Thursday, 30 August 2012

artist andrew o'brien







Andrew O’Brien took a risk leaving a successful career in the corporate world to become a full-time artist. But it turned out to be a good decision. He’s now had his work featured on Channel 9’s program The Block, as well as on the June 2012 cover of Real Living. And he was selected to create an artwork for the visit of Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark to the Corporate Culture and Cult showroom in Melbourne last year. He will be opening his second solo exhibition at Corporate Culture, Sydney, this evening.

Which five words best describe you? Try rest inside the action.
How have you progressed to a career as an artist? I was a very creative person at a school which did not encourage the arts. Dad built structures and forms whilst Mum shaped with colour. I was restless for expression, but unsure how to go forward with this. I hid my painting behind the façade of a party trick or a hobby. I sought work in creative environments - new hospitality concepts, products or businesses. It still did not give me the means or voice to satisfy, so finally, I leapt off the abyss to trust in the absolute control and freedom you have as an artist.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Trust your inner voice. Make time to observe poetry in the landscape.
What was the starting point for this exhibition? I work outdoors to complete a series of studies of the landscape, focusing on how colour and form shift and shape light throughout the day. For this work [upcoming Sydney exhibition), I studied the landscape of Quarantine on the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. The place has a powerful beauty - the ocean beaches, and the sheltered waters of Port Phillip Bay - colliding with a subtle rawness not found in many places.
What’s your proudest career achievement? A client received an inheritance from her Mother. To remember her she bought some of my works.
What’s been your best decision? Choosing to show my work at Corporate Culture. I knew that a traditional gallery model would not allow me to connect with my customers in the way that I needed to. It’s very important to me that I know and understand the people who buy my work. I want people to engage with my paintings in a manner that is relaxed and contextualised.
What are you passionate about? I’m passionate about the environment and building a better, more sophisticated community. Art thrives in connected, literate and clever societies.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Jackson Pollock in a bar on the lower East Side, NY or Hemingway during the Spanish war.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? To build a country studio… And to grow potatoes.
What are you reading? The age of reason by Jean-Paul Sartre and The solid mandala by Patrick White.

images courtesy of andrew o'brien and the daily telegraph

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

architect & interior designer travis walton






If the Australian Interior Design Awards are anything to go by, Travis Walton is on his way to establishing a practice in New York. It's on his to-do list and is getting within reach. After studying design and working under leading Melbourne architects and designers, he set up his own firm about four years ago. This year he entered the industry awards for the first time and won commendations in each category, including "Emerging interior design practice".

Which five words best describe you? Meticulous, imaginative, passionate, energetic, forward-thinking.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? After graduating I worked for a few different high-profile Melbourne architects and designers. I’ve always been more drawn to the design side of architecture (I consider myself much more a designer than an architect) so as soon as I felt I’d gained enough industry experience, I set up my own design practice specialising in building and interior design. The firm has been up and running for four years now and we’ve already completed over 40 projects nationwide.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Never compromise your ideals. In this business there’s so much pressure from other people – other designers and architects, builders and, of course, the client – to make changes or sacrifice ideas that you know are essential to making the project work. I really enjoy the collaborative nature of the design process and the dialogue that results from alternative points-of-view, but in my experience once you’ve established a plan, sticking to your guns invariably results in successful projects and happy clients.
What’s your proudest career achievement? This year we entered theAustralian Interior Design Awards for the first time. We were awarded commendations in every category we entered! That was both surprising and incredibly validating at the same time. The thing that makes me really proud though is seeing the smile on a client’s face when we’ve delivered a project that’s turned out beyond their expectations and they get to see the results of all the hard work and the time and the money they’ve invested. That’s awesome.
What’s been your best decision? Definitely going out on my own.Establishing my own practice has been scary, stressful and exhausting but it’s also exhilarating and profoundly rewarding. I feel unbelievably lucky to be able to go out into the world every day and make my living doing what I’m most passionate about, and to be able to put my name to the amazing projects we’ve completed. It’s also allowed me the freedom to handpick my design team, who are all extremely talented, dedicated and hard-working.
Who inspires you? I’ve always had a lot of admiration for people who successfully combine creativity and practicality. People like Ray and Charles Eames and (artist/designer/architect) Donald Judd, who create beautiful works of art that are also functional and useful. I think that’s an amazing ability to have and it’s not easy to nail. It’s something I strive for with every new project.
What are you passionate about? Imaginative and clever design. Getting the best you possibly can out of people, spaces, environments and ideas.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I’d love to have met John Lautner. He was an American architect who built all these amazing, futuristic homes in California in the 1970s and 80s. His interiors have been used to film everything from Bond films to The Big Lebowski. The house in The Jetsons is based on one of his designs.He had an incredible imagination and the skills to bring his ideas to life.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? Establishing a successful practice in New York is my major ambition at the moment. I realise it’s a cliché, but it’s a cliché for a reason. Nowhere else in the world offers so much design diversity, so many creative opportunities and challenges.
What are you reading? I’m currently (slowly) working my way through a book called Here comes everybody by a teacher from New York University named Clay Shirky. It’s all about how new media and technology are allowing us to collaborate and create in ways not previously possible, and the effects – both positive and negative – this is having on the world.

