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    My Advice: Growth tips for Instagram

    My Advice

    By Andrea McArthur

    Three prolific Instagrammers share their tried and tested tips for growing your brand on Instagram…

    Petrina Turner, Designer. Stylist. Maker. Dreamer. Do-er. Petrina Turner Design
    www.petrinaturnerdesign.com.au // Instagram @petrinaturnerdesign // Followers 21.7k

    Petrina Turner

    I don’t think it’s any secret amongst those who know me that I love Instagram. As a designer, stylist and maker I am definitely a visual person and Instagram is the perfect medium for me to use as a visual diary to capture inspiration and beauty on a daily basis. And if you really look there is beauty everywhere.

    My biggest piece of advice to anyone wanting to grow their network on Instagram is to be authentic. I post about the things that speak to me, and share the things I love. I never really set out to build a profile on Instagram, I just wanted to capture the beauty and my following happened quite organically. As a small business owner I found it a place of incredible inspiration, a place where at any time of the day or night I was connecting with like minds and creative souls. And my tribe grew… and grew… and grew.

    I don’t really use it as a marketing tool by design. I think that by sharing what I see, and how I see it, it gives people an insight into how I work and my style. I really love my work as a designer so of course I am often sharing my work, or snippets of it. So I guess in that sense my Instagram account is an extension of my portfolio. I think what I’m really doing is taking people on my journey with me, and that resonates.

    And I like the interaction with people that Instagram gives me. More than the number of followers what has really been the greatest gift from Instagram are the genuine connections I have made through it. It has led to inspiration, collaboration, PR and most importantly wonderful friendships. I try as much as possible to respond to the comments left on my images. With the amount I sometimes get I don’t always manage to respond to every single one, but I can assure you that I read and appreciate them all.

    So find your true voice and share it. People will listen if it comes from your heart.

    Jessica Viscarde, Creative Director Eclectic Creative
    www.eclecticcreative.com.au // Instagram @jess_eclecticcreative// Followers 17.7k

    Jessica Viscarde

    Tell your story
    I have always treated instagram as a visual diary and a story-telling tool that has documented my own work and a means of engaging with other likeminded individuals. I really believe that there is a market out there for absolutely anything and everything; you just need to find your people. And you find your people by simply just being yourself. Instagram is a powerful platform for reflecting your style, establishing your unique identity and showing off your creative flair. Everyone has a story that needs to be shared as we all have something to offer and can all learn something from it, so make sure you tell your own story through your visuals.

    I started my own hashtag #pocketofmyhome long before anyone was really using them as a means of creating communities or connecting with others. I wanted a place where people could go and celebrate their own homes, not just the ones found in glossy magazines. I wanted to celebrate real homes with personality and create a little space for everyone to go and share their home pictures. Without much promotion at all or having to annoy people with too many competition spam, #pocketofmyhome now boasts close to 25K images from users all over the world! I love hearing that people have connected and become friends through the tag – what a fabulous community!

    Be consistent
    Consistency is the magical, glittery goodness that in my opinion binds everything together and creates a visually stimulating and effective instagram. Consistency can come from using a similar theme/filter or colour way through your imagery, only sharing images from a particular genre (such as travel, interiors, food etc) or working out a mixture of everything but delivered in a consistent way, maybe posting time or your written style.

    Consistency gives your followers a feeling of familiarity and builds trust and assures them the style of imagery they will see when they scroll down to your feed. My imagery is all mine, created by myself and our contributors and includes behind the scenes shots, images of my own home and even features my little rescue cat, Peg… as I want to tell my story and part of that is I love cats!

    Quality + crediting
    Instagram is visual so make sure your images are of excellent quality so people actually want to see them and like them. This means no pixelation or blurred images, no selfies in the bathroom or toilet and if you are using apps to edit or reframe your images, pay the extra couple of bucks to have their ads or text removed! I also prefer to share my own work so my followers can get an authentic sense of the work I can create and deliver and who I see whom I collaborate with… In the rare occasion I regram an image, I make sure I credit where credit is due. Make sure you mention the account, not just tag them in (as so many people don’t see the tags) and ensure the credit/mention is in the first line of your message. And don’t forget to credit the photographers, they always get missed out. Just do the right thing and share the love… correctly!

