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    Interview – Amanda Henderson of Gloss Creative

    Interview – Amanda Henderson

    By Andrea McArthur

    CWC Member Amanda Henderson is the Founder and Creative Director of Gloss Creative (Melbourne), one of Australia’s leading visual houses specialising in three-dimensional design and custom made brand environments. Everyday Gloss Creative forges the path for the cross over of Visual Merchandising and Design.

    Gloss Creative’s client list is impressive and spans many of Australia’s most style conscious companies in the fashion, luxury and travel industries. Their portfolio includes designs commissioned for brand marquees at the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival, runways, set and event  designs for Myer, Penfolds and Omega as well as fashion window concepts and installations for Kookai, Sportsgirl and Emporium.

    Simply put, Amanda and the Gloss Creative Team create environments that dreams are made of, and worlds that envelope you in total sensory experiences.

    Thank you Amanda for your time and sharing your story with the Creative Womens Circle. There are so many pieces of wisdom in your writing.

    Brave New World

    ‘Brave New World’ Sportsgirl Bourke Street 2014 Photography: Marcel Aucar

    Tell us about your background.

    I think my story might be typical of many creative people of my generation. I got through my schooling by connecting with all the ‘extra curricular’ activities our school had to offer – I hung out in the drama group and the art room at a time when they were not considered to be ‘real subjects’ or at least not the beginnings of any kind of sustainable career path. I was lucky enough to have forward thinking parents and teachers that validated and encouraged my interests and was I was free to explore the possibilities that might lie ahead.

    After a very short year doing drama and economics subjects at uni, I realized that the working world would provide me with a better structure for learning and experimentation than a university.

    I had been working at Sportsgirl while I was at school giving out fitting room discs on the weekends, and it was there tht I had wide exposure to complete retail marketing wizardry and creative growth. It wasn’t long before I had entrenched myself in the creativity that visual merchandising provided.

    The process of team-based ideas generation and concept development was a critical learning for me at that time and still is the basis on which my team and I design today.

    After the birth our two children I returned to work and held National Visual Merchandising Manager positions and Creative Development roles at Sportsgirl and Country Road.

    In 2001 I started my best role to date – Founder and Creative Director of Gloss Creative.

    Gloss Advice

    Have you always wanted to be a creative business owner?

    Not initially. I could say I was looking for a platform where experimentation and collaboration was the everyday. I also was looking for individual recognition for my work – large companies are amazing to be apart of, but sometimes it’s hard to get credit for what you’ve achieved.

    As Gloss Creative grew I realized I enjoyed both the creative and business challenges of a small business. We are proof that high quality small design business can successfully work with large organisations.

    My business allows me to immerse myself in all aspects of our projects, designing and working with our team. The freedom in the way we work has meant we have been able to work across many different disciplines.

    Gloss Advice

    How do you balance your creative projects with the administration / organisation / planning aspect of creative work?

    Luckily, Visual Merchandisers have combined skill sets of creativity and practicality – I think this is because we have to deliver dreams into reality. Planning and organisation come naturally as a part of our process.

    I’d like to debunk the often misguided theory that “creative types” can not also have business skill sets. Some of the most visionary professionals I know are brilliant business people!

    Our team are highly diverse creative people – no one person can have all the attributes to complete a business. It’s the combined headset that makes the magic.

    Hoarding Installation

    ‘Hoarding Installation’ Emporium Melbourne  2014 Photography: Marcel Aucar

    Gloss Advice

    What have been some of the challenges or blessings of keeping Gloss Creative running since 2001? And how has your business focus changed since the beginning?

    Honestly, I can only think of blessings. I’ve been able to run a high quality small business together with an amazing team of people and suppliers who have loved creating installations for all some incredible brands. We have had so much fun while we have worked over the last 14 years.

    I guess the only continuing challenge is that you’re only ever as good as your last project. Despite our significant body of work we need to prove ourselves for every project, maybe this is why we put so much into each project, so we keep on our toes, we constantly try to bring newness into our work, we love trying new things on every project, its not always comfortable but it can be rewarding!

