Au Revoir 2014, See You In The New Year

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It is true that I have been neglectful of my blog lately, I wont deny that – all the usual excuses apply – you know, LIFE. So I’m taking a little (more formal) break and will be back in the New Year with a clearer head, a litte more enthusiasm and hopefully soon, a new look!

For now – a quick note to say goodbye to 2014 – what a fabulous year it has been <3

Moved house, grew my freelancing business, grew my family (by one times great dane) and made many special memories with my beautiful baby girls and my dear hubby.

Thanks to all of my supporters for the love, catch you on the flipside and wishing you all a safe and happy festive season x

{ image by: Florian Klauer }

Homegrown Creatives: Meet The Wonderland Collective

What a pleasure it is to introduce some more special Rhodes kids to you all – I had the privilege of studying with Lexi and Graeme, and can honestly say that they both take the notions of  determination and daring to dream to a new levels! So impressed with their achievements and very excited for them about the new adventure they are about to embark on soon ;) Much love to you guys…

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Who are you and what do you do / make / sell?
We’re Wonderland Collective – a creative studio based in Cape Town, housed in the Woodstock Exchange. We a full service ideas studio. Clients come to us with their business or product ideas and we decipher what is the best route for implementation. This can take shape in several formats – websites, apps, custom illustrations, spacial experiences, pop-up shops – the list goes on.

To keep our creativity alive we also make and sell our own products. Recently we have designed and produced limited edition framed prints, fabrics and skateboard decks.

Did you always know that you were headed in this direction – how did you get where you are today?
We’ve always dreamed of having a creative studio, so this is a culmination of the dreams and effort towards realising them. We started out doing freelance work and as the level of client increased, we started growing organically by hiring our first designer, moving in and out of an office, moving into our main bedroom at home and then moving back into an office and growing to 7 full time staff. We finally feel like we have the right collection of creative, inspired, driven people in Wonderland!

What makes your work / products / services unique?
We like to put a lot of heart and soul into our work. We talk and collaborate a lot within our studio and outside of it – so we’re influenced by a lot of amazing things. We’re also getting a lot more experience as we go and this is ploughed into our future work. 

Where do you look for inspiration?
Travel. We love exploring and visiting new spots in the world. We don’t even realise how inspired we are when we travel – we just see the influences in the work we deliver. We’re a visual bunch of people so Pinterest, Behance and general design blogs really help us along our way. We also take our entire studio to Design Indaba every year. It’s an amazing conference which tops us up on inspiration every year.

Who are your creative idols?
Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Tretchikoff, Louise Fili, Steven Heller, Dean Poole – the list could go on.

Where do you like to hang out – what are your favorite spots in your town/city/country?
Well, we work in Woodstock and it’s currently bustling with creative energy. Our current favourite places are the Tap House (Devils Peak Brewery), The Kitchen, Beerhouse, Blue Bird Garage Market (Muizenberg) and C’est La Vie in Kalk Bay.

Given the opportunity, where would you like to travel/explore?
We travel overseas 1-2 times per year. Lately we’ve been doing European cities like Rome, London and the Cote D’Azure. We get inspired by all of these places and then use that inspiration in our work. Before that we were hooked on Asia: Vietnam, Thailand, Bali. Soon we’re going to do South America: Chile, Argentina, Brazil etc.

How does a typical day for you play out?
We feed our dogs at 3am, go back to sleep. Get up, make a ton of coffee, haul our ass to work and get cracking with the studio. We have a ton of meetings – some of them new business, others are current project related, we might have a Wonderland “giving back” event where we do ground work CSI or another meeting in town. We will discuss our own products, laugh a lot, tease each other, play table tennis and drink champagne.

With a day all to yourself (no meetings, distractions, to-do-lists) and an unlimited budget, what would you get up to?
We would probably do a hell of a lot of our own product R&D. We love going to new places, seeing new techniques and talking to new suppliers. We’d also finish our pending new website design. Hopefully this will launch in the tail end of 2014.

If you could have any other profession, what would it be?
Probably run an island style bar somewhere in Asia.

