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    Category Archives: conversations with creative women

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    Studio visit: Kelsie White of K Gets Organised


    Kelsie White packages a new set of cards in her home studio in Northbridge, Perth.

    By Kristen Marano

    Kelsie White is changing the stationery game with her cheeky sayings and fresh designs. Her cards challenge the need for an occasion to send a sweet note with lines like ‘You’re my favourite blanket stealer,’ and her sleekly-designed paper pads encourage people to make to-do lists they’ll actually fulfil.

    White’s childhood enthusiasm for stationery kick-started her paper goods business K Gets Organised in 2014; she has since created a collection of more than 100 products that fuse black and white sleek typography and cheerful watercolour designs such as popsicles and doughnuts.

    At only 23 years old, White is a creative woman on the move who is constantly connecting and creating. White designs and packages in her bright sunny studio in the hip neighbourhood of Northbridge, Perth, sells her paper goods at local market stalls, and keeps learning as she completes her graphic design degree.

    White is also the event host of the Perth chapter of Creative Women’s Circle, and she will launch the second event of the year this week. We recently chatted about how she got her start in stationery, her creative process, and where she plans to take her business next:

    What attracted you to paper goods? 

    I’m what I affectionately call a stationery addict. I also love a good card stock, a hardbound notebook with the perfect paper inside, and writing out my to-do list every day. There is nothing better than sending and receiving a hand-written note from someone. The nostalgia and old world charm of stationery and hand writing, from getting your pen license to writing your wedding vows, really brought me to stationery; it has made creating and designing for special, heartfelt moments so beautiful.

    Take me through your creative process.

    I usually draw from a real life experience. My favourite yellow water-colour card reads, ‘You’re just so bloomin’ lovely’, and I made it with my beautiful girlfriends in mind. I was studying and working as a florist at the time and loved giving them little left over flowers from my shifts. That’s how I created the card.

    A lot of my illustration work also comes from people around me. I recently drew some lovely popsicles for a local business called Delish Ice. I love the owner Katie and I’m so happy to have her as a friend; it was so much fun to draw happy little popsicles while thinking about her passion, drive, and kindness.

    I also love to draw from current trends; my latest planners feature doughnuts, indoor plants, and popsicles.


    Sketches, and water-colour designs mark White’s studio walls as inspiration and new works in progress. 

    What puts you in the mood to create?

    A great cup of coffee, a beautiful cafe, and Wi-Fi. With all of these things, the world is my oyster.

    You’re successfully running your own business at such a young age. Who has influenced and inspired your journey as a small business owner? 

    I really wanted to be my own boss and push myself to try something new. I had never studied business or run a business before.

    I’ve been studying art and making art since I was very young, and I wanted to get back into creating while I was at university; I started making planners to help motivate me to complete my assignments. From there I launched a tiny collection of five planners and now have more than 100 products under my belt. This was not an easy journey, but it is by far the thing I’m most proud of doing in my life.

    My role models include Anna Rifle Bond from Rifle Paper Co., who I was lucky enough to meet in London last year at a stationery conference (they exist!), and Sass Cocker from Ask Alice in Melbourne. They both really inspired me to go out there and create beautiful paper goods.

    What can we expect from K Gets Organised in the coming months?

    A really big and exciting change that will launch around February 2016.

    In December, White will depart for a creative getaway through Europe and the United States. To follow her journey and get regular behind-the-scenes posts, check out her Instagram.

    Kristen Marano is a digital nomad living in Perth, Australia. Kristen interviews women in business. She contributes to Huffington Post Canada, and produces a weekly newsletter, Creative Women Weekly, featuring stories of creative women from around the world. Follow Kristen on Twitter @kmarano.


    Posted by: Emma Clark
    Categories: conversations with creative women, studio visit | Comments Off
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    Regional creative: Melisah May Art Studio and Workshop

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    By Christina Atherton

    Being a creative can sometimes be a struggle between fulfilling a desire to create and making ends meet. Many of us have had to compromise along the way but what if the two could work seamlessly together?

