Modern & Minimal Design With Kirralee & Co

Modern & Minimal Design With Kirralee & Co- an interview via Opinion9.com

Plants on walls are kind of a big thing nowadays. If you’re looking for fresh ways to add plants to your home- then you’re going to like Kirralee & Co. I discovered her work and was instantly drawn to the simplicity, the raw minimalism and the functionality in her creations.

Kirralee is also so inspiring! I really enjoyed getting to know about her creative process, and I think you will too!

Let’s hear what she has to say! Modern & Minimal Design With Kirralee & Co- an interview via Opinion9.com

Modern & Minimal Design With Kirralee & Co- an interview via Opinion9.com


Please tell me a little bit about yourself.

My name is Kirralee Robinson and I was born and raised in Brisbane, Queensland. I am happily 10 years married and we have 3 little munchkins aged 7, 5 and 2. My work life is a juggle of many different areas of creativity. I am an art installer, a gallery assistant, beginner framer and I am owner and designer of Kirralee & Co.

My Co. includes my husband who offers technical support on the hardware side of things; he makes jigs and shows me how to use the tools. I am also fortunate enough to be surrounded by creative friends who have offered their time, skills and encouragement along this journey. I honestly couldn’t do what I’m doing without them – support like this is just so vital for any new venture.

Modern & Minimal Design With Kirralee & Co- an interview via Opinion9.com

I love the minimal yet powerful styling in your work.

Thank you. It’s the ultimate compliment when people just ‘get’ what you were going for.

Modern & Minimal Design With Kirralee & Co- an interview via Opinion9.com

It’s so cool that you worked as a florist too. I find it rather interesting that you see the beauty in a single stem- in contrast to the number of plants/flowers that a regular florist has to add in an arrangement. Can you share a bit more about how your present style of arrangements at Kirralee & Co has evolved?

Floristry is akin to any other client-driven creative business. When it comes down to it, most days your own personal taste has very little to do with the end product. I think I became visually tired after so many years of bright clashing colours and always found a kind of peace in just the greenery – in particular, the lush leaves and the variety of textures found mixing them. We would go to fancy floral display shows and I remember test tubes being used there – there was a great appeal for me, probably because it was generally unseen in day-to-day shop life. In floristry, the customers always need to see value for money and there’s always a need to balance quantity and quality. In the places I worked for our customer base didn’t really value the intricacies of design so we rarely sold anything design heavy.

I think when you mix these experiences with the creative drive of an artist you would probably come up with what I make today. I feel like I can have a bit of creative control now over what goes on people’s walls. I also like that there’s an option now of displaying flowers in an elegant and simple way; you don’t have to be a florist to use these vases.

Modern & Minimal Design With Kirralee & Co- an interview via Opinion9.com

Modern & Minimal Design With Kirralee & Co- an interview via Opinion9.com

How do you maintain the balance between regular life and your work?

All of my daytime work hours in art galleries are really unpredictable and Ash is a paramedic so our family schedule is quite unique. We have to be really flexible but also very disciplined. I guess I’ve just learnt to take the time out for my creativity and give it 500% when it’s there. We maintain balance by being aware of everyone in the household (kids too) and their needs and each having something that is just our own, and taking turns doing this. Because of the shift work I may make nothing for a month, then only make and photograph for two weeks straight…and it’s all okay because we all love each other and have this common understanding that this is how we help each other to succeed.

Modern & Minimal Design With Kirralee & Co- an interview via Opinion9.com

What was the hardest (and easiest) part while starting your business?

I find the ideas part to be the easiest. Before Kirralee & Co, I used to procrastinate about finishing anything and to be honest this is the first project I feel like I’m really pushing through – mainly because I just love it. Photography and website related things were hard at the beginning and the financial part is really tough because it’s very new to me. But ideas are really easy.

Modern & Minimal Design With Kirralee & Co- an interview via Opinion9.com

What makes you the happiest in your creative process?

There’s so much that I love, like the grains in the wood and problem solving a new design- but mostly I find joy in creating something in my head and then being able to hold it in my hands – the faster between these two, the better. There is something really special about making the intangible a reality. Other people liking and buying it is just a bonus really!

Could you give us a glimpse in a typical day of your life?

We have a lot of regular things that get done, but never in the same order… My day always starts with coffee, then there’s housework and school / daycare, lots of playing outside. I have learnt to design in my head while driving or going for a walk with the kids. If I’m not doing something, I’m planning something so that the times I can get to the shed I’m very productive…. The nights that Ash is off on shift I try to use by either watching something inspiring, designing on paper, or sanding / finishing the vases.

Modern & Minimal Design With Kirralee & Co- an interview via Opinion9.com

Modern & Minimal Design With Kirralee & Co- an interview via Opinion9.com

What qualities are needed to keep up and also enjoy running a creative business?

I think vision is really important – being able to see an end result in your mind’s eye that others can’t see can really motivate you to keep going, even when it looks impossible. I find the easiest way to enjoy your own creativity is to spend time with other people’s creativity. I frequent movies, performances, dinners, and gallery openings … anything (legal) as long as I am trying new things and engaging my senses in new ways. This keeps my brain engine warm and the rest of my life fresh.


Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 8.17.47 pm

Where do you see yourself in a few years?

