Friday, 19 December 2014


There was never any question that Jo Bertini was going to be an artist. “It’s the family business,” she says. “I was born into it.” Her mother, Anne Ferguson, is an established sculptor and her aunt, Judy Cotton, is an NY-based painter. Also, Jo’s grandfather, and his cousin, (Robert and Olive Cotton), are well-known photographers. “The artistic lineage goes back as far as we can trace our history. I was corrupted at a very young age and was constantly encouraged to paint, draw and be creative and make things,” she says. Painting is something that Jo has always done. She exhibited after school, and during her years of living in Europe. Over the past 10 years, since returning to Australia, Jo has made regular trips into the desert for six to 12 weeks at a time with Australian Desert Expeditions. She has collated her sketches from this time into a book, and is currently exhibiting at Olsen Irwin Gallery.

Which five words best describe you? Compulsively creative, restless, enquiring, artist.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I have always painted and exhibited ever since high school and even when I was living in Europe for 10 years. It is just what I was brought up to do and always came naturally and easily to me. I will always be an artist as I cannot change who I am and it is the activity that comes most instinctively and happily to me. I am constantly seeing new paintings I want to make and inventing new projects that I know I will realise. It is a way of being for me that no matter where I live in the world is a constant.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Trust your instincts. As an artist it is vital that you know that it just comes down to you and the work. Nothing else really matters. It is such a personal and lifetime journey that all sorts of flotsam and jetson will get in your way but you have to push everything else aside and listen only to your own instincts to know the true path.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Being a professional practicing artist who managed sole support of herself as a single mother of two beautiful, now adult children.

What’s been your best decision? Aside from having my children, joining Australian Desert Expeditions as expedition artist nearly 10 years ago.

Who inspires you? So many people are inspirational to me. The scientists and ecologists that I work with, other artists, my students, my family, my partner the explorer Andrew Harper. People can be truly extraordinary and every day there will be something someone says or does or an artwork or piece of writing or music that just fills me with joy and wonder.

What are you passionate about? Art, my family, education, the health of the planet and environment which we live in and depend on, and the desert landscapes, people and remote places of Central Australia.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? The artist Sidney Nolan.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? So many dreams and so many travels and so little time! I really want to be able to realise a complete show of all my expeditions’ archive; the sketchbooks, drawings  and gouaches done en situ out on expedition as well as all the paintings that have resulted form all the years of work. It would be wonderful to have a complete retrospective of so much material and so many artworks and see it all curated together in a coherent and informative collective show. It would take an enormous amount of organising and borrowing back of paintings from collections. a logistical, curatorial task well beyond my capacity.

What are you reading? I'm currently reading Outback - the discovery of Australia's interior by Derek Parker. And, of course, Jo Bertini Fieldwork  just published by Zabriskie books a collection of my work from the desert.

images courtesy of jo bertini, olsen irwin gallery and simon kenny/content-agency

Tuesday, 16 December 2014


The career of a stylist often comes about by way of some other profession. For Sydneysider John Mangila, it was graphic design. After completing his studies, he went to Inside Out magazine for work experience and ended up changing careers. Shortly afterwards he became the in-house stylist for Home Beautiful magazine, and then took a detour via floristry and photography. Now he is back styling full time and working with a range of publications and companies such as Quintessential Duckegg Blue and Shibori Textiles.

Which five words best describe you? Calm, collected, beauty-loving creative.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I studied graphic design and while on work experience at Inside Out magazine I discovered styling. I assisted for a year before working full time at Home Beautiful. I stopped styling for a few years to indulge my love for photography while juggling floristry, visual merchandising and interior decoration. I’ve been back styling as a freelancer now for about three years.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learned along the way? Not everyone is going to love what you do, and that’s ok; but doing what you love is the best motivation.

What’s your proudest career achievement? I still get such a thrill from every single job that I take on; most days work really feels more like play. Recently I styled a small section of the latest book from Oz Harvest, an amazing organisation that makes meals for the needy from excess restaurant supplies. To be able to give back to the community, even in a small way is pretty rewarding.

