Design Crowd


This is a very new feature to the blog we are excited to share with YOU today!
Every 2 weeks when we are not interviewing, we will be picking out our favourite creative of the week! This could be local or international – but if you feel you would like to nominate someone – feel free to email us their name/website and blog!

This weeks Creative Pick is Owner, Maker and Designer Amanda Weiss all the way from Olympia, WA, United States. She creates quirky cushions for the home + modern heirlooms for children which are too cute for the eyes to handle and each item is individually designed, handcrafted from wool + linen. I love how untraditional yet simple her work is! Massive congratulations for the inspiration! You are our CREATIVE PICK of the week!

Here is a little bio from their blog which explains what they do and how Three Bad Seeds was born. (links below).

”We make pillows that evoke warmth and happiness. Our work is enjoyed by those who wish to bring the outdoors in. We are able to capture both a sweetness and sophistication with our modern designs and quality materials. Each piece is one-of-a-kind, as it is cut and assembled by hand with materials found locally. Each will find a special place in the home to become functional piece of art. Our handcrafted goods allow others to hug a buffalo, hold a mountain range in their arms and keep a grove of evergreens on their couch.

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Three Bad Seeds is a family adventure founded in 2009 by Amanda Weiss with the help of her husband Joshua and Marley, their daughter. Marley became interested in creating her own animals and the family began small projects based on original drawings created by each family member. Amanda’s doodles became more prolific and her handiwork began to garner attention. While living in South Carolina, Amanda saw an opportunity to work with amazing wool fibers cast off to the thrift store dollar rack. She created a small collection to display at local markets and Three Bad Seeds was born. The family currently resides in the Pacific Northwest where Amanda keeps a studio in downtown Olympia, Washington. She is able to utilize remnants from a nearby Pendleton Woolen Mill to incorporate quality, US made woolens into her work. Amanda is inspired by the beauty of nature and is an animal lover to the core.”

If you want to purchase any of the items or follow the journey of Amanda and her family, please email or follow the links below!


Sarah K. Benning – Founder, Designer and Maker

I am literally so excited about this post today – I was beaming when I found Sarah via her etsy shop. She has such cute and simplistic style that carries across in all her products and designs. The fact that she is from NYC (or close enough) is just pretty awesome for me (definitely a location on the bucket list). But that’s not the only awesome thing. Sarah comes across as a down to earth creative who is just doing what comes naturally to her. I hope her interview will motivate you to get back to the basics, find what inspires you as an individual and take the risks to do what has been in your heart for a while. I love what she says about finance (surely put things in perspective for me) “Sometimes I can get a little obsessive over sales and income and costs of doing business, all of which is important because I, like everyone else, have bills to pay, but when that happens, I try to take a step back and get a little perspective: I get to do what I want and create what I want EVERYDAY and so far it is supporting my (fairly frugal) lifestyle! That’s pretty much the dream, right?” And it can become a realistic dream for a lot of us! Make sure to give her FB and insta page a like – links below the interview! Here’s a little bio about Sarah…

“Sarah K. Benning is a self-named design business dedicated to creating authentic and accessible art for the home and cards for everyday life. The founder/designer/maker, Sarah K. Benning, employs contemporary embroidery techniques to create unique greeting cards, uplifting wall décor, and whimsical stitched landscapes. Every step of the creative process is meticulously carried out from concept to finished product, ensuring quality goods and emphasizing all the perks and quirks of the handmade. Each card is hand cut, folded and stitched while each hoop is carefully crafted from start to finish by Sarah, all in order to provide the highest quality art for the home. Sarah K. Benning received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2013 and has been working as an independent maker in Upstate New York ever since.”

1. What made you decide to study at the Art Institute of Chicago?
I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland and was fortunate enough to attend an arts magnet school where I focussed on the visual arts. When it came time to apply to colleges, my top two choices were the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), which was right down the street from my high school, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). Ultimately, the idea of venturing off into the unknown was way more appealing to me than staying close to home. SAIC also has a very conceptual and experimental philosophy, which was an exciting change after spending four years of vigorously studying the traditional fundamentals of art making.

2. What inspires you most as an individual?
I love to travel and I love patterns found in nature.

3. What was is like moving to New York and setting up a studio?
I left Chicago two days after my graduation in 2013 and moved to Albany, NY (about 2 hours north of NYC), where I immediately started working at the New York State Museum designing housing for 3-D objects kept in the Scientific Illustration Collection. Being busy right away, made the transition a lot easier. After that project wrapped up we decided to stay in Albany because the cost of living is a fraction of what it is in the city. Also, it’s close enough to allow me to make many trips into NYC for events and opportunities.