    Our business focus has always been constant: we create ‘Grand Simplicity’. We create emotion with sophisticated visual impact.

    How has your employee base grown or have you chosen to keep creative control of your business?

    When I started it was only myself and my niece Kimberley Moore. On any Thursday now you’ll find seven people working in our studio. We are still small enough to act like a tribe, so creative control is no problem within our team.

    Creative control beyond you team depends on the brands you are working for and the skill level and stakeholder interest for a particular project. You will have radar for this as you grow in experience. Always trust your gut instinct.

    You need enough creative control to ensure that your idea remains strong, some times collaborators influence can make things even better! You don’t have to be a control freak but you do need to stick with your creative intent.

    What has been you main form of business marketing to date?

    Early on I decided that taking high quality photographs of our work by architectural photographers was useful as a record of our work.

    I began by sending these images to the design press and they published them. We have always just ‘put our work out there’. Dianna Snape, Marcel Aucar and Rocket Mattler have been  constantly photographing our work over the last decade.

    We’ve had a website since 2006 and blog since 2010. We are really enjoying the community that Instagram has created!

    Shadow Lands Myer

    ‘Shadow Lands’ Myer Parade SS12/13 2013 Photography: Rockett Mattler

    Gloss Creative is diverse in its scope of work. Has there been a major project that you are particularly proud to share with us?

    Mostly I’m proud that each project our team works on is considered with intelligence that each brand deserves. Diversity has provided us with long term inspiration and has meant we haven’t been type cast – every day is interesting.

    There are some projects that stay with you as ‘milestone’ projects, the ones that take you to another level of believing in yourself.

    Winning a 2013 Australian Interior Design Award for Installation Design for Myer’s ‘Shadowlands’ was pretty special. I loved that design for its visual emotion and simplicity, and for visual merchandisers to be considered a part of the design industry was a milestone for us. We are proud that maybe in some way we have widened the scope of Visual Merchandising over the last decade, pushing into design markets normally handled by interior designers or architects.

    Gloss Advice

    What advice do you have for others who might be considering a jump into a creative business?

    You will know when the time is right – a wave of confidence and momentum will over take you and the fear of not following your dream will become bigger than the doubts you may have.

    On a more practical level: get a bookkeeper, and hone your craft. Make relationships with people you trust and have fun with.

    Always be close to your client. The further away from your client you are the more risk you take on.

    What passions keep you creative?

    I’m inspired by originality. I’m inspired by anyone who’s creating beauty. Both locally and globally I love theatre, ballet, set design, art, craft, fashion, accessories, store design, illustration, music, should I go on?

    What is a typical day for you at Gloss Creative?

    Our day starts with coffee and post Offspring analysis usually – no seriously we talk a lot in our studio! Then we get down to it. We talk about designs, we draw and plan, we come up with some bad ideas then work on them until we love them. Steff Dalberto and I might meet with suppliers, present to clients or install our projects. We spend quite a bit of time going up and back to Sydney.

    I’m always on the phone talking about our ideas. It’s my role to manage expectations, which is time consuming and often challenging in an environment where creativity and financial management are both important. We love clients that are strategic thinkers, the results are magic if your clients are collaborators !

    - -

    Make sure to check out Gloss Creative’s posts on the studio blog and all of their sneak peeks on Instagram (@theglossarium).

    Andrea McArthur (www.andyjane.com) has a passion for all things visual and works as a Senior Graphic Designer in Dubai. Type is her true love and goes weak at the knees over beautiful design. You’ll find her sharing design related musings on Instagram @andyjanemc.

    Tags: 3D, artist, design, environments, Interview, visual merchandising
    Posted by: Andrea McArthur
    Categories: interview, regular columns | Comments Off
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    Studio Visit: Samara Greenwood Architecture

    By Keely Malady

    Samara Greenwood and Anna Castles outside SGArch’s studio/pavilion – Photo by Martina Gemmola.

    Samara Greenwood and Anna Castles outside SGArch’s studio/pavilion.