images courtesy of travis walton

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

fashion stylist bec cole






After working as a set and costume designer in the Australian film and television industry for 10 years, Bec Cole jumped at the opportunity to focus on fashion. Since then the Melbourne-based stylist has worked on countless campaigns in the advertising industry. Clients include David Jones, Myer, Jeans West and Mossimo. In 2002 she also created her own accessories label. The images above are from an upcoming book that Bec collaborated on with photographer Robyn Lea, called The Milan Book.


Which five words best describe you? Dedicated, spontaneous, silly, dreamer, passionate.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I started my journey set and costume designing then branched out into film and TV until a dear friend, who owned an advertising agency, asked me to style a few campaigns and shoots. I’ve not looked back. As a child I’d constantly dress my sister up at all hours too.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Do your best, always go with your intuition.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Working on two books with photographer Robyn Lea - travelling with her through Milan, France and, most recently, Mexico. Making beautiful images and going on adventures. I’m about to embark on styling an exhibition piece with photographer and friend Andrew Vukosav in Indonesia - can’t wait!

What’s been your best decision? Believe in myself and don’t be scared to dream.

Who inspires you? My amazing grandmother - in her 90s and so young at heart still.

What are you passionate about? Beauty - both creating and appreciating, and I have a soft spot for animals, especially my very pampered feline friend Miss April, who is never short of a snack or two.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I would have loved to have met Coco Chanel, had a wine and cigarette (even thought I don’t smoke) and talked about fashion and men!

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I’d love to publish my own book - TBA.

What are you reading? On the couch, reading my most favourite magazine - Lula.


images courtesy of bec cole photography by robyn lea for the milan book hair and makeup jennifer bradburn and antonio manna for toni&guy / belinda zollo models fashion model management / chadwick


Monday, 27 August 2012

artist belinda fox






Travel plays a big role in not only Belinda Fox's life, but her art-making too. Since graduating from Victoria College of the Arts with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Printmaking, she has travelled extensively and managed to complete several artist residences overseas. Most recently she was invited by the Skopelos Foundation to Greece. However, it is her time in India that informs her latest exhibition at the Art House Gallery in Sydney. And next, she will exhibit in Singapore, a country that is her new home. Belinda has been voted as one of the Top 50 most collectable artists, according to the Australian Art Collector magazine. She has also won the Paul Guest Drawing Prize, the Burnie Print Prize and the Silk Cut award for lino-cuts.