    Melisah May is a Newcastle based artist who has fulfilled a lifelong dream of running her own artists studio in the heart of the city. With a background in teaching she is able to combine her two loves – art and teaching – to offer a creative hub for people to discover the joys of art while continuing to make a name for herself in the art world.

    Tell us a bit about your background?

    I’ve always wanted to be an artist and have always been involved in something creative. I completed a degree in Natural History Illustration at Newcastle University then a Certificate in Small Business Management with plans to start my own freelance practice. Unfortunately illustrators weren’t in great demand at the time so I decided to return to uni and get my teaching qualification. For the past seven years I’ve been a full time Secondary Visual Arts and Photography Teacher while building a name for myself as an artist on the side as well as holding exhibitions and teaching in London for two years. I’m not really content with staying put too long!


    Summer Rain, 2015, Acrylic on canvas by Melisah May

    As a freelance illustrator and artist, how do you get your work out there?

    Social media is obviously a big help now so I try and utilize that as much as I can. Before Facebook and Instagram, I had to get the word out there the old fashioned way – by talking to people! I found doing lots of markets helped me get my work out there and just asking people in cafes and shops if they would hang my work. I have to remind myself of those days because I find myself relying on social media way too much these days.

    You have an amazing light-filled studio in the heart of Newcastle. How did that come about?

    Completely by chance! I wasn’t looking for a studio but a friend told me about the space and I thought I’d go have a look. I fell in love and decided to take the plunge. Starting my own art studio has been my dream for a long time.  By the end of last year I had swapped full tine teaching with being a full time small business owner!

    How do you use this space to create? Does it inspire your work?

    It is definitely a very inspiring space. I still pinch myself every time I walk in! I love having so much room to move and I feel like I’m kind of developing and growing with my work as the studio develops. Everything I do in the space is promoting growth and positive experience so that environment is a catalyst for my practice

    You’ve had exhibitions in New York, London, Sydney and Newcastle. What’s the process for preparing for an exhibition?

    It’s different every time really. Just quietly, it’s usually a big stressful rush towards the end! Generally however, I will have an idea for an exhibition based on what I have been making at the time and just work on tightening that body of work to form a coherent narrative.

    Where do you get your inspiration from?

    Everywhere – music, art history, pop culture, people on the street, food – you name it! I do love books though and I would have to say the one thing that never fails to inspire me even when I’m feeling flat is wandering through a bookstore and looking at books of all descriptions. It’s one of my favourite things to do especially in used bookstores!


    You also offer workshops for adults and children, is teaching something you love?

    Absolutely. I love teaching, and I always want it to be part of what I do. Nothing compares to the feeling of helping someone smile and feel accomplished.

    What’s next for you?

    I want to continue to develop the studio as a business and provide more creative and diverse opportunities for people to indulge in their inner artist. I also want to start exhibiting my own work more frequently in 2016.  I feel I have a lot to express from my experiences in this past year and I’m excited about what’s to come.

    On a quest to live a more creative life, Christina loves any type of crafty project and has tried everything from watercolours and flower arranging to paper craft and calligraphy. She has an unhealthy obsession with Instagram and when not working in freelance travel and lifestyle PR, spends her time as a mama, wannabe photographer and magazine junkie. She currently coordinates CWC events in Newcastle.

    Posted by: Emma Clark
    Categories: conversations with creative women, interview, women in art | Comments Off
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    Studio visit: Hayley Welsh, Street Artist


    By Kristen Marano

    Perth Street Artist Hayley Welsh works out of her home garage, but there’s nothing garage-like about it. Welsh has created a space that reflects every bit of who she is: a street artist, traveller, and family person.

    Travel trinkets—mostly American flags from her school bus project —adorn shelves; colourful patterned rugs keep out the cold, and a refinished wood grain table lines the back of the room. Welsh has neatly organized a corner of paintbrushes and paints; vintage picture frames lay stacked on the floor, and the main garage wall is covered by floor to ceiling canvas and butcher paper for Welsh to sketch and paint on.

    I met Welsh at her exhibition Hijacked, a collaboration with her partner and Photographer Andy Faraday. We recently caught up on a Friday afternoon to chat about her creative process, and how travel has influenced her work…

    Describe the process of developing Hijacked and your choice of materials.