    Engage with your followers
    Lastly, engage with your followers, talk to them, and get to know them, let them get to know you. You’d be surprised whom you meet on instagram and can connect with. I have an amazing amount of support and have spoken with so many gorgeous people all just doing their own thing. Many of my collaborations have come from connections made on instagram so talk to people; you never know where it may lead.

    Madeleine Dore, Founder and editor of Extraordinary Routines
    www.extraordinaryroutines.com // Instagram @extraordinary_routines // Followers 6,953

    Madeleine Dore

    The nature of my interview project Extraordinary Routines has allowed my Instagram network to grow quite quickly. While a complete bonus, it’s helped to have interviewees with large followings share snippets of the interview and praise the project on their profile.

    That said, people are discerning and won’t necessarily follow you on Instagram simply because someone has shared your work. You need to capture their attention when they click through to your profile – make it is as easy as possible for them to identify what you are about, and determine if your aesthetic is for them. From the beginning, I tried to keep the overall look of my feed consistent, quirky, and colourful. My profile description and icon clearly communicate my focus on creative’s routines, a topic that seems to create intrigue. Some Instagrammers who do this well include @oakandink, @chiliphilly and @socalitybarbie.

    For me, the offline network I have grown through Instagram has been more fulfilling than seeing the number of followers grow. I was recently out to dinner and I looked at the friendly faces at the table and realised I had met them all through Instagram. I’ve made some beautiful friendships, and it’s as simple as telling people you admire their work, and once you have built some rapport, suggest coffee or brunch. I’ve even nabbed some dates that way! But romance aside, my favourite social media tip is to be social!

    – – –

    Thank you ladies for providing your tried and tested tips for growing your brand on Instagram. Title image by Eclectic Creative (@jess_eclecticcreative) from Instagram.

    Andrea McArthur (www.andyjane.com) has a passion for all things visual and works as an Art Director and Freelance Designer based in Brisbane. Design is her true love and she goes weak at the knees over strategic branding. You’ll find her sharing on Instagram @andyjanemc.

    Tags: business tips, Instagram, my advice, regular columns, social media, tips
    Posted by: Andrea McArthur
    Categories: business tips, my advice, regular columns | Comments Off
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    Women in art: Dorothea Tanning

    dorothea tanning


    By Jasmine Mansbridge


    The thing I enjoy most about researching and getting to know the women I write these blog posts about, is how I inevitably find myself stimulated, inspired and almost spoken to by them. They lead me along little information tunnels to new ideas and old wisdom. I don’t always agree with them or relate to certain choices they have made, but they stick with me and challenge me all the same. These ladies of art history have paved the way for living creatively, for women such as myself to follow, and for that their stories will forever be etched in my mind.


    Dorothea Tanning is one of these memorable, unique women. She lived a long and productive creative life. She was a painter, sculptor, poet and novelist, who passed away at the age of 101 in 2012. I am so very inspired by her to do the same, to create for a lifetime, to continue to push the boundaries of my work. It seems that in many cases art making stimulates a long life, and vice versa. While Dorothea is best known for her surrealistic paintings and her long relationship with the artist Max Ernst, there is so much more to this offbeat, beautiful, hardworking woman.


    Early life


    There is not a lot of information about Dorothea’s early life and she did say that this was because it was on the whole uninteresting, and she felt, “bound to chafe at the bonds of a loving but austere family life”. She was the middle daughter of Swedish immigrants, both once having had ambitious dreams of their own, her mother of being an actress and her father a cowboy. Their plans were to be replaced by the realities of domestic life, yet it would seem the seeds of their idealism took up in their daughter. Dorothea determined at a very young age that she would like to be an artist, so she left the small town of Galesburg to pursue her own success as soon as she was able.