What’s been your best decision? Every time I have been fearless enough to risk failure, I have been wonderfully pleased.

Who inspires you? Through my blog on Sydney florists, I have met and become friends with the most amazing bunch of people. Their talent, work ethic and their absolute love and joy from flowers inspire me endlessly.

What are you passionate about? Family, food and flowers!

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? It’s been almost half my lifetime since my mum’s passing. I would dearly love to meet her again so I can catch her up on everything that has made me happy over the years, and the things I’ve tried to do to make her proud.

What dreams do you still want to fulfill? Style and photograph a series of books; nothing too big!

What are you reading? I read pictures more than words. Currently feasting on Hans Blomquist’s new book, In Detail; and Makoto Azuma and Shunsuke Shiinoki’s Encyclopedia of Flowers

images courtesy of john mangila; photography sharyn cairns (top), sam mcadam cooper (images 2, 3, 4) and justin nacua (portrait)

Monday, 15 December 2014


Brooke Holm is part of the new wave of Australian photographers who know and respect the old ways of shooting, but are also are savvy to and making a name for themselves in the online world. Her work has been published in interior magazines such as Inside Out and Real Living as well as on leading Australian design sites. All the while she has been garnering a significant following on Instagram, and spoken of the art of photography through a series of workshops for The School. Alongside the editorial work, is a series of advertising campaigns with friend and colleague Marsha Golemac for brands such as Kate and Kate, and Lightly. One of Brooke's first jobs was as the in-house photographer for Kikki.K. All of this stems from an almost accidental introduction to her craft while working at an advertising agency in Brisbane - where she grew up after her family moved to Australia from the USA. While Brooke is now based in Melbourne, she likes to pack her bags at any given opportunity and head out into nature to create images for her fine art photography work.

Which five words best describe you? Please give me the snacks.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? My career started by accident: I was working for an ad agency as an assistant/jack of all trades. One day they asked me to go out and take point-and-shoot shots of billboards they had produced. They liked what I brought back so I ended up doing more and more shoots for them before realising I could seriously consider it as a career. I studied part time while working and as soon as I finished, I quit my job and moved to Melbourne. I then got a full-time job working for Kikki.K and shooting their product and campaigns. Before long I was freelancing for them as well as building up my personal client list. Special thanks must go to Lucy from The Design Files and Megan Morton (both incredible ladies) for helping me get my name out there with early work I did with them. Once word of mouth is out there, people will seek you out. For my commercial career, I find myself shooting a lot of product campaigns, interiors, some food, fashion and editorial. For my personal work you will find me in another country exploring the landscapes, taking photographs and making huge fine art prints out of them.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? There is always room for improvement, you just need to be determined to be better than yourself every time. Don’t get hung up on looking at other people’s work, and just find your own way. It also helps if you always move forward. If you want something, you have to make it happen. So just do it. 

What’s your proudest career achievement? Marsha and I recently had the pleasure of having our first photographic exhibition ‘Workbook'. We created a book with K.W Doggett, along with an exhibition of large scale fine art prints. Now we have something tangible and entirely our own that we can be proud of. It’s so rewarding when your personal projects are finally given the time of day as they always get pushed to last priority. And it’s just a bonus doing it with your BFF. It’s also wonderful to have such incredible businesses such as K.W Doggett supporting the little people. They’re amazing and so generous.

What’s been your best decision? Moving to Melbourne.

Who inspires you? There are a lot of photographers, stylists, art directors and designers out there who inspire me, but I’d have to say my biggest inspiration is Marsha Golemac. Not only does she always have my back, but she pushes me out of my comfort zone creatively. When there is a rut, she is always there to pull me out and vice-versa. I am supremely lucky to have her. I’m also inspired by nature, which you will notice more through my personal work. There’s nothing like an enormous mountainous landscape to freshen your perspective on life. I can’t get enough of it and am always planning my next trip to remote locations.