    Samara Greenwood Architecture is a young, boutique architectural practice focused on creating homes with heart. Founded by CWC Member Samara Greenwood, under her direction the team have an approach to design that is without pretense and is firmly focused on people – their hopes, dreams and everyday way of life.

    What inspired you to start your own practice?
    In many ways, the business began itself. My youngest daughter was nine months old when I was asked to help a couple who were struggling to understand the architectural process.

    While I originally only agreed to help scope out their needs and prepare a brief, I fell in love with the project and decided then and there to use it as inspiration to create a more ‘user friendly’ architecture and design practice.

    Model making experiments during a recent Dream Home Workshop.

    Model making experiments during a recent Dream Home Workshop.

    The SGArch.'s practice philosophy encourages listening and sharing of ideas.

    The SGArch.’s practice philosophy encourages listening and sharing of ideas.

    ‘Listen’ and ‘Heart’ are quite unusual key words in an architectural firm’s mission statement – why are these important to you?
    The focus on ‘listen’ actually came from a workshop attendee – who commented how great it was to spend the day with talented architects who listen. We were so taken with what he said that we have used it as a kind of motto ever since!

    A lot of the time I meet people whose experience with Architects has been more difficult than it needs to be, where the designer’s vision has taken over and the client feels forgotten in the process. I wanted to create the kind of practice that I would want to engage as a client. Listening is critical to that process, balancing our skills in understanding our clients with our expertise in translating their needs into beautiful designs that work for them.

    In that same sense, the ultimate aim for us is to find the ‘heart’ in each design, to produce beautiful pieces of architecture with the ‘human factor’ built right into the core.

    What factors drove you and Anna (Castles) to start the Dream Home Workshops?
    Anna and I met whilst working at the same architectural firm many years ago and have been friends ever since. Over lunch one day, I was describing to Anna the new methods I was developing to understand my client’s needs at a deeper level. She then simply stated ‘that would make a great workshop’ – and so the adventure began!

    Both Anna and I love the conversations that arise during the workshop. We are amazed at how much the attendees get from each other, as well as from us. I know they appreciate the opportunity to spend a whole day with two architects who are willing to talk about pretty much anything (oh and we do!). It is a really warm and open experience, designed to make people comfortable with both the design process and with figuring out what they really want and need from their home.

    The Dream Home Workshops are held at our tree-top studio in Ivanhoe. Again, people tell us this is a really great part of the day, as they get to step outside of their normal, everyday lives and have quality time in a beautiful, inspiring environment. We do love it when they say that!

    Scrapbooking of a dream home

    Scrapbooking of a dream home

    A Dream Home Workshop participant trying their hand at model making.

    A Dream Home Workshop participant trying their hand at model making.

    Who are your typical clients, and why do you think they are drawn to SGArch’s new approach to architecture and design?
    We attract a broad range of clients, but there are some common factors we are beginning to notice; when they first come to us, most clients feel ‘stuck’ in some way – perhaps they have lots of ideas but don’t know which ones will work best, or maybe they know what they want and need someone who can translate those dreams into a great design – whatever it is, our job is to help them get ‘unstuck’ and moving forward to their goals.

    Our clients want a home that works beautifully, is well built and feels amazing – what we call the dream home trifecta. Many clients haven’t been through the architectural process before and aren’t sure what to expect, so we take them through what is involved as clearly and concisely as we can. We love how pleased and surprised they are by the detail we go to, and how involved they feel in the evolution of the design from start to finish.

    How do you approach the next step, making ‘dream home’ aspirations a reality?
    The first step in any project, small or large, is exploring all the (many!) factors that are taken into account to determine the best design strategy.

    Basically, we listen, ask a lot of questions, and then more questions about the answers to those questions, then do some research, then try a few ideas out, then ask more questions, until both we and our clients feel we’ve hit on the best course of action. This is a process that takes a fair bit of experience and intuition to navigate, but is so much fun at the same time! We call it our ‘house doctor’ strategy – you tell us your problems and, together, we’ll find the cure.

