Artist

Elspeth Van Der Hole – Fashion Photographer

So – if you have stumbled across this interview and you are a photographer, prepare to be inspired. As someone who is pursuing a sideline career in photography I have found many challenges that I have had to deal with in the last 2 years. Sometimes, a lot of the challenges or frustrations I have faced are ones that friends or family wouldn’t necessarily always understand. As per most of my blog posts, I was searching the internet one sunny afternoon (or maybe gloomy) to find some photographers and groups to connect with after a few bad weeks of being overworked and underpaid. I needed to find somebody who could relate to the hardships one faces in a very competitive market. Some people with very small followings were not keen to connect (which was interesting) and some with bigger followings surprisingly were happy to connect via social platforms, and this is where I found Elspeth.

Elspeth has been a constant source of encouragement since and even though our styles are completely different, I have gained a lot of insight, boldness and determination to push through the hard times and pursue my own style regardless of what others think. The kindness of this photographer is surely another reason why she will be successful! She is always willing to help and guide others along their own journeys. I hope that you will be encouraged by her words and if you are feeling like you need a pick me up, make sure to follow her fb page and blog! (links below interview) – PS, she has also recently started vlogging and her video’s are super entertaining!

1. So, how did you get started as a photographer and what made you fall in love with capturing moments / images?
Funnily enough I actually took Photography as a ‘filler’ A-Level and it was the enthusiasm and freedom of the course and tutor that really engaged my love for this form of art! I learnt in film for a year before I even touched digital and I think the hours I spent in the darkroom helped me to reflect on life and turn me into the person I am today. When I was younger I originally wanted to be a fashion designer but discovered I didn’t have the patience to spend weeks, even months just making one piece! When I fell into photography by chance, I realised that this was the medium I could use to channel my love for fashion and put my stamp on the industry!

2. What inspires you as a person?
Other people! I love people watching, and talking to fascinating individuals who have their own story to tell. Which is lucky as this industry means I get to meet so many of these kinds of people!

3. What do you like to do when you are not taking photos and you can’t say editing? 😛
My dogs are my absolute little fur babies, I spend a lot of time on them and as anyone can tell who follows my social media they are a huge part of my life and family! Yoga and spirituality also takes up a healthy portion of my life and keeps my brain vaguely intact! Both help so much with my mental health problems as I suffer from anxiety, depression and Borderline Personality Disorder. I do spend 99% of my time working but I am also a keen advocate for promoting awareness of mental health problems and take time out of my schedule to talk to others about their issues. I find this helps deplete any stigma attached and starts to redefine normality within society when we all open up about how we really feel!

4. For someone looking to start as a photographer – what advice would you give them?
Choose your battles wisely and learn whom you should listen to – a lot of people out there in this industry will try and belittle you and their critique isn’t always constructive! Try not to take criticism personally as it’s difficult to develop your skill and talent when you have that barrier up.

5. You’ve recently officially gone down the self-employment route (which a lot of people dread) what was the process like for you?
Oh God it’s been fantastic! I wouldn’t have done anything different – I contacted The Prince’s Trust who put me on a 4 day enterprise course where I learnt everything from doing my own taxes to marketing and networking, I even have my own mentor whom I meet with on a regular basis for advice, guidance and someone to support me! Richard is fantastic for this because he’s not a photographer, but he’s a very business minded individual and really knows his stuff, this really works to my advantage because I’m not looking for a photography tutor, I’m after a business mentor! I’ve been self employed officially since September 2014 and I would never go back into employment.

6. Do you have any role models in the photography industry?
The photographer that will always stick in my mind for the reason why I went into fashion photography is Yanick Déry – he’s not overly well known but his work inspired me so heavily during a research project back in my A-Levels that I just saw it, looked and thought, that’s it. THAT’S WHAT I’M GOING TO DO!