For the time being, I work from home. We converted our living room into a work room that cosily houses my desk and materials and my partner’s instruments and recording equipment (he is a composer/musician). Spending so much time at home I get a little antsy, so I am constantly rearranging things to keep the space interesting and inspiring. As my business has grown, one of the biggest challenges has been to find space to store bulk materials and packaging supplies. We are only planning on being in New York for another 6 months or so before we relocate to somewhere else (TBD). Neither of us like to stay put for too long!

4. When did you decide to go online and open up shop (via etsy) and would you encourage others to head this way?
I opened my Etsy shop right after I left school, though it was some time after that where I felt like I really found my voice and style and created a more cohesive body of work. I like to kind of dive into things without a whole lot of planning, so I figured I would open a shop and see where it went. It’s grown a lot over the past year and a half and my business now extends beyond Etsy into the real world in the form of markets and stockists. My next big project is to launch a person website outside of Etsy which will feature my cards and hoops and some larger scale fine art pieces.

My philosophy on Etsy is “Why not?” It’s so easy to open a shop and allows people all over the world to see your products, so why not open an Etsy shop? That being said, I think it is important to diversify, and strongly encourage other makers to look beyond Etsy and other ecommerce sites in order to build a sustainable business.

5. How did you develop your unique style you have now? What was the journey?
My style is always in a state of development. Generally I make what makes me happy and keep my fingers crossed that other people will like I’m making too. Sometimes they don’t though, and then I have to go back to the drawing board and tweak an idea until it works or abandon it. It can be a little painful to let an idea go as unsuccessful, but that is part of the artistic process, especially when you are making it public and opening yourself up to feedback and criticism. And usually, the result of rethinking a design turns out more interesting than the original anyway. Sometimes I feel like my style is splintering into too many different directions and I try to take time to assess what is working and what direction I am most excited about. I’m sort of a packrat, so I rarely throw anything away with the idea that I can always revisit an abandoned direction sometime in the future.

6. What was the hardest part in starting your business and do you have any regrets?
I like to think of my business as a micro-business rather than a small business, since, for the time being anyway, it is a one-woman show. I design, manufacture, package and ship each piece in my collection, while managing the financial side of business and attempting to have spare time to enjoy life. This autonomy is empowering and exciting, but comes with its own set of stresses and uncertainties. It took me about a year and a half to fully commit to Sarah K. Benning as a self-supporting business, so during that time I worked full time during the day and designed and created at night and on weekends. Finding the time and energy to develop and expand my brand was difficult, but I don’t regret the struggles for a second.

If I could do it over again, I would leave my day job sooner and put greater faith into my creative endeavours! There will always be slow times and busy times and I think the most important thing is to stay focussed and positive. Sometimes I can get a little obsessive over sales and income and costs of doing business, all of which is important because I, like everyone else, have bills to pay, but when that happens I try to take a step back and get a little perspective: I get to do what I want and create what I want EVERYDAY and so far it is supporting my (fairly frugal) lifestyle! That’s pretty much the dream, right?

7. Do you think your art represents a bit of your personality?
I know it’s cliché, but I can’t imagine my life without art. The creative process is so engrained into every aspect of my life that I have to assume as much of my personality is engrained into what I produce. Often, when people talk to me about my work they are amazed at the time-consuming process and detail of hand stitching patterns and cards, but really I think the methodical and meditative qualities of the process is all that keeps me sane!

These days, my efforts are mostly focussed on the more commercial side of my creative practice, which is a fun challenge of balancing my artistic voice with creating products people actually want to buy.

8. What do you like to do in your spare time when you are not creating art?
I love spending time in natural history museums, mostly in the mineral and bird sections. And I love to take care of my plants. Our apartment faces north and it has been a very cold winter so it’s been a struggle keeping my guys alive. During better weather, time spent outdoors is always good, biking, hiking, swimming, etc. I’m also really good at darts!  But honestly, keeping up with orders and developing new designs keeps me pretty busy!

9. What are you looking forward to most in 2015?
I am pretty much looking forward to everything in 2015. It is the first year where I am 100% dedicated to developing and growing my business, so I am bursting with ideas for how I can expand product lines and generate excitement for my brand. As I said, we will be relocating sometime in the relatively near future, so I am excited to explore a new city and put together a new creative space. And I am looking forward to all the unexpected developments and events of 2015. I am happy and young and feel like probably good things are to come!

10. Do you have a favourite place in NYC at the moment?
My favorite place in New York right now would be the New York Botanical Garden.  It’s safe to say that my favourite part of any city would be the botanical gardens/conservatories.  I am obsessed with plants and often look to them for inspiration.

