reclaim the right for women to be unapologetically themselves. Many of Porteus’ illustrations portray women and women’s bodies in a positive manner, as well fighting the conception that bras are a necessary evil.
Despite my earlier sentiments about the colour pink, Porteus uses the colour well, not just taking advantage of the range of variations but also the feelings they evoke. What I love about this is using pink, a colour I always associated with being girly, to reinforce messages of female positivity, women supporting women, and women being successful as, undoubtedly, Porteus is. Not only does Porteus’ work represent her success, but also her ability to inspire others. She has a following of over 14,000 people on Instagram. Her work, to many, is a conglomerate of creativity, blending various concepts together in her unique style. Being a writer, I find it refreshing to take a break and look at art as it reminds you that the term “art” very is versatile. Art can be created in a variety of ways and in different mediums or on different platforms. Not only this, but artists tend to present their work as being only the beginning. The idea of endless possibilities is something which I personally find amazing. These possibilities make it possible for creatives to create new work. Every creative person—whether they be an artist, writer, musician, filmmaker, actor, comedian— dreams of the day they can quit their day-job and do what they love for a living. Doesn’t it just sound wonderful to have the freedom to write or draw or make music every single day? Without having to worry about changing your style or adapting your work to suit others in order to monetize it? While, for most of us, this is just a dream, there are a few magical people who have both the skill and luck to live the creative dream. Porteus is one of the lucky ones—someone with incredible talent, amazing drive to succeed, and the good timing to make it happen. Porteus studied graphic design at university meanwhile working hard to develop her own unique style. Porteus said that after university, “I started to develop my own style of illustration and began creating and publishing personal work on my blog.” It was through the blog that Porteus found her first paid illustration gig with Bloomberg Businessweek. She says: “From then I was hooked. I left my job almost immediately, told everyone I was an illustrator and made it work. Thankfully, it did!” Leaving a job to pursue your passion is the ultimate dream, one that Porteus lives. After Bloomberg Businessweek, she worked with a number of big-name clients including: Adidas, Apple, New York Times, and Sydney Opera House. When I asked about her clients, Porteus told me that she “feel[s] incredibly lucky to make a living out of art, and whether that’s for well-known clients or not doesn’t bother me at all. I get excited about an interesting brief rather than a client or agency its attached to.” Working with big-name clients also doesn’t necessarily infringe on Porteus’s creative freedom. She says: “Sometimes the bigger clients have more hoops to jump through in terms of getting things approved, but then again I’ve worked with some huge clients that have given me the most amazing creative freedom. It really depends on the brief!”.
Everyone’s creative processes differ, particularly when it comes to different types of projects. For Porteus, her creative process works in the same way for a commercial project as it does for personal projects. She says: “it begins by brainstorming how to communicate an idea or concept.” From there ideas begin to flow and she gets drawing, working until she has a concept fixed within her mind. She then goes on to make digital sketches and put together colour palettes, which she says is her favourite part. She then works with her drawing tablet until the piece reaches completion and, if it’s an animation, moves it into animation software and begins to “make it move”.
is what drives me the most.” But another motivating factor is knowing that people will get to enjoy and find positivity in her work. Just looking at her work makes me think that it has the potential to influence how women view themselves—a problem many struggle with. Porteus’ focus on positivity and being unapologetically female is something very important, particularly for those who sit within the binary. When I asked if there was a particular message that she wanted her viewers to receive Porteus explained that it’s “all about honest self-reflection.”
It is wonderful to see so many artists working towards body positivity and embracing the self. Body image is an everpresent issue for many people, in particular, women and so it is important that there are reminders to view yourself in a positive manner, promoting healthy rather than thin. Porteus’ use of loud, bright colours brings her illustrations to life, drawing the eyes of her viewers. Her work is fun, lively, and intelligent—traits she has worked hard to cultivate and cement into her style. Her loud colour palettes and positive vibes encourage the viewer to hold a cheerful outlook on life.
“From then I was hooked. I left my job almost immediately, told everyone I was an illustrator and made it work...”