I have a bunch of very specific ideas on where I would like to end up, but I’m also really open to where life leads. I would be happy if any of these things happened: Buying a house, not buying a house, stocking Kirralee & Co in some national and international stores, owning an artist run space, landing a job as a gallery exhibitions officer, travelling with my art and/or design work, installing some great art shows around the world, travelling with my family, travelling with my husband, helping artisans in Mexico make some real money from their crafts, moving to Melbourne for a few years.

 Modern & Minimal Design With Kirralee & Co- an interview via Opinion9.com

What motivates and inspires you the most?

I believe that things can always be better no matter how good or bad they currently are and this is what really gets me out of bed each day (after coffee). Kirralee & Co exists because I believe there’s a simpler and more sustainable way of decorating our homes. And I make art because I have things to say that could be important to someone somewhere. On the days where nothing creative is going right, I usually turn on a documentary about another artist, doesn’t matter who, and hear the stories of their days that don’t go so well and the success they still have just from pushing through. Something usually stands out to me and I go to bed ready to try again the next day.

Modern & Minimal Design With Kirralee & Co- an interview via Opinion9.com

How long have you been interested in floral arrangements and home design? How did you think you could convert your hobby into a business?

My motivation for being a florist wasn’t because I particularly liked flowers but because I wanted a creative job I could do during my study. 10 years later, I can happily say that the more I work with flowers and foliage the more I like them. My interest in home design came about because I spent 2014 learning about ethics and sustainability in fashion and it motivated me to make some changes in our family, not only with clothes but everything we consume. I designed the first vases as an answer to my own question about how we could decorate more responsibly.

I had several of my friends say, “hey! You should sell these, I would buy one!” So I listened. I also signed up to an Etsy challenge where we were given advice on setting up an online store and given support and mentoring through the process. That was a real turning point for me.

Modern & Minimal Design With Kirralee & Co- an interview via Opinion9.com

What’s your favourite colour, flower and food?

Yes I know, it’s a shade, but, black. Always black.

Favourite flower changes all the time but currently hydrangea.

Mexican food, chocolate, cheese, wine, repeat.

Modern & Minimal Design With Kirralee & Co- an interview via Opinion9.com

What are some topics and trends inspiring you nowadays?

I’m really loving all the Palm Springs related Instagram accounts, @palmspringsstyle , @meganmckean, and @modernism_week, they have inspired a collection I’m currently working on. I’m also always interested in learning more about living sustainably / minimally / essentially, we have a long way to go there.

https://www.instagram.com/modernism_week/

(bright hues for Kirralee’s next project! ^)

What would an ‘ideal’ day be like for you?

Any day where I feel like I’m at least one step ahead of where I was that morning is good. BUT if I can indulge myself a little, ideally I would have a coffee, kiss my husband and kids, head off to a work shed / art gallery / studio and work hard with my hands while listening to good music, more coffee, get sweaty, complete something, come home and shower, put on pretty clothes then head to an event or date with my husband.

Modern & Minimal Design With Kirralee & Co- an interview via Opinion9.com

What’s the significance of art and design in your life?

As long as I can remember, I have been involved in making things, dreaming, crafting, thinking… My parents were wonderfully supportive of all my quirks and always taught us that being a [__name any suit job__] isn’t necessarily more important or significant than being an artist. I have tried to ‘give up’ being a creative a couple of times but I always come back. Even during the seasons of time, where I’m not able to get into the studio I find my cooking amps up in creativity (sorry family). I just know I will be working with my hands and in art galleries for the rest of my life. It’s part of who I am. Now it’s going next level as well with having three kids, all of whom are showing signs of being creative, I’m really looking forward to growing this with them.

https://www.instagram.com/modernism_week/Where do you source your plants and other elements in your work?

I have just started growing some tropical plants at home, which I’m sure will feature in my work in the future. Other than that I source the single stems from my garden, around my neighborhood and the work shed, as it is surrounded by a lot of gorgeous greenery. I also buy the occasional stem from my local florist, (particularly when I have a specific photo in mind).

The test tubes are sourced from a variety of places. Although I would love to make these myself this would increase the cost of the pieces significantly and there are plenty of people out there already making them. Apart from the factory few I have bought, a lot of them have been given to me. I’ve had a few people say things like this to me, “I’m a hoarder and I’m not going to use this, but it seems you will!”

Modern & Minimal Design With Kirralee & Co- an interview via Opinion9.com

What makes a satisfied customer?

A happy customer gets more than what they expected. Each order I send is gift wrapped with care and sent as soon as possible with a note straight from me. Wherever I can, I add in a stem of foliage so the vase can be used straight away.

Modern & Minimal Design With Kirralee & Co- an interview via Opinion9.com

What would you like to convey to a customer through your work?

I would like people to see that good quality design can transcend trends. It’s worth looking around for small businesses and makers because the service and quality is much more personal. I think having a home decorated with handmade items can fill a space with love and warmth and this is what I hope for my designs.

….

Find Kirralee and her work here on her website | instagram| etsy.

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Living the Vintage Life with Sarah & Ludo

Living the VIntage Life with Sarah & Ludo

Hello! Today we have Laurel and Rowan talking about living the vintage life! I’m actually really excited about this feature, because they are the first vintage scouters (can we call them that?) on Opinion9! They have a lovely shop called Sarah & Ludo (the name’s inspired by the cult classic Labyrinth) filled with a varied array of vintage clothing. It’s also great to see them working together on this.