    Her work


    In 1930, at the age of twenty, Dorothea spent a very short period of time studying at the Chicago Academy of Fine Art, before promptly dropping out. Aside from this short stint, she was a self taught artist and her style continued to develop and evolve over her lifetime. In 1936 Dorothea arrived in New York, very much a wide eyed midwestern girl, from a small town in Illinois. At first she was something of an outsider, but in time she became somewhat accepted as part of the artistic crowd in the city.


    Her early works were in the Surrealist style. One of her most well known being; “Birthday”, which Max Ernst is said to have named. This painting shows Dorothea in a confident, bare chested pose, the surrealist qualities being the dream-like winged creature and the many doors opening down an endless corridor behind her.  In these early works, Dorothea painted dream-like situations and the workings of the subconscious mind. She was meticulous in her attention to detail. Through the late 1940s, she continued to paint depictions of these surreal scenes, some of which combined erotic subjects with enigmatic symbols and desolate space.


    Over the next decade however, Dorothea’s paintings become less explicit and more suggestive, and after her move to France, she began to move away from Surrealism and develop her own unique style altogether. As she explains, “Around 1955 my canvases literally splintered… I broke the mirror, you might say.


    By the late 1960s, Dorothea’s work was almost completely abstract, yet almost always suggestive of the female form. The biggest shift in her work came was after this though, when she created a body of three-dimensional, soft, fabric sculptures, five of which comprise the installation Hôtel du Pavot, Chambre 202, now in the permanent collection of the Musée National d’Art Moderne at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.


    Her time in France from the 1950s to 1970s was a creative one and it was during this time that Dorothea also became an active printmaker and began writing as well. Her husband Max passed away in 1976 and so by 1980 she had relocated her home and studio back to where it all began in New York. Here she embarked on an energetic creative period, in which she produced paintings, drawings, collages, and prints, as well as writing volumes of poetry and books.
    Dorothea’s 100th birthday in 2010 was celebrated by a number of exhibitions during the calendar year, these exhibitions in New York, France, Germany and Stockholm, recognised her contribution as an artist, across many mediums, movements and generations.


    Her relationship with Max Ernst


    Max Ernst was a successful artist, and when he met Dorothea he was already married to the wealthy socialite and art collector, Peggy Guggenheim. It is reported that the very day Max visited her studio to see her work, they “played chess and fell in love”, and he and his dog moved in literally a week later. Dorothea was different, sharp and clever and Max was smitten by her.


    Dorothea’s determination to leave her small home town for the promise and bright lights of New York had already started to pay off, and her work had begun to catch the eye of the ‘right’ people in New York. One can only speculate then, as to how far her talent would have taken her on her own, as there is no doubt that having the well connected Max become both her lover and a champion of her work, was instrumental in the instant rise of her artistic profile.


    While Dorothea’s career was no doubt initially bolstered by her relationship with Ernst, her lifetime of artistic output is testament to the fact that she was indeed herself a creative force to be reckoned with and that with him or without him she would most likely have found success on her own. Max believed in Dorothea as an artist and referred to her a visionary, and a great talent. This belief would have been a wonderful encouragement over the years.


    Dorothea became Max’s fourth wife after the couple married in 1946. Theirs was a joint wedding in Hollywood, alongside Man Ray and the dancer Juliet Browner.


    The pair were together for thirty four years and in that time they changed location frequently. There were escapes from city life in New York to a remote outpost in Arizona, years spent in France working alongside other artists, and time spent soaking up the sun in Hawaii. They also lived apart some of the time, pursuing separate creative projects, but it seems they were always drawn back together and shared a common mind and a strong friendship. Max was comfortable with Dorothea’s need for independence and referred to her always as Dorothea Tanning, and not as his wife.


    After Max’s death in 1976, Dorothea remained in France for several years, and began working with a new sense of concentration and vigour. She was to outlive him by almost three decades.




    Dorothea made it clear that she had chosen to not have children, doting on her Pekinese dogs instead. In an interview she did with the Guardian in 2004, she said that “children would have done more than interfere with my career, they would have ruined my life, as I was too poor”. Perhaps she was aware of her own parent’s sacrifices for their family life and this informed this decision.