As well as creating a wide variety of digital art and animations, Porteus also works traditionally and some of her murals are displayed on Instagram. She says that creating large scale pieces such as murals presents an additional challenge as you’re creating something that will live within a space. You have to spend more time “consider[ing] things like scale and placement and the feeling of the piece within the context.” Not only this but the act of creating a mural piece is completely different from a digital work as it takes a lot longer to physically paint. While painting is a slower process compared with the creation of digital art, Porteus says that that’s one of the reasons she loves doing it.
When I asked about where she finds her motivation Porteus said it came from being creatively challenged. “The feeling of pulling something off that seemed impossible
While there are many wonderful things about working as an illustrator—in particular doing something you love for a living—there is also a downside. Constantly creating means that it can be difficult to switch off and take a break. Despite it being something, she loves doing, Porteus rarely has an entire day where she isn’t working on something work related. It can be important to take breaks in order to refresh your creativity even for someone with as much drive as Porteus.
social stalk @ellenporteus
After looking for so long at Porteus’ illustrations I can’t help but think about the wonders of colour not just on mood but on motivation and inspiration as well. Her work is certainly something that would inspire me to achieve my goals, to work, and certainly to write this piece.
Porteus success is the creative dream— something many of us can only hope to achieve. In the meantime, however, we can enjoy her work. The positivity and encouragement of many of her illustrations is a reminder that you really can achieve your goals, perhaps even live the creative dream just like Porteus. You never know until you try!
glost STUDIOS words by ashlea codner
As far back as Ciane can remember her life has been filled with art! Her mum was a high-school art teacher and is still Ciane’s go-to artistic guru. As a child, she was always painting and drawing or manipulating clay with her brother. “Like most children, I just loved the feel of clay and the mess I could make!” Not surprisingly, Ciane is now an art teacher herself, going on to major in sculpture at university, her focus being on hand building. Melbourne-based ceramicist Ciane is now able to use her childhood hobby every day to carefully guide her students. By day, she is lovingly known as Miss Brewster and spends her time chattering
with little people about art. By night, you can find her whispering sweet nothings to her plants as she reads and chomps down on some veggie dumplings. That is of course when she isn’t tucked away in the quiet of her studio working towards a passion project that (unlike Melbourne) is coming in hot! Sporting an impressive range of competent artistic abilities, she admits that while this avenue is taking off her sculpture painting has taken somewhat of a backseat. She would describe herself as reticent and after looking through some of her artistic avenues, I can recognise some of the internal dialogue that is expressed. Before receiving a pottery wheel for Christmas a couple of years ago, Ciane had not had a whole lot of experience wheel throwing which she says has brought her new level of contentment.
“I look forward to walking into that studio. I love the feeling of clay. I love the sense of accomplishment at having made something with my hands. I watch videos of other people making things, or browse through books and pictures, or I watch my own students create pieces, and I feel my own excitement building until I can sit down and create something myself.” Since exploring this new platform of creativity, she is now able to use her hands to organically express her ideas without the constraint of insecurities. With the support and encouragement of her adoring partner (who she claims to be more excited about all this than she is) the dreamy conversation of Glost Studios has slowly turned in to a reality. Ciane’s studio is located in a warehouse building and shares a
admits that it is rarely clear and it is constantly evolving. “It’s a partnership between what my hands can do and want my mind is feeling at the time. I’ve found that if I am too concise in my vision, I often feel disappointed in myself if I can’t quite realise it, or if it deviates. So, I take the pressure off by allowing myself the freedom to mess it up! I think teaching children has helped with this.” For anyone who has visited Glost Studios instagram you will see the gorgeous boobie mugs that Ciane has made more and more of despite the first mug, being a bit of a one-off joke. “The physical form, both bodies and faces, enchants me”. This is reflected as she tells me about some sculptures she made for her mum’s garden, “they are feminine in shape, but more as a suggestion. I was going through a phase of using copper wire and I would make these bulbous, voluptuous sculptures and then wrap them in copper wire before firing. The effect the wire would give when it was fired! It would leave these burnt, shiny, dripping marks on the surface of the clay.”