Vintage clothing has always been special for me. I remember going to my grandmother’s house and finding a one piece swimming suit, cat eye glasses, old coats and blouses, sundresses, skirts that all spoke in silence; echoing an aura of a past era, filled with memories. Vintage clothing is something else, more than just what you’d pick up on a clothing rack in a mall. Like their shop tagline says, it’s ‘a hint of magic!’

So, when I saw that Sarah & Ludo was all about finding and selling vintage clothes- I had to know more! They’re a pretty interesting duo, too.

Read on to hear what they have to say!

Please tell me a little bit about yourself.

We are Laurel and Rowan, the owners of Sarah & Ludo, a small online vintage clothing boutique that we currently operate through Etsy. We live in Melbourne, Australia but still call New Zealand home.

Living the Vintage Life with Sarah & Ludo

There’s something so great about vintage- knowing that it has a history behind it. How long have you been interested in vintage?

I have always loved the thrill of searching for treasure. My dad used to take me to garage sales with him on Saturday mornings when I was young and I think it all started there. My actual passion for vintage though really took hold in my mid-twenties when I travelled to London and Europe. Every city I went to I seemed to end up finding vintage and thrift stores down obscure alley ways and back streets. I spent many happy hours in those stores and realised that I had fallen in love with vintage clothing. It is now a way of life.

Rowan used to run his own street wear clothing range, Tripod, and when initially starting out, he would thrift for well-made items that he could take apart and put back together again (to teach himself construction). He has always been partial to old school Adidas, vintage tees and denim.

Living the Vintage Life with Sarah & LudoWhat are some specific themes/designs inspiring you nowadays?

I find we are leaning more and more towards simple well-tailored design. Black. White. A splash of colour. Uncluttered.

Living the Vintage Life with Sarah & Ludo

How do you balance running a creative business and regular life?

It is hard not to have the two merge together. But for now, Sarah & Ludo is a side project that we are hoping to grow organically. I have a full-time day job at the State Library Victoria and Rowan is studying Graphic Design full-time at RMIT. Sarah & Ludo is our evenings, our weekends. We both love the creative process though and are happiest being busy and bouncing ideas off each other.

Living the Vintage Life with Sarah & Ludo

What motivates you the most?

Coffee. Books. Music. Films. Melbourne. The dust, palm trees and endless sunshine of LA.

Living the Vintage Life with Sarah & Ludo

Where do you see yourself in a few years?

We would like to be making small limited run items for our own label as well as continuing to sell vintage. I would like to be living by the beach and for life to be a little quieter and serene. Rowan will hopefully be a world class graphic designer by then and freelancing from home. I also want to learn Shibori and incorporate that into both our own label and our vintage collections.

Living the Vintage Life with Sarah & Ludo

Living the Vintage Life with Sarah & Ludo

What would be the most ideal vintage find?

A lost collection of perfectly preserved dresses from the 1900s to the 1970s that belonged to the same woman (or possibly a generation of women!) and which documented her life and adventures.

Living the Vintage Life with Sarah & Ludo

What are some qualities you look for in a vintage piece?

We look for pieces that have something about them that is special; little details, an eye catching print, exquisite tailoring. We also like pieces that can easily be assimilated into a modern wardrobe. And statement pieces. We are all for statement pieces.

Living the Vintage Life with Sarah & Ludo

What’s one vintage piece that impacted you the most- and one that you are still searching to find?

We are impacted by them all! I am quite taken with a Big E Levi’s denim shirt I found on our first US buying trip (even though it is missing all its buttons!). You just don’t find that level of detail anymore. We are always searching for vintage denim, 1950s/1960s/1970s cotton sundresses, and vintage tees. No one item in particular but a multitude of labels and styles.

Living the Vintage Life with Sarah & Ludo

Your etsy shop has some lovely finds- I love the baby doll dress, the black ballerina dress and the blush pink sundress – to name a few! What is your general process for selling your vintage finds?

Thank you! I love every single item that we sell. And I make sure that every single item has been washed, cared for and fixed up before it is sold. It is extremely important to us. Rowan luckily is a whizz on the sewing machine so he takes care of busted seams, fallen hems etc. Once an item is cleaned and in excellent sellable condition, it gets put onto a rack to photograph. I try and have a general theme to each shoot – colour/style/season – but it doesn’t always work out that way with vintage! We currently have two beautiful models and are photographing weekly for now. After photographing we take measurements, write descriptions and note flaws. Then we list on Etsy. From there, we answer customer queries, and package and send orders. I must admit the Post Office is not my favourite place but once something has been sold I am always very quick to get it off to its new owner (especially as I have no patience myself!).

Living the Vintage Life with Sarah & Ludo

Can you describe a typical work day?

