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    My Advice: Tips for the New Year

    By Lizzie Stafford

    Photo by Karina Sharpe

    Photo by Karina Sharpe

    Two weeks in to the start of January this year I signed a lease on a new shop. The year before was a bit of a ‘nothing’ year, and when I got to the start of January it was one of those moments when you think ‘Right, what is actually going on here.’ I sat at the kitchen table with coloured pens and a sheet of poster board and decided it was time to get real. I wrote down my ‘resolutions’. They had to be possible, but still challenging, and about doing ‘good’ rather than ‘lose 5 kgs’ or ‘get better hair’. Then I just wrote things I really, really wanted to do in large capital letters, like OPEN A SHOP, and I kept the poster visible so it was staring me in the face whenever I went near my desk. For the first time ever, I actually managed to come through with my resolutions. (Okay, most of them, anyway. Nobody’s perfect).

    Normally I wait until the end of January to start to do anything, because everyone is on holidays, or it’s too hot, or I have the rest of the year to do it. And then before I know it it’s December and I’m adding it to next year’s resolutions. But I found getting motivated from the very start, and ticking off as much as I could in the first month, gave me the momentum I needed to keep me going for the rest of the year.

    Of course, everyone’s different, and there is nothing wrong with taking time out in January to reflect and recharge. That’s the advice of one of the creative women when I asked about what she does to get motivated in the new year, and a trip to Europe sounds pretty darn inspiring to me.

    Nick off overseas!

    Elizabeth Bull, photographer and owner of One Fine Print

    My first knee-jerk-reaction response when asked about tips for the new year, about getting motivated and making the most of new beginnings was: nick off overseas! As that’s what I am doing on the 1st of January next year. It’s a completely self-indulgent trip I’ve decided to take right in what historically has been quite a busy time for me! It was also what I did last January. So I thought, really am I the best to comment on this?

    But then I thought about it and considered how time away from the business is actually what I’ve always done to prepare myself for the new year. Very early on in my business I did something that has now become my end of year activity that sets me up for the year ahead and something I look forward to and feel keeps me grounded for the busy year ahead. I go down to the beach for a few days, I sit around in a deck chair and do nothing much. It feels like a great relief after a busy December and year gone by. It really gives me the ability to just sit and think, and to discuss and play with ideas that have been swimming around in my head.

    Now don’t get me wrong; I travel and take breaks all the time. But rarely do I do the relaxing, sit around holiday. But when I do the “sitting around and relaxing” thing in December, I come back in January refreshed and ready to go. Over that period I think about my goals and what I’ve achieved in the previous year. I re-evaluate and think about what I really want out of the next year. Not in a New Year’s resolution type of way; more like a to-do list of what I’d like to achieve and how I could go about doing it.

    A couple of things I’ve found help me clarify my thoughts during this time:

    1) We completely shut down. It’s the only time we do. No email correspondence; just a nice “see you in the New Year” auto responder. This time away from the computer helps me think and have real clarity without any distractions. (I don’t even like cats, why am I looking at this cat video!). I guess it works for me the same way as why the best ideas always come to you in the shower.

    2) Don’t put pressure on yourself to “figure stuff out”. Sit back and relax, and the good stuff will come to you. Surrounding yourself with people who you feel inspire and challenge you helps as well because you can bounce those thoughts around and talk them out.

    3) Put your thoughts and goals into a to-do list that is achievable and manageable. Break down your ideas into small tasks so that when you are back at your desk in January you don’t become overwhelmed and disheartened.

    Set the intent but leave the specifics of it open-ended.

    Karina Sharpe, conceptual artist and product photographer

    At this time last year I was in the process of a big decision. I had been working at my jewellery design business Karina Jean, part-time amongst motherhood, for a number of years and had just had my biggest success with a design called The Pencil Necklace. Yet in the midst of filling all the beautiful Christmas orders, I was feeling a calling to switch paths. It wasn’t an entirely new calling or an entirely new path as I had been making imagery of one kind or another, alongside the jewellery, for some time and had spent much of the previous 12 months feeling torn between the two endeavours.  I knew at my core that I couldn’t actually do both with any noteworthy success. I realise now that sometimes it takes success in something to really test your love of it, and I found my love lay elsewhere. So in January this year I began to make changes from a product-based selling business to an image-based service business / artistic practise. And much of the rest of this year has been about putting things into place and finding my niche.