“I’m slowly learning my own limits and when to say no. I think my biggest relief in the last couple of months is the realisation that I can’t actually do it all." space with another ceramicist, along with a whole lot of other creative minds specialising in a range of different fields. “An ideal day in the studio would be to have the sun coming through the window, to have all my clay wedged and ready to go, a full belly and some chilli kettles chips to snack on. I work better when I’m organised!” In the meantime, she is learning to stick within her capacity and ask for patience when needed. “I’m slowly learning my own limits and when to say no. I think my biggest relief in the last couple of months is the realisation that I can’t actually do it all”. Allowing herself patience and understanding during the progressive growth of Glost Studios has been invaluable for the prosperity of her work. “One night I just sat down at my wheel with a lump of clay and no idea what to do and I just made something. I pushed the limits of the clay and it started to sink and shift. And I fell in love with not only the form but the process, again.”
Enticingly, she elaborated on this with the most beautiful explanation of her figurative designs, how they relate to her own emotions and physicality. “How good are boobs and butts! I think the female form is amazing. We are all so different and our bodies are constantly changing, yet we are beautiful and fluid and strong. As all young women tend to do, I was very critical of my own body when I was younger. Occasionally I still am. But I have also learned to love aspects of it that used to make me feel shame. I realised that things I would hate about my own figure, I thought were beautiful on someone else. My sculptural work has always been a reflection and an exaggeration of this” The malleable nature of the clay has close resemblance to her own mind as when on the wheel Ciane is able to constantly push the boundaries of an idea, creating a sense of acceptance and sometimes failure, in which case she can choose not to revisit the idea moving on to something. “To me imperfections are what make an artwork perfect. I love being able to see the history of the process”. Ciane’s humbling description of her ceramics is something that is so relatable to society as a whole, in believing that we can always be better or more attractive; As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Her unique designs are musing and so much fun, but also offer a sense of acceptance and release. The story that comes with each of the pieces Ciane has created allows the buyer to connect with her vulnerability as well as their own. You can see her growing collection on Instagram.
As an artist, Ciane has always found herself to be really figurative and likes to give her designs some space to breath. Whilst she often has an idea in her head about where a piece is going, she
social stalk @glost_studios
MAEKAR words by emily meagher
A day in the life // with creative, aesthetic seeker and all round talent, Sarah Gibson.
Sarah is the founder, designer and heart and soul of MAEKAR jewellery. A Melbourne based, handmade jewellery range in which every piece is infused with Gibson’s passion for wearable art and stunning design. For Sarah, life has always been about beauty and design and creation, and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to pick her creative mind about her work, home, life and everything in between as a modern day muse. This inspired diva’s home, personal and work lives epitomise the mindset and endeavours of a creative who, above all else, seeks authenticity, inspiration and self expression. Her days, every changing and fluid, reflect her striving for beauty in form. Sarah claims the benefits of starting your day early, telling me ‘it’s always hard when your alarm first goes off, but it sets you up for the day ahead, so I always try to just get going!’. She greets her mornings with a bit of yoga or a run, and loses herself in the physical movement of her body.
She explores Elwood, where she lives with her husband, and enjoys the calm of the morning before she returns to her beautiful home studio. Starting with movement is an important part of her process, and she tells me that ideas and inspiration can strike at the most unpredictable of times. Returning ‘home’ to work is still a luxury that hasn’t lost its appeal or glimmer! Early in the business, Sarah reflects that she had a studio in the city centre, which brought with it a plethora of pros and cons. Its location was impeccable and perfect for meetings, deliveries, not to mentioned the added beauty of being immersed in the hustle and bustle of the city. Sarah still admits that the timing of product drops into the city can be challenging, but with a clever and forethought scheduling of twice weekly drops, she ensures that every MAEKAR customer is never waiting too long for their unique piece. Sarah tells me that having her studio at home has offered her so much freedom in her timings and scheduling of her work, often popping into the studio at 11pm or whenever creative energies surge and she is able to have a play, unbound by time or logistical constraints. She tells me that it’s hard to find a commercial space that honours this kind of spontaneity and unstructured flow of
productivity and creativity, but she feels like she has found that in her home. The upside of a home studio? No separation between work and life. You are literally within meters of your office and creative haven at any given moment and can surrender to the pull of play and inspiration whenever it may strike! And the downside of a home studio? Well, much like the shadow of its counterpart, there’s always the risk of there being no separation between work and life! Sarah tries to establish her boundaries around her ‘work hours’, closing the door in the evenings when her husband returns from work and trying to take Saturdays entirely off. But during the festive season, from around November onwards, Sarah’s hours crescendo to (pretty much) all nighters. And so reflects the cyclical nature of entreprenurialship and creative life, the constant ebbing and flowing of busy periods, when the tenacity of the business owner, fuelled by the love of what they’re creating, allows them to just enjoy the ride and trust the fluidity and cycles of small business ownership.