    What we can be learn from Dorothea


    To be bold in chasing your dreams! From a tender age Dorothea had a clear vision of herself as a successful artist and she pursued this dream relentlessly. When she arrived in New York she is said to have told the cab driver, “take me to Greenwich Village”, which at that time was the place for artists to live and work in New York. Don’t forget it took her until the painting of Birthday when she was thirty, to get her first big break. After years of working as a commercial artist, illustrating Macy’s fashion catalogues, eventually it was the quality of this work that caught the attention of the art dealer Julien Levy. This speaks of her commitment to doing her best work, even if it felt unrelated at the time, to her end goal.


    I also think there is something to be said about her love for Max. Their 34 years together is testament to the great bond they shared. They may have started their relationship with some impulsivity but it certainly stood the test of time.


    In Dorothea there is also the reminder that creativity comes in many forms. She didn’t just restrict herself to one way of doing things, but over her lifetime and right until the very end of her life, she continued to explore new ways of expressing her creativity.


    You can read more about Dorothea Tanning in this essay, on her website or in her obituary.


    Jasmine Mansbridge
     is a painter and mum to five kids. She regularly blogs about the intersection of creative work and family life at www.jasminemansbridge.com, and you can also find her on Instagram @jasminemansbridge.


    Posted by: Emma Clark
    Categories: regular columns, women in art | Comments Off
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    My Advice: Adding Value

    My Advice: Adding ValueBy Andrea McArthur

    How to define value and add value to your product or creative service for customers and clients.

    It’s a big question but one that can create a spark! I’ve always found that clients and customers are always happiest when they have their expectations met and exceeded. For me (being in design) it’s really important to fulfil and exceed clients expectations it’s what can set me apart from other designers.

    Small business tweaks can pay off! It’s the small details which manifest as your brand which show your worth. Showing that you care about your brand, your service and your presentation are all important details. When you strive for excellence – clients will see the additional value in your business.

    But the best and truest form of value-add that I’ve seen in practice is showing that you understand your client’s business and their needs. Clients are open to receiving recommendations. By going a step further and exploring tailored options you will blow their mind, add value and possibly have more work. Creative solutions show value and keeps clients coming back for more!


    Diana Scully

    Diana Scully, Principal (Interior) Designer
    www.spacesbydiana.com.au // Blog  www.spacesandplacesblog.com

    Working in a service based industry, adding value to what I offer comes down to my relationships with clients and therefore can be different for each project I work on. For me, its about understanding what’s important to my client, then going the extra mile to deliver it. This may seem obvious, but for me, it about supporting my client through the process in a way that best suits their needs.

    For potential new clients I have set up a lifestyle blog Spaces and Places where I discuss topics of interests relating to interior design. Sometimes its about understanding how certain pieces of furniture can work in your home, where to go shopping or breaking down the process of design so that readers understand how to apply the idea into their own home. I’ve even set up a Handbook page which has a list of showrooms and stores I usually visit for client projects! I hope that by sharing my knowledge and experiences with the community, they receive a benefit from my services, even before they have engaged me.

    Without a doubt, adding value to my business means improving customer service, as I’ve learnt, people are predominately emotional beings when it comes to their home. They are greatly impacted by warmth, friendliness, being helpful and supportive. This may sound simple, but to me, this is a crucial aspect of adding value when you work in a service based industry. A positive attitude and level of enthusiasm towards a project is what can distinguish your service from the next, especially if you’re working in an industry where there’s plenty of competition! I find that offering to manage aspects of the project like collect/return samples, process orders or make myself contactable, even after hours, are just a few little ways I can make the process more convenient and rewarding for my client.


    Steph and MicaelaSteph Parsons and Micaela Cleave, Two of a Kind Events
    www.two-ofakind.com // Instagram  @two_ofakindevents

    As we are still a young business (only a year and a half old) we are constantly asking ourselves how we can define the value we offer to our clients. As cliched as it sounds, so far it really has been a process of finding what works for us through a lot of trial and error. Event styling itself is sometimes a hard concept to define, with our clients often expecting a concrete product for their money.