7. Do you surround yourself with other creatives and do you think this is important?
Yes! I think this is so important – I spend a fair amount of time with Faye Halliday, an incredible artist from Stourbridge and the energy we can bring together when we’re both on a roll with work is insane! Even her beautiful Mum, Lou, always comments on how much more work I get done when I’m hiding in a corner of their home editing away. The one thing I do have to watch out for though is other photographers, some can appear kind and supportive to begin with but can easily switch and become jealous or demeaning towards you. Most creatives are fantastic though, and it really helps that we’re all on a very similar wavelength without mindsets!

8. What is your next project?
I’m actually doing some charity work at the moment with a charity called Funny Blood, they raise money and awareness for Platelet Function Disorders. Their latest task is 7 challenges in 7 weeks, as blood makes up 7% of our bodies; My part in this is that I’m photographing their challenges, last Friday was at the Worcester Wolves v Surrey United basketball match, yesterday was Clay Pigeon Shooting at Park Farm Shooting in Ombersley, Worcestershire and I’m actually about 10 minutes away from heading off to photograph a challenge in Pershore tonight with Worcester City FC. Fashion wise, my next projects aren’t personal at the moment because I’m doing much more commissioned work BUT I’ll be shooting a ‘before and after’ feature for makeup artist Cassie Rule mid-Feb, and then in May I’ll be working alongside the talented team at Peter Prosser Hair Salon in Hereford to produce more advertising images for their branch!

9. You were recently at the conservative conference featured by BBC – what was that like and how did you contribute?
Oh my god that was the most terrifyingly wonderful turning point in my career! Very long story short, BES (Business Enterprise Support) a non-profit company in the Midlands published a piece on my success story after completing The Prince’s Trust course; this was then picked up on by the Department of Work and Pensions because I am currently on the NEA (New Enterprise Allowance) scheme, put in place by The Conservatives. As you can see this was what lead me to doing the speech – originally I was going to be on a panel with Esther McVey, the employment minister, doing a joint question and answer session with other NEA case studies; then after I wrote my speech, I sent it over only to receive a phone call form the DWP offices informing me that I’ve reduced them all to tears and they want me to do a 3 minute solo speech before introducing the employment minister to the stage! As I suffer heavily from anxiety that was one of the biggest hurdles of my life. I was originally told that I would be talking to a room of around 100 people and it probably wouldn’t be on TV. I walked on stage and there were DEFINITELY more than that, AND it was broadcast live on BBC Parliament.

10. Where can our readers find you online?
http://www.elspethvanderhole.com – but if you want to contact me directly then my email address is info@elspethvanderhole.com

Thanks guys! ❤

Elspeth is a Worcestershire based Fashion Photographer, working all over the UK and being published regularly throughout the world. With 10 years of experience under her belt and a collective online following of over 10,000 she is slowly but surely gaining recognition for her work. Throughout the course of her career she has worked with clients such as ASOS and Vidal Sassoon. Fashion photography is where she’s found her purpose in life; suffering heavily from anxiety, depression and borderline personality disorder it’s what keeps her on track, keeps her focused and also gives an outlet to express herself.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:
www.elspethvanderhole.blogspot.co.uk
www.facebook.com/elspethvanderhole
http://www.twitter.com/elspethvandhole

  
  
  
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Siana Bangura – Founding Editor, Blogger and Poet

2014 was a beautiful yet challenging year for me, but one of the highlights apart from marrying my best friend was helping Radio Plus Coventry pioneer a brand new course delivering media & employability skills to help people looking to move into the Radio industry. This is where I met Siana. She is such a talented, creative and outspoken woman who has achieved so much in her twenties. She is a joy to be around and when you are in her presence the conversation is thought provoking, fruitful and eye opening. I hope you enjoy reading through her interview and don’t miss out on her latest poem which we have linked at the bottom! If you live in London, check out her facebook for up and coming poetry nights she may be attending. You wouldn’t want to miss it! – Lisa

1. How long have you been writing poetry for and what inspired you to start?
I’ve been writing creatively for a long as I can remember (just like everybody says!). Running away with my imagination and seeking comfort in books, poetry, the writing of others was always my favourite pastime. So that’s how I started I guess. When I was younger I used to write quite dark stuff and some of my poetry got published in school anthologies, things like that. I remember I wrote a poem called ‘The Eye of the Sea’ when I was in primary school. I came across it a few years ago and laughed so hard. It was rubbish but for me, at the time, it was my Magnum opus.