and prioritise it. There’s something so satisfying about crossing off tasks on that list!”. This epic list dictates and steers her entire day. With no two days the same, the fluidity and every changing business of life as a creative means that the logistical and administrative duties of running MAEKAR need to be obvious and diligently attended to before the creativity flows.
her up for a thriving day ahead. “The days when I don’t do this, it’s all downhill from there. The to do list takes care of my mental clutter, the cleaning of my desk; my physical clutter”.
One of her biggest lessons has been around the concept of creating, and enforcing boundaries, with Sarah tell me “I try to emanate a sense of boundary around my work, so I always aim to be in the studio, ready to work, by 9am”. Her first order of business? Not diving head
The logistics and responsibilities of running a growing business are ever apparent to Sarah, who dedicates her mornings to keeping on top of the business end of things. Although every single day looks and feels a little different, Sarah sets time aside each day to answer emails, run through orders, and tend to the administrative goings on of MAEKAR. Some days she hustles to get orders finalised and sent out; others she fills stock and replenishes the workshop. One of Sarah’s biggest lessons in this game has been to carve out time, specific and concrete time, for creative play. How does this look in the real world? She tells me the importance of clearing a half to an (ideally) full day each week that’s purely put aside specifically for design and creation. These days offer uninterrupted bonus time for MAEKAR concept and design, and are in addition to the afternoons often put aside after the everyday obligations have been seen to.
“As soon as I sat at the bench, I felt at home."
Back at her home, she brews a cup of tea and sits with her ‘to do’ list, which she swears by in the successful running of her days. “Each morning I get down everything that needs to be done that day,
first into her design pad, or fashioning a stunning piece of jewellery. No, she tells me that when she needs to get things done, she cleans her workspace. Every single morning, this non negotiable of cleaning her space and creating a clean slate, sets
The monotonous, but necessary, responsibilities of being in business mean that creative space can often be put on the backburner and neglected in favour of the ‘to do’ list. But Sarah stressed that this has been one of her most profound learnings during her 2 and a half years of founding, building and honouring the MAEKAR label – that creativity and time for pure creation must be factored in. Design and aesthetic pursuit has always been in her blood. A tactile and creative soul from a little girl, since she can remember, Sarah has adored making things and has always craved that sense of creative expression. Despite knowing that jewelery and creation were in her blood and might offer a potential venture, when it came time to pursue her career path, she came up with two paths. One – jewellery design; the other – interior design. But something stirred, calling her to follow the latter path first. So Sarah set off, studying and graduating as an Interior Designer and began working wthin the industry. Jewellery still burned in the back of her mind, and after an extended period of travel, just under ten years ago, she arrived home to find herself at somewhat of a mental crossroads. “I told myself that it’s either I pursue jewellery design now, or not at all”. She finally gave in to the call and redirected herself to this space, first studying and working at a jewellery design studio and it all, as all great universally inspired ideas do, fell into place. “As soon as I sat at the bench, I felt at home”. Sarah studied and worked in the industry for 7 years, and launched MAEKAR two and a half years ago. I asked her where the inspiration and desire to work in jewelry started and Sarah told me about where she recalls first being fascinated by her Grandmother, a natural fashionista, who was forever adorned in precious jewels and unique jewellery pieces. “She had a style that really impacted and inspired me” Sarah recalls. When