Where can we stalk you?
Website: www.wonderlandworks.co.za (new site coming soon)
Twitter:@wonderlandsa

What does your workspace / studio look like?
We’re based in The Woodstock Exchange in Woodstock so the overall building look is quite trendy but still has an industrial feel. Our studio is bright and colourful. We love having a creative home where we can design and play in our own space. We usually bring one of our dogs or Gizmo our parrot into the office. We love having a good vibe in our space.

What work are you most proud of to date?
We have been very lucky to work with a number of NGO’s on some of the projects they needed help with, but one of the projects we absolutely adored working on this year, was the conceptualisation and execution of The Bacon Pop Up Bar in Franschhoek, the real life home for Bacon of The Month Club. From designing the overall look and feel (and where our creativity really got to push the boundaries in terms of pop-up shops) to seeing it come to life, and now the great response we’ve had from food and design critics and the general public – The Bacon Bar will go down as our favourite from 2014!
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The Reality Of Being A Work From Home Mom

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Disclaimer before I begin – this post serves to point out the facts and fictions involved in being a Work From Home Mom from my own point of view. I’m not here to say that being a WFHM is harder/better/worse/more ‘anything’ than being any other type of Working or Non-Working Mom (each scenario has it’s own challenges and rewards) but I’d like to share with people the realities of juggling kids, and work, AT HOME on a day to day basis…

As most of you know, I’m a mom to two littlies, and I’m also a graphic designer (amongst other things!). With a (welcomed) increasing workload, I’ve really been struggling to juggle these two aspects of my life lately and have been ‘writing’ this post in my head for weeks now…

I need to work, for two reasons: a) I need to contribute financially to the payment of bills and expenses (which have sky rocketed since we moved into this big old house with lots of maintenance and things breaking etc, on top of higher general expenses), and b) I need to be creative.

Being just a Mom isn’t enough for me.

For all of you who just gasped and spluttered at those words, what I mean is that I (me, personally) need to have a creative outlet and to be independent IN ORDER TO BE A BETTER MOM.

Non-working, non-juggling, non-busy Andrea is a crappy mother. She is grumpy, resentful and depressive. I know this because I experienced it just after my return to SA from London and I look back now and see just how unhappy I was when I had nothing to do.

It may sound crazy to some, but it works for me and my family – and that’s another thing I’m big on, different strokes for different folks – us moms need to stop judging the choices of fellow moms, not cool peeps…

The thing is, people often think that being and mom and working from home is like ‘Living The Dream’, and while it certainly does have it’s perks, it also has negatives that you probably don’t really think about until you actually experience it for yourself. Here’s the low down on some of my realities:

Being at home with the kids – a negative you say? In a way, yes. Sure, it’s great to be able to spend a bit more time during the day with them, to pick them up from school, catch those passing milestones in action, kiss a sore finger better and monitor feeding, pooping, tv-time etc. This is a major draw card for us moms who want to be ever present in our little peoples lives and don’t want to miss a thing! As darling as they may be though, they are also huge distractions. It’s very hard (unless they are asleep) to get a large chunk of work done in one go, and even though they love the nanny, they KNOW you are there and they will persist in trying to be in your space and in vying your attention… That cool toy ‘puter that mom’s always playing on? They want to play on it too!

Flexibility vs structure - I love being able to pop to the shops, go into town to do admin, and plan my work/meetings around my own commitments / my children’s schedules – no clearing it with HR or worrying about what other co-workers think etc, it’s awesome to be so independent… But it can also be soooooo frustrating when you have a lot to do and your kid is being a pain, won’t get dressed, you’re running late for school, you have to run an errand for your hubby etc – and all you want to do is work, and everything is conspiring against you actually being at your desk and in front of your computer… If only you had some peace and quiet in an office environment with set working hours, then you’d be able to get everything done, right? I have this thought often and it really is a challenge to strike a balance.

Working at night – this seems to be a given for WFHM’s. As much as I try to maintain reasonable hours, I’m often up til 1am trying to get stuff done. I have surrendered to the fact that I never seem to get on top of my to do list. Fortunately I am most productive in the mornings and later at night, but it still doesn’t make staying up late easy when you are mom-tired on top of work-tired and you have deadlines to reach.