I used to write short stories and was working on a novel when I was about twelve I think. It was a detective type thing and the main character was based on Hercule Poirot. I think the same things that inspire me to write now are the same things that inspired me to write back then too. I needed my voice to be heard and sometimes it’s easier to do so through performance or by using characters. Escapism can be very healing. Injustice makes me write. Anger leads me to my pen. Joy and love cause me to write. I stopped writing poetry for a long time though simply because life got in the way and I got ‘too old’ for it. I started to think it was a bit cheesy and felt a bit embarrassed about being so deep within my emotions. I decided I was ‘too busy’ for poetry. I turned my attention to music journalism and album reviews, fashion blogging, and politics.

However, in October 2013 I had a life-changing encounter with someone from my past. It was very quick but made a huge impact on me and because I wasn’t able to coherently talk about how I felt about that encounter and how much it hurt, so I went back to being the little girl who hid under the dining room table and found comfort in her writing. I found a quiet space and I wrote ‘The Stranger’. After I wrote this poem, I performed it in November at a monthly spoken word event in London called Poetry Luv. I had forgotten how exhilarating it is to be on stage and perform. It was also a very cathartic experience too – in the audience were my best friends as well as people I did not know. They all said my poem touched them deeply. One of my friends cried a lot and this told me that I had to pick up from where I left things. I started writing more and more, fitting it in every day (which wasn’t actually that hard after all – it never is when it’s something you love doing), and I started immersing myself in London’s spoken word scene, going to the numerous events, introducing myself to other poets, and understanding the culture. It was all really eye-opening for me.

2. Besides poetry – you have some other creative outlets, what are they?
I am really into photography (again, just like everyone else, right?) and I was taking it very seriously during university. I even had my own small business going but again, I ended up turning my attentions to other things. I really enjoy portraiture and capturing people, especially faces in black and white.There is so much history in someone’s face and so many stories. There is so much power in that stillness. I am also a big fan of fashion and I sew a bit. I would love to have my own blazer line – bold colours, power shoulders, gold buttons, and asymmetry. I used to make bags for friends at school from old jeans. They were quite good, even if I do say so myself!

I enjoy theatre too and one day I’d love to be back on stage performing in a role of some sort. In October 2014 I co-produced a one- woman comedy called Fierce, by Kathryn Griffiths. I’d never done anything like that before. I really loved seeing it all come to life on stage. Kathryn is a phenomenal performer. In a past life I also used to sing a bit and play the violin. I do wish I had stuck at those things and tried harder with the guitar but heck, some of us are better positioned to appreciate the music of others rather than make our own and there is no shame in that. I keep telling myself I’m going to learn the saxophone… we shall see.

It would be really cool to make a spoken word EP and fill it with musical interludes as well as poetry. So much of what I write could be turned into music – that’s the beauty of poetry. In fact, I often sing my lines when it comes to committing my poems to memory. It helps. I’d need to have singing lessons though if I was going to take it more seriously as I don’t know how to breathe and sing simultaneously! No formal technique. I had a dream a while back, in which I did a remake of Saint Etienne’s ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart’ and it went straight to number one worldwide. It was a one-hit wonder though. I am really keen to learn more about the technical aspects of production like mixing your voice and using studio equipment, producing, things like that. I know how to do some of these things as I was a radio DJ for three years and produced my own shows in Cambridge but I’m rusty now.

3. Where do you spend most of your time?
I spend most of my time in London. I work in Central London as a journalist and then most weekends or after work I’ll have an event to attend. I go to a lot of poetry events these days. I used to go to concerts more than I do now but I’m seeing FKA Twigs this month (February) and I’m super psyched about that.

When I’m at home I try to make sure I spend time with my mum and my younger sister. I am really loving Orange is the New Black on Netflix – I’m behind everyone else because I don’t watch TV much but whenever I can steal a couple of hours I will get stuck into an episode or two. As well as being hilarious, I think the way the creators have played with stereotypes of intersections like race, gender, and sexuality is really clever.