Sarah speaks of her work and her love for jewelry design, her passion and knowledge are irrefutable. She tells me about her love of jewellery design and its uniqueness in its scale of design and aesthetic. Working within the confines of wearable and consumable pieces of art is both a challenge and a blessing, where she feels she has more control over her design and expression than she did with larger scale interior design projects. “I love that jewellery allows you to see something through from concept to finished product” she tells me. She speaks of her love of the community that she has been immersed in since working in this trade, from artists to customers to buyers and suppliers, and everyone in between, the support and kindness within the community is at the heart of this industry. Her path to jewellery was born of travel and it is travel that continues to fan the flames of her creativity. With an upcoming trip scheduled for Israel and Jordan, Sarah tells me that travel is where she seeks and is gifted her deepest ideas and inspirations. “It’s something to do with the changing of your surroundings and what this does to create space for inspiration”, it’s a non negotiable and a influential aspect of Sarah’s life, often giving rise to entire collections and pieces. Unlike the fashion world, Sarah reflects on the timelessness and eternal nature of jewellery design. She’s not often called or pressured to re-launch entire new collections, because the relevance and beauty of her pieces remains, unbound and unaffected by season
or external factors, each piece remains individualized and perfect in its uniqueness. She reflects on the importance, then, of the quality of her materials and final product as these timeless pieces will be worn and adored years after their initial conception and creation. When asked what wisdom she would want to impart on someone considering this work or someone who was seeking a creative outlet, Sarah advises them “Just get out there. Give it a go. There is so much support in this community and if you don’t try you’ll never know”. A natural creative and an exemplary example of following your heart and building a life and business of your dreams, it’s so easy to see why MAEKAR is a fast growing and competitive player in the jewellery makin’ game. Get yourself acquainted with Sarah and her beautiful pieces over at @MAEKARjewellery or head over to www.MAEKAR.com.au.
social stalk @maekarjewellery
sketch MARKS words by jake day
Real Women// Real Stories// Real Drawing
Not many people have the confidence to stand stark naked in front of a room filled with strangers. Even fewer still have the courage to call-out deliberate body shaming perpetrated by one of those strangers. Ms Bobby Napier, 41, has the fortitude to do both. Ms. Napier is co-founder of Sketch Marks: a four-week intensive program that trains women to be life drawing models, colloquially known as life-models, to help them overcome personal problems with body image. Before participants get to the point of life-modelling they have eight training sessions and attend a life-drawing session as an artist. This is followed by an undress rehearsal in preparation for the big night – disrobing in front of a class of artists, which Bobby has a lot of practice with. She has over 13 years of experience as a life model, starting when she was 28, and has been life-drawing since the age of 17. Bobby began her journey as a life-model in Melbourne where she insisted on wearing underwear in front of her first class of eager artists. Two years ago, she returned to her home town of the Gold Coast, Queensland. It was here that she experienced an incident she had never encountered in all her years of life-modelling. One evening while modelling for a local group Bobby was confronted by a woman during a mid-class break. “...a female artist in her fifties came up to me during the break when no one else was around, they were all making tea and coffee, and she said, ‘excuse me can I ask you a favour?’ And I thought she was going to ask for poses or what-not. And she said, ‘can you not point your vagina at me.’” said Ms Napier. “...She just said ‘look, if it’s looking at me I can’t draw.’”