11. Where can our readers find you online?
instagram: @sarahkbenning



Ruschka Dutoit – Illustrator and Designer

Happy Thursday Creatives! This is one of my favourite days of the week and today I have the privilege of sharing with you some pearls of wisdom from this talented illustrator/designer that I have the honour of knowing personally. Ruschka is such a beautiful yet fiercy person with an incredible sense of humour and her love for simplicity and all things organic really shine through her work. She has great vision and is able to communicate words/idea’s through imagery and reading through her responses will make you want to get offline and get back to basics with some paint and brushes. I hope this interview will inspire you to do less, be more brave and make MORE art! Have a great Thursday! X

1. If you could describe yourself in just 3 words, what would they be and why?
Ok I find these kind of questions really hard so I asked my boyfriend for help.”Conscientious, hardworking and strategic” was his immediate response. Haha, that makes me sound very boring but I guess it does describe my work ethic quite accurately. Conscientious – because every day that I get to do what I love is a privilege and so I try to do it to the best of my abilities. I have found that talent takes you far, but being committed and having a standard of excellence in all you do will take you even further. This does sometimes backfire on me though cos I think I can become quite attached to my work and be my own worst critic. Hardworking – being a freelancer, this is kind of a given, but hard work has only ever paid off. Brave – Everyday requires courage. To put my work out there for people to see, to interact confidently with clients, to believe in myself and what I am creating, to trust that things will work out even if it’s a quiet month. ‘Let’s be brave’ is how I would sum up the past year and a half of my life…and now there’s no looking back.

2. So when did your interest for art / design start?
I have always been a very visual person, even as a kid, I made killer collages out of old magazines. I’ve just always loved beautiful images and words and shapes. In high school, destiny stepped in and I had to choose between science and art. I didn’t choose art because I wanted to paint, but rather because it was the only alternative to science (oops). Not having picked up a brush since I was a kid, I was terrified of what I would create. The experience completely transformed me and I realised the power of expression through my lines, my brushstrokes and my subject. I also found art history fascinating. That is really where it all started. Then I studied advertising which was a disaster but through that I realised how much I enjoyed the process of designing and simplifying shapes and lines especially in creating logos. Three years of studying multimedia design got me into print and web but a strong desire to break away from the computer got me back into painting and illustration. I had a very dedicated and passionate lecturer who saw my skills as an illustrator and encouraged me to pursue it more. That really played a crucial part in my journey.

3. What inspires you as an artist?
Wow, so many things. Like today, I bought a bag full of fresh veggies and the simple act of washing them under cold water and cutting the stems off the beetroots and carrots inspired me. The purple texture of the coleslaw, the way the water turned pink from the beetroot, the bright green details of the spinach. Haha. This is starting to sound like an episode of Portlandia, but honestly, the simplest things can inspire me to create, even if it’s just to make a simple salad. Words inspire ideas and visuals in me. I can spend hours looking at beautiful photographs (especially close up portraits) and imagine how I would interpret the lines into a drawing or painting. I love drawing faces and features.

4. What has been your favourite project to date?
No there are too many! I can’t choose. The dream is always to work on projects where I have complete creative freedom. When clients approach me to do an artwork for them or for a friend and the brief is to do whatever I wish, those are definitely favourites. The illustrations I create for my greeting cards and notebooks really allow me to explore my own brand and just create things I like. I really enjoy that and don’t see it as work at all. Working with my friends at Aleph Surf International is definitely a favourite too. This is ongoing project as we are constantly creating new things and working on new products and designs together. Not only do I get to work with one of my besties, super talented creative director Vanessa van Zyl, but I also get to create things that extends beyond just being a beautiful body of work but communicates a bigger purpose – the changing of lives. I have also really enjoyed projects that allow me to create in a new way and takes me out of my comfort zone – like styling shoots or putting up a group show.

5. For someone looking to go freelance in your industry – what advice would you give them?
Firstly I would say that it is going to take a lot of courage and hard work and is definitely not for the feint hearted BUT it is worth every single late night and tight deadline if you are doing what you love. Don’t let fear hold you back. Build up a small client base before you go freelance full time. A piggy bank really helps. There are often unforeseen expenses and having some money saved has really helped me out in tough times. It also comes in handy when you want to invest back into your business. Read, ask, research. When it comes to things like rates and terms and how to handle tricky clients/situations use the resources available. (I can recommend reading “Design is a job” by Mike Monteiro) Be willing to work hard. Really hard. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and will encourage you when it gets tough (and friends who understand when you can’t make it to after work drinks cos you have a deadline.) A good accountant will save you a lot of time and stress.

6. You have travelled a little and we have seen a love for Paris in some of your artwork – how was that for you and do you have plans for more travelling?
Paris was the most incredible experience. I imagined it to be perfect and it was even better. I definitely have plans for more travelling this year and at the moment it’s America vs Europe.

7. Who inspires you and how do you inspire yourself as an artist?
People who take risks towards living their dreams. Bravery inspires me. I draw a lot of inspiration from other creatives, seeing people do what they love and pushing themselves to create new things and become the best they can be, that really inspires me. I find inspiring myself is mostly about discipline and practising my skill. Sometimes creating the time and space to just explore. Always trying to learn, trying new things, pushing myself to become better at what I create. Trying to fight the urge to just go online and scroll through reams of information but to rather let creativity flow from a more organic place.