    The whole thing was about seizing control of the situations that come to you and try to make the best out of things. It’s a belief that both Andy and I mirror in our work: try to seize what’s happening in your life.

    I guess I looked at things I had been collecting, the ones that spoke to me that I could use to portray this ‘hijacked’ message. I had a collection of articles I was going to work on; Andy had been shooting his work in film and developing it. So, before the show we sat down, and I looked at works that Andy felt like that he would be happy for me to work on. I talked about pieces that I could see something happening. We wanted to create a show that we’d like to go see: sculpture, installation, a mixture of stuff and experiences. We tried not to make it a clinical and typical gallery space and more of an experience.

    Welsh being interviewed at Hijacked, an exhibition in collaboration with Andy Faraday that fused photography and street art to illustrate messages like 'trust love and ignore fear'. Credit: Andy Faraday.

    Welsh being interviewed at Hijacked, an exhibition in collaboration with Andy Faraday that fused photography and street art to illustrate messages like ‘trust love and ignore fear’. Credit: Andy Faraday.

    Describe the moment when you knew you wanted to create an exhibition about fear.

    I was kind of dissecting what I was already creating. Figuring out what was I making, and what these creatures were. I realized it was all this recurring self-doubt.

    When I held, Not You Again, which was a show about dealing with self-doubt, I read a book called, There’s Nothing Wrong With You. It was about how self-doubt and fear spreads to you from an early age. I thought it was interesting, and it explained a lot about why I feel the way I do. After reading that book I felt inspired that I wanted to explore that feeling.

    How do you use this space to create?

    I’ve been painting portraits a lot, and using this mirror to draw my reflection. My mood changes a lot in this space, and this wall can dictate the mood I’ve been in.

    I don’t come into the studio until I’m ready to paint; I never enter the studio before lunch. It’s always messy before a show. Everything is pushed to the side, and everything I want to shoot is on the floor. “I’m always jumping from my computer to paint,” Welsh says with a laugh.

    Welsh uses a mix of classical materials to sculpt and paint on found materials whether old signs, a travel globe, or creature. Credit: Kristen Marano

    Welsh uses a mix of classical materials to sculpt and paint on found materials whether old signs, a travel globe, or creature. Credit: Kristen Marano

    How has travel influenced your work?

    Travelling is such a massive part of feeling empowered and meeting new people. I find you just get richer and richer in your experiences; you broaden your mind so much more. I can’t imagine my life without having travel being a big part of it. Travel has given me the kind of confidence to keep challenging myself, and keep stepping out of the comfort zone. We create better things when we are challenged.

    That’s what I found with the school bus project a year ago. We had a show organized in New York, and we didn’t have the work for it. We decided to create the work while we were there. We bought a bus on the west coast, travelled to east coast, and I found whatever objects. I had a lot of self-doubt like what am I doing with my life? Why are we in a bus? But, I loved every second of it. All these emotions created that body of work.

    Welsh sketches one of her creatures while overlooking the Grand Canyon in Las Vegas, United States. Credit: Andy Faraday.

    Welsh sketches one of her creatures while overlooking the Grand Canyon in Las Vegas, United States. Credit: Andy Faraday.

    What’s next?

    Welsh had told me, “My dream would be a warehouse where I can relax, invoice, do admin stuff.” Maybe her dream is about to be fulfilled. Welsh and Faraday will soon host Not Another Open Studio, an invitation to join the duo in their new studio and see their new work in progress. Visit www.welshandfaraday.com to follow what they’re creating.

    {Title photograph by Kristen Marano}

    Kristen Marano is a writer living in Perth, Australia. Kristen interviews women in business and writes about workplace culture. She contributes to Huffington Post Canada, and produces a weekly newsletter, Creative Women Weekly, featuring stories of creative women from around the world. Follow Kristen on Twitter @kmarano and Instagram @krismarano.

    Posted by: Tess McCabe
    Categories: conversations with creative women, interview, virtual visit | Comments Off
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    Studio visit: Reny Kestel, Milliner


    By Kristen Marano

    Perth’s fashion scene continues to emerge, and Millinery Designer Reny Kestel is one of the city’s talented designers at the forefront of this movement.

