By Jaclyn Carlson
After writing last month’s post about Sydney’s creative revolution, I received so much positive feedback from locals who finally felt like they had been given a chance to fly their creative flags. It was both encouraging and uplifting and for that reason I wanted to pay tribute this month to a couple of creative women that I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with recently and that are making waves in Sydney’s design underbelly.
First up is Deb Morgan, a jack of all trades and genuinely all around pretty rad person. She is the driving force and founder behind Create or Die and I had the great pleasure of teaming up with her on a recent Kinfolk dinner. I sat down with Deb to pick her brain about what it means to be a woman business owner…
Have you always been a creative person?
I've definitely always identified with being a creative person. My first memories are of drawing, making paper sculptures and falling asleep with texta's in my hands (which somehow would always go all over my face). I've dabbled in most creative disciplines over the years including art, music and photography.
What is your background?
My background is largely in events which has allowed me to explore multiple creative fields. From age 15 I crewed for youth, music and extreme sports festivals, which included hip-hop culture of breakdancing, DJ's and graffiti art. I became the director of a not-for-profit event organisation when I was around 18 years old and believe it or not I actually was fairly involved in politics for a few years... but that's another story! Visual arts and graphic design has always been a passion. My brother and I spent countless hours on Corel Draw teaching ourselves design (he's now a digital Creative Director). I moved onto Freehand Macromedia with the help of a graphic design mentor and I was mainly obsessed with Photoshop and hundreds of LAYERS! My first computer carked it as a result! I've now been working in the brand, corporate and special event industry for the past five years.
How did Create Or Die get its start?
Create or Die was an idea that I had years before I got the chance to officially launch it. It started as a guild, if you like, of creative people to encourage and inspire one another with their own personal art (as opposed to client work...which also has it's creative merits of course!).
I had the opportunity to launch COD officially into the world in 2011 with the website showcasing creative’s personal work, letting people know about upcoming creative events & inspiration and an industry competition to design a bar coaster.
The response to the competition was overwhelming and very humbling - I think we struck a chord by giving people an opportunity and a platform to create and showcase their own work. A panel of judges (Semi-Permanent, Shillington Design College, Digital Press) chose the winning designs which were printed in large format & displayed in an exhibition and then produced onto the bar coasters.
Since then Create or Die has morphed and grown organically and in late 2012 we had the opportunity to found a creative space where people could work, collaborate and hold exhibitions, workshops and events (like the recent pop-up dinner with Kinfolk!)
What is the best part about running a creative business?
I think it would have to be the people. One of my close friends calls it the "sometimes" moment, when you can step back and have a moment of feeling like you doing exactly what you are meant to be doing right there and then, with the right people. If you can fill your life with more of those moments - I think that is the ultimate goal.
What are the challenges?
Ah, there are so many - as with all businesses! Choosing the next project is a real challenge for me personally as I always want to do them all at once!
What advice would you give to other women looking to take the plunge and start their own business?
If there's anything I can say - it's to keep things as simple as possible from the beginning. Start with a good foundation and then build it up. That has been one huge lesson for me, amongst many others! Then surround yourself with other amazing women! Find people you trust and respect to encourage you and also help keep you on course.
Next we'll be launching our new website! Along with this will be a calendar of events, exhibitions and workshops. We've got some exciting new spaces and collaborations that we'll be working in over the next 12 months!
Where can people contact you?
www.createordie.com.au or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Next week we'll meet another Sydney-based creative business woman who is making waves in our community. And fellow Sydney-siders, don't forget to book your ticket to the upcoming CWC event with Sharon Givoni. More details over here!
Originally from Boston, Massachusetts, Jaclyn Carlson is the author behind the Sydney-based blog, Little Paper Trees. When not documenting her expat adventures, she can be found working for one of Australia’s top design & homewares trade shows. Passionate and prone to wasting hours on Pinterest, she has years of experience in marketing, advertising and PR and aims to put Sydney’s creative women in the spotlight with her monthly column.
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