    The Dream Home Workshop's are held at SGArch’s studio pavilion in Ivanhoe, with  stunning views of the Darebin Parklands and CBD.

    The Dream Home Workshop’s are held at SGArch’s studio pavilion in Ivanhoe, with stunning views of the Darebin Parklands and CBD.

    Find Samara and the Dream Home Workshops online at www.sgarch.com.au, or on Instagram @samara_greenwood.

    Keely Malady is a twenty-something year old graduate architect living in Melbourne. Her passions include art, design and the environment, both built and natural. Keely’s blog, Small Talk & Co., is on a mission to share the brilliance of big hearted entrepreneurial thinkers from around Melbourne and Australia with the world. Find Keely on Twitter and Instagram @keelymalady or on Facebook /smalltalkco.

    {All photos by Martina Gemmola}

    Posted by: Tess McCabe
    Categories: bricks & mortar, interview, virtual visit, women in architecture | Comments Off
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    Interview: Leanne Clancey, food writer

    By Tess McCabe


    Tell us about your background. What have you studied, where, and how did you come to specialise in writing about food and lifestyle matters for publications such as Epicure, Gourmet Traveller and Broadsheet?

    Because I come from a really ‘foodie’ family (which includes several chefs, a winemaker, a butcher, growers, bakers and fishermen), the food thing was always there but I didn’t really consciously pursue it as a career path in the early days.

    During high school I was obsessed with music. I hosted my own radio shows, ran club nights and all-ages shows, DJed, published little ‘zines, interviewed touring bands – all that stuff. Looking back, I guess I was quite entrepreneurial and courageous from a young age. After VCE, I enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts (Social Science) at Deakin University in my hometown of Warrnambool, but after the second year I had really itchy feet to get to the big smoke, so I quit uni and enrolled in an Audio Engineering course in Melbourne. That took me into the worlds of film, TV and studio recording, which I loved.

    Like a lot of university students, I started working in restaurants to pay the rent. My first real hospitality job in Melbourne was at O’Connell’s Hotel in South Melbourne, where I worked alongside chef, Greg Malouf for almost five years. It was here that my real food and wine education started. I really lucked it – the place was iconic and influenced a lot of young chefs at the time. I worked with so many seriously talented and passionate people during those years and I was a total sponge for it all. What I lacked in age and experience (I was 20 when I started there) I made up for with enthusiasm; I was forever asking questions, so I learnt a lot.

    Later, I spent three years travelling around Europe. While my friends were more interested in getting drunk and pashing boys, I voraciously chased down wine and food experiences like drinking Soave in Soave and sherry in Jerez and WWOOFing(working on organic farms) in Umbria. My whole world opened up. I was in my element and it inspired me like nothing else.

    Back in Melbourne, I worked in a handful of high-end restaurants as well as helping manage a really great little 2 Chefs Hat restaurant in Port Fairy owned my two brothers, Shane and Andrew. It was a great time for us – three passionate siblings with our own areas of expertise (Andrew is a chef, Shane’s a wine maker, I was the front of house doyenne). The place had a real buzz and the customers loved it. We worked hard and had a ball.

    In 2005 I started teaching hospitality, wine knowledge and barista courses at William Angliss College. This experience taught me good skills in observation, assessment and critiquing – which now informs my work as a restaurant critic.

    The food writing thing came out of a gnawing, long-term passion that I just couldn’t ignore any more. I did a couple of short courses on food writing and travel writing and editing in 2009, and later started a blog. I then took my mentor, John Weldon’s advice and started approaching some editors about doing proper, published work. I started writing for The Age Good Food Guide, The Age Cheap Eats Guide and Broadsheet in early 2011 and that’s when it all started taking off.

    How did the opportunity to write An Appetite for Melbourne come about – did you approach the publisher or did they approach you?

    They approached me, though it all came about quite serendipitously, actually. I had been aware of the Herb Lester guides for some time, after reading about them in Monocle magazine and then seeing them in bookshops like Hill of Content and Third Drawer Down. I was a big fan and was really drawn to their excellent design, unique themes and snappy copy.

