Bianca Bouverie is a super talented graphic and UI/UX designer who left the city to return to her small town roots and in the process opened up her own design studio. I've had the privilege of working with her on several projects over the last while, and am always impressed by her creativity, fast-paced work style, and no-nonsense approach to design. She isn't afraid to say when something isn't working, which when it comes to design is the kind of tactic that saves us all a lot of heartache!
Casey Polson is runs an interior and property consulting service in Cape Town, South Africa, and she recently came up with a new business idea to launch a monthly subscription box based around interiors and homeware. Each month her team curates a box of bespoke and individual hand selected home items around a theme. The emphasis is on supporting locally designed and manufactured goods.
Fiona Hobson, a retired high school teacher and farmer's wife, realised that many of the people employed on their Karoo farm were unable to read. She started teaching basic literacy in English and Afrikaans on the farm, and later reached out to the local school in Klipplaat, their nearest town, to see how else she could help. This initial action has become a charity called 'Five Loaves Two Fish.' Fiona, along with her husband Rob (who incidentally was among my first Squarespace clients), asked if I'd put together a site showcasing the work Five Loaves Two Fish are doing among their community as a place to start raising awareness and funds for ongoing reading programs.
Crosby & Smalls is local Durban based business that sells retro and vintage goods. Okay, truth be told, this is a side business that a good friend of mine (Vicky) and I started to fund our travels! We launched last November with a simple strategy for growing our audience on Instagram and Facebook, and selling directly from those platforms. We had it in our minds that at some point we might need to transition to a proper e-commerce solution, but we wanted to give it some time to develop before we committed to the monthly payments. We've loved the personal interaction we have with our customers, and the relationships we're developing as we go along, but have found recently that it is taking up a lot of time and have looked again at some e-commerce options that would suit us.
RiverLife Church on the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal was ready to launch their first ever website, and wanted a site that would appeal to a cross-section of the congregation from teens, to young families, to more established members of the community. They wanted a welcoming, personal and easy to navigate site.
Kundai Nachito has a fascinating story to tell - one that deals with notions of self, sickness and society. As a young black HIV+ woman in South Africa, Kundai's dream is to create a platform where she can first begin to share her story in the form of prose, poetry and photography, and then invite others to begin to share their stories. She is especially interested in the intersection between sickness and society, sickness and relationships, and sickness and love.
I was toying with the idea of designing a minimal site for a graphic designer based on clean lines and pops of yellow. I was curious as to how it might turn out and put something together. I selected some bright and cheery photography with yellow elements, put together a moodboard and colour palette, and designed a simple site map. The focus of the project was to highlight the design work and let it shine, with a supporting about page, contact page and portfolio page.
Here are some elements that went into this concept site.
If you're a graphic designer looking to showcase your design portfolio in a clean and uncluttered site, please get hold of me to discuss building a site together.
Alessia Pinna is a lifestyle and branding strategist based in Joburg. She wanted a clean, feminine site for her growing design and holistic lifestyle business - a website that would allow her to introduce herself, showcase her portfolio, share customer testimonials, display her range of services and enable her to start to build an email list.
Oribi Gorge is a beautiful farming region just inland from the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast. The Oribi Gorge Guest Farm, a three-cottage establishment on a working farm right on the edge of the Gorge, has been in operation for about 20 years. Although they had an existing site, they felt it was time for an update both of the site and the photography, and asked me to work on something with them.
Harry Gwala Agri is made up of a dynamic group of farmers with a compelling vision for their communities - to set up mentoring relationships, educational opportunities and business connections between experienced and emerging farmers. They're a new organisation based in KwaZulu-Natal and wanted a website and a few design items to launch with a bang, and share their news and progress with interested parties and potential funders. I partnered with graphic designer Bianca Bouverie to produce an informational brochure and Squarespace website to help get the word out there about their project.
1 | Moodboard
Farming tones are obviously usually all greens and browns, and we wanted to keep within that tradition. We were looking for earthy tones, and farm-related imagery within a uniquely South African context. We also wanted to emphasise the critically important role black farmers will play in this project, and as such needed the imagery to carry this across. One of my frustrations with the average stock photography site is that diversity in skin colour, culture and difference is hard to come by. And when you do find it, it is often reinforces stereotypes we're desperate to get away from in South Africa, and indeed Africa.
2 | Style Guide
I paird Montserrat with Adobe Garamond pro for the fonts and brought in the shades of green, stone and black for the colour palette.
3 | Colour Palette
4 | Project Elements
- Website questionnaire
- Site map
- Site Design
- Sourcing of stock photography
- Style guide
- Copy editing
- Brochure design
5 | The Site
Thanks so much to the team at Harry Gwala for trusting me to put their site together. I really look forward to reading about their new projects and seeing how they continue to impact their communities with an incredible dream for this country.
