Monday, 1 September 2014


It was during his years as a photography assistant that Willem-Dirk du Toit talked himself into a corner. There was only one way out - to deliver on the job he had promised. He did that, and more. South African-born and Melbourne-based Willlem-Dirk has now been shooting as a photographer for the past decade, working with advertising clients such as Mazda, Telstra and Country Road. He has also travelled extensively, which he charts on his blog Cup of Concrete.

Which five words best describe you? Waterbaby, adventurer, obsessive, active, problem-solver.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? To be honest, apart from studying, I feel like I got my real career start from a white lie on a CV for an assisting job I applied for in Melbourne. It was about the amount of automotive photography experience I had. You see, I assisted a photographer in Johannesburg for a while and we did a lot of shoots for auto brands like BMW, Nissan, Renault and Isuzu. Only thing was that they were all conceptual advertising shoots, which never involved any actual car. Sadly the photographer did not want me for the job. He said I was over-qualified. Somehow his producer moved on and started a new job at a production company and took my CV with her. Lady luck shone on me and a couple of weeks later I found myself in Japan! However, my new employers soon discovered that I did not understand their photo jargon and I had little idea of what was going on. I guess after their investment in me they could not fathom the idea of sending me back. Fortunately this gave me almost two months to prove them wrong. The gig scored me just over two years of work in which I learnt most of my automotive photography skills and production knowledge. It set me up to land my next job at an in-house photography studio for Clemenger. Coincidentally, it was the same producer again. I’m very grateful for how she has helped me irrespective of my white lie. I guess I had to follow the “Fake-it-till-you-make-it” rule.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Positives attract. It’s not always easy to practice what you preach but it’s true. Being a freelancer you get these bursts of work. Sometimes it’s so busy that you can’t imagine it slowing down and you’re on top of the world, but once it slows down and sometimes stops, it’s only a positive attitude and being proactive which lands you that next job. Also, my dad always said, there is no such thing as a problem, only opportunities. It’s a great attitude to have.

What’s your proudest career achievement? I can’t really say I have any yet. I’m still pushing for that day to come. I’m never really completely contented with an artwork or a commercial shoot and when I am, the pride is very short lived.

What’s been your best decision? Moving to Melbourne in 2006. At the time I was just about to give up on photography and change careers, but in it’s own funny way Melbourne wouldn’t let me give up. The people who live here just won’t let any creativity die. I’m very grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given by the people of this great city.

Who inspires you? A couple of my close friends, who coincidentally are all women. I’ll list them one by one. Sonia Rentsch with her insane drive to succeed in her styling career and relocate to NY - keep an eye on her. Gill Hutchison who has gone from corporate city girl to coastal wonder woman punching home runs for Quicksilver global. My longtime friend Annemi Conradie who has inspired me since high school and guided me to follow my dream of being a photographer. Last but not least, my girl friend Sarah for never doubting me and always driving me to never settle for second best.

What are you passionate about? I’m extremely passionate about surfing and obviously photography. However, the past two years or so I’ve been passionate about the many ways people tell their life stories through the channels of design, architecture and nature.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? It’s a tough question but I love the idea of hanging with Helmut Newton at his Monaco apartment, drinking a martini. I guess I’d love to get some insight on how he managed to be such a ball breaker and always be successful.

What dream do you still want to fulfill? I’d like to one day follow in my dad’s footsteps and run the Comrades Marathon in South Africa. Also, I’d like to set up my career in such a way that I can live in any part of the world, especially Cape Town, and maintain (and even grow) my clientele.

What are you reading? I grew up in South Africa speaking mostly Afrikaans, so now I’m catching up on all the classics in order to understand the many references in today’s modern novels. I’ve just finished Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. I persevered and enjoyed the dark, relentless drama, even after people told me the song is better than the book.

images courtesy of willem-dirk du toit

Friday, 29 August 2014


There are not many overnight success stories in the art world. It is a vocation that is perhaps best suited to constancy and consistency. “It seems like a slow and steady life to me,” says Holly Coulis, a Canadian artist who has called Brooklyn, New York, home since 1999. “That may be the way it is for many artists: spending time in the studio, making your work, meeting other artists over the years, finding people along the way who are interested in what you are doing.” There is recognition, though. Holly has exhibited in New York, Los Angeles and Detroit, as well as Canada and Switzerland. She also teaches and is part of non-profit gallery 106 Green.