    For me, 2015 feels like a time for cultivation and creative exploration. In January I will make some plans for the New Year. I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions in the traditional sense. I don’t go “I’m going to get fit and join the gym”, “I’m going exhibit my art” or “I’m going to make more money”. I choose to phrase things in a way that is based more on the concept or the feeling of the things I want more of in my life, rather than them being fixed goals. So instead I will say things like “I’m going to feel happier in my body”, “I’m going to make beautiful progress with my art” and “I’m going to feel richer in all areas of my life”.

    I like to set the intent but leave the specifics of it open-ended. That is because I believe if it is up to me personally to set the specifics of the outcomes, I can really only set them based on how big I can imagine them to be and that can really only be based on a reasonable extrapolation of what I have already experienced. If I leave things open-ended for the Universe to deliver in its own way then the outcome can be beyond what I could have imagined for myself and things seem show up in amazing, random, and wonderful ways.

    Use charts and lists and schedules, broken down into three simple questions.

    Amalie Wright, director Landscapology

    Charts and lists and schedules come pretty easy to me, but to know what needs to go on all those charts and lists and schedules for 2015 I’ll be taking time to answer three deceptively simple questions:

    1) What is the big aim for this year? This sets the broad parameters for all other decision-making on a yearly, monthly and daily basis.

    2) Who were the most inspiring, engaging, talented and fun people I worked with last year, and how do I get to do more work with them, or people like them, this year?

    3) What are the things I need to do less of this year, in order to achieve numbers 1 and 2?

    Lizzie Stafford is a lifestyle and entertainment writer and owns and runs Künstler, a magazine and bookstore in Winn Lane, Brisbane.


    Posted by: Lizzie Stafford
    Categories: my advice, regular columns | Comments Off
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    Interview – Tess McCabe of CWC and Creative Minds Publishing

    Tess McCabe

    By Andrea McArthur

    Tess McCabe is a Brisbane-born, Melbourne based creative entrepreneur who has made Creative Women’s Circle (CWC) the inspirational community that it is. Recently, Tess has also founded a resource for smart working creatives called Creative Minds Publishing. A big thanks to Tess for sharing her thoughts with us.

    Can you give a brief description of your path to CWC and Creative Minds Publishing.

    From an early age I’ve been a  lover of printed things – books, magazines, posters, stationery – though it wasn’t until late high school that I could ‘name’ graphic design as the career path to follow. At that point I was pretty determined to make that happen, though I was also open to whatever opportunities came my way job-wise in the industry. So after a Bachelor of Design Studies at Griffith University in Brisbane, I worked for a big publishing house designing educational and non-fiction books. I also freelanced for small studios and my own clients creating brand identities, printed things and web stuff, and after a year of travel found myself working independently full-time in 2008 doing all of the above. As a ‘side project’ and as a way to meet people in my new home town of Melbourne, I took over coordinating CWC in 2009 from its founder Dearne Mills.

    CWC grew in hops, skips and jumps, and in 2011 I was looking for a project that could combine my love of print and my interest in the stories of other creative women. I’m really passionate about promoting the work of women in creative industries and shining a spotlight on their career achievements. Thus Conversations with Creative Women was born, which seemed like a natural progression for CWC. That really sparked my interest and zest for self-publishing, so Volume Two appeared two years later.

    I’m a keen observer and listener, and if I think that there is a need for a particular resource for the community of independent creatives I am so invested in to be realised, then I think of ways to make it happen. The launch of Creative Minds Publishing earlier this year is basically a way to put an umbrella over these ideas.