Which five words best describe you? Determined, genuine, worker, traveler, mother.
How have you progressed to a career as an artist? I started out as a master printer for big artists (eg, John Olsen, David Larwill, etc) – that was the beginning of my serious start as an artist. It gave me an insight into what it took to be a practicing artist. It made me realise there is no one way, everyone did it differently. That was enormously inspiring and gave me the confidence to think I could do it as well.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Don’t wait around for someone to do something for you. If it is to be, then it is up to me - as my husband always reminds me!
What was the starting point for this exhibition? A trip to India. I really wanted to capture the colour, the characters I met along the way, the heady weather and atmosphere.
What’s your proudest career achievement? The first piece the National Gallery of Australia collected and then having an artwork displayed there last year as part of their Australian Art collection. That was pretty exciting.
What’s been your best decision? To dedicate my life to being an artist.
Who inspires you? Humanity – for all its grandeur and incredible failures.
What are you passionate about? Art and my family.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Philip Guston and Kurt Vonnegut.
What dream do you still want to fulfill? It is never-ending in terms of art ambitions, but as a person I want to live a happy, balanced life - that is quite a challenge in itself.
What are you reading? The night circus by Erin Morgenstern.


images courtesy of belinda fox and art house gallery

Friday, 24 August 2012

jewellery designer jen booth






Some people hit a sweet spot with their designs. That's what has happened with the mini leather lockets of Jen Booth. They are becoming a cult item among the design set in part thanks to being stocked at The Standard Store in Sydney. While Jen started out as a makeup artist, and worked as a milliner, she has been creating the lockets since receiving a marriage proposal in Hawaii. She plans to extend her range of leathergoods towards the end of the year.


Which five words best describe you? Blush, polkadots, glitter, pale, excitement.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I have always loved making things, painting, drawing, sculpting. From my beginnings as a makeup artist, through to being a self-taught milliner, my love of colour and my previous experience working with leather (in millinery) led me to making lockets. It all happened because my husband Philip proposed to me with a heart-shaped shell on a beach in Turtle Bay and I wanted to keep it in a locket as per the lyrics to my favourite song "say I found a piece of rock and put it in my pocket, and on the day that we are wed, I put it in a locket, would you wear it?" So, in my usual fashion, I became obsessed with lockets! But couldn't find anything that fit more than a photo. So I made a locket out of leather, like a teeny tiny pocket! And then I thought other people must have special trinkets they like to keep close to them, and the lockets were born.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? To trust your instincts when you think you might just have a great idea.

What’s your proudest career achievement? I honestly think that when Rachel Castle, (who I think is just a legend), told me she liked the locket I was wearing, without her knowing I'd made it. I felt like I was flying!

What’s been your best decision? To be completely Australian made.

Who inspires you? Lots of ladies. Georgia Perry for her wit in design... have you seen her Yuk/Yum zine?! Megan Morton for pushing me to where I am now and starting her own art school. Lucy Feagins of The Design Files for being the ultimate creative business woman, she does not stop.

What are you passionate about? I am obsessed with contrasting colours.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Tsumori Chisato. Definitely. I would love to intern with her. Nobody does pattern and colour that makes me as happy as she.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I'm hoping to expand my range of leather products by the end of the year. I like dreams that are in the foreseeable future! I'm too impatient.

What are you reading? I'm looking forward to reading Brave old world by Tom Hodgkinson. He talks about keeping bees and why not to buy supermarket bread. I think that would keep me entertained.


images courtesy of jen booth

Thursday, 23 August 2012

architect & designer mariapia ruggerini






When I recently asked architect and designer Mariapia Ruggerini about her favourite place in her home in Modena, she gave me an Italian type of answer. She said, "Marcello [her partner] likes to stay in the studio upstairs and see all of the house - megalomanic. I prefer to sit on the stairs and watch outside the window, the trees - claustrophobic." But there was a lot of sense to what she said - on design, too. She said it was important for architects to add poetry to a space. And Mariapia sited Russian literature and Roland Barthes' Empire of signs as inspirations. I interviewed her for the latest issue of real living. The name of the studio she runs with Marcello is Amorfo, which translates to "formless" in English, and reflects their cross-disciplinary approach.