If you'd like to see more of my Squarespace work, here are a few sites I've been working on in the last while.
Albert Einstein said that creativity is contagious, and I certainly felt like I caught some creativity while interviewing a bunch of makers and creators last year about their journey into creativity. So much so, that I decided to embark on my own 30 day creative project. I brainstormed a few ideas and decided to stick to 30 days of working with blue and white tile pattern designs. Here are a few things I came up with.
A Bit of History
In Japan, the earliest known example of cloth dyed with a shibori technique dates from the 8th century. Until the 20th century, not many fabrics and dyes were in widespread use in Japan. The main fabrics were silk and hemp, and later cotton. The main dye was indigo and, to a lesser extent, madder and purple root. There are an infinite number of ways one can bind, stitch, fold, twist, or compress cloth for shibori, and each way results in very different patterns.
"Arashi" is the Japanese word for storm. Arashi shibori is also known as pole-wrapping shibori. The cloth is wrapped on a diagonal around a pole. Then the cloth is very tightly bound by wrapping thread up and down the pole. Next, the cloth is scrunched on the pole. The result is a pleated cloth with a design on a diagonal. The patterns are always on a diagonal in Arashi shibori which suggests the driving rain of a heavy storm.
Itajime shibori is a shaped-resist technique. Traditionally, the cloth is sandwiched between two pieces of wood, which are held in place with string. More modern textile artists can be found using shapes cut from acrylic or plexiglass and holding the shapes with C-clamps. The shapes prevent the dye from penetrating the fabric they cover.
Place a piece of rope in the centre of the fabric you wish to dye, roll the fabric up into a ‘sausage’,
then stitch the roll-up with a running stitch. Pull the ends of the rope together and tie tightly, then dye the fabric. The emerging pattern is a ‘honeycomb’ type effect.
The Concertina Fold
When folding the fabric to prepare for binding, use a concertina fold, folding the fabric back on itself lengthwise, then either into squares or triangles. The concertina fold ensures that the maximum amount of dye reaches the most amount of fabric. To make the folds even more exact, steam iron them before clamping and dyeing.
Clamping, folding & binding
A number of everyday household items can be used when clamping and binding the fabric:
- Bull-dog clips
- Cardboard shapes
- Tongue-depressors/ice-cream sticks
- Kebab sticks
- Tin lids
Contemporary Shibori Artists
A few of my favourite shibori artist are:
For more shibori related posts, you can have a look over here...
How it Started
Toward the end of 2017, when the Instagram craze of sharing your "best nine" photos of the year came around again, it got me thinking about the colours that have featured in my own photography over the course of a year. I ended up going down a rabbit hole looking, and sorting, and making pretty collages out of the various colours I'd captured.
[Here's the Steller story I made about "2017 - A Year in Colour"]
I'd already been thinking about doing a more focused photo project for the year, and when a friend suggested I focus on colour, that was it. Here's what I wrote in my first Instagram post for 2018, to give you a better idea of how it all started.
January is Turquoise
I decided January would be turquoise. Although I gave myself a bit of leeway by using a few photos I had on hand, most of the images I posted in January were ones I went looking for. I've found my eye gravitating to turquoise, whether it be the dress of a woman waiting at a bus stop, shop window displays, or architectural details. I've also learned a bit about the colour turquoise, how to make it, it's neighbouring colours (aqua and teal), and where the term originated (it's the French word for 'Turkish' where the gemstone was originally imported from).
So that's January, done and dusted (you can see the whole lot over here).
P.S. February is coral!
Angus Buchan put out a public call for South Africa to gather and pray and thousands upon thousands (people say over a million people) showed up. I took with a bunch of people I didn't know to attend the mass prayer meeting in Bloemfontein last year. It was quite an experience. I took a bunch of photos along the way.
Here are some more photography-related posts...
You've spent enormous amounts of time and money, not to mention a few tears, on making a beautiful product that you're proud of. Now let your Instagram feed do it justice...
I was asked to put together a Squarespace site for design competition collaboration between Mike Made This and Vega School. The idea behind the competition was to encourage Interior Design students at Vega to submit lighting design ideas that would then be judged by a panel of design experts. The winner would be selected by a process of online voting, and the design had the potential to be manufactured with Mike Made This.
The last time my sister came to South Africa, we headed down to the beach early one morning to try our hand at some slow shutter photography. I certainly had never tried it before, so we walked this way and that, fiddled with settings and tripod arrangements, met a woolley-necked stork, and waited for the sun to come up.
My favourite shots from this expedition were probably capturing the blurred motion of the waves. There's a magical quality about the result. Here are a few pics from our slow shutter sunrise.