In terms of specific places, I love visiting the Black Cultural Archives in Brixton. I love Brixton in general. I love Peckham too as I lived there last year and found a lot of wonderful gems, Peckham’s best kept secrets that many people are only discovering now. I love South London as that is where I am from. It’s taken me ten years to finally love that place.

4. What is your biggest dream?
To touch and positively affect as many people with my creative work and my political activism as Maya Angelou did. How I’ll do that is anybody’s guess.

5. For someone looking to start a blog – what advice could you give them?
It’s important for women, ethnic minorities, young people, and other marginalised groups especially to have their voices heard. We have to carve our own spaces in which we can be visible. I started blogging regularly when I was fifteen I think and have not stopped since.

I decided that I would put a flag in my little corner of the Internet and make it clear that it is my space. I have been through a lot of blogs but I think my current one, dontgotheresiana.com , is right for me right now. I finally got the tone and feel I wanted. I really wanted someone to hire me as a journalist when I left university and nobody did and so I thought to myself, ‘you know what? I am going to make myself an editor’. And I did. I was also really fed up of not really having somewhere for Black British women to speak about their lived experiences so those two things led me to create No Fly on the WALL.

6. Who inspires you as a creative individual?
It’s not so much who inspires me to create as it is what inspires me to create. I would say for now, the Zeitgeist is pushing me to write and create. The current mood of my generation is one of unrest and desire for change. I strongly believe the revolution is ours. So I write poetry that explores things like abandonment and absent fathers, racism and white supremacy, shadeism, Islamophobia, Jihad, corrupt political systems, betrayal, but also sisterhood, Feminism, and love.
My latest poem is called ‘Elephant’. On the surface, you could say it’s about racism. The ‘elephant’ is a very bitter, lost, sad, frightened white man who now hates all people of colour. You get small insights into the potential reasons why he is like this. He has also suffered and he is a victim of capitalism and failed democracy. He has been failed too. This man embodies all the things I’ve read, conversations I’ve had, tweets I’ve seen, and Facebook posts I’ve scoffed at. There really are people who will argue that ‘Africans have nothing to be proud of’ and that ‘White people built the modern world and this is a white man’s world’ and the rest of us are just living in it, despite the fact that non-white folk are the world’s global majority. The global South if you will.

The poem is also about hypocrisy and contradictions – something we are all guilty of. But the effects of all these negative things live forever within us and we do remember, just like elephants. The memory of an elephant is imperative to its survival so it can’t afford to forget about those who have killed its mother or its children. I find my environment inspires me. I also have some very talented people in my circles who I really respect so keeping a close eye on them encourages me to always bring my A game and make sure my shit is tight. I want to be respected by my peers for the work I put in and the stuff I put out there. I’m not afraid to admit that.

7. Do you read any blogs and if so what are you favourites?
I read and write for VS Notebook, which is an upcoming and exciting platform for writers and other creatives. There is always a lot of diverse content on the site and the editors are cool too. I often read For Harriet, which is a blog focused on Black women (mainly African-American women).

Afro Punk is awesome for fashion and music and on Facebook they often share stuff from other platforms too. Asylum 33 is cool, a real visual feast. Those are my regulars right now but I spend so much time online I am always coming across new blogs, new people, new writers and that is exciting.

8. How do you keep yourself inspired?
I think being inspired and motivated can be conflated. I often do it. In general, I am a really motivated person. I tend to plough through tiredness and generally manage to keep high spirits because there is so much culture to witness and participate in everywhere.
I get tired sometimes when it comes to my more political work though – some of us call it ‘the burden of being “conscious”’. Sometimes you get writers’ block or you feel like your work isn’t as good as that person’s or that person’s, especially if you’ve been to a show or read something amazing. But it works the other way also – seeing how great others are reminds you of how good you already are and how great you could be. At least that is the case for me.