Lack of respect from others – this is probably my biggest gripe – I don’t even think my own family realises how much work I do and how difficult it can sometimes be to try and build on your career while being a mom to two little ones. People often think that I don’t really work at all, or that what I do is maybe for fun ‘because she doesn’t really need to work’. Um, reality check, as explained above, I actually DO need to work and my time and skills are valuable – like Aretha, all I’m askin’ is for a little respect!

Lack of respect for my time – another big issue I have, probably more of a personal one as opposed to a general issue for WFHM’s but I’m rolling with it anyway – people don’t get that MY TIME IS PRECIOUS. When I am not working, I am focusing on my loved ones, or doing something else around the house that needs to be done. When I’m not doing that, I am working. Please don’t drop by unannounced – mostly because I will probably still be in my pajamas, but also because I might be will be busy with something/someone… Please don’t assume that I will be happy to drop everything and meet up with you at the drop of a hat because you think I am ‘just at home all day’… Please don’t get cross with me if I don’t answer your texts/emails/phone calls immediately – I’m either beavering away furiously at the computer, or knee-deep in a shit nappy. Please don’t assume that I am chillaxing because I’ve just published a blog post – chances are I wrote it at 1am last night and it was merely scheduled to publish when it did. And lastly, please don’t expect ‘freebies’ from me unless I offer them myself: my time = money too, just like yours. If you respect me and what I do, you wont expect me to work for free (again, unless I want to or offer.)

Lonely, a la Akon – yup, one of the harder parts of being a WFHM is not being surrounded by like-minded colleagues all striving towards the same goal, helping to motivate you etc. Depending on what you do, social interaction can be limited when working from home, that’s why its so important to find others who inspire, support and motivate you in a different way (I would be lost with my gurrrrls Keri and Nicola) Kids are cool but you can’t really hash out your work frustrations, or bounce your quoting woes off of them.

And last of all, theres the guilt – on top of general Mom Guilt (we all know it’s a thing), WFHM Guilt is thick because you are always around, but not quite present. You are constantly telling your little one that you are busy, or that you just need to do this one thing. You wish you could leave work at work, but when you work from home, you can never really escape it. Again, the elusive balance is hard to strike but I really try to give my kids the time they deserve. I dont always manage it, but I try to fit it all in as best I can. All we can really do is give it our best shot, and to not beat ourselves up too much (this goes for ALL moms, not just WFHM’s!)

My aim with this post, I guess, is to rally some more support and respect for WFHM’s especially, because I think we are sometimes in the grey area of some of them Stay At Home Mom vs Working Mom debates. I may have painted a darker picture of how it all is but honestly, I DO love it and feel privileged to have chosen a profession that allows me to run my business from home.

For me, right now, I’m okay with how things are working out. I wont lie, I do often wish I could escape it all and just work in an office, but in reality I would probably be more unhappy in that situation if it were the case. I definitely don’t dig those late nights and would love it if people actually appreciated my time/work more, but like I said in the beginning of this post – the version of me with lots of projects on the go is generally a happier Andrea, and I’m happy to sacrifice some sleep, and push through the next few years before the kids are at school full time, to achieve my dream.

Like many things in life, it’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

That’s all I have to say for now, would love to hear thoughts from other WFHM’s out there?

 { picture by Volkan Olmez }

 

Latest DIY: Shelving Makeover Using Annie Sloan Paint

cleverbirdbanter_anniesloan_titlepicBeen dying to try some Annie Sloan Chalk Paint after seeing it on the net and finding out that it’s sold locally in a number of stores across SA. Picked a piece of furniture that was in dire need of a makeover – this small book shelf unit that was given to me recently by a family friend:

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…and then got to work on it! The colour I’ve used is called Florence and Im particularly excited about it because it’s a far cry from the neutral shades I’d usually go for.cleverbirdbanter_anniesloan3cleverbirdbanter_anniesloan1cleverbirdbanter_anniesloan4

The finished product has made itself at home in my office and I have now decided to use it as a starting point in terms of a colour palette for my office/craft room makeover (still dreaming up what I’d actually like to do in the room – not to mention saving for it!)

cleverbirdbanter_anniesloan5cleverbirdbanter_anniesloan6Tips / How To:

Let me start off by saying that there actually wasn’t much work involved in this project because with chalk paint, you don’t need to sand or prime your surface AT ALL.