8. What music are you currently enjoying?
I tend to find something I like and listen to nothing else for weeks haha. At the moment its Childish Gambino’s “Because the Internet” album. Also, if you’re into music, here’s a cool little playlist I created for a local website

9. Do you collaborate with any other artists?
That’s something I am really hoping to do a lot more of this year. I am collaborating with a very talented photographer soon on something I cannot spill the beans on yet.

10. Where can our readers find you on the World Wide Web?
Instagram and twitter: @ruschkadutoit and my website –which is getting a ridiculously cool facelift very soon. FB:

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Natalie Vice – Designer and Shop Owner

So before my trip to South Africa I was browsing the world wide web for some Christmas gift ideas when I came across the Sugar & Vice website. WOW, I was completely blown away at the amazing products and art work that capture the heart of Cape Town where I am originally from. Natalie mixes the old with the new in her designs and her slogan ‘decorate your life’ really captures everything you see on her site. Her story is a pretty amazing one too, inspiring all of us creatives to step out and just do what we love! I really enjoyed interviewing Natalie and her answers are pretty uplifting and have encouraged me to be bold and courageous in my gifts and abilities! Have a great Wednesday all! Dream big always! X  

1. How did Sugar and Vice start and what inspired the name?
The name Sugar and Vice was initially inspired from my surname ‘Vice’.  I really like the yin and yang element of two opposing elements positioned together like that of Sweet and Sour, Kind and Wicked etc. and that’s why I chose the sweet connotations of sugar to accompany the ‘vice’.  I am a firm believer that positive and negative forces attract and have made sure my product range offers that same balance as should the name.  I feel that it’s the perfect fit to describe my designs and product range such as the Innocent Dear against the Daring Sugar Skull.

I love beautiful things – things that are beautifully made, beautiful to look at and ones that create beautiful memories and feelings when shared with loved ones.

Growing up, I dreamed of the day when I would have the opportunity to make a home for myself to share with others. After school, I went globetrotting for a while before returning to South Africa to study interior decorating, graphic design and completing a mini MBA. I got myself a job and after hardly any blood, a fair bit of sweat and lots of tears I eventually got my own place.  In doing so, I inherited my grandmothers beautiful emboya couches and my great grandmother’s gorgeous dining room chairs and discovered modern vintage – the successful blend of old and new. My dream was becoming far more than just a reality and I embarked on a mission to create a home that would speak a thousand words.

It quickly dawned on me that there was a huge gap in the market for exquisitely unique yet affordable household trimmings and accessories. In order to find something original and gorgeous – I scraped and saved enough to be able to buy good quality fabric from a local supplier which I then had printed, I drew tattoo like patterns and had them printed on my scatter cushions and the old inherited furniture was upholstered.  I rolled up my sleeves even further and after a lot of very late nights, even earlier mornings and endless cups of tea – Sugar and Vice was launched.

S&V contains all the things I have in my home and all those that I would like to have and the journey has been electrifying. I create my illustrations by hand and then use my computer to digitize and transformed the artworks onto an array of different products available in my online shop.  As like my home, S&V will never be complete but rather a work in progress. I am constantly busy with on-going projects at home and at S&V – upgrading ideas, redecorating rooms, redesigning motifs, creating new artworks and reworking old ones.

Creativity, passion and attention to detail are the only things that go into my products. And being sourced and produced locally means no matter how deep my imagination goes, your wallet wont.

2. What inspires you most as an individual?
Everything around me, in nature I find the most inspiration – I get inspired by the colours and patterns.

3. Were you born in South Africa?

4. Do you create all the art for your online products and what is the process for this?
All my designs I have hand drawn, I scan it in and digitize it, then I get it printed on the various products.

5. Do you like to keep busy on new projects and what are you working on at the moment?
Yes I am constantly working on projects in my head. Always contemplating my next move. I am planning to bring in different colour ceramics and products. Also working on some new designs. Watch this space.

6. What is your most prized material possession?
That’s a tie between my recent Kindle that I got as a gift and my laptop, okay who am I kidding…my iphone!

7. What is the hardest thing about running your own business?
Finding the time to get everything done that you want to do. To stop thinking about your business every waking second of the day and then dreaming about it at night.

8. What do you do in your spare time?
I love nature, going for hikes, drawing, cooking and reading.

9. What advice would you give to someone looking at taking their art to the next level?
Start small, believe in yourself, stop being hard on yourself and just do it.

10. Where do you see Sugar and Vice in the next 5 years?
I am dreaming big and would like to open a physical shop and workshop and be able to continue sending little parcels of happiness all over the globe.

11. Where can our readers find you online?
I sell on my own website and on the following platforms:


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