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    Category Archives: regular columns

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    My Advice: Finding Inspiration (when you’re in a rut)

    By Lizzie Stafford


    {Photo by Emily Nelson}

    It seems fitting that it took me a while to get started on this introduction, and that in the meantime I had to get up and make a cup of tea. A creative rut can strike at any time, whether you’re writing a blog post, starting a painting, composing a song or mere hours away from a client deadline. I asked an illustrator, painter, musician and creator how they find inspiration when they’re having ‘one of those days’.

    Allow it.

    Helen Franzmann, musician, McKisko

    “I am stuck in a creative rut. I have been for some time. I’ve never been the kind of person who can turn songwriting on. I respond negatively to external pressures and I’m stubborn. I know what I need to do but sometimes the desert that is the rut becomes so consuming I avoid even picking up an instrument. So, to give advice on how to shift this is confronting for me because I’m in it and my biggest obstacle is myself.

    Generally I…
    Allow it.
    Look at art books and go to exhibitions.
    Hang out with people that inspire me.
    Write in the mornings when I’m still a bit dream struck.
    Don’t expect everything to become something.
    Actively listen.
    Take good notes.
    Avoid social media and internet wormholes.

    Wish me luck.”

    Move, do and observe details.

    Jade Suine, creator, Forget Cake

    “Creative inspiration is a sum of everything I have taken in and the connections I make between it all; it sets me abuzz when it catches me off-guard but kick-starting creativity on cue can be oh-so daunting. There are 3 things that prove almost fool-proof for me however: moving, doing, and observing details.

    Whether it’s walking to my day job in the morning and thinking of script ideas or scrawling notes while I’m on the train or in an aeroplane, I find the act of moving, or more so, going somewhere, to be very conducive to creating. During my creative thinking studies I’ve even had to admit that exercise helps. Perhaps while the primal part of our brain is ticking over in rhythmic motion other parts of our brain are free to produce the esteemed juice!

    I also find that good ideas can become spectacular through doing; decent work can only grow into something sensational through actually making it. As hard as it can be to get started, iteration and experimentation are at the heart of creating, they are the framework, fuel and the fun part!

    While doing all this moving, testing and doing, I try to make sure I observe. Exploring through my camera, sketching an amazing shape I see, noting down the something that can potentially be a starting point for the next project or a better version of what I’m already making.”

    Jade work2

    Make a mess cleaning, tidy it, then go for a short walk.

    Carolyn O’Neill, artist

    “The act of starting on a painting can sometimes be daunting.  I generally start one by cleaning out my paint bowls and making quite a mess, but it’s my starting point. When stuck for inspiration I might tidy up the studio, go for a short walk to clear my head, taking in the scenery around me. Coffee breaks are good too, as sometimes you just need to get out of the studio.

    Quick sketches on paper also help as does swapping your dominant hand to paint or draw. Holding the end of the brush so you have less control and writing down thoughts and ideas can be useful. Background music can set the mood for inspiration.”



    Break the problem down into smaller steps.

    Emily Nelson, illustrator

    “Working from home and freelancing full time means that I have to stay motivated and switch my creative brain on even if I’m not in the mood. When I’m having trouble creating new work, I set up a nice clean space, a cup of tea, and maybe some music and write down all of the things that I like at the moment in a notebook. I write down objects, colours, descriptive words, themes, anything that I’m interested in. Then I find that ideas start to emerge from my lists and I can start to draw little sketches and form ideas for new art works. Sometimes if I’m really stuck, I look through old notebooks and pick up forgotten ideas. I also make cheesy, motivational art works and display them around my studio as a reminder to stick at it.

    When I’m working on a commissioned project and I hit a creative brain freeze, it’s usually because something is challenging me. I often freeze up when my work becomes hard and I don’t know how to solve a problem. When this happens I always break the problem down into smaller steps and it becomes much easier to manage. For dealing with stress related brain freeze, I take a long walk in the morning before I start work and take tea breaks when my work gets tired, which helps me to regroup and find clarity. My brain gets cluttered and needs some space to think sometimes! It may sound like procrastination, but de-cluttering my studio really helps me to get into a creative mind set. My studio gets really messy during a project and when I’m finished I clean up and start fresh for the next project. And in the case of an emergency creative brain freeze, I jump in the shower. I usually come up with lots of ideas in there.”