I keep reading, watching, writing, discussing and then everything just flows. I tell myself our generation needs another Maya Angelou or bell hooks, or Alice Walker. I tell myself we need a ‘For Coloured Girls’ choreopoem for the women of today. And I tell myself that there is no reason why one day I can’t be the one to write it and I tell myself that there is no reason to put limits on what I can achieve because others will do that for me. That’s the nature of our present society. It can be hard to be original. It’s a special currency. Everybody is out here in the wild trying to ‘make it’ as a creative and often it seems like we all want to do the same things and all want to go for the same limited opportunities, start the same platforms. The creative world sometimes feels congested and claustrophobic and even the word ‘creative’ is overused I guess. It can all be so loud. That’s why you have to remember to take some time to sit with yourself quietly and recharge your batteries. After a long day at work you might not feel like going to your laptop and finishing off your novel or polishing off your track and that’s okay but most of the time you will want to do those things because that is what you love.

Love, self-love, is so powerful. We are in our element when we are doing what we love and being all that we can be. What we have in common is that we all want to be happy. My quest for happiness and feeling satisfied with my life is a strong fuel of inspiration – it is one of my many motivations. I want to be able to say I made the most of my time here, while I had it. I want to be sure to leave a positive and meaningful legacy like the people I admire.

9. What do you like to do in your spare time?
I don’t have much spare time! But I like going to the movies. I like going to art galleries. I love reading and all of those things inevitably make me want to write something.

10. Where can our readers find you online?
I have quite a big online presence I hear so I’m not hard to find!
You can keep up with me by visiting my personal blog: dontgotheresiana.com
You can also check out my work within the Feminist movement by visiting: noflyonthewall.com and attending one of our No Fly on the WALL Academy events and workshops.
I am a fan of micro-blogging too. The power of social media fascinates me. Catch me on Twitter here: @sianaarrgh I share some of my spoken word poetry on Sound Cloud: soundcloud.com/sianaarrgh

Check out my latest poem, ‘Elephant’, here: 

Sally Larke Ceramics Course

Hey all! So I did say I would let you know when creative events / classes were happening, hence I thought I would post up a course I will hopefully be starting after Easter. I found Sally Larke’s blog through facebook and I have been longing to do a ceramics workshop for ages. So I made contact and will hopefully be on the next evening course! If anyone is local to Warwickshire, feel free to start the next one with me! I literally can’t wait! Below is some info from Sally’s blog on the course!

”Come and learn new skills and develop creatively at my newly renovated studio in Warwick. I open my studio to the community for a day a week and work with all ages and ability. I teach a range of hand building techniques and throwing to small groups which means the course can be tailored to your requirements.

Booking is easy, but space is limited.

Please call 078 1006 4084 or email sally.larke@gmail.com to reserve your place.”

Monday mornings. 10 am – 12.30pm. 6 sessions £120

Tuesday mornings 10 am – 12.30pm 6 sessions £120

Monday evenings. 7pm – 9.30pm 6 sessions £120

 

  

GIVEAWAY by Ruschka du Toit – Design and Illustration

Hey – we all LOVE a giveaway! Make sure to check out this competition running on Ruschka’s Facebook page and Instagram!
Links and post below! Don’t forget to share!

”In the spirit of love I am giving away some pretty things.
Four of my greeting cards and one of my original watermelon paintings.

What is not to love?

Want to enter?
1. Like my FB post.
2. Follow @ruschkadutoit on Instagram and LIKE my FB page.

I’d also love to hear how you are planning on spreading the love this month.

This giveaway will run on Instagram and on Facebook (one hamper only) so enter away. Open worldwide (incl shipping) Winner announced on Thursday, 12th February.”

Ellie-Jayne Seymour – Singer & Songwriter

Ellie. Ellie Jayne Seymour. Love that name – it just sounds like it was created for fame. Elie’s music is really raw and honest – the kind of lyrics you think and feel but would never put into a song – That is Ellie, and she just seems to get the melody so right that in no time you are bursting out into an expressive freedom dance and then realising everybody is looking at you, but it’s ok because you feel free; like no-one can tell you otherwise. That’s pretty much my best musical review ever, but seriously that’s how I feel. My first proper encounter with Ellie was when she came on our radio show (The Awakening). She has such an honest, down to earth view on life and she is pretty comical that if you are friends with her, I’m sure there is never a dull moment. Listen to her tracks and let us know what you think – If you are an artist, take a read and get some tips from this girl on taking risks and hopefully she will inspire you to share your music and heart with the world.