Which five words best describe you? That's a difficult question. It really depends on how I am feeling at any given moment. Maybe stubborn, curious, intuitive, insightful, and I'll go with funny. I laugh at my own jokes all the time.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? Well, I suppose it begins and ends with dedication to my studio practice. It's been years of showing up. I just keep showing up. And finding new ways to be involved with painting and with art in general. It seems like a constant conversation with myself about how to keep my work interesting to me. Spending as much time as possible looking at other people's paintings helps a lot.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Life is short and also long. It's important to try to stay captivated by the world.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Honestly, it was when I taught my first beginners’ painting class. It was very nerve-racking and I felt that I had nothing to offer these young artists. By the end of the semester, they had all grown as painters and artists. Also, being a part of 106 Green, a non-profit gallery started by Mitchell Wright and Ridley Howard in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. We've shown a lot of artists' work and asked artists to curate shows there. It always feels like a real place for art and artists.

What’s been your best decision? To move to New York. To marry my husband.

Who inspires you? People who are dedicated to their vision and keep making/writing/doing what they love. And people who manage to keep the life in their eyes.

What are you passionate about? Music, painting, film, stories, humour, food.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Jacques Pépin. He seems hilarious and sweet, and I've seen him make a beautiful omelette on TV. There are other people who I really admire or am inspired by, but Jacques Pépin is someone I would actually like to sit down with. Preferably in a kitchen. Over some food.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I'd like to write something good. And learn to play the piano.

What are you reading? I'm in the middle of Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh

images courtesy of holly coulis

Thursday, 28 August 2014


Ingrid Weir was already living a full life before she joined the world of Instagram. She was well-known in the Sydney arts scene for her work as a set, costume and graphic designer in the theatre and on film. She has worked on a variety of projects from the big budget film Master and Commander to children’s television program Playschool. This was after graduating from Sydney University with a Bachelor of Science majoring in Architecture. Ingrid also spent a year at art school in San Francisco studying installation and jewellery design. Many of these skills have come into play in her side career as an interior designer. Notably she has designed a bar in Mexico for Fox Studios. And one of her most personal projects, giving new life to an old schoolmaster’s house in the old gold rush town of Hill End, has opened all sorts of other doors. Many of these she charts through her blog of the same name, and her popular instagram feed.

Which five words best describe you? I aspire to be… thoughtful, curious, open to learning.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I studied Architecture at Sydney Uni and then did a year at art school in San Francisco. Starting out I designed plays for independent theatre companies and that lead me to a job at the ABC designing Playschool. Since then I have ranged from costume design for the STC and various TV series to production design at the ABC for The Chaser’s War on Everything plus graphic design for TV and film, including Master and Commander. Recently I’ve expanded into photography, shooting a campaign for Samsung and my country place for Frankie’s Spaces 2 book. A film I did the costumes for The Little Death is opening in September and I am currently designing a retail space.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Be bold.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Designing and building "The Monkey Bar" in Mexico.

What’s been your best decision? To buy and renovate my cottage in the old Gold Rush town of Hill End. After years of working to other people's briefs, it was liberating to make up my own.

Who inspires you? People who find beauty and positivity in the world despite great hardship.

What are you passionate about? Finding a simple, meaningful way to live.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? The young Hemingway and the old Matisse.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I'm working on a book that incorporates my writing and photography.

What are you reading? The rise and fall of great powers by Tom Rachman.

images courtesy of ingrid weir; portrait sal flegg

Wednesday, 27 August 2014


A lot of great design comes out of Melbourne. A recent example is Copper - a collaboration between industrial designers Edward Linacre, pictured above left, and Viktor Legin. Both of them studied in their chosen profession and worked through the ranks of leading Melbourne design firms before teaming up to create Copper in 2013. Now they are focussed on creating and manufacturing a range of products, including an array of lights, in Australia. Recently they were awarded the Temple and Webster Emerging Designer Award.

Which five words best describe you? “Caring, excitable, chaotic, charismatic, positive.” - as described by Vik. 

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? Brighton Bay Photography Art and Design put me on the right path, literally. I thought I was a grapho. Internship in Germany kicked me up the bum and into gear. Honours at Swinburne with inspirational tutors. Solid three years with CP Design (now Annex Products) was invaluable. Now co-run my own industrial design consultancy, Copper ID.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Don't do anything half-arsed or else you'll pay. Go hard or go home. Welcome collaboration. 

What’s your proudest career achievement? Runner up in Young Designer Award at Satellite, Salone de Mobile, Milan, 2013. 