A typical Sarah & Ludo workday would be a weekend day, so it would start with coffee and brunch. Then it would be photo shoot preparation – steaming, pressing and organising clothes; putting up the backdrop; setting up the camera. Our model would arrive for the shoot which generally would be two – three hours. Following this, we would load the photos onto the computer and the editing process would begin! I am always keen to get started right away but often Rowan will make me take a break and we will go for a drink in the sunshine or the like. Then measuring and listing on Etsy (as above). No day is ever the same. It is all dependent on sales etc. Packaging is my one of my favorite parts of the process; I package items first in recycled tissue paper and then I use recycled brown paper which I hand stamp with little crafted stamps I ordered from New York. I then tie it up with string (either hemp or natural twine) and add a little hand written note. Every item we send off is sent with love – we want our customers to love their purchase and be happy with the whole experience!

Living the Vintage Life with Sarah & Ludo

What are some values you’d like to convey to your customers?

Sustainability.

Individuality.

Kindness.

Living the Vintage Life with Sarah & Ludo

Living the Vintage Life with Sarah & Ludo

How do you manage to find the vintage clothes?

We go to America! It is a great excuse for us to go on holiday once a year and also a way for us to get vintage in bulk. Also, we find that the older vintage is incredibly hard to find in Australia, and though still tricky in America (as it becomes rarer and starts to wear out) that there is more opportunity to source the items we love. This year we went to LA, Austin, Houston, then back to LA (with a little side trip to Palm Springs). We stayed with friends in Austin, which was awesome, especially as my friend Andrea is a vintage-lover from way back and took us to all sorts of wonderful places. Houston was a mecca for vintage warehouses but was also hard work. It was hot and humid, no air conditioning and the warehouse bins were tough going. We sourced some real gems though so it was definitely worth it in the end. And we stayed in a super cool Airbnb loft studio down the road from the Last Concert Café.

We love to escape Melbourne winter for a week. It gives us a burst of much needed sunshine that helps push us through to spring when we get back. We are still dreaming of Palm Springs, bottomless mimosas and swimming pools…

Living the Vintage Life with Sarah & Ludo

Living the Vintage Life with Sarah & Ludo

Why vintage? 

Simply because they don’t make things like they used to.

Also, vintage clothing has a history, a story, a previous life. There is a certain whimsy in wearing something from another era.

Living the Vintage Life with Sarah & Ludo

Just for fun: what’s your favourite city, food and book/movie?

Living the Vintage Life with Sarah & Ludo

Laurel:

City: Paris. Granada. Dubrovnik. Melbourne. L.A.

Food: Avocadoes. Everyday.

Book: I can’t pick one! Here are a few – What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt (actually, everything by Siri Hustvedt, starting with The Blindfold), Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan (again, everything by Francoise Sagan – I find her books the best size for carrying around in my bag and most of my books by her are slightly battered from over-reading), Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruis Zafon, anything by Haruki Murikami (I especially love Norwegian Wood). I read my favourites over and over again so they are like old friends. I never tire of them and always pick up something new every time I read them. I often find it difficult to read a book I haven’t read before. It is like starting a new friendship; a little awkward, disconcerting, but also lovely if that connection is there.

Movie – This changes all the time! A few I love for different reasons: Labyrinth, Princess Bride, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Ruby Sparks, Begin Again, Across the Universe, Almost Famous, Dirty Dancing, Reality Bites, Fight Club, Midnight in Paris, The Notebook.

Living the Vintage Life with Sarah & Ludo

Rowan:

City: apart from Melbourne, I really like LA

Food: can’t go wrong with a good pizza but lately I have been really keen on a soft Taco

Book: The Walking Dead Compendiums (graphic novels count right?)

Movie: too hard to narrow down… so for now I will say a director, Wes Anderson, as I could happily watch any of his movies at the drop of a hat.

Living the Vintage Life with Sarah & Ludo

I like that you guys are working together. How do you complement each other’s strengths when it comes to running a business?

Rowan is endlessly patient while I tend to run on adrenaline and at times work myself into a panic. Rowan brings me back down to earth. In essence, I am a perfectionist and a bit of a control freak, while Rowan is creative and visionary. I turn my perfectionism towards cleaning garments, editing photos, and packaging orders. Rowan built the website, takes majority of the photos and does most of the sewing repairs. We love that we are building something together. Also, he doesn’t get bored searching for vintage with me! And on our American road trips, he drives (which is no easy feat, especially as it is the opposite side of the road from Australia and New Zealand!).

Living the Vintage Life with Sarah & Ludo

What interests you about the 50s-60s period?

They are two such different eras, but both had such great fashion. The 50s silhouette was so alluring and then the 60s was revolutionary. From full skirts to mini dresses. From understated prints to psychedelic. As well as the clothes I am also very partial to the music from the 1960s. Rowan is great at finding records from this era for me.

Living the Vintage Life with Sarah & Ludo

Any advice for people who are just starting to scour markets for vintage finds?

Start at the beginning of a rack and touch every item (make sure you have clean hands and handle delicately!) – the fabric is important – also, look out for items that catch your eye. Inspect for holes, stains and odour (especially the underarms). Check the label (if there is one). Check the seams/ tailoring. Check the zip if there is one (a metal zip is a good indication of age).

Living the Vintage Life with Sarah & Ludo

Living the Vintage Life with Sarah & Ludo

What do you guys do in your free time (when not working)?