    Recently we have introduced a clear step-by-step process for each of our service pathways which our clients receive when they book with us. This acts as a reference point for them to see which stage of the event design process we are up to at any given time. We’ve found this to be really helpful with managing a client’s expectations and ultimately allowing us to exceed those expectations.

    We also think it’s really important to be our authentic selves in all aspects of our business. This of course impacts the relationships we form with our clients, and is something that we can offer them that no one else can. We are our product, and staying true to that has allowed us to connect with like minded people who have ended up becoming friends along the way.

    {Image by Geelong Advertiser}


    Andrea FinchAndrea Finch, Graphic Designer & Virtual Assistant
    www.andreafinch.com.au // Twitter  @andreafinch_

    I’m great at delivering exactly what I promise, when I promise. My clients are always impressed with what I have to offer. But I can do more by going the extra mile.

    Here are three things that I do to add value that you might also find helpful.

    Creativity. When I’m designing a logo for a client, I go the extra mile and also save it out at the right size for their profile picture for their Facebook business page. This might seem little but it creates a big impact on the client. I try to be creative and think of something small that I can include to delight my clients.

    Professional Advice. As a supplier, I have the chance to offer a professional perspective on a clients’ business. My advice can help take them to the next critical step in growing their business (winner!). Professional advice could play a huge role in highlighting issues a client may not have yet considered, and if that input can help them reach big results, then the added value will be appreciated.

    Communication. I’m a strong believer that you can’t do business without communication. It is the key ingredient to running a successful business. Ensuring I keep clients up to date with where I am at with their project (even if they don’t ask) is not only good work ethic but it tends to give me brownie points when you’re keeping them in the loop.

    – – –

    Thanks ladies for opening up and explaining some of your processes that work to add value in your creative businesses.

    Andrea McArthur (www.andyjane.com) has a passion for all things visual and works as an Art Director and Designer for the Brisbane Festival. Design is her true love and she goes weak at the knees over strategic branding. You’ll find her sharing on Instagram @andyjanemc.

    Tags: Advice, business, business tips, my advice, Value
    Posted by: Andrea McArthur
    Categories: business tips, my advice, regular columns | Comments Off
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    My Advice: Photography Tips


    By Andrea McArthur

    Human beings thrive on the visual, especially those who consider themselves creative. The online world reflects this – today our businesses and creative output is supported by image-heavy blogs, websites, and social media feeds which make it important to represent yourself and your imagery in the best possible way.

    This month, I asked three professional photographers for their tips to improve the result when you’re tasked with presenting your products or work in the best possible light.

    Karina Sharpe, Conceptual Artist and Product Photographer
     www.karinasharpe.com.au //  Instagram // @karina_jean_sharpe

    Karina Sharpe

    Imagery is big these days, and high calibre imagery has become both the norm and the expectation. I teach a lot of people how to take good photos more effortlessly – and less by accident – in my Benchtop Photography workshops. These are the three tips that people seem to find of most value.

    1. The direction of LIGHT, in relation to an object’s position and orientation, can be the single most transformational element of your photographs. This is because objects have a form that will show itself differently depending on how its surfaces are lit up. Begin to notice the light around you and where it is coming from. Try and set your arrangements up on something that you can spin around in relation to the light source. Then, play with how the light falls onto, and across, your objects. Observe what gives the most captivating result.

    2. SHADOWS are definitely not your enemy. In most situations we want to engage with our audience on an emotional level, and shadows provide depth, tangibility, realism and substance. However, we want to try and avoid the shadow of one object falling across another object, so become aware and move your objects if shadows are falling in an unfriendly manner. Also, try to avoid double shadows. If you notice this is happening, try to eliminate any extra light sources.

    3. Creative use of BACKDROPS allows our images to standout, be recognisable, and build consistency for our brand. Coloured paper or cardboard are easy options, and things like tiles, fabric, flooring offcuts and fake timbers & textures give even more scope. Choose surfaces with your brand’s ethos in mind; timber is not just timber – white-washed might look refined and adventure-y, whereas a dark rough grain would be more earthy and homespun. Ask yourself, which timber am I?