    CWC and Creative Minds Publishing

    Describe CWC’s core values?

    We value shining a spotlight on the creative work of women, because we feel that women are vastly under-represented on many platforms that promote the work of creatives. But we also value sharing and uncovering the truth that there are many varied paths a creative career can take, not all of them conventional and most of them incorporating all of the other messy life stuff that comes with being a creative lady e.g. making money; having a family etc.

    At what period did you feel CWC gaining momentum?

    Probably after the release of Conversations with Creative Women: Volume One, and the introduction of memberships and The Circle Database in 2012. Those things extended the reach of CWC and meant connections between creative women from all walks reached beyond Melbourne’s borders (which at the time was the only place we held our in-person events).

    Where would you like to take CWC in the future?

    To be honest, 2015 could be a fairly significant year for CWC!

    Event-wise, in 2014 we’ve had speaker events and Member’s Morning Teas in Sydney, Newcastle, Brisbane and of course Melbourne, and next year I’d love to see these events being hosted in the other capital cities and major regional centres as well.

    As The Circle Database grows, it will be great to see more interaction between Members and more of their needs addressed through website upgrades and additions.

    Structurally however, there are some changes which I’m hoping to make that mean the community of Members we’ve built will get to take a lot more ownership over the future direction of CWC. This is all in the planning stages at the moment, but more than it being an exciting thing for the group, it’s the right thing to do for the future of CWC and its sustainability as well. Stay tuned!

    Morning Tea

    At a Member’s Morning Tea event at Mimi-Myrtle&Co. Photography by Martina Gemmola

    What is the next event that CWC is hosting?

    We’ve just had our last speaker and morning tea events in Brisbane, Melbourne, Newcastle and Sydney for the year over the last few weeks. Now it’s time for some resting, recharging, plotting and planning before we get back into the swing of things in February/March next year.

    How has networking helped you so far?

    I’m not a native Melburnian, so when I moved here 8 years ago I didn’t know very many people. Plus, 12 months after settling here I decided to become self-employed and work from home, which wasn’t a great strategy for meeting new people! Networks like CWC helped me get the support I needed as an independent business woman but has also gained me some very dear friends along the way. I’m a pretty introverted person by nature, and traditional networking doesn’t gel with me, so I really built CWC up to be exactly the kind of non-threatening networking device I wanted (and that I could see other people liked as well!). Yes I have gained a few clients through it, but mostly it’s given me a cushion of support and many, many bursts of inspiration as I fumble through my own business ventures.

    Has social media played a large factor in your businesses success as well?

    Definitely. When I took over CWC in 2009, blogs were becoming popular but the other platforms we are so accustomed to now either didn’t exist, or weren’t as widely used yet. The introduction of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and the ability for the CWC community to meet in person at events and then stay connected through those channels has been imperative to CWC’s success – they work hand in hand. Though if we could all agree to hold off introducing another social media platform for a while that would be great – it’s a lot to keep up with!

    Have any of your creative businesses been a product of personal projects coming to life?

    I suppose Creative Women’s Circle evolved from a side project into something I spend a lot more time on and take more seriously from a business perspective. I’ve learned to keep truly personal and fun projects out of the business sphere as much as possible, to that the pressure off and to ensure they stay fun.

    Have you always had your “Creative Minds Publishing” idea in the back of your mind?

    Having my own publishing company was not something I always intended to do. I tend to focus on 3-5 year goals, so professionally I know what I am working toward, but those goals are always somewhat vague (or have ‘feathered edges’ as I like to think). I have a very young family and my partner is also self-employed, and so professional goals at this stage of my life have to be fluid and flexible. I would go so far to say as I will probably always want to work in graphic design, in print, and spearhead my own projects with cool people, so that combination of things is what spurned Creative Minds Publishing. But I have no master plan for the brand just yet – I’d like to see it develop on its own first and then mould it from there.

    Conversations with Creative Women

    When did you decide to act?