We like to eat at our favourite cafes and restaurants, binge watch our favourite TV shows, ride our bikes (Rowan more than me, I need to bike more!), read, work on projects. We love coffee. We enjoy beer and chips in the sunshine on a Sunday afternoon. Rowan makes great crepes with lemon and sugar and strawberries and chocolate chips. We listen to records. Rowan makes music and goes to gigs; he has drum n bass tattooed on his arm – his first love.

Living the Vintage Life with Sarah & Ludo

Are you seriously living in a ex-chocolate factory apartment? Okay, that’s the coolest. What’s your take on life and art in general?

We sadly just recently had to leave our ex-chocolate factory apartment which still stings a little. The owner decided to sell it just before we left for our last US buying trip so we had to move out two weeks before we left and put all our stuff into storage. When we got back though we found our new apartment very quickly (it was the first and only we looked at). It is another warehouse conversion (we seem to gravitate towards those!) and is in Northcote, which we find to be a very creative inspiring community. Also we are seconds from the Westgarth Palace Cinema which is art deco and amazing.

We both strive to live creatively fulfilling lives and not get too caught up in the daily grind. Of course, that’s not always easy or possible (and sometimes seems impossible!) but we will continue to aspire to it and will never give up on our dreams.

Art is all around us in all shapes and forms and defines us for better and for worse.

Living the Vintage Life with Sarah & LudoThanks for sharing, Laurel and Rowan! Wishing you the very best ahead! -Aaria

Find Laurel and Rowan’s vintage finds here at their website SarahnLudo, instagram and maybe pick up something refined and vintage over at their etsy shop.

 

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Art with Ruth of September Wildflowers

september wildflowers

Hello everyone.

Today, we have Ruth Speer who creates the most wonderful art under the moniker of September Wildflowers.

Her work is just so beautiful and it’s impossible not to say, “Whoa! You painted that?!”

She also strikes me as a person who really loves what she does- and works hard at it. Also, she works with different media: pencils, oils, acrylics and watercolours-so there’s variety and exploration in both her work and journey as an artist.

There’s something striking and just kinda awesome about it all- read on to hear what Ruth has to say!

Art with Ruth of September Wildflowers - a creative interview via Opinion9.com

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m Ruth, and I’m an artist, learner and all-around creative dabbler who loves flowers, tea, being outside, books and listing off things I like.

What sparked your interest in art in general? How long have you been practicing?

I’ve been drawing and painting ever since I can remember! Really, I always knew I wanted to be something creative when I grew up.

Art with Ruth of September Wildflowers - a creative interview via Opinion9.com

Art with Ruth of September Wildflowers - a creative interview via Opinion9.com

Art with Ruth of September Wildflowers - a creative interview via Opinion9.com

How do you interpret the presence and significance of art in your lifestyle?

I truly believe art can be found anywhere and everywhere, if one is only interested in discovering it. In a person’s freckles, or the way they take their coffee, or the combination of colors and textures in a building, or ivy creeping around a window, or even pretty words like “effusive” and “scintillating”. Finding beauty in the little things is a favorite lifestyle choice of mine.

Art with Ruth of September Wildflowers - a creative interview via Opinion9.com

(photo by Ashley Rose Productions)

What is your general process while creating an art piece? 

I usually begin with an idea or several elements I want to put together. For example, I might think of bird wings and gold paint and brown paper and wistfulness and come up with the piece below. As I didn’t have any large pieces of brown paper, I found a paper bag and trimmed it. It’s now hanging in my friend’s living room!

The last example was a spontaneous project that I completed in a few hours, but typically, especially when working with oil paint on canvas (which is what I use for most portraits), I’m a very slow painter. It can take months to finish a piece as I add layers and ideas. It’s like embarking down a path you’ve marked out and going off-route every two steps to enjoy the scenery. Time-consuming and worthwhile!

Art with Ruth of September Wildflowers - a creative interview via Opinion9.com

How do you balance running a creative business along with maintaining your natural creativity?

Remember why you started! I wanted to bring more beautiful, colorful, thoughtful things into the world, and every once in a while I have to remind myself of that fact. The logistics and business and marketing sides are fun, but it can become a distraction when all I need to do is sit down without a plan or strategy and just play with colors. Artists (myself included, obviously) can take themselves way too seriously – art can be serious and contemplative, but it’s also play.

Art with Ruth of September Wildflowers - a creative interview via Opinion9.com

Art with Ruth of September Wildflowers - a creative interview via Opinion9.com

Art with Ruth of September Wildflowers - a creative interview via Opinion9.com

Art with Ruth of September Wildflowers - a creative interview via Opinion9.com

How much time on an average does it take to create a piece?

It actually depends on the medium and purpose!

Commissions, which I usually do with watercolors, take longer because I like to make sure the client loves the piece; and this requires a lot of back-and-forth emailing for different stages. It usually takes several weeks, or up to 2-3 months if I’m busy.

My own pieces, when I use watercolor, ink or pencil, take only a few hours. As I mentioned above, however, when I’m working with canvas it’s a different story! On average, oil portraits emerge over three to six months.

Art with Ruth of September Wildflowers - a creative interview via Opinion9.com

 

Just out of interest, what was the first (or your favourite ) piece of art you remember creating?

I have several favorites! One of them is this orange-haired lady. Last September, I was in Europe for two weeks, and in a little London art shop I bought a 6B graphite pencil. The day after I got back home, I sat down and drew this piece with my new pencil. I mostly remember the sunshine through the window and Edith Piaf playing in the background.