Which five words best describe you? I would rather be described in five words by someone else. But I think that the words that best describe me are oxymorons, hyperrealist-pragmatic-dreamer, chaotic-essential, and completely incomplete.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I started working during the first degree course, every kind of work, from town planning research (collaborating with different architectural offices) to interior design and graphics. Now with amorfo (my studio), I decided to focus on the handcrafted approach to my work. I feel at ease with every order of scale, I mean, it's all a question of proportion (mathematics), harmony (musicality), functionality (engineering) and beauty (art); somebody said that architects are the last exponent of renaissance humanism, they work with both technology and art, I think it is a great challenge.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? To be humble and curious.

What’s your proudest career achievement? The publication of my home all over the world but not in Italy. (Nemo propheta in patria...)

What’s been your best decision? To stop studying the pipe organ at 12, and seven years later going to Florence to study architecture. (I believe they are connected.)

Who inspires you? All illogical, taciturn people.

What are you passionate about? It would be easier to list what I'm not passionate about. However - typefaces, empty spaces, Bauhaus, mat objects, neuroscience, books, asymmetry, rust, weed plants, drawing, liquorice.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? All my forefathers. I heard so much about them over the years that they miss me, and the other versions of me in all parallel universes (if possible).

What dream do you still want to fulfill? To solve the Goldbach's conjecture, design a baker's shop and see the polar lights - not necessarily in this order.

What are you reading? The unofficial autobiography of Maurizio Cattelan and The tell-tale brain by Vilayanur Ramachandran.


images courtesy of amorfo


Wednesday, 22 August 2012

shop owner tanya stevanovic






About fifteen years ago Tanya Stevanovic and one of her friends were visiting the vintage clothing store Pretty Dog in Newtown. When they learnt that it was for sale they decided to buy it. Over the years Tanya introduced emerging fashion brands into the vintage mix. A few years later she bought out her friend and focussed on up-and-coming labels. Today the boutique stocks brands such as Dion Lee, House of Holland and Karen Walker.

Tanya has also moved Pretty Dog a few doors down from its original location. It's now in a terrace that showcases a great selection of industrial design pieces. Her partner is an avid collector, and has gone so far as to source the lighting from France. The Union Jack flag is a nod to his English heritage.

Which five words best describe you? I find this question very hard to answer. So I asked friends. Amazing, inspirational, positive, fashion-forward and funny.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I had always wanted a career in fashion. So it was easy. I am so happy to have cultivated an iconic boutique.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Business is never predictable.

What’s your proudest career achievement? There are many great achievements. Pretty Dog is in Sportswear International's "the world's best boutiques" volume 4. That was nice to see.

What’s been your best decision? Moving Pretty Dog from 1a Brown street to the beautiful terrace at number 5 Brown street.

Who inspires you? Jess Scully and Karen Walker. Two amazing women who are so driven and focussed.

What are you passionate about? Getting dressed! And dressing women! Putting together an outfit that makes a woman feel amazing!

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Sophia Loren. I love her.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? Having an amazing lifestyle concept store that is totally unique.

What are you reading? The last book I read was The thread by Victoria Hislop.


images daily imprint/natalie walton


Tuesday, 21 August 2012

artist ian grant






As part of his painting process, Sydney artist Ian Grant travels to central NSW to absorb the landscape. While he takes photos and makes drawings, it's important to him to experience the environment too. When it comes to creating paintings based on his experience, he doesn't lock himself to representing the exact space. Instead, he is willing to move trees and other objects to create an emotion for those viewing the artwork. Ian has exhibited extensively over the years and been awarded and named a finalist in many prizes too, including the Blake Prize. He was also head of painting at COFA for many years. His is exhibiting at the Tim Olsen Gallery until September 2.


Which five words best describe you? Artist, sensory, focused, reflective and patient.

How have you progressed to a career as an artist? I started in secondary art education, as did many of my generation of artists, and moved to an involvement with painting as an academic and as a practitioner. I was always an artist and an academic with painting as a focus - in a sense I had two parallel careers until I left COFA in 2006.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? An artwork, in my case a painting, is more than its subject matter. I have learnt much from artists who choose to not work with representation.

