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

Monday, 25 August 2014


In most senses of the word Katy Smail is an illustrator. It is what she studied at college. It is how she applied herself in those first years after graduation, and it is also the mainstay of her output. Clients include NBC Universal, Macy’s, Converse and Ouch Clothing. But a lot has changed over the years too, and the line between Katy’s illustration and fine art work is not always so obvious. While she was born and raised in Scotland, and worked in London, today she lives in Brooklyn, New York. And while Katy continues to work as an illustrator on a range of projects - including magazine editorial, advertising, publishing and apparel design, as well as bespoke stationery - she is also increasingly dedicating time to her fine art practice. Her works are available via Buy Some Damn Art. You can follow Katy's progress via her blog Thistledown Spirits and on Instagram.

Which five words best describe you? Thoughtful, passionate, sensitive, strong-willed, conscientious.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I was a creative kid, very into singing, reading and putting on plays. I always drew, but only really fell in love with drawing and painting when I was around 16. It became an all-consuming passion when I realised this was something I could pursue, and I went on to Edinburgh College of Art for my degree. I decided to specialise in illustration because I love books, I love the interplay between words and pictures and I wanted to really learn the skill of visual communication. Whilst I love working in traditional forms of illustration, I was also so excited to play with the possibilities of illustration in new contexts. I liked the idea that illustration work could be a smaller and more accessible version of the fine art I was making. After college I worked really hard on unpaid illustration work, collaborating with lots of different people until I had built up a good network, and a portfolio of published work which helped me to find my agent (I am represented by Kate Ryan Inc. in NY). Signing with Kate Ryan was so validating for me. After years of waitressing and drawing for free, it was so encouraging to feel like they saw something worthwhile in me and my work. It definitely felt like a sign that I was on the right path. Nowadays my time is split pretty equally between illustration jobs and my own fine art practice. My day to day working life varies all the time; my projects meander from collaborating with photographers to pattern design to painting flowers and everything in-between. I love the variety.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? That time away from work is as important as time spent working. My natural inclination is to obsess and over work, and it has taken me a long time to learn that walking away from my studio to re-set the brain is essential to produce good work. My work and inspiration becomes very static if I am not taking the time to see new places, read, go to exhibitions, spend time with friends and family. Self care is important when you work for yourself because no one is going to tell you to take the day off because it is the weekend. 

What’s your proudest career achievement? I am really proud to say that being an artist is my job. I'm proud that I have never given up on my dream, despite the struggles. I am also really excited to be in the new volume of Taschen's Illustration Now!

What’s been your best decision? Going to Edinburgh College of Art instead of university. I did well in academic subjects at school and I came very close to studying English or history at university. I am so happy that I listened to my gut and went down the path that I was passionate about, not the obvious option which was safer. I had such a happy time at art school, made so many beautiful friends and it gave me the confidence to pursue my life in art.

Who inspires you? My amazing family and friends. I feel so fortunate to have such a close family, a mum who is my best friend, and to have so many magical friends all over the world. They give me the strength and love to do what I do, and are always there when I have doubts and fears. 

What are you passionate about? My family, my friends, New York City, my art, summer, travel, wildflowers and living a healthy and organic life.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I would like to have one last conversation and a gin and tonic with my grandmother. 

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I would love to travel the world drawing wildflowers, culminating in an exhibition and beautiful book of paintings and drawings.

What are you reading? Far from the madding crowd by Thomas Hardy and Women who run with the wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.

images courtesy of katy smail

Friday, 22 August 2014


Holly Hipwell is living proof that you make your own career. She hasn't studied floristry. She hadn't worked for a florist prior to becoming one, of sorts. In fact, that was how she started on her journey. Holly wanted to get some work experience with a florist, but no one would take her on. So she decided to start a blog, The Flower Drum, to showcase her work. Soon she gained a following, which morphed into paying jobs, and now she works full-time devising floral creations for events, weddings and all sorts of other special occasions. She is also a contributor to Lveland and hosts workshops.