1.  Grab a piece of furniture that you’d like to liven up – if you don’t have anything at home that you can play around with, the furniture section on Gumtree is fab place to find something that is in need of some TLC. Older / second hand / previously loved furniture is often in good nick structure-wise, but just needs some work in terms of finish. Gumtree is full of good deals and exciting finds, so make sure to search in your area frequently to grab a bargain!

2. Unless there are some seriously unruly bumps/gutters in your wood, you can just wipe it down and make sure it’s clean and dry before you begin with the first coat.

3. Use a small sponge roller rather than a paint brush to help avoid streaks and to paint more evenly – I found that the paint dried really quickly and after I switched from brush to roller, it was definitely easier and created a smoother finish.

4. Wait until each coat is dry before starting the next – I did three coats on my shelves to create a nice even feel – if you are planning to go for a distressed look, you probably need fewer.

5. Once your final coat has dried completely, you can wax the item. Instructions say to use a brush or a clean rag to apply wax (I used the latter, I found that it wasnt going on as smoothly with a brush) and in all the research I did before attempting this project, the main thing I saw being emphasized over and over again, was not to apply too much wax! Once you are actually doing it, you will see what I mean. Smudge on a dollop of wax and smooth it into the surface with even circuar movements, making sure you dont miss any spots! Wipe any excess globs off with a rag. If you are doing any distressing, this is where you will sand away the areas you would like “thinned” out (there are loads of blog posts and tutorials out there on achieving a distressed feel, I have yet to try it for myself though!)

6. Wait until your wax has dried before you move the piece – you will be able to feel that it is less ‘tacky’ when you touch it – but note that it will take a full month to cure fully so be gentle with it in the interim, especially if it is a functional item like mine.

7. Stand back and admire your (not so) hard work!

So easy to transform an inexpensive, second hand item into something new and exciting!

Happy painting :)

This is a Sponsored Post

Undivided Roots ZA

A few weeks ago, Big Beat Productions got in touch to see if I’d like to do some design work for a cool PMB-based band called Undivided Roots ZA – obviously I said YES!

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The band has a heartwarming and inspirational story: based in a settlement called Edendale on the outskirts of Pietermaritzburg, it was formed by the late (Ntsangu) Roots Cele, a legendary street musician and activist, father and teacher. Roots passed away a few years ago, but before he did, he succeeded in teaching all his children (currently ranging in age from 7 to 30) to play music and perform together (mostly reggae, but other stuff too) – and they continue to do so in his legacy. Their goal: to “to spread the message off ONENESS & LUV, to entertain people far and wide, to educate through music” 

HOW RAD ARE THEY?! Can we also just take a moment to process the fact that their lead guitarist is only TEN!

Last Wednesday marked a special occasion for Undivided Roots ZA as they performed at a Music In The Hills event at The Knoll Barn in Hilton – the band received a surprise handover from Big Beat Productions (a complete sound system!) and their new logo was revealed.URZA-logo_final_blog

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SO sad I wasn’t able to make the event (hubby was away and I had no one to babysit!), but by all accounts it was a fabulous evening, and here’s a vid of the proceedings, followed by a few more pics by photographer Candice Christie. Honoured to have played a small part in making these awesome people SMILE!

(MORE VIDS HERE FOR THOSE INTERESTED)

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For more info on the band, boookings etc – contact their guardian/manager: Gavin Paul Joliffe on 079 569 1204 / gavinpaul@pmbnet.co.za and be sure to follow them on Facebook for news updates and to show your support!

 

 

 

 

 

Homegrown Creatives: Meet Amy Slatem

Always a pleasure to showcase a fellow Rhodent on my blog! Today’s Homegrown Creatives post features Amy Slatem, a multi-talented illustrator, artist and designer… How much do we love those hoopoes and all her other inky goodness?!

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Who are you and what do you do / make / sell?

I’m Amy Slatem and I draw on everything. I’m an illustrator and painter and work as a graphic designer.

Did you always know that you were headed in this direction – how did you get where you are today?
I’ve been drawing and doing art since I could hold a crayon. Art and creating things has always made sense to me and I’ve never doubted the direction I wanted to go. I initially went to Rhodes University for fine art, and when I discovered I could also do design through a journalism degree, I decided to study both simultaneously.  Now it’s up to me continuously working on, experimenting and creating by myself, to grow my skills and develop my style.