For the rest of the class Bobby harboured that negativity – not allowing anyone to see her vulnerability while processing the woman’s shame. “She had a lot of energy that she needed to offload and I unwillingly allowed her to offload onto me, I took on a bit of her shame. The next pose, I think it was a 10 or 15 minute, I cried through the whole pose.” said Ms Napier. At the end of the night she informed the class of her experience without singling out the person and stated her intention to never return to the class. The confrontation provided Bobby with the inspiration to start a life-modelling program that put the wellbeing of the model front and centre. Cofounder of Sketch Marks, Jesse Donoghoe, 33, says Bobby’s reaction was inspiring. “If the experience had happened to me I wasn’t ready to have done what she did.” said Ms. Donoghoe. Since a young age Jesse experienced the hard-working lifestyle that comes with growing up on a countryside property near Canberra. She had a strong physique in her formative years, was home-schooled and had very limited access to media. This lifestyle opposes the conventional image associated with eating disorders but that was irrelevant to Jesse’s experience when she developed Bulimia at age 15. “I had a severe lack of television, no Dolly magazines for me. Even most of my friends were adults. So, it obviously came from somewhere more internal than external. I’m not quite sure where but I remember feeling really unhappy with how my body felt.” said Ms Donoghoe. Bulimia is a daily struggle against your inner-self that pits body against mind. Not only does it harm relationships externally but it also destroys your relationship with
yourself. Jesse had tried many treatments over the years from therapy to self-help books. It was only last year, after years of struggle and at her lowest point, that she decided to confront her disorder head on. “I jumped out of a plane because I thought I feared heights and I realised that doing heights was nothing to what I feared, you know, people analysing my body.” said Ms. Donoghoe. For Jesse, the body image equivalent of skydiving was to bare her body to the world. She took the leap by disrobing for a life-drawing class on the Gold Coast. The experience was revelatory. Seeing the artists’ work after class changed the way she viewed herself entirely - such beautiful drawings were inspired by her body. The change in perspective led to new levels of self-respect. The next week she went back to gain more insight from the artists perspective. It was at this class that Jesse witnessed Bobby stand up triumphantly against her shaming. They exchanged details and two days later the idea of Sketch Marks came to fruition in a conversation over cocktails. The program is not a be-all-end-all solution to a problem as complex as negative body-image. For the program to help the participant must be actively engaged in their own efforts for improvement. The application form is available to anyone that visits the website but the selection process and the program have the potential to unearth deep-seated emotions and experiences. “The sort of things that would alert me that there was a problem is either if people did not have a support network. So, [they] have no one.” said Dr Zara Mason, a GP assisting with Sketch Marks.
Dr Zara Mason is part of the team of professionals offering their support to the program and she encourages participants to have a reliable support network that can consist of anyone from good friends and family to a therapist or psychologist. Someone “that is a really regular touch base. So, then if she’s dealing with the emotions that this brings up she’s got a support person to go to.” said Dr Mason. Aside from the physical demands of holding a pose for over twenty minutes, standing naked in front of strangers can be emotionally and mentally confronting. Mental health is particularly important for Sketch Marks which is guided by the tenants of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). “Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is talking therapy that can help manage problems by changing the way you think and behave. It’s most commonly used to treat anxiety and depression, but can be useful for other mental and physical health problems.” said clinical psychologist Mrs Lorraine Langsford. Mrs Langsford is another part of the Sketch Mark’s support network and is there to play a clinical role when necessary to guide participants using CBT. CBT advocates that early life experiences shape core beliefs. These beliefs tend to be inflexible and
determine everyday thoughts and perceptions. It attempts to restructure negative thoughts by teaching people how to recognise them, intercept them, question their validity, and restructure them into positive thoughts - ultimately altering how people perceive themselves and the world around them. A useful tool to address negative thoughts about body image. “Cognitive behaviour therapy focus can be on weight overestimation, modification of thought distortion and negative thoughts about physical appearance. The focus [can be] on perceptual, cognitive, and behavioural aspects of body image disturbance.” said Mrs Langsford. Both Bobby and Jesse know what it means to be caught in the throes of a world obsessed with body image. Their response to this global obsession was not just to stand tall against it but also unashamedly naked. They believe life modelling can help other women learn to love their bodies too.
social stalk @sketchmarksgc
â€œI jumped out of a plane because I thought I feared heights and I realised that doing heights was nothing to what I feared, you know, of people analysing my body.â€?
*The Eye Creative is a boutique, Melbourne-made publication celebrating and supporting Australian Creative Talent from across all industries...
Published on Sep 16, 2018
*The Eye Creative is a boutique, Melbourne-made publication celebrating and supporting Australian Creative Talent from across all industries...