I’ve since lost the pencil, but the portrait is still hanging in my studio.

Art with Ruth of September Wildflowers - a creative interview via Opinion9.com

Art with Ruth of September Wildflowers - a creative interview via Opinion9.com

 

What do you do in your free time (when not drawing)?

I love music, reading, exploring and picnicking in the woods near my house, spending time with my wonderful friends and Jesus, and finding new coffee shops and book stores. I’m also a freshman Studio Arts major at George Fox University in Oregon!

Art with Ruth of September Wildflowers - a creative interview via Opinion9.com

 

How did you create a more or less consistent style with which you draw?

Personally, I don’t think I’ve developed a totally consistent style yet – it’s still in flux a bit. But I do think having a consistent style all comes down to creating and drawing and making consistently. If you make one or two pieces of art a year, you won’t get very far with recognizing what you love to draw or make, which I think is the key element to developing your personal style.

Can you share a glimpse of a typical day in your life?

On most weekdays I have several classes at my university, which, including homework, take up a lot of my time and energy (as they should – I love learning!) I try to get my assignments for coming weeks done fairly early, so that I can take time to paint and draw and not feel like I ought to be working on something else! It’s a bit ironic, as I’m going to school for art.

Art with Ruth of September Wildflowers - a creative interview via Opinion9.com

What’s your outfit staple and flower and colour?

I love so many colors! I love pale periwinkle blue, deep orange and shades of green and rose. I love peonies and daphne. I like wearing dresses!

 

What are some themes/topics that are inspiring you nowadays?

People and their stories, always. I’ve been wanting to paint wings – bird wings and dragonfly wings and butterfly wings. I like the color violet. And I’ve been wanting to use metallic gold oil paint.

 

What are some of your favourite art supplies and art media  you use?

Vivid oil colors are always my favorite! I use Gamblin and Blick for the most part. I also use Schminke watercolors and have recently discovered the magical properties of gouache through my art classes.

Art with Ruth of September Wildflowers - a creative interview via Opinion9.com

I love your colourful canvases and the precision with which you draw! Could you share any tips for aspiring artists who want to make original and distinctive drawings?

Why, thank you! I would still describe myself as an aspiring artist, so this advice is for myself as well: look at a lot of art and see what inspires you the most. What catches your eye about it? What makes you think “Dang, I want to run home and make something now!” Don’t try to replicate it in your personal style (though you can practice by recreating a particular style, and it’s really fun, and it helps add stylistic tools to your mental tool-box). Try to recognize what you love about other art (bright colors! Human subjects! Peaceful landscapes!) and see if that’s something you want to work with.

Most importantly; I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a million times more: make things. All the time. As much as possible. Make things you despise, make things that you come back and change, make color palettes and experiment with the same compositions, make a billion and one paintings and drawings and your style will reveal itself.

Art with Ruth of September Wildflowers - a creative interview via Opinion9.com

What do you think makes a good, satisfactory piece of art (which the artist feels happy about the end result)?

Feeling happy about the end result is really a personal thing, and I think it depends on what the artist was originally setting out to do and whether they think they achieved that end goal, or even reached a different, better one. As an art student, I’ve been gaining wonderful insight into the technical part of what makes art look like a good art; but in the end, I always come back to this quote from Amanda Palmer: “You’re an artist when you say you are. And you’re a good artist when you make somebody else experience or feel something deep or unexpected.”

Art with Ruth of September Wildflowers - a creative interview via Opinion9.com

A little insight about your name ‘September Wildflowers’?

I was born in September, and I love wildflowers! It’s pretty simple – I chose that username a lot time ago for something inconsequential, and it’s stuck with me ever since!

Thanks Ruth for sharing! You can find Ruth over at her instagram and on etsy.

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Coastal Ceramics with Katie

ceramic

Hello! Today we have the very lovely and talented Katie Robbins on this edition of the Opinion9 Inspiration series. Her work is just so mesmerizing, and peaceful. Katie makes ceramics inspired by the sea and its beauty. There are shades of azure blues, quiet indigos and serene whites, if you can imagine the colours in your mind. I love the simplicity with which her work really captures the essence of the coast – with just the form, texture and colour speaking volumes. Katie’s photography and her vision with which she creates her designs are also very impeccable and distinctive.

Read on to hear what she has to say.unnamed-3

Please tell me a little bit about yourself.

Hi, I’m Katie from KT Robbins Ceramics. I make a variety of porcelain vessels and accessories for the home as well as individually designed pieces of jewellery, inspired by the coast natural world. I love working with clay to produce mainly functional as well as decorative forms and shapes.

 

I love your minimal and naturally cool style! Do you have a particular theme for each batch  of ceramics you create? Is it planned or more spontaneous?

A lot of my work is influenced by patterns in nature, often relating to the coast and sea, such as the crest of a wave, sea-foam and even the raised circles on a sea urchin. I have done collections relating to the coast, which is a theme that I am still exploring.earthy ceramics with katie robbins

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What was the hardest (and easiest) part while starting your business?