What makes your work / products / services unique?

The biggest joy of working with pen, paint and paper is that every mark and brushstroke you make is unique. I like to focus on putting personality into my works, especially through quirky concepts or the expressiveness of particular mark making.

Where do you look for inspiration?

Often the best inspiration is when you aren’t looking for “it”. My inspiration is often found when doing anything else other than sitting in front of the computer or blank page desperately thinking, “I need inspiration! Inspiration? Please!!”. I also find that scrolling through other creative sites and Instagram and seeing other creatives’ work makes me eager to hurry up and get my own works done. I also love glossy magazines; they’re a great source of material for figure studies (or attacking with scissors for interesting collages).

Who are your creative idols?

I tend to have a dynamic list of idols which changes as I discover new great creatives who inspire me at that particular time in my creative journey. A few names at the moment: Steve Simpson, Anneke Jacobs, Kelly Vivanco and Jaco Haasbroek. I especially enjoy local artists as I feel I can relate to their work more and they show the quality of work that SA produces.

Where do you like to hang out – what are your favourite spots in your town/city/country?
I now live in Joburg and hang out at markets in town and go to a lot of live music shows and exhibition openings as often as I can. And any craft beer watering hole. But I’m originally from a farm in the Eastern Cape, so being surrounded by nature and animals in the silence of the landscapes is still my favourite.

Given the opportunity, where would you like to travel/explore?
I’d love to explore Scotland and Ireland and surrounds in Summer. Or India.

With a day all to yourself (no meetings, distractions, to-do-lists) and an unlimited budget, what would you get up to?
Fly down to the coast to a little town and spend the day on the beach drawing and enjoying the sea air, and wine.

If you could have any other profession, what would it be?
I wouldn’t want to be in other profession, but if I could I’d be a full time artist with a beautiful studio in somewhere like Bathurst, Eastern Cape being inspired by the magic there every day.

Where can we stalk you?
Blog: artaims.wordpress.com
Email: amyslatem@gmail.com
Twitter @Shmaymee
Instagram: @shmaymee
Pinterest: AmySlatem
Portfolio: http://www.behance.net/amyslatemdesign

What does your workspace / studio look like?
My studio is also my lounge, or the other way round. I’d describe my space as organised chaos with paintbrushes, pens, colourful palettes and loose papers lying over the tables, couches and around my easel. My computer set up is also a major part of my workspace.

What is the work/design/product/project you are most proud of to date?
Whenever I complete a fairly large series of illustrations or work, because I’m so easily distracted by new projects and ideas that I’m always proud of myself for actually getting so many pieces done.

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Homegrown Creatives: Meet Caroline Kappers

Caroline is another wonderful Cape-based artist whose preferred mediums are wine-painted-art, oil on canvas and charcoal. Yes, you heard correctly: WINE ART! Need I say more…

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Who are you and what do you do / make/ sell?

I am an artist living in Stellenbosch. I paint with red wine on watercolour paper as one of my mediums. My other passion is painting with oils on canvas as well as charcoal on paper.

Did you always know that you were headed in this direction – how did you get where you are today?
My creative journey stems from early childhood. However, it has led me down an unconventional path. I studied graphic design and my experience ranges between packaging, direct marketing, brand identity design and communication arts. 13 years ago and after the birth of 2 children, I felt the need to explore art on a much more personal level which has led me on this journey.

What makes my work unique?
My Wine-made-Art and my ‘Bokeh’, out of focus oil paintings have become my signature style.

Where do you look for inspiration?
My creativity is entirely centered around my own personal expression which I draw from my surroundings, and my family. I try to incorporate all elements that inspire me with a strong element of design. I create from my surroundings, travels, and photography. First Thursdays in Cape Town, has become my monthly outing and inspiration.

Who are your creative idols?
My creative mentors who I draw inspiration from are Marié Stander, Greg Lourens, Gregory Kerr, Kerry Evans, and then Alyssa Monks – Brooklyn Artist, Maria Kreyn, Jaclyn Conley, Sam French and Mark Dempsteader to name but a few of many inspiring artists. Gaugain, Chagall are the masters who’s palette inspires me the most.