    Lizzie Stafford is a freelance writer and editor and owns and runs Künstler, an independent magazine and bookstore based in Winn Lane, Brisbane. She is the Brisbane events coordinator for CWC.

    Posted by: Lizzie Stafford
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    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.

    Tags: Art, artist, business, food, Interview
    Posted by: Andrea McArthur
    Categories: interview, regular columns | Comments Off
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    How to Improve Your Blog to Grow Your Creative Business

    How to Improve Your Blog to Grow Your Creative Business by Dannielle Cresp on Creative Womens Circle

    By Dannielle Cresp

    Blogging is great for business. We all know it. But when it’s not the number one thing on your to-do list, it can slip from a “must do” to a “should do”. When a month or two passes without any new content going up, we know it looks bad, but the longer it’s left the more difficult it feels to get back to it.

    I’ve been blogging weekly for almost a year now without missing a single post. So today I want to share with you my tips for improving your blog to help your creative business grow, without adding too much more to your plate.

    • Have an editorial calendar and dedicate at least half a day a month to it. Decide what days of the week you’ll be posting over the coming month. I recommend less rather than more if your blog isn’t your main business. It’s better to be consistent once or twice a week than 5 days one week and nothing for the rest of the month. Use that half day to plan what you will write (even if it’s just vague topics for now) and the dates you will publish the posts.
    • Dedicate time write posts in batches. Set aside half a day to a day to write as many posts as you can. Take the photos you need to accompany what you’ve written, and then schedule them according to your editorial calendar. It might seem silly to not work on your main business for a whole day or so, but blogging is an important part of marketing!
    • Make your images easily pinable to Pinterest. Only use great quality images and add your post title to the image you’re going to use (like the example above). Also consider adding a ‘pin it’ button over your images. This makes your content easier to share amongst Pinterest users, and will help drive traffic back to your site. It’s also a great way to bookmark and categorise your own blog posts for easy reference.
    • Have an e-Newsletter Sign Up on your blog sidebar and encourage readers to sign up (e.g. by offering them exclusive offers or something extra if they do).
    • Keep your colours and fonts consistent. Your blog is an intrinsic part of your brand, and consistency will ensure people will get to know you and your work by sight.
    • Only write as much as you need to. Blog posts needn’t be long, especially if your creative business has lots of visual appeal. Write only what you need to and share some great images that will help you get your point across. There is no ideal blog post length. For many of you, images will be a way to share some behind the scenes work and you’ll only a short ammount of text to give those images some context.
    • Have some fun with it. It might seem odd that you would have fun with the marketing side of your business, but if you let your personality shine through a bit people can see there’s a person behind the brand and feel like they’re supporting someone rather than something. Even if you’re a team, it can be a great way to give some insight into who the customer (or client) might be hiring or purchasing from.

    Blogging can be great for your business and it doesn’t have to take up a big part of your daily business routine. Find a rhythm that works for you and and it will be much easier to stick to and to enjoy.

    Dannielle is a blogger, serial organiser and passionate traveller. She has a secret love of 90s teen movies and can often be found hanging out on Pinterest. She is on a mission to help people bring happiness (and fun) back into their homes with a dash of organisation and a sprinkle of their own awesome style over at her blog Style for a Happy Home.

    Image from © Lime Lane Photography with text overlay

    Posted by: Dannielle Cresp
    Categories: organise me, regular columns | Comments Off
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    My Advice: Going freelance

    By Lizzie Stafford


    Going freelance means giving up a steady income, sick leave, holiday pay and the security of knowing where you’ll be or what you’ll be working on tomorrow, next week or a month from now. But it also means more creative freedom, flexibility, independence – and being able to nap during the day. We asked four freelancers – a graphic designer, a writer and editor, a consultant and collaborator and a creative director – for some advice on how to make the transition into working for yourself.

    Be practical.

    Jo Hoban, freelance editorial consultant and creative collaborator

    “I made the shift to freelancing when I had young babies, and it suited me—I knew I wouldn’t have a wealth of time to work anyway, but I managed different projects when I could, and now that the kids are a bit older, I’m finding it more natural to increase my workload.