The hardest part of starting a business was having the courage to start and give it a go. But I had (and have) lots of creative ladies in my circle, as well as a supportive partner, who encouraged me to give it a go. I used to work in PR and marketing, and had some interior design clients, but felt that I didn’t want to continue with that after having children. The easiest part of starting this business was having that knowledge and the inside track of knowing the importance of having a strong brand, as well as some of the styling tips I gained on-the-job to create good photography and support material. But ironically I haven’t written a single press release about my ceramics since I have set up on my own.
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What makes you the happiest in your creative process?

I love it when a new idea works. I slip-cast most of my work which means that I build an original shape and then create a mould of it. I can spend several days creating a new shape and it is not until it has come out of the final firing that you can be sure how things are going to turn out.  I also love the chemistry of glazes – which in combination can produce exciting and unexpected results. There is always an element of chance during the final firing, and there is nothing more exciting then unloading the kiln to see if what you had hoped for has happened.

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(Katie’s workspace is just beautiful. Love the wood, white walls and all the little elements that work so well here – the potted plants, the pictures, the storage too!)

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Could you give us a glimpse in a typical day at work?

I must admit that I don’t have a typical day as it really depends on what needs doing. I am normally juggling working around family life. This means that as soon as I get up I am checking emails, and am actively promoting new or existing products on social media. After school drop-off and finishing any household chores then I have around five hours of studio time, which is located next to my house. My priority is to work on shapes that I have cast on a previous day as the clay dries out and there is an optimum time to shape and decorate it. I will also cast up new shapes, sand down my work ready, and glaze work ready for a final firing.

I also have some afternoons where I work in a collective studio as I find it really helps to be able to have a peer group, which you can ask for advice or just be a little sociable with.

I leave the house at 3 to pick up the children from school and in between making them tea and helping with homework I am finishing off any projects from the day, packing up goods, or taking photography for my shop or blog pages.

And after the kids are in bed later in the evening I will quite often spend time writing features, catch up with more admin or join in Twitter chats as a way of self-development. As a sole trader there is always so much to learn about how we can market ourselves and improve our business.

By the way I always make time for lunch in my working day. I can’t concentrate on an empty stomach.

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What qualities are needed to keep up and also enjoy running a creative business?

I think you have to always want to learn and self-improve. I quite often take part in courses, on-line and in person to always be taking myself to the next level. Running your own artisan craft business it’s essential to take good photographs and I’m just about to go on a course to improve this. This term I’m also doing a course in wheel work, as I love the simple shapes of hand-thrown forms.

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Where do you see yourself in a few years?

I would like to see my brand grow in recognition and I would like to be stocked by more art galleries and independent shops. Up until now, I haven’t had a chance to concentrate on building a range specifically for these markets.

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What motivates and inspires you the most?

I find feedback immensely motivating. Also, talking with my friends who are passionate about ceramics – about their projects as well as my own.

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How long has making ceramics been your hobby? How did you think you could convert your hobby into a business?

I have been interested in ceramics since my school days; and often did courses at night school whilst I was working. I thought I could convert my hobby into a business after entering and selling a vase in an open exhibition at the MAC, a local arts centre. I realized then that people would pay money to buy what I could make.

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Just for fun: What is your favourite: colour, food and flower?

My favourite colour is a tricky one. I think it has to be blue – the colour of the sea, the sky and agapanthus which covers off my favourite flower too. And my favourite food has to be crab.

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What are some themes are particularly inspiring you at the moment?

I love the revival that we are seeing in houseplants and macramé. It is so beneficial and beautiful for us to have greenery in our lives and I’m really championing this in my creative work at the moment.

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Thanks, Katie, for this glimpse in your creative process! Wishing you all the best ahead! -Aaria

You can find Katie and her beautiful work over on her website, etsy and on instagram.

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Life and Art with Li Ching

Life and Art with Li Ching via Opinion9

There’s something so lovely about a hobby! It gives you direction, it gives you a better perspective of life- and it helps you enjoy yourself even more! That’s what we’re discussing on the Inspiration feature today.

Li Ching makes some beautiful artwork- and what I especially love about it is, she makes art for herself. It’s rare to find people who do things not to please others, but to make themselves happy. You can see this reflected in all her work- be it her intricate pen work, or her free watercolour style! She incorporates so much art in her life- and that’s uncommon these days. Both her work and her inspiration are priceless.

Read on to hear what she has to say!

Please tell me a little bit about yourself.

I’m Li Ching (Lich or Leach for short) I’m 43. In my last job, I was a Gemologist based in Bangkok, Thailand. I specialised in grading and appraising coloured gems. When my family relocated back to Singapore, I became a SAHM. I’ve always loved art, but it was only this year, with more time on my hands, that I started to draw more productively again.

Life and Art with Li Ching via Opinion9

Life and Art with Li Ching via Opinion9(Love the koi fish!)

I love both your pen work as well as your watercolours! Do you usually practice one type of art for a long period of time, or do you alternate between different art forms regularly?

I am self taught. I’ve had no formal instruction, but because I sat for Art exams at GSCE O and A levels – I’ve had experience in everything from collage to pastels to charcoal…In the end, I keep going back to pen work. What’s new is my newfound love for watercolours!Life and Art with Li Ching via Opinion9

What makes you happiest in your creative process?