Where do you like to hang out? What are your favourite spots in the city?
There is no one particular spot I like to frequent. I like exploring greater Cape Town, Woodstock and all the coffee shops and eateries in the surroundings. Kalk Bay is a firm favourite.

Given the opportunity, where would you like to travel/ explore?
Places less traveled; France, Italy, Spain. I would love to return to New York where I was part of a group exhibition last year – the Brooklyn Art Scene, Boston and Central Park in Summer.

How does a typical day for you play out?
It’s an early rise at 6am, kids, school, planning my week, art preparation, studio time…….my days are really full.

With a day all to yourself? (no meetings, distractions or to-do-lists) and an unlimited budget, what would you get up to?
I would start with an early rise, followed by a run with a friend with a rewarding stop at the end for a cappuccino. I would make use of that unlimited budget and order art supplies online. After which I would take a trip into Cape Town, armed with my camera and explore all the bespoke and hard to get to places where I would buy second-hand furniture for refurbishment, visit Truth Coffee shop, visit friends and family and shop for special clothing items.

If you could have any other profession, what would it be?
Travel writer/ reviewer

Where can we stalk you?
Twitter
Facebook
Pinterest
www.carolinekappers.com

What does your workspace/ studio look like?
My studio; I have a small studio separate from the house at my home – a high ceiling and lots of light and canvasses from floor to ceiling that surround me on 3 walls. I am surrounded by the vineyards and beautiful views of the Stellenbosch mountains.

What is the project you are most proud of to date?
I am really proud of my last ‘wine painted art’ painting; Mother City, Cape Town, Design Capital 2014, which was part of a competition through Tokara Wine Estate. I have been included in their collection over 3 years. The current exhibition runs from 11 September until 30 January 2015 at Tokara Wine Estate, Art Gallery.

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Mother Nature Showing Us Who Is Boss!

Most hectic hail storm I’ve ever witnessed just happened here in the KZN Midlands. Never thought I would care so much about the state of my garden but it is properly obliterated.

I don’t even want to talk about the veggie seedlings I planted recently < SOB! >

Beautiful and completely destructive at the same time. I just hope that everyone on the roads at the time was safe.

Nature: NOT FOR SISSIES!

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 4.16.29 PMStart of the storm…

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 4.16.12 PMBelting down… Before the hail started…

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 4.16.51 PMRivers…

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Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 4.18.09 PMVeggie garden no  more…

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 4.18.00 PMALL of the avos…

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 4.18.19 PMBlackpool?

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 4.17.39 PMCovered back patio…

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 4.18.46 PMFront garden beds…

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 4.18.52 PMThankfully my car seems to have survived…

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 4.20.15 PMFilth on the walls and broken awnings on the one out building…

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 4.18.38 PMFront entrance…

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 4.17.17 PMNot even safe inside – water and hail through all of the fireplaces!

And probably one of the craziest things I saw while staring into the chaos of my garden, was two huge brown boxers running through the hail! Seems that the panel fencing has come apart between us and the neighbours too!

Homegrown Creatives: Meet Illustrator Kirsten Sims

Kirsten was another lucky Pinterest find – fell in love with her scissors illuatration (see below – I have a thing for scissors!) and with everything else after that! I think what I like most about her work is that her personal style is evident throughout all her pieces, but each one is still unique and different – this is one seriously talented lady!

cleverbirdbanter-weekly-feature_kirsten-sims
Who are you and what do you do / make / sell?

I am Kirsten Sims and I make pictures. I am also a student doing my postgrad in illustration at Stellenbosch University, and an illustration teacher at PJ Olivier Art School.

Did you always know that you were headed in this direction – how did you get where you are today?
No, not really. When I had to stop playing Barbies I started drawing these long necked stick characters, mainly because I still needed people to ‘dress up’.  I did a bit of art while at school though never as a school subject. I learnt the rules – how to draw in perspective, how to mix colour and that sort of thing. It was only after 3 years of travelling and working that I ended up at the Stellenbosch Academy where I first learnt what illustration really was. I had an amazing lecturer who really encouraged humour and storytelling in my pictures.  I never thought I could make a living from art – I was going to study journalism or teaching – I guess that is why illustration is great, every project has a purpose and whether you are illustrating a cd cover, poster or coffee cup there is always an element of storytelling.