1. So when did you start writing your own music?
I remember sitting down and actually ‘writing’ when I was around 13 (same time I picked up a guitar). I still have all my songbooks & read through them occasionally, some of the lyrics are so dark & weird – I have no idea what 13 year old me was going through.

2. What is your favourite instrument and why?
The Saxaphone. I love it and it’s probably because Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street was pretty much the soundtrack to my childhood.

3. Who are your musical influences & how would you describe your style of music?
My style of music tends to depend on the state of my relationships at the time. Messy Breakup? It’s very Alanis Morissette, Happy & in love? Laura Marling. Unfortunately I’m an open book & my songs convey what’s going on in my head. My Influences range from Kimya Dawson to David Bowie & Chrissie Hynde’s to Kate Bush

4. What do you consider a good venue to perform in and do you have any shows coming up?
Even though I haven’t played there in a while, ‘Whitefriars’ in Coventry will always be one of my favourite venues. It’s intimate, weird & wonderful. I’m focusing on recording this year, but will no doubt be playing during the festival period (yey summer!)

5. How much time do you dedicate to writing music?
All the time. It’s a huge part of my life – I’ll write a few ideas or riffs a day & discard the ones I wouldn’t buy myself.

6. Do you think having an online presence is important as a musician?
I don’t think most of the musicians in the public view would be around today if it wasn’t for facebook, twitter or soundcloud etc. In the 70’s you had to move to London, play the grotty gigs and be spotted. You had to be good. You had to be so good people would come to your shows because that’s the only way you made money. Being a paid musician is so much more accessible now. (Although I will say that I’m rubbish at the whole publicity thing. I’m a performer & nothing else eep!)

7. Are there any plans to join a full band?
I’m always pushing to embark on something new. As much as I love my acoustic material, I’d love to get together with some good people and have some rock pop fun.

8. What is your most prized material possession?
Obvious answer I’m afraid …my Epiphone Hummingbird OR my John Lewis Penguin. I’ll have one under each arm in a fire.

9. Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?
In 10 years I’ll be 35 & the less said about that the better. I’ll be gigging, hopefully at some bigger festivals & still enjoying my summers in the UK sun & with rum.

10. If you could give any solo artists some advice, what would it be?
* Be true to yourself & make decisions based on what makes YOU happy.
* Don’t be nervous; remember a large percentage of the people you’re performing in front of can’t imagine putting themselves in your shoes.
* Be sincere & be modest.
* Sometimes you’ll be crap– get over it.
* Musician etiquette. Always appreciate the musician before you & introduce who is after you…Also don’t leave after your band has performed. It’s rude & we talk about you after you’ve left.

11. Where can our readers find you online?
I can be found on Facebook on facebook.com/ellieseymour.play & Soundcloud at www.soundcloud.com/ellie-seymour-music also Youtube at www.youtube.com/ellieseymourplay

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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 http://10and5.com/2014/05/08/nowplaying-ruschka-du-toit/

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 ruschkadutoit.com –which is getting a ridiculously cool facelift very soon. FB: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ruschka-du-Toit-Design-and-Illustration/119852434719247
Email: hello@ruschkadutoit.com

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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?
Yes

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:
http://www.sugarandvice.co.za/
https://www.etsy.com/shop/SugarandViceSA
http://www.utique.co.za/seller/sugar-and-vice/
https://hellopretty.co.za/sugar-and-vice

Links:
FB: https://www.facebook.com/sugarandviceSA
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/sugarandviceSA
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sugarandviceSA
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/sugarandviceSA
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/107128142429872071058/+SugarandviceCoZa-Online-Decor-Shop
Website: http://www.sugarandvice.co.za/

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