This question is so hard! I like when a piece just grows as I work on it. I’m not the best with planning…sometimes the art develops on its own. When it works out, I’m always amazed (that I didn’t screw up). I also feel glad when people identify with what I draw. Or if they feel something when they look at it. Someone just told me my work made her feel happy. I mean, wow..that was a revelation to me. I was flattered and I was moved.

Life and Art with Li Ching via Opinion9

Life and Art with Li Ching via Opinion9

You seem to be inspired by books and nature, from looking at your work! Can you describe in detail what inspires you as potential drawing topics?

I love books! When I was younger, I would read the classics and poetry. Now, I prefer fantasy and fairytales. I particularly enjoy A.S.Byatt and C.S.Lewis.  I don’t have very much time to read these days. You could say I’m painting from memory…

As an English-speaking Chinese in multiracial Singapore, I think I subconsciously try to compensate for my lack of “Chinese-ness” through art.  I studied under a famous Chinese artist for half a year, but my work still looked too graphic and western. I don’t fight it now! Instead, I incorporate oriental elements, symbols and rebus, into some of my pieces.

Life and Art with Li Ching via Opinion9

Life and Art with Li Ching via Opinion9

Life and Art with Li Ching via Opinion9

(Some of Li’s amazing pen work- inspired by books! Bet you can guess which ones..)

What is your usual process for illustrating a piece?

I don’t have a fixed process when I draw. It’s all rather arbitrary. I decide what size of drawing I’m going to do then simply start. Even if I do a preliminary sketch, I may change my mind mid way. Sometimes I make a plan in my head. But if my gut says something, I tend to listen. I really believe that the key to painting a good piece of art, is knowing when to stop.

Life and Art with Li Ching via Opinion9

Life and Art with Li Ching via Opinion9

Life and Art with Li Ching via Opinion9

How do you balance your creative pursuits as well as your regular life duties?

I’m a full time mom and a part time artist. A lot of articles talk about balance..But I feel it’s a zero sum game. You cannot have more of one without having less of the other. My kids will (usually lol) come first. I set aside my mornings and selected afternoons for myself. It’s an indulgence for me, not a career. Maybe when the kids leave for college…T-T

Life and Art with Li Ching via Opinion9

Life and Art with Li Ching via Opinion9

(I love how Li encourages her children too! Can you guess which one of these three is made by her daughter?)

What are some of your favourite art supplies you use?

I prefer Copic Multiliners for my pen work. I also use Copic color markers, Derwent Coloursoft and Artist color pencils.  For watercolors, I use Daler Rowney Aquafine & Artists, Winsor and Newton Professional and Schmincke Horadam. Most of my paper is Daler Rowney and Arches. While I have several Raphael Kolinsky sable brushes, the majority of my other brushes are just regular brushes.

Life and Art with Li Ching via Opinion9

Life and Art with Li Ching via Opinion9

Life and Art with Li Ching via Opinion9(Li’s lovely creative space. I love the wallpaper there! And of course, the art materials and the art too!)

What inspires you to keep illustrating?

I worked many years in HR, Internal Audit and Gemology. As far as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to draw seriously and I’ve never gotten the chance, not even Art lessons.  That’s why “endorsement” is really important to me. I’m elated when people, especially artists, tell me they like my work. Fundamentally, it’s insecurity, rather than narcissism. I want to believe I can, and that’s why I keep drawing.

Life and Art with Li Ching via Opinion9

Life and Art with Li Ching via Opinion9

Life and Art with Li Ching via Opinion9You have a lovely Etsy shop! What motivated you to start a little creative business?

I just had extra time on my hands and wanted to give it a go. I’m embarrassed to admit that I haven’t been very serious about it…But I’m thinking of really getting down to listing more art.

Life and Art with Li Ching via Opinion9

Life and Art with Li Ching via Opinion9

Life and Art with Li Ching via Opinion9How long have you been drawing? Just out of interest, what was the first thing you remember drawing that made an impact to you?

Oh forever! Since I could remember… 🙂 I recall being so profoundly affected by criticism that I would deliberately leave my paintings unsigned so I could deny responsibility. Once, I brought one particular piece to an established framer to be framed. This was someone who had seen thousands of paintings. When she asked me, “did you paint this?” I wanted to say “NO!”

She said, “You must sign it. It’s important you own it”. She never said if it was good or not. But just like that, she helped me understand that just like everything else, you can’t please everyone. If your work appeals to some people, great. If not, own it anyway. Here’s the artwork in particular. Life and Art with Li Ching via Opinion9

Life and Art with Li Ching via Opinion9

Life and Art with Li Ching via Opinion9

Life and Art with Li Ching via Opinion9

Do you have any advice for artists out there?

Don’t stop learning!

Life and Art with Li Ching via Opinion9

Life and Art with Li Ching via Opinion9

Just for fun: what’s your favourite food, colour and flower?

Malay satay! No, I don’t have a favorite colour! It’s like asking me which note I prefer. They need to go together right? I love orchids! We’ve always had them at home, planted in pots. I especially like the small varieties.

Life and Art with Li Ching via Opinion9

Life and Art with Li Ching via Opinion9

Life and Art with Li Ching via Opinion9Thanks, Li, for sharing a little glimpse into your creativity! Wishing you all the best ahead! -Aaria 🙂

Find Li’s work on Etsy and keep up with her art journey on Instagram.

 

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