    Karina Sharpe

    Photo by Karina Sharpe for Kim Wallace Ceramics.

    Jessica K Reftel Evans, Photographer
    www.amorfo.net // Instagram // @amorfophotography

    Jess Evans

    Before setting out on taking your images it’s a massive time saver to work out clear visual objectives. Storyboard what it is that you’re trying to achieve; a colour palette/mood-board and if you want these images to be more editorial/environmental or clean/factual. Take these thoughts with you as you prepare the shoot with backgrounds and props. Keeping the styling consistent is the key.

    To display most products honestly and flatteringly I would suggest using a soft light source. If you don’t have special lights you can use a window. Avoid direct sunlight and diffuse the light with a photographic scrim or thin white fabric. If the shadows are too heavy use a white card or another piece of white fabric on the shadow side of your product. Also, turn off your roof lights since they might change the colour temperature and light of your image. The colour of daylight changes throughout the day. So to make sure that your images have consistent and accurate colour representation use white balance settings. This can be done either on your camera or in your image processing software.

    And remember, you might not get the perfect image the first time. So just practice, experiment and most importantly have fun. Happy shooting!

    Hannah Rose Robinson, photographer
    www.hannahrose.com.au // Instagram // @hannah_rose_robinson

    Hannah Rose Robinson

    Tell a story. In today’s world we are so bombarded with images everywhere we turn that it’s hard to stand out. A visual identity is so important – carving out a style that is unique and becomes a recognisable brand, they tell a story through all the elements involved. Photography is just one element of that but an important one. Use imagery that tells a story, or evokes an emotional response. Put multiple images together to create a mood, or piece together a narrative. Write something to accompany the image/s, tell a story. I want to know what people are about, how they feel, their views on the world. Show your process. This is engaging and people like to be invited into the intimate space you can create with images and words. No matter what the subject matter, food, products, people, how can they be a story. What else is in the picture, what else can help tell my narrative.

    Be unique. We are all guilty of scrolling Instagram or a favourite blog and getting tunnel vision on someone else’s style when we see an image we fall in love with. Try not to get lost in this. I like to see people be different from the masses, find their own vision. There will always be trends that will come and go, but if you spend some time looking deep and hard on what your core vision and personal brand message is, you should be able to start carving out your own style. Be inspired by the images you like, but don’t look to be a copy. Look to what the elements are that you like in those images (maybe it’s the light or tone or mood) and be inspired by them to create your own unique look.

    Switch off. The online world that we are all so intrinsically plugged into these days is immense. It takes up a lot of our time, we devote it our time, and it demands our time. Our technology and online lives are so ingrained in our experiences these days that it frankly makes my head ache. So my big tip is to switch off. Every now and then just switch it all off. Don’t take a picture, don’t blog, don’t scroll. Go do the things you love to blog about and reconnect with them on a fully present scale. It’s easy to miss the essence of a moment, lose sight of the essence of your work- whilst being lost in how to capture and share it. Every now and then, switch off and revaluate the process. Go climb a mountain purely to feel the joy in the ache of your legs, to feel the air sweetly fill your lungs, to drink in that view from the top, be fully present. Don’t take a picture. Make a memory, and keep it for yourself. Put them in your bank to inspire you. It reboots your brain, and will only mean great things for all your creative endeavours.

    Hannah Rose

    By Hannah Rose Robinson for Jude Australia 2015 Winter Campaign. Background illustration by Inga Campbell.

    Film image from 'The Last Nomad' series by Hannah Rose.

    Film image from ‘The Last Nomad’ series by Hannah Rose.

    - – -
    Thank you ladies for sharing your photography tips. I am definitely going to have a play with my camera soon!

    {Title image by Karina Sharpe}

    Andrea McArthur (www.andyjane.com) has a passion for all things visual and works as an Art Director and Designer for the Brisbane Festival. Design is her true love and she goes weak at the knees over strategic branding. You’ll find her sharing on Instagram @andyjanemc.

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    Posted by: Andrea McArthur
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