    At the beginning of 2013, CWC held a speaker event with Melbourne intellectual property lawyer Sharon Givoni about protecting copyright for creatives. It was one of our most popular events to date, and afterwards over coffee Sharon and I mused that there wasn’t a single comprehensive resource available to creatives that explained the concepts she discussed in the workshop, and the issues her clients come to her with every day. With her interest in writing and mine in publishing, and our combined networks of creatives from which to draw inspiration and target the resource, it seemed like a natural next step to produce a book together: Owning It: A Creative’s Guide to Copyright, Contracts and the Law. Formalising an imprint under which to release the book in 2015 was the impetus for launch Creative Minds in August this year. Plus, it made sense to re-release my earlier eBook Graphic Design Speak in print (yay!) to welcome the brand to the world!

    Over the years how have you learnt your main business lessons. From trial and error, reading, workshops or bringing specialists in?

    Probably the biggest lesson is to listen to the advice and feedback of others, but know when to take that advice with a grain of salt, and also know how to vet those to ensure they have your best interests at heart. In the past I have screwed myself over by not trusting people enough, and been screwed by trusting people too much. It’s tough steering a ship whilst also drawing the map – you need people around you but it can take time to find the right support network.

    I read a lot, but not the kind of ‘business’ books you might think. I like memoirs, particularly comedian’s memoirs. Comedians are self-employed, creative, pursue a niche industry they are intensely passionate in – often for years before they find success – but at the same time they are acutely aware of the absurdity of life and how lucky they are to be able to do what they do for money. I like that attitude.

    Many of the little nuggets of advice that rattle around my head are from CWC speakers, or interviews on our blog or the Conversations books. I feel pretty lucky to have that constant injection of real-life advice from other women who are steering their ships in the same ocean as me!

    Graphic Design Speak

    And, what advice has stayed with you.

    I’m not sure if there is one specific piece of advice that is high above all the rest, but we all know that saying ‘no-one on their death bed ever wished they had spent more time at the office’. So probably the advice I try to keep front of mind these days is to work when it’s work time, enjoy family time when it’s family time, and relax when it’s relax time (and have a decent measure of all three in an average week!). That doesn’t always go to plan (I can’t help it if I come up with a great work-related idea when I am playing with trucks with my son!) but it’s important to keep trying.

    Walk us through a day in the life of Tess.

    I’m working full-time hours at the moment while my husband does the stay-at-home-Dad thing, something we consider ourselves pretty fortunate to be able to swing. So my day starts when my son, who is two-and-a-half, wakes up around 7am. From there all three of us amble around trying to get fed and dressed in a reasonable amount of time. I leave the house around 8am and walk to my office in a shared studio space five minutes away. Once there, I tackle the to-do list that I have made the previous day, usually starting with emails that have come in overnight. On an average day I will do a couple of hours of graphic design work for clients (while listening to my favourite podcasts), a couple of hours of work on Owning It or another smaller publishing project, and some time on CWC (preparing a blog post, emailing with a speaker or event host, tinkering with the website, or sending out book orders or membership packs). I’m pretty head-down-bum-up productive – way more so than when I didn’t have a kid and didn’t have to shut down my computer on the dot of 5.30pm. When I leave the office I head straight home to hang with my family and catch up on the day, wrangle the kid into a bath and then into bed, and then have dinner with my husband. After dinner I might do a gym class (no more than twice a week though… I hate exercising but have come to recognise it’s a necessary evil!), or record an episode of The New Normal Podcast with my friend and neighbour Emma Clark. Weekends are family time and I’m pleased to say I’ve stopped doing computer work on weekends – there’s just no time (or energy) after toddler taming and it’s nice to return fresh after a break from the big screen on Monday morning. I still check email and social media on my phone pretty regularly though… can’t break that addiction unfortunately.

    What were you doing the last time you looked at a clock and realised you had lost all track of time?

    Sadly it was probably tackling a rather unwieldy email inbox or getting stuck on a design. How I DO like to lose track of time is painting, or reading, or meals with family and friends.