Which five words best describe you? Messy, funny, happy, excited, tired.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? It just sort of happened. I mean, I made it happen, of course. But I didn't set out to be a florist. I just knew that I was creative but I was never satisfied with the handful of jobs that I had before becoming whatever it is that I call myself today - Florist? Special Event maker? Creator of dreams? Master of Disaster? It all started with my love for flowers and a blog called The Flower Drum. People started to read it all around the world and the more attention it received, the more I put into it. No florist in Sydney would give me work experience, so I just kept on going... playing with flowers in my own unique way and putting it all on the blog for anyone and everyone to see. Soon enough the interest in the blog turned into work and I had clients to juggle along with a full-time job. I would hit the markets early in the morning then work all day in an office then head home and work all night to get flowers ready for whatever installation or event that was happening the following day. Now I work seven days a week running the business by myself - getting up at 4am to hit the markets in the morning, designing concepts for commercial clients, creating dream weddings for brides, delivering flowers around Sydney, Pinteresting, Instagraming, emailing, text messaging, phone answering, Facebooking. Sometimes if I’m exhausted I squeeze in a 30-minute nap around 2pm. My body clock is out of control.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Having the confidence in myself to know that I can achieve my creative visions. Say yes and work it out later!

What’s your proudest career achievement? When my parents stopped asking me if I was going to get a job! Ha! No really, I am really proud of what I do, and I love it. I love that this is what I get to do every day. I have the odd day occasionally when I just wish that I worked at Blockbuster or something but mostly I am stoked. 

What’s been your best decision? Instinct. You know straight away when you talk to a client if it’s not a good idea to move forward, whether it be in regards to the timeline, budget or the connection you have with them. It’s hard to turn away work and opportunities, but sometimes you just have to trust your instincts. Not everyone in this world is nice like you and that is something I learnt a long time ago.

Who inspires you? Is it weird if I say Madonna? She's the first person that comes to mind. From the age of three til about 10 I was completely obsessed by her platinum chameleon ways. Think - Blonde Ambition Tour 1990. I was absolutely captivated. The Costumes. The back up dancers! The music! OMG! I have just spent the last hour revisiting the concert on YouTube. 

Bill Cunningham pretty much melted my heart in his documentary - seeing his passion and love for what he does was so inspiring. So humble and dedicated. 

My friends - they're a pretty clever bunch and each is the master of their own domain. It’s awesome to be able to share ideas and dream together.

Actually, I’m not really inspired or influenced by others so much, but what I do love to see in other people is their passion for what they do. Passion is so powerful, it can make you do anything. I’m so excited when I talk to people about what I do, and when I meet people who are bursting with fire in their bellies about the smallest or craziest ideas, it puts a smile on my face. 

What are you passionate about? Discovery. Teaching myself how to create new things, learning about how flowers “work” and stumbling across new varieties of blooms that I haven't used before. Every day is an adventure for me and you have to be ready and raring to go at all times.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Diana Vreeland.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? Making it all work. To be able to balance my passion for what I do with my personal life, and having perfect health. Obviously, I just want to keep on creating bigger and better. I’d love to work more overseas. I’d love to be a travelling florist. 

What are you reading? Crazy Rich Asians.

images courtesy of holly hipwell and lveland

Thursday, 21 August 2014


UK-born landscape designer Christopher Nicholas took a little detour last year in Morocco. A client had commissioned him to travel there to source pots for their new garden. Before he left word got out among his other clients, and Chris had a long request list. The sourcing trip took him along the long roads that wind through the Atlas Mountains near Marrakech, through nearby villages and out into the Sahara Dessert. "With the help of a guide and a few words of Arabic we wandered down alleyways, behind the walls of riads, and across roof tops until we found, in the baking sun, beautiful clusters of antique pots," Chris says. "No longer being used for storing dates, olives and yak butter, I could see their potential for my clients' gardens back home." Home, back then, was the UK. It was his base to work on gardens in the UK, France and Italy for the best part of a decade. More recently he has returned to Australia, where he completed school, and has been busy creating gardens in Sydney. He has also just opened a container of Moroccan pots, which he plans to wholesale and retail.

Which five words best describe you? Creative, intuitive, particular, sensitive and funny (if the mood takes me).

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? Eleven was the age when I was enveloped by a passion for plants. Living in Kent in England, I remember distinctly getting out of the car from school for the summer holidays and my mother had done the pots in front of our home. I cringe with the thought but I remember lilac-coloured Lobelia catching my eye. That was 25 years ago. It's all been about gardens since. 

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Not to worry and that second thoughts are invaluable.

What’s your proudest career achievement? I did a great garden for the National Trust at Lindesay, Darling Point. I was given free range to interpret a historical garden. It was the first big project I did after returning from Europe and had longed to use the plant material I was thinking about while I was away. I still oversee it today.

What’s been your best decision? Working for myself, scary at first but necessary.

Who inspires you? William Kent.

What are you passionate about? Restoration.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? William Kent, although meeting your heroes...

What dream do you still want to fulfil? A garden of my own.

What are you reading? Beautiful ruins by Jess Walter.

images courtesy of christopher nicholas


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