A designer, a photographer and a jeweller...

Wednesday, June 08, 2011


No, that is not the first line of the lamest, art-schooliest joke in the world. (Well, it might be. You never know with these art school types. Best punchline wins a prize.)

It's actually everything that is going on in those pictures up there. That is the super talented jeweller Jane Gowans modelling scarves by the super talented textiles designer Hilary Grant, as photographed by the suuuuuper talented (and generous, and lovely) Kristen of What Kristen Saw (who is also, by the way, a very talented designer herself, and not a bad knitter either).

I first came across Hilary Grant, she of the fabulous mountain cushions, via (I think) that purveyor of all things quirky and designy Conversation Pieces, and I have always thought her work was just the clever balance between chic and snuggly. Then when I found out my very own friend Kristen not only knew her but was going to be shooting her new collection, I was excited. Add in the willowy and beautiful Jane, and you have a triple design threat of epic proportions.


I am so in awe of these three. They are each devoting themselves to their respective crafts, and working so hard to DO something, MAKE something... just bring something beautiful into the world that wasn't there before. Which, to me, is the very definition of creativity. (I know this is true of Kristen and Jane but I'm completely hypothesising about Hilary Grant here - I've never met her and know nothing about her, but hey, it can't be easy to make pom poms look that sophisticated. Plus anyone who makes a career basically out of knitting has to be badass.)

It's not unlike how I felt reading this post from Lauren yesterday, in which she announced that she is (finally! Yay!) going to be able to ditch her dull temp job and focus on being the writer that she is, full time, 100%. Bringing something beautiful into the world. I am, once again, in awe.


You know what's hilarious? I used to be creative. My art teacher in high school told me that I was one of only two people in a class of 30 in whom he saw potential. My music teacher made me promise I would keep writing music after I left school, because, he said, I had a gift. I won the school creative writing prize, with an actual cup and everything (fine, it was a quaich, but whatever). And yet, when it came time to choose a degree course, a job, a career, I turned my back on all of these things and chose the straight-up academic option. The respectable profession. And, yes, the financial security. I grabbed *that* with both hands.

Perhaps it's only from the nice safe vantage point of that financial security, that respectable profession, that the idea of basing a life upon the creation of beautiful things seems so alluring. I suspect the reality - neverending slog, writer's/artist's/whatever's block, no recognition, precarious finances - would be somewhat less appealing. And so I am reduced to the occasional rambling blog post and the odd lame DIY project*. For now, that's enough. It has to be. But I do, sometimes, wonder about the road not taken.

Of course, people (read: lawyers) like to claim that "corporate law can be creative too".

For those people, one word: Enron.


*Speaking of which, I have a little crafty project up my sleeve to share with you this week. If I can find some time in between packing and obsessively checking the weather forecast for California (it's been fun, rain, but it's time for you to fuck off now).



Top four images by What Kristen Saw. Visit Hilary Grant for the full collection. Be Creative print, $30, Honeycomb Print Shop

7 boats moored

  1. Oh this post rings so true...I worry constantly that the Home Office has sucked all creativity out of me. And then I get a reality check and remember that it's like anything; the music, writing, designing mojo needs practice, coaxing, encouraging. It's a harsh mistress, creativity...it's really easy to lose.

    Let's all knit outselves a scarf. And pen a lyric. And paint a picture of us singing our songs in our scarves.

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  2. I have this constant battle where there are so many things I try and do (half finished painting, instruments gathering dust, website DESPERATELY needing updating, photoshoots half planned etc etc etc) but I'm just so bloody knackered after a day at the office that I'll collapse in front of whatever's on the gogglebox and not do any of it then beat myself up about it.

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  3. Oh, and I love those scarves!

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  4. There's no reason you can't have a creative career if you want one. I think having a job with financial stability is a really good position to be in before you take the leap. You can think about what you want to do, what you like doing and then start doing it, and then start doing it more and then see if anyone wants to pay you to do it, and then you just keep going from there. If you ever did decide to go full time creative then sure it would be a lot to give up, but SO WORTH IT.

    And you are so creative and talented and funny and I get the feeling: something of a perfectionist? Which all means that you could totally really make it. If you want. I say go for it. Either go for it or start saving for early retirement so you can be an artist then.

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  5. This is exactly the path I followed. In high school I was in choir, dance, and some art classes, and really enjoyed them. But they have always been very much hobbies, and even then, not ones I hung onto in adulthood. It was all about serious academics. Now that I've (sort of) found my footing in my career, I'm finally going back to them because I do need some of that creativity in my life.

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  6. another post that could've been writing by me (albeit perhaps not so eloquently) as someone, ahem, several years further down the road of life than you, i decided ladt year i wished i'd "done something" with my artistic ability. so i started a blog. nearly a year and a load of art later i have finally taken the step to become a part time self employed artist so i can officially sell stuff! of course it's baby steps and i'll be keeping the full time secretarial job (despite it doing its best to suck all creativity out of me) because it pays the bills. i am just following the school of thought that it is never too late to be what you might have been. i've now been invited to take a stall at a style fair in August and am halfway through my first 'official' dog portrait commission! write that music!

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  7. This is something I've wrestled with too, and talked about before. It's so hard to value everything equally in your life, making choices is always difficult because of the ones that we have to turn our backs on once we do decide.

    You value stability, prestige, a good salary. You value creativity, music, art. These things can be combined, Stephen Spielberg has all of the above and seems to be a pretty happy guy, but for most people you wind up having to make a choice. I always think about Steve Carell. I read this interview with him once about how he worked for years and years and years at being an actor and STILL hadn't "made it" by his 40s. He often wondered if he should give up and get a respectable job. Granted, his story has a happy ending because he's a big famous star now, but for every Steve Carell success story there's someone else out there, equally talented, who had to choose to take a different path instead.

    I'm going to end tis now so that I do not, in fact, write a novel in your comments, but suffice it to say: choices, hard. road not traveled, yes, hmm.

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