    - – -

    You can become a member of Creative Women’s Circle or view the titles under Creative Minds Publishing.

    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 image musings on Instagram @andyjanemc.


    Posted by: Andrea McArthur
    Categories: CWC news, interview, regular columns | Comments Off
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    My Advice: Getting a creative business baby-ready

    By Lizzie Stafford

    baby-post-main

    My sister has just had her first baby, so my entire family has babies on the brain – hence the topic of today’s My Advice column. For my sister, taking a year’s maternity leave was a reasonably straightforward task: apply for leave, granted leave, leave and not have to think much about work for a year. Of course, going back is already a daunting thought for her as her job is challenging, high stress and long hours – but there wasn’t much work preparation needed in the lead up to having her baby.

    For me, and anyone else who works for themselves or runs a small business, it’s a different story. Your business won’t keep running without you unless you put a lot of thought into how you’re going to manage. I couldn’t ignore the advice of Tess McCabe, publisher, designer and CWC director, about how she made it work. Tess had her first child in 2012 and made the transition look easy (I’m sure it was anything but). Amy Constable, founder of Saint Gertrude Letterpress, had her baby in April and her advice is simple but oh-so important: relax. Illustrator Alarna Zinn made some big changes to her business-life and shares some thoughts about the transition into working creatively post-bub. Thanks for your honesty and sage advice, ladies.

    Pray for a sleeper, prepare for a screamer.

    Tess McCabe, publisher, graphic designer and director, Creative Women’s Circle

    “My mantra when I was pregnant with my son was ‘pray for a sleeper, prepare for a screamer’. I basically lowered my expectations down to getting absolutely nothing done work-wise (being running CWC or my graphic design work for clients) for the first four months of his life. Why I settled on 4 months I am unsure… perhaps I thought naively that everything would be sorted routine-wise by then – ha!.

    After that, I told my clients I would be on an indefinite break, and I did a few things in preparation to ensure that despite my mini absence, tumbleweeds wouldn’t blow across CWC’s cyberspace presence. I hired a trusted colleague to take over some of the basic CWC admin for a short time, such as preparing weekly blog posts and keeping up with social media enquiries. I prepared CWC events to be held just before he was born (with a backup plan in place should he have arrived early!) and then a few months after, so that the flurry of activity associated with an event day wouldn’t coincide with those precious early weeks.

    After those 4 months, and much deliberation about when I would be ‘back’ taking on client graphic design work, I had to relent that my ‘many pots on the stove’ career just wasn’t going to cut it being at home with a young’un: a baby and deadline-driven client work AND another small business just didn’t mix well for me. So I focused just on what I a) enjoyed and b) offered me the most flexibility and the least stress, and that was maintaining CWC.”

    Relax.

    Amy Constable, founder and creative director, Saint Gertrude Letterpress

    “Work as long as you feel fit and capable, but once that baby is born: clear your schedule! You have no idea what kind of baby you will have. Will they be laid back or clingy? Good sleeper or bad? And what kind of mummy will you be? Maybe you’ll be cool leaving your new baby to be looked after, maybe you’ll struggle to let go. These things can’t be predicted and it takes a good few months to work this stuff out. The last thing you need is work commitments, or a looming return to work date while you’re dealing with a baby behaving unexpectedly, not to mention your own hormones.

    You won’t be left behind. It might feel like it as you check out all the cool things happening on Instagram while you’re chained to the couch covered in spew, but the world won’t move on if you just take a little time off to get to know your new bub and your new life. In fact, people are pretty likely to say things like “that went fast!” when you do return to work. So relax, put an out-of-office on the email, and come back on terms that work for both of you.”

    Take things as they come and adjust if need be.