    In early 2013 I caught up with an old school friend,Caz and her author husband, Paul who were out visiting from London. As it turns out, Paul had written a guide for Herb Lester the year before, called The Look of London. After finding out more about me, my work, and my crazypassion for all things food and MelbournePaul later recommended me to the publishers to write a Melbourne guide. I was very flattered to be commissioned for this project and the finished product makes me really proud of my city. Melbourne’s dining scene really is world class.

    clance hobart mary

    What was the process for putting the guide together, and how long did it take? Did you suggest the content or was it a collaborative process with the publisher and editor?

    The process took me a few months, as I had to juggle my other work around it. Plus Ideliberated for some time over who to include and how to squeeze Melbourne’s best stuff into just 40 listings. It was also a challengeto get the right mix of places that I thought would appeal to Herb Lester’s predominantly international audience.

    The Herb Lester guides often like to uncover nostalgic gems and aren’t so interested in what’s new or hot or cool. This meant really taking a step back from my usual work of chasing the new/hot/cool, and instead looking at some of Melbourne’s more enduring classics with new eyes.

    I also get that if you’re coming to Melbourne from London, Paris or New York City that you don’t necessarily want a ‘European’ experience (which Melbourne does so well) but rather, you’d want to get to the heart of what’s unique about the city and its culture.

    My London editor, Ben steered the broad themes quite loosely so really, curating the guide was all up to me. This side of things was both liberating and scary; I was pretty concerned about how many industry friends I’d lose via the whittling down process!

    What makes this guide special in comparison to other Melbourne guides, for the local and the tourist?

    I think the guide’s most obvious charm is its beautiful design and the sense that you’re really getting off the beaten track with a savvy local’s insider tips. There are hidden gems and character-filled places that locals might’ve forgotten about. For a tourist, it’s a little peephole into the bits of Melbourne that I love and chance to live like a local, even if they’re just visiting for a few days.

    The cover of Leanne's publication 'An Appetite for Melbourne', published by Herb Lester

    The cover of Leanne’s publication An Appetite for Melbourne, published by Herb Lester

    What other projects are you working on now?

    As well as my regular editorial work for The Age Epicure and Broadsheet I also contribute restaurant reviews for The Age Good Food Guide and Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Guide. This kind of work keeps me busy and means that I get to eat out a lot and meet some great people. I love it.

    Right now, I’m working on some pieces for SBS Feast Magazine, as well as another travel guide (as yet under wraps). There’s a book in the works too; something I’ve been chipping away at for a while now. Hopefully this year will be the year to get it over the line.

    I do a bunch of copywriting, ghost blogging and social media for other people – like wine makers, designers, chefs and producers – too. It’s fun, and I love getting the opportunity to help people with their business in this way.

    Recent highlights? Spending almost a month in California ‘on the job’ with my favourite photographer, Peter Tarasiuk for some editorial work.

    I also had great fun doing a guest spot on radio recently; it took me back to my teenage days of community radio and has prompted some other media opportunities too, which is exciting.

    Another big one this year was being invited to appear at the Melbourne Writers Festival. I’ll be speaking at two events in late August where I’ll be chairing panel discussions with some industry heavyweights on themes around food ethics. It’s a huge honour and I can’t wait.

    Where can people get the guide and how much is it? Also how do we follow you for more Melbourne tips?

    The guides are available from a number of local retailers including Shelley Panton Store, Books for Cooks, Third Drawer Down, Hams & Bacon, The Lark Store, and Hill of Content. You can also purchase them online via the Herb Lester website. They retail at around $12 each.

    Catch up with what Leanne is doing/writing/eating via her Instagram (@clance), Twitter (@tourdeclance) and her blog.

    Posted by: Tess McCabe
    Categories: interview, women who write | Comments Off
    Posted on

    Interview – Tina van den Broek, illustrator and artist

    The Food Artist Interview

    By Andrea McArthur

    ‘Doing what you love’ is paramount to artist and CWC Member Tina van den Broek, who also goes by the pseudonym The Food Artist. Tina creates tasty illustrations for businesses, products and services that are looking to spice things up. It’s a new and unique industry niche she calls ‘Food Communication’!