What makes your work / products / services unique?
Well, I don’t really know, perhaps that I do almost everything by hand in a very digital era. I’d like to say that I bring a lot of personal experience and observation to my work – but I think most illustrators do that. I guess it comes down to having a unique mark and a sense of not taking my work too seriously.

Where do you look for inspiration?
Movies and books. Obviously I am influenced by day to day life and the people that come in and out of it, but if I specifically need  fresh influences I tend to immerse myself in the work of other storytellers by looking at pictures online, watching movies, listening to music or reading.

Who are your creative idols?
Wes Anderson, Woody Allen, André François, Laura Carlin, Maira Kalman, Jon Klassen, Edward Gorey, Quentin Blake, Pierre Bonnard, Joni Mitchell, David Hockney, Leonard Cohen, Audrey Hepburn, Roald Dahl, Dr Seuss…I’m sure that’s enough for now

Where do you like to hang out – what are your favorite spots in your town/city/country?
You can’t really beat a fish braai and a glass of wine on my parents stoep overlooking Mossel Bay. Most of the time you can find me in my studio or drinking tea in the garden. Libraries, harbours, cinemas and gardens are also places I find great comfort.

Given the opportunity, where would you like to travel/explore?
I’ve just got back from an amazing holiday in Tanzania – next up, probably New York.

How does a typical day for you play out?
At the moment it’s a case of juggling. Mornings are spent at lectures, doing admin and spending too much time online. Afternoons are spent teaching (Gr 11 and 12 Illustration at PJ Olivier Art Centre). In the evenings I try go to yoga and then sit up to the early hours working on freelance and university projects. Weekends are great because I can just paint without interruption.

If you could have any other profession, what would it be?
A folk singer or actress

Where can we stalk you?
Behance: https://www.behance.net/kirstensims
Blog: http://kirstensims.blogspot.com/
Pinterest  http://www.pinterest.com/kirstensims/
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/DrawingADay

What does your workspace / studio look like?
At the moment it is a sweet cosy space on the mezzanine level of the house I’m sharing in Stellenbosch. It’s full of books and paint and mess.

What it the work/design/product/project you are most proud of to date?
Recently I really enjoyed a collaboration I did with Anthropologie on a 2015 calendar called Imaginary Travels.487452_610456875689806_2118677336_n1890428_688429374559222_2771658955352864815_o

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Dropping off our toy donation last Friday at Bridges of Hope for Children

Last Monday I spent a good part of my morning trawling the net to find a local charity that I could drop off all the toys we collected from Julia’s birthday party at.

I also spend a good chunk of it feeling sad and depressed about the fact that these places need to exist at all.

There are SO many worthy charities out there though – worthy people, trying to make a difference in the lives of others – it’s hard to even conceive how you begin to choose which one to support!

After a while, I finally settled on an organisation that I thought would best be benefited from the small toy donation we had on offer – and I’d like to share some more info with you about Bridges of Hope for Children – a Howick-based charity, run from home, by a lady called Sharon and her small team of helpers.

Bridges of Hope fosters and cares for orphaned / abandoned children, many of whom come from AIDs-affected / abuse-related backgrounds. Sharon also runs a day school from home and has up to 55 kids a day from nearby Mphophomeni with her on any given day. When we arrived it was nap time and I was amazed to see how many kids there were taking up every inch of the floor while some slept and others just pretended to ;)

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I could see from my very short interaction with Sharon (pictured above with her beautiful Abigail) that she is a fighter with a big heart – she shared a few details of the gruesome conditions and abuse some of her kids have endured in their short existence and I have to admit that I struggled to keep the tears in. I admire her for being strong while having to deal with these realities on a day to day basis.

If anyone out there would like to help, donations are always welcome and most needed – Sharon can be contacted via Facebook, email (bridgesofhopeforchildren@gmail.com) or phone 078 887 0337

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 12.57.08 PMOur toy donation above and some pics of the kids from the Bridges of Hope Facebook page below…

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