    Alarna Zinn, illustrator

    “We probably should have thought a little harder about what decisions would need to be made but it really is something you can never be prepared for. My husband and I both owned our own businesses, which took up a lot of our time and in the end we just decided having children was something we wanted to do. There was never going to be a ‘perfect’ time so we decided that we should just jump in and work things out as we went along! Firstly, I decided to close down my physical shop (Little Jane Street) in Brisbane’s Winn Lane when I was about halfway through my pregnancy – which I was more than happy to do in exchange for daytime naps! After Ada was born, with a slightly heavier heart I also decided to close down my business completely as I just didn’t feel like I could give it 100% anymore, which was important to me. A lot of pressure was lifted and I have been able take some time off and I actually feel like I have become more creative (not productive!) working on limited freelance jobs and personal projects around taking care of Ada.

    You can certainly make plans for what you would like to do – things like when you would like to start back at work, get child care etc, however things don’t always work out that way. In our family we tend to just take things as they come and re-adjust if need be to best suit everyone involved. It really is such a fleeting moment in time that they are little and if I am feeling frustrated with things not going to plan, I just think that I won’t ever get this time again so I might as well just enjoy it because in a few years I will have all the time in the world to follow my dreams.

    [Since Ada, my creativity] certainly isn’t the same. For me, it is like my brain works on half power because the other half is trapped in the mundane everyday tasks and exhaustion of looking after a tiny person and that can sometimes be limiting. There is nothing inspiring about dirty nappies, food preparation, cleaning or entertaining a toddler. When I take all that away, I think the creativity is still there laying dormant but it is important to have that time to yourself to reconnect and tap into it. I definitely do not have lots of ideas popping into my head like I did before I had Ada. I find that I need to take the time away to do simple things – like explore the city, walk in the park, be by myself, read a book – to get inspired by something outside of our home. I am getting back into illustrating (very slowly) and I hope to do more this year as Ada spends a couple of days a week with our Nanny – this has been and important step for me to have assigned time to work so I will see if that creative drive comes back!”

    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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    Studio visit: Nicole Phillips, typographer and letterpress printer

    By Jo Hoban

    STUDIO-VISIT-NICOLE

    In the 80s, Nicole Arnett Phillips spent her school holidays fossicking around the dusty corners of the press room of the New Zealand Herald Newspaper, where her Dad worked. Letterpress was long-gone, but the old machines and equipment remained, and Nicole would lose herself playing amid the traces of days gone by, discovering old pieces of type—her ‘treasures’—some of which she has kept to this day. These formative years impressed Nicole (letterpress pun intended) with a passion and curiosity for design and typography, both where it had come from and where it was headed. She studied Art and Design, majoring in Typography and Book Design, at Auckland University of Technology and the uni subsequently published her related dissertation entitled ‘Form’d’. This propelled Nicole into an exciting design career working for a range of global brands, marketing/design groups, publishing houses, and built environment organisations, in both New Zealand and Australia, where she’s now settled.

    Albert, the 1872 Albion hand-iron press against the backdrop of Nicole’s inspirational studio wall.

    Albert, the 1872 Albion hand-iron press against the backdrop of Nicole’s inspirational studio wall.

    By 2009, Nicole was tiring of the long hours, feeling like she was “an extension of her Mac”, and could no longer ignore the voice in her head that was crying out: “I need something analogue, I need more movement, and I want to connect with my design production!” She started her own design consultancy, Nicoleap, working from her home studio. And she bought her first antique letterpress—‘George’, her 1860s treadle-powered, Gordon Franklin Old Style press. These days Nicole has 5 large machines housed in a backyard Print Pavilion, purpose-built by her clever husband, Mike. It’s a long, black rectangular shape that discreetly trails along one side of her backyard. Neat, industrial and aesthetically pleasing, it’s like a mini letterpress museum unexpectedly nestled in Brisbane’s southern suburbs. Except this is no museum – this is the active workspace of a curious, contemporary creator! Nicole’s commercial design consultancy is now complemented with her personal letterpress research and experimentation; she explains that her ‘passionate letterpress practice’ adds value for her clients by making her a more engaged designer.