    Starting to freelance is like bungee jumping—it’s scary, but you know you’re tied to something, so hope for the best! Exhilaration aside, you need to be practical. It’s sensible to know that you have a ‘bread-and-butter’ client or two who will flick work your way (thanks, old employer!). And if you share your finances with a partner, you need to know that they’re in a position to shoulder your financial responsibilities should your work contracts be on the lean side. Once you’ve got the basics covered, you can learn as you go, and slowly grow your business. I’ve found that if you just keep chugging away, gradually you’ll start to gather more momentum.

    Some useful advice I’ve received along the way has been to stay calm and make time for everything, even if you feel like a job is consuming you. Be organised with your admin and allocate some time for your marketing, or seeking future work—how much depends on how busy you want to be and how many existing clients you have. It’s worthwhile to do some kinds of work for free, to help build your portfolio and feed your creativity. And you never know what other opportunities might come from it. Gather testimonials as you go and connect with your collaborators and clients through social media sites. And finally… once you’ve made the decision to go freelance, back yourself! If you know that you can provide a valuable, high-quality service, be prepared to summarise that when an opportunity arises.”

    Show up, show up, show up, and after a while, the work shows up, too.

    Madeleine Dore, freelance writer and editor, Extraordinary Routines

    “Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too.” – Isabel Allende

    “In the beginning of building a career as freelance writer, I think it’s important to put your hand up for as many things as possible. Find an internship that will sharpen your skills, build your portfolio and give you a valuable contact in the industry who can vouch for your writing. Ask friends if you can help write content for their website, short bios, or press releases.  Pitch features to your favourite publications and volunteer to write the first one for free if the editor is not familiar with your work. Start a blog or writing project to showcase your writing. Make your name known. Show up, show up, show up, and after a while, the work shows up, too.”

    Take naps often.

    Lara Stephenson, creative director, The Grazing Elk

    “Something I have learned through being a freelancer and now owning my own business would be: take frequent naps. If you’re tired or frustrated – just check out. Have a nap, watch a movie, read a book, go do something nice for yourself, have fun… and come back to your project, your business, or your work when you are feeling better, inspired and uplifted from the good things you have just done.

    It is only recently I have heard this from other people, but I have found it is one of the easiest and nicest ways to feel good again, get inspiration (my website idea came to me in a dream), and you feeling good, confident and loved is the first step of everything. Being a freelancer, you have this freedom to take time out, have a nap and do something fun.

    You will return to whatever you were doing before on a completely new level and fresh inspiration.”

    Stay busy.

    Jodi English, freelance graphic designer

    “Recently, I’ve been constantly coming back to some advice from Andrew Denton at the recent Semi Permanent conference in Sydney: “Be busy. Be Hungry. Be silent. Be bold. Be prepared to fail. And persevere.”

    Over time I’ve come to realise it’s so much more important to stay busy, not only on commercial work, but personal projects. This allows you the freedom to explore different mediums, different ideas, learn different skills and gives you a platform to continually experiment. Whilst freelancing offers you a degree of freedom, you are responsible with your time and it’s important to stay organised, be proactive and explore new and exciting opportunities that keep you motivated.

    For me, being hungry is having a constant curiosity, not only about design but about travel, people, food, ideas and the world around us. I believe we can gain inspiration from the most unexpected places so it’s important to always be a sponge!

    I find it so easy to constantly be thinking about your current projects, next week’s plans or getting caught up in your Facebook timeline or Instagram feed. Recently, I’ve been making a conscious effort to just sit down, relax and enjoy some quiet time away from my phone/computer and read my latest books and magazines. Surprisingly, some of your best ideas actually come when you don’t intend!

    I believe being bold is about being confident in your own abilities, believing in yourself and having the willingness to put yourself out there. At times, I think we all struggle with this and often compare ourselves to others. It’s important to believe in your work, embrace your individual style as a freelancer and remember the real value of your work. Be open to meeting new people, getting involved in your local community and collaborating with other creatives.

    More than anything else, work hard, stay humble, hopeful, patient and never give up! Oh and make sure you keep money aside for tax!”

    Lizzie Stafford is a freelance writer and editor and owns and runs Künstler, an independent magazine and bookstore based in Winn Lane, Brisbane. She is the Brisbane events coordinator for CWC.

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