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.
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.
Between May and August this year, I interviewed 10 artists, makers, painters, musicians, photographers, writers and other creatives about the process of taking part in an intense creative challenge. Some of the people I interviewed, like Heidi Shedlock, had been painting for over 500 days consecutively! Others, like writer John Hutton, wrote a novel in a month! One of the questions I asked each of them was which resources they would recommend for creatives. A number of the podcasts, books and other resources that they mentioned have now become some of my go-to resources for creative inspiration. I've put together the whole list for you right here all in one place
I chatted to digital marketer, photographer and film-maker, Charl du Preez, about the photo-a-day challenge he set for himself this year. He's just passed the halfway mark so it was a good time to pause and reflect on topics like perfectionism and letting go, the role of self-discipline in intentional creativity, as well as the daily grind of 'starting again' in order to finish something worthwhile.
Heidi Shedlock is an artist, teacher and mum of two. Over and above her usual creative work, about two years ago Heidi started a daily practice of painting a small postcard sized work and kept going for 568 consecutive days! I spoke to her about how she began her “Paintings in the Post” project, community and accountability, and the ebb and flow of the creative life.
Many of us have hope to improve our art, challenge ourselves, and take our creativity to the next level, but few take the plunge and actually do the hard daily graft it requires. Durban-based games developer and programmer, Gareth Fouche, bit the bullet and drew something every day for a year in an effort to master the art of illustration! In this interview I chat to him about what that process was like, about daily sharing your work online and what he learned about himself along the way.
I borrowed my boyfriend’s ukulele for about 8 months and I started a new instagram account called ‘Littlejulieandukulele’. I used to balance my phone in all sorts of inventive ways until I realised my music stand was a good way to aim it at me. I had to train my pug, Plato, to be okay with not being in the same room as me because I found him very distracting.
I interviewed John Hutton - English teacher, writer and self-published author of Days Ago Diary - about what can happen when you write every day for a month.
Christine Bernard, writer and designer at Flat White Concepts, constantly sets challenges for herself, from yoga to no sugar, to going gluten-free. In this interview though she shares more about her 30 day #animalaugust challenge where she illustrated her way through the alphabet and ended up with a collection of quirky characters.
I got hold of Amy van den Bergh, an artist who lives and works in Johannesburg, to talk to her about her current 365 day project, her creative processes, and to hear a bit more of her journey as an artist. Here's how we started out...
Claire: I’m interested to find out more not only about your current output as an artist, but also the internal journey you’ve taken so far, the challenges and and difficulties you’ve faced along the way. Would you be willing to talk a bit about that process?
I recently went foraging for wild flowers, berries and plants to use in my first ever eco-dyeing experiment. My previous blog post shows the details of what I found and how I prepared the bundles. To be honest I was rather disappointed with the way the colours came out, but having given it some thought I realise that perhaps my expectations were a little unrealistic. Just because the plant itself is really bright, doesn't mean the colour will transfer to the fabric in the steaming process. I clearly have a lot to learn.
An idea. I had an idea to start a project focused on a month of creative activation. I chatted to some of you about it on Facebook and you seemed keen to get involved. Really keen. Why? I know so many people who want to write, paint, draw, sing, create, entrepreneur (?), and get stuff out there but are somehow stuck. How about we do something about that?