    Nicole Aug 2014

    Nicole Aug 2014

    When I visit Nicole’s home, the sun is shining and natural light streams into the print pavilion through two segments of the roof and walls made of clear Perspex. The walls are dotted with inspirational quotes and printing experiments, tools abound, shelves of furniture (specific press equipment) are organised within easy reach, numerous drawers of type are on hand, and of course her antique crew of gentlemen are lined up along one wall. Nicole has kindly offered to demonstrate a letterpress printing process using ‘George’, so we print and chat…

    Nicole spreads her soya-based ink over George’s platen...

    Nicole spreads her soya-based ink over George’s platen…

    ...and later activates the treadle-powered printer with her foot.

    …and later activates the treadle-powered printer with her foot.

    A freshly printed ampersand.

    A freshly printed ampersand.

    Can you tell us more about George?
    I try not to play favourites but I print on my Gordon Old Style press more than any of the others. It’s a really versatile press and you’re really engaged with working it. George is the one that I really cut my teeth on. He’s inky and greasy, and he’s not perfect, but I love him! This machine was actually the first ever treadle printing press, so it was a really important letterpress machine.

    What about the other four gents?
    There’s Albert, an 1872 Albion hand-iron press; Sergio, a 1910 Italian Saroglia proof press; Harvey, a 1960s Heidelberg Windmill Platen T; and Milo, a Miehle V45 vertical rotary cylinder press. Each press does a different thing well, and I value the history and legacy of the machines.

    What are the constraints when letterpress printing, and is it hard to be experimental?
    There are constraints’a’plenty, so being experimental is a necessity. I enjoy trying to use an old format and tools in new ways; that excites me. For example, it’s possible to recreate something that’s so easy using InDesign, such as a flipped letter, but you have to stop and think “How can I do that with a physical piece of type? Well, if I print that onto a sheet of plastic and then I print that sheet of plastic onto the paper, I’ve got a reverse!” It’s creative problem-solving and it’s so much fun. You can achieve exciting things with dusty old type if you’re creative and want to push the boundaries. Once I’ve mastered a technique, I think ‘Ok, what’s the next thing I can do with that?’

    Nicole’s machines lined up in her print pavilion.

    Nicole’s machines lined up in her print pavilion.

    You decided not to be a commercial letterpress printer quite early on. What draws you to the older presses?
    Commercial letterpress printers mostly use Heidelbergs, which are super-precise, automated and efficient—awesome machines for this reason. I tried this, but preferred being more physically involved with the process. Operating my older machines is a real workout; printing with George, I get a sore bum and sore arms and need to stretch out! I wanted to get ink under my fingernails and experiment with making and taking something apart, and have the freedom to try something and then stop and rearrange if I didn’t like it. It’s not viable to commercially print on these older presses, so if my clients want letterpress, I’ll do the design work then refer them to a commercial letterpress printer.

    Along with your commercial work, you’ve been teaching occasional workshops at Designworks College and have started publishing your own journal—Typograph.journal. Tell us more.
    My workshops offer design students the experiential nature of letterpress printing. The more teaching I do, the more I’m interested in knowledge-sharing. This shaped the idea that I thought there was a need for a journal less about visual eye-candy, and more about candid process and conversation. I think a new design discourse is required, and that in this information-saturated era the form that information takes probably matters more than it ever has before.

    Nicole perusing Volume 1 of her Typograph.journal.

    Nicole perusing Volume 1 of her Typograph.journal.

    Nicole’s home-based studio is overflowing with design books, and organising them by colour works best for her.

    Nicole’s home-based studio is overflowing with design books, and organising them by colour works best for her.

    You can visit www.nicoleap.com.au to learn more about Nicole’s design work, and check out www.typographher.com for the latest info on Typograph.journal. For more insight into Nicole’s letterpress experiments you can follow her on Instagram @typographHer.

    Words and interview by Jo Hoban. Jo is a freelance editor and copywriter with a background in publishing. She loves collaborating to produce meaningful content that delves into people’s creative processes and spaces. Jo posts images that inspire her on Instagram @jojohoban.

    {All photos kindly taken by Ross Pottinger.}

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