Here are some more posts relating to my photography journey!
Looking back over 2017, it was a year of 'more of the same' as well as a year of many 'firsts'. I really got serious about blogging in 2017 and committed, for the most part, to blog regularly on topics relating to Squarespace web design, Digital DIY, photography and creativity. I designed and put together a bunch more websites in 2017 with rather diverse clients ranging from specialist surgeons to explosives companies (how's that for variety!?)
Here are some of my highlights from 2017...
1 | Getting serious about blogging
Half-way through 2017, I set a goal of blogging twice weekly, especially on topics relating to Squarespace. If you've ever attempted blogging consistently you'll understand what a challenge this can be. On top of web design work, and other projects on the go, blogging can take up a significant amount of time. I'm proud to say I (mostly) stayed on the bandwagon and managed to create quite a lot of new content on the topics of digital DIY, Squarespace, photography and creativity.
Some of my most popular posts this year were:
- Squarespace: 12 Frequently Asked Questions
- 17 Tools I Use Every Day To Stay Organised
- Letting Go of Perfectionism: An Interview with Charl du Preez
- 9 Ways to Curate Your Instagram Feed
- Golden Hour & Good Friends
2 | Creativity interviews
Inspired by a conversation with an artist friend, Amy van den Bergh, I launched a series of interviews with South African creatives who had taken part (or were busy with) an ongoing creative challenge. It was such a privilege to interview painters, interior designers, writers, musicians, illustrators and photographers about their creative process. I am so grateful to everyone who took the time not only to answer my questions, but to open up about their journey into creativity. It was definitely one of the highlights of my year!
We chatted about letting go of perfectionism, how to write a novel in a month, the importance of practice, and the ebb and flow of creativity, among other things. If you're interested in reading more on this series, here is a summary post of all the interviews.
3 | A year of photography firsts
Armed with the first DSLR I've ever owned and with much encouragement from family and friends (especially Sophie), last year I photographed my first maternity shoot, first wedding, first family shoot, first portrait shoot, and my first interiors shoot! I'm so grateful to everyone who trusted me enough to take pictures of their special occasions, their kids, dogs and homes! I'm looking forward to leaning into a bit more photography in this new year - especially interiors and a bit of food photography!
Here are a selection of images from all the 'first' shoots from 2017.
4 | Launching new Squarespace websites
I was fortunate to work on over 20 websites this year, with a range of incredibly diverse clients from Cape Town to Edinborough, and from the Karoo to Christchurch, New Zealand! With each client I've learned something new about: managing timelines, the client process, expectations on both sides, and about myself! I've gained new knowledge, read like crazy, partnered with graphic designers, honed my organisational processes, and spent many hours on Skype, Facetime, Whatsapp calls and the good old telephone making sure we were on the right track. There have been days I've felt totally stumped, completely clueless and supremely overwhelmed, and other days when I've felt like it was just a walk in the park! I've leave you to guess which days were more common.
There really is something so rewarding about working with someone to take their business concept, creative project, food blog or community project from concept to reality by launch an online home.
Here are a few of the Squarespace sites that were launched this year...
5 | Creative Workshops
In partnership with Artisan's Republik I taught a number of creative workshops this year from Shibori (Japanese indigo dyeing) to Mobile Photography to Blogging. I really love teaching workshops, and the Shibori workshops, in particular, were just delightful! On more than one occasion the participants were so excited they started dyeing their own clothes, right then and there. After another workshop, everyone wanted to leave early to get to the fabric shop to buy more material so they could go home and keep on dyeing things!
I'd love to host (and attend, for that matter!) more creative workshops this year, specifically related to small business, digital DIY and creativity. I have a few ideas in mind, but am still mulling over them! I'll be sure to share more on my blog, as well as on Instagram and Facebook as the year unfolds.
I'd love to hear from you! Are there workshops you'd be interested in attending, blog post topics you'd like to read more of? Drop a comment here, I'm all ears.
I wanted to put together a one-page Squarespace site based on a couple of ideas I've been toying with lately so I came up with this "concept" site idea and called it 'Ceramique'. I was picturing a site for the kind of business that values the creative impulse, is drawn to natural textures and embodies things like sustainable, slow-living practices.
I discovered Annie Spratt's work a while ago through Unsplash, one of my favourite free stock photography sites, and was taken with her story and her beautiful travel photography. Just recently I was reminded of her work once again and found myself mesmerised by a set of moody floral shots. She called it her 'brooding blossoms' phase. The combination of the dark background with the flower in close-up focus in the foreground makes a striking and whimsical image. And I love how the flowers don't look at all staged or styled. I can't be sure of this, but I suspect she took these in the wild.