What was the starting point for this exhibition? My experience with land, silence and distance and my desire to communicate this experience in paintings that go beyond representation of specific sites.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Hopefully, my last painting or the one that I am thinking about or just starting.

What’s been your best decision? In art? To enjoy teaching and to enquire deeply into aspects of painting that interest me. In life? To marry Ruth and to live amongst friends.

Who inspires you? There could be a long list. In painting it would include Johannes Vermeer, Caspar David Friedrich, Piet Mondrian, Mark Rothko, Fred Williams and the Papunya Tula artists. But I am still inspired by many of the students I crossed paths with - they taught me so much.

What are you passionate about? Again, many things - but essentially the striving for poetics and sensory uplift in what I try to do with painting. More broadly, though, I am passionate about the aesthetic environment, good design, 'touching the earth lightly' and being able to give and receive within an open and peaceful society.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Either Jesus Christ or Johannes Vermeer to ask them what they were really about. Neither of them left us any written information.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? The normal one for artists - to experience the best art and to keep making artworks, hopefully good ones. And in a new house with a big studio.

What are you reading? Currently a couple of bios of Mondrian - although really just scanning and comparing for some points of curiosity. After that The book thief.


images courtesy of ian grant and tim olsen gallery

Monday, 20 August 2012

furniture designer nick garnham






There are a handful of Australian furniture design and manufacturing companies that show it is still possible to not only design locally but produce onshore as well. Jardan is one of the leading examples. The business has been designing and making furniture in Melbourne for more than 20 years. But it has really hit its stride since Nick Garnham become a director of the family run and owned business. Jardan focuses on custom-made furniture that reaches high environmental standards. Since 1997 the company has been endorsed with the Good Environmental Choice Australia label.


Which five words best describe you? Open, energetic, keen, creative, friendly.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? Fell into the furniture industry and developed a passion for design and interiors.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Treat people well.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Being able to help create and sustain a furniture design and manufacturing business all made in Melbourne and selling to the world!

What’s been your best decision? Employ great people. Keep at it!

Who inspires you? Renee, my partner.

What are you passionate about? Life, my family, friends, work, surf, music.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Alan Watts

What dream do you still want to fulfil? To live overlooking the ocean. Travel for an extended trip with my family.

What are you reading? Rolling Stones: 50 years


images courtesy of jardan

Friday, 17 August 2012

illustrator caitlin shearer






The world of Caitlin Shearer is heavily informed by the 1950s. She celebrates its beauty and kitsch in her watercolours and illustrations, as well as textile design. She has worked for clients such as Frankie and Oyster. From September 9 she will be exhibiting at Terrarium Gallery in Wollongong.

Which five words best describe you? Driven, quiet, old-fashioned, curly, Nigella-Lawson-wannabe.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I feel my career has been a succession of small achievements which I'm building upon every year. Whilst still in high school I started trying to work as an illustrator by collaborating with small publications that I'd come across on the internet. As my skills improved and my aesthetic became more concrete I was provided with bigger and better opportunities and that has seemed to snowball. At the moment I'm still working to continuously evolve my style and perfect my drawing skills, as well as taking my art into different arenas such as textile design.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Use your heart when creating and try to cultivate a unique aesthetic which you can call your own.
What’s your proudest career achievement? Working on my own range of fabric designs and making garments from them during these past few months has been pretty incredible.
What’s been your best decision? To drop out of art school and pursue my dreams. (Stubborn since birth.)
What are you passionate about? Vintage clothing, my family, the golden age of Hollywood, dinner parties, sunsets.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Kate Bush! The most daring and influential woman to make music in years.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? I'd like to publish some picture books - some for children, some for adults - and set up my own fashion label.
What are you reading? Delta of Venus by Anais Nin

images courtesy of caitlin shearer; portrait kelsey ganna
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