    Reny is a young and inventive hatmaker in a competitive industry that got its start in the 1800s. She designs and produces hundreds of headpieces a year for weddings, horse races and fashion weeks that range from edgy wearable art to classic and elegant hats, leather headbands and hand-beaded combs.

    Reny, a Perth native, set up her studio and gallery two years ago in the city. Previously she was living in London, England, where she also discovered her interest in millinery.

    Some might expect that attracting customers outside of Australia’s most isolated state might be difficult, but Reny’s future-thinking designs and respect for tradition keep her top of mind among a diverse customer base. Women rely on Reny to make custom hats for big racing events of the year like the Melbourne Cup and ongoing regional events throughout the country. She currently designs headpieces for Alana McLean, the face of WA Country Cups.

    I visited Reny’s Perth studio to ask her about her designs and learn how she stays relevant.

    How did you get started in millinery?

    I was going to Royal Ascot, and I must have spent hours in this small pokey shop looking at all the trimmings and hat blocks available. This exploring led me to inquire about millinery classes, and from there I have never looked back. I’ve fulfilled my vision by returning to Perth and launching my own label.

    It’s kind of an ironic path as I’ve been fascinated with birds from a young age. In fact, I wanted to be an ornithologist when I was 12-years-old. So, it’s nice to be able to work with bird feathers.

    Reny Kestel works on a headpiece in her studio, one of hundreds she produces every year.

    I have also always had a keen interest in art and design from a young age, and I continued this interest by studying Fashion Design at Central Institute of Technology in Perth. I love the idea of wearable art, and fashion is a great form of self-expression. The 3D shape in art and sculpture, and designing with patterns from flat fabrics has always been exciting.

    How have you set up your space to help you be productive?

    Being organised is definitely key. I need to have materials that I use frequently, easily accessible and colour coordinated so I can grab them with minimal fuse.

    My other essential items are clearly positioned in the right workspace areas, such as millinery wire on hooks with tape measures and wire cutters hanging next to them. I have two large steel rulers fixed to the large central table, so when I need fabric straw materials or Petersham ribbon I can quickly measure the exact amount and be able to note the amount I use.

    I always go by the rule that everything has a home. My materials are arranged and labeled so I know with a quick glance what I am looking for. I try to clear the workshop table space every few days or weekly, and put things back in their place after an artistic explosion. I find I can’t get into a creative mode and think clearly without using a clean space.

    Reny and her father created this thread spool holder to make her material easily accessible and keep it organised.

    What’s your biggest creative fear and how are you overcoming it?

    Not really fearful, but I’d call it…creative pressure – that is balancing my creative time with the general operations of the business, which involves emails, calls, sales, bookwork, administration, public relations and social media.

    I also have to ensure that the time I spent creating each piece aligns with the price of the piece. This can create a bit of pressure to get things made within a certain time period.

    A leather headband in progress on Reny’s work table.

    How does living in an isolated state help and/or challenge your business?

    Since the whole Internet revolution, I don’t notice how isolated Perth is anymore. Connecting to people, finding inspiration, and material sourcing is not a problem now.

    Perth’s population is small, so it does help in terms of networking. We are lucky to have a strong supportive fashion industry in Western Australia, and I think this is because the state is so isolated.

    One last question…

    At the end of our visit I asked Kestel if she has attracted any North American clients yet, where I anticipate her designs could catch on. “Not yet,” she said, but one thing is certain, Australia is lucky to have a defining homegrown designer like Kestel.

    Reny Kestel millinery

    Follow Reny’s designs and shop online at www.renykestel.com.

    {Studio images by Kristen Marano}

    Kristen Marano is a writer living in Perth, Australia. Kristen helps companies build relationships with their audiences through compelling content programs. She also shares her fashion and lifestyle perspectives with Huffington Post Canada, and produces a weekly newsletter, Creative Women Weekly, featuring stories of creative women from around the world. Follow Kristen on Twitter @kmarano and Instagram @krismarano.

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    Posted by: Tess McCabe
    Categories: conversations with creative women, interview, studio visit | Comments Off