What’s been your best decision? To start Copper with Viktor Legin.   

Who inspires you? Viktor Legin. And Yves Béhar in the design industry. Janine Benyus, author of Biomimicry: Innovation inspired by nature, and many others. Get into it.  

What are you passionate about? Biomimicry. Appropriate design. Experimental and traditional artforms. Creativity. Collaboration. Innovation.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Janine Benyus. Buckminster Fuller. Bill Hicks.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? Help to create environmentally appropriate and cooperative systems of living based on the biological, closed loop systems of nature that have existed on Earth for billions of years, and, therefore, aid our ability to live and grow in harmony on this planet

What are you reading? Undeniable - Christopher Keating.

Which five words best describe you? “Intense, perfectionist, freak, honest, passionate.” - as described by Ed.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? It started in a Brighton Bay Art Design and Photography program after which I found my passion for industrial design. I then went to Swinburne and studied industrial design and graduated with honours in 2008. Whilst doing my honours I started working at MAP International along side Daniel Barbera [DI interview here] and Chris Connell and continued to work there for four years. In that period I also worked part time at Swinburne as a workshop technician and a lecturer. This allowed me to develop skills as a designer as well as a maker and learn what I needed in order to establish Copper Id.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? There is a solution for every problem if you put enough thought into it. Do it once and do it right and never present anything you are not happy with.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Winning Temple & Webster Emerging Designer Award was a highlight for me because it was the first award Ed and I won as a duo.

What’s been your best decision? To team up with Ed and start Copper. 

Who inspires you? My main source of inspiration would have to be the people I work with: Edward Linacre, Chris Connell, Daniel Barbera, Adam Cornish. Nikola Tesla is also a huge inspiration to me.

What are you passionate about? I have a passion for minimalism in all aspects. I go by the less is more design principle. Minimal techno is what I listen to most. I live a minimal lifestyle where everything I own has a purpose and is used often. I think there is a real beauty in minimalism and simplicity.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Nikola Tesla.

What dream do you still want to fulfill? I guess the dream is to grow Copper to the point where I can design more product and not have as many restraints. Would love to have a world wide distribution and collaborate with other designers and companies more. Would love to have some sort of positive impact on the planet and leave something beautiful behind.

What are you reading? The archaic revival by Terence McKenna.

images courtesy of copper

Tuesday, 26 August 2014


Claudia Zinzan has spent most of her career working as an interior designer, but retail has never been far away. The New Zealander has run an interior design and clothing business as well as a luxury clothes brand. But after the birth of her first child, she wanted to change direction. And so Father Rabbit was born, a project that Claudia started with her husband, Nick Hutchison, who also works as a camera operator in the film industry. The business started out as an online store, and now as two physical shops in Auckland.

Which five words best describe you? A calm and consistent whirlwind.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? After completing an interior design degree I fell into colour consultancy. From there I had an interior and clothing design business and was the general manager of a luxury clothes brand before starting Father Rabbit after my first child was born. All the movements in my career have been about seizing opportunities without thinking about them too heavily. But I do have a strong “gut feeling” monitor that tells me if I feel uncomfortable travelling a certain path. I don't over think things. I use my contacts and travel toward a loose goal in my head about the bigger picture but I seize opportunities that my networking provides. I surround myself with people who have more experience and different skill sets than myself and work with them to enhance my business. 

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Pay attention to detail. I am still teaching myself this. It is such an important skill and money saver.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Launching Father Rabbit with Nick.

What’s been your best decision? I feel like I don't make very conscious decisions and instead rely on my gut. But as my business gets bigger I have to be more careful with my analysis of opportunities... mainly because more risk is involved. My best decision is that I started Father Rabbit and didn't go back to my old job.

Who inspires you? Other business creatives. I am always watching other people and their think-big attitudes. The guys at Supreme Coffee inspire me. The boys at Fidels Cafe/Havana Bar in Wellington. 

What are you passionate about? Being kind in my business to my staff, customers and suppliers. The world needs more gentle-handed approaches to business and negotiation. I am insanely passionate about shop displays, merchandising and retail interior design.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I am a huge fan of Beyonce and Jay Z. I would almost give up everything to be their friends or at least a fly on the wall. I think they are hugely talented but also are a massive business inspiration.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I want to live in a foreign city with Nick and the kids. Bangkok or Brazil are at the top of the list.

What are you reading? I am not reading anything currently except the news, Facebook and emails! I am a tired mother with a little baby.  

images courtesy of father rabbit


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