What are you passionate about? Mountains, travel, food, family, friends, big ideas and great work.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Ansel Adams. That man was a damned genius. 

What dream do you still want to fulfil? Travel. There are so many places on my list. I’m slowly ticking them off but it’s an ongoing process.

What are you reading? I’m always midway through a Game of Thrones book. I think I’m up to number five currently. It’s nice to escape from reality every so often. 

images courtesy of brooke holm and marsha golemac 

Thursday, 11 December 2014


Passions quickly become obsessions for Canadian designer Jean-Claude LeBlanc. When he first moved out of home, from the rural bilingual town of Saskatchewan, to the city, he discovered skateboarding. Soon he was customising his clothes and gear, and it wasn’t too much longer before he created a clothing brand. More recently when Jean-Claude started to look for a vase, his obsessive nature looked towards a new horizon. Now he is focussed on product and furniture design. 

Which five words best describe you? Funny, focused, loyal, determined, sarcastic.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I wasn’t planning on working in the furniture or product design industry. My clothing brand was struggling at the time and I wasn’t happy with the fashion business model and was looking to make some changes. My home has always been very important to me and I enjoy collecting furniture and objects from my travels. I had been looking for a vase to house a succulent plant for my bedside table but wasn’t finding anything that I liked. I had taken some industrial design courses years ago, one of which was model-making so I decided to make a model of a shape I had in mind, based on Rem KoolhaasCasa Da Musica building in Portugal.

I bought some rigid styrofoam, a material commonly used for modelling and started sculpting until I was satisfied with a shape. I knew I wanted it to be made from marble so I began visiting local stone sculptors until I found one that would take on the project. It took almost a year to get from my model to a marble prototype as I was being shuffled between various sculptors and having problems getting the right stone. Nancy Bendtsen from Inform Interiors in Vancouver had seen a picture of the prototype and asked if I’d be interested in selling them in her store. I said, of course, but I would need some time to figure out how to produce it and resolve the packaging. Six frustrating months later I had the Core marble collection selling at Inform and being very well received. I decided to just go with it and make it a business. I’ve since brought on a business partner and we’ve been expanding our product line and our list of dealers ever since. 

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Always stick to your gut instinct and stay the course.

What’s your proudest career achievement? I haven’t accomplished anything yet!

What’s been your best decision? Bringing on a business partner.

What are you passionate about? All design, including fashion and architecture.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? My grandfather.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I’ve always wanted to climb Everest. Although I’m sure the idea sounds a lot more fun than the reality.

images courtesy of jean-claude leblanc

Tuesday, 9 December 2014


While Anna Karlin always knew she wanted to be a designer, she hasn’t been afraid to explore the whole breadth of what that means. Since completing her studies at the Glasgow School of Art, the British designer has worked in graphics and art direction, as well as set and interior design. Anna’s work has taken her places too - from designing part of a high-end shopping centre in Moscow to launching a furniture and product range in New York, after moving there in 2010 from her native London. More recently she has created sets for New York Fashion Week and been a guest speaker at Mexico Design Week. The furniture above is from the collection she launched in 2012. “I’ve never had a ‘plan’,” Anna says. “We’ve been very lucky to get great feedback, which is incredibly encouraging and makes you feel like you’re going in the right direction.”

Which five words best describe you? Hyperactive, creative, humorous, encouraging, impatient. 

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I landed a prestigious junior graphics design job straight out of college - and I left two days later. I always wanted to work in a multidisciplinary way, and I’ve been lucky enough to work in places that have enabled that. By setting up my own practice when I moved to New York from London I simply increased that freedom. 

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? There’s always a way to make it work.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Launching the furniture line.

What’s been your best decision? To be self employed.

Who inspires you? Anyone who goes out on their own.

What are you passionate about? Creativity.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? William Morris.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I’d love to art direct a huge stadium tour. Everything from the set and lighting design to costumes, merch and website. 
I’d also like to design a plane interior for a major airline.             

What are you reading? The girl at the lion d'or.

images courtesy of anna karlin


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