    The Food Artist Logo

    Tell us about your background. What has led you to starting The Food Artist?

    I have a background in visual arts. I did a fine arts degree in Auckland, New Zealand, majoring in sculpture, with minors in printmaking and fibre arts. I also have a keen passion for making food. While studying I worked part time in a restaurant and worked in southern France for six months where I would cook, clean and entertain guests. I gained advertising and marketing skills while working for a boutique agency in New Zealand, and also larger companies like gumtree.com in London. In the last few years I have been working in online marketing.

    I decided I wanted to pursue my creative interests by creating a business and life that I loved. Something I did because I enjoyed it, which was extremely specific and told a story. In order to articulate what it is that I do and can offer people, I had to think long and hard about my core values, beliefs and passions.

    All my life I have loved food. I enjoy freestyle cooking where I whip something up based on the ingredients at hand. I can cook for hours and be in that same ‘happy place’ I go to when I am making art. Previous to this I was working under the name The Visual Citizen doing illustration, visual arts and face painting, which I still do. It made sense to bring my two passions together: food & illustration. Which is how The Food Artist was born.

    The Food Artist Workspace

    What skills have you brought into starting The Food Artist and what business skills are you developing?

    I bring with me a lifetime of customer service skills. From the age of nine I worked weekends or after school hours in my parents’ milk bar and bulk food store serving customers. I have a love of travel, meeting new people and learning about their life and experiences. I like to use my artistic and creative skills to help people and continue to refine and grow these skills. The Food Artist is quite new actually – I started the business in February 2014 and I am currently trying to develop my business and financial skills.

    What mediums do you work in?

    I like working in black ink pens, fine-liners, watercolour paints and pencils, metallic pens and coloured pencils.

    Who are your main clients at the moment?

    My main clients are independent food producers, life coaching mentors, health & wellness bloggers/practitioners, chefs and caterers. I look forward to adding many more in the future.

    Tell us about a favourite project that you have worked on.

    A favourite project of mine would have been creating illustrations for a forthcoming eats, treats and edible beauty recipe book. I was lucky enough to taste a lot of the recipes and I believe that helped me draw them! I also got to try the edible beauty treatments, which blew me away with their tasty ingredients that I just wanted to eat. I learnt a lot about ingredients from this job as the author has food intolerances.


    Do you have a favourite restaurant that you frequent or a favourite recipe that you cook?

    I’m more of a ‘whip something up at home’ kind of girl and I enjoy cooking ratatouille, home made banana ice cream, or kitty cat pikelets (which are pikelets made in the shape of a cat).

    What advice do you have for others who might be considering a jump into a creative business?

    My advice would be that you can’t do everything yourself so get help – a business mentor/coach, have people you can rely on for support and outsource what you can. There is always something you can work on so accept it and set yourself tasks rather than working yourself into the ground in a never-ending attempt to finish just one more thing. Last but not least, believe in yourself and never give up, sometimes things just don’t work so you learn from your mistakes and try another approach.

    What future goals do you have for your creative pursuits?

    My future goals are to illustrate a colouring in book and children’s book. To take my illustrations from 2D to 3D and do visual merchandising, styling, installations, collaborate with set designers or prop makers on TV, film or music videos. I would also like to license my artworks for use on products.


    Thank you Tina for your time and sharing your story with us! Follow The Food Artist adventures on Instagram @thefoodartist and Facebook /TheFoodArtist or for more foodie goodness and to see Tina’s work, visit www.thefoodartist.com.au.


    Andrea McArthur (www.andyjane.com) has a passion for all things visual and works as a Senior Graphic Designer in Dubai. Type is her true love and goes weak at the knees over beautiful design. You’ll find her sharing design related musings on Instagram @andyjanemc.

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    Posted by: Andrea McArthur
    Categories: interview, regular columns | Comments Off