Friday, October 30, 2009

Interview - Liz Jones (aka Betty Jo!)

Betty Jo's latest range, inspired by Art Deco! Beautiful.

Colour collage by Liz Jones

Now there are many super talented crafters in Melbourne... and so many beautiful hand-crafted goods being made and sold in our lovely town. But it's not often you see something utterly unique - like these FABULOUS pieces by Liz Jones (aka Betty Jo)!

Liz makes her fantastic jewellery, accessories and clocks from salvaged vintage lino! Genius. Each piece is also embellished with carefully selected vintage details... buttons, buckles and beads - making each Betty Jo piece entirely one-of-a-kind! Liz has such an incredible way with colour... the way she composes each quirky character with layers of colour and pattern is truly inspired. And how about her Colour Collages?? Stunning! It's no surprise Betty Jo was spotted by UK fashion giant Paul Smith a couple of years back, and ordered for their London and Paris stores! How cool is that!? What a great feat for a local Melbourne crafter (and one-woman business!).

In addition to creating her fabulous designs, Liz Jones has a fantastic and very entertaining blog, and her photos on Flickr are so gorgeous, you must take a look! You can buy Betty Jo Designs at lots of local and online places listed here.

Read on for an insight into Liz's creative inspiration - and her finely attuned vintage lino radar!

Tell me a little about your background – what path led you to what you’re doing now?

I began my working life as an Art and Craft teacher in Melbourne, but moved into jewellery design when I needed a change. I relocated to Sydney for six years and worked in two Jewellery studios, co-managed a jewellery supplies shop, worked as an artist in residence and always made my own range of jewellery that I sold in shops or at markets around Sydney.

When I moved back to Melbourne, I tried teaching again, but the concept of working for myself and starting a business was brewing in my mind. I quit teaching for good in 2005 and since then have been working on building up Betty Jo Designs into the happy little operation it is now.

What have been some of your favourite pieces or creative projects?

I loved having that light globe moment when I created my first lino cuckoo clock.

It was exhibited at Craft Victoria, and then found a lovely home with a reader of my blog. Since then I have custom made many clocks and still enjoy creating special customer orders.

I am also having heaps of fun playing around with my new camera creating my Colour Collages. I plan on printing some up as cards in the near future.

How did Paul Smith find you!? Is he still stocking your pieces, and has this lead to any other international stockists, fame and fortune??

In 2007 the free fashion magazine “Attitude” did a little story on Betty Jo Designs. Paul Smith’s “Buyer” was in Australia at the time and saw the article. He contacted me and then the company made a big order for their London and Paris stores. My pieces were well received and totally sold out! As is the nature of this company they rotate their indie designers each year to add variety, so alas no more orders as yet!

As for Fame and Fortune, I don’t know if this little Cottage industry with a staff of one (me) is quite ready to expand into a larger format. I like to keep it small and personal, and this would be lost if the business turned into a production line of sorts.

As it is, I find it challenging to keep up with the large number of orders for my Australian (and NZ) stockists and customers.

A lot of independent designer/makers say they struggle with the ‘business’ side of things – how do you structure your business to ensure all the boring sales/office tasks/marketing and PR gets done?

I was lucky enough to join the agency Ambiguous Horse in the early days of Betty Jo Designs. It helped me secure numerous interstate and NZ stockists, took care of the online ordering system, organised some PR, participated in trade shows and generally kick-started things along.

On the home front, I deal with all my Victorian stockists, organise the accounts and keep on top of the paperwork at Tax time.
There's a lot to do to keep the ball rolling in a micro business like mine, so at times it can feel like your juggling six balls in the air.

Where do you turn for creative inspiration – nature, travel, books, magazines or the web etc?

I try to surround myself with Inspiration. In fact my studio, and house for that matter, is pretty full of kitsch, cute and colourful vintage knickknacks, old toys and children’s books. Jolly Enid Blytons, Classic Golden books and any beautifully illustrated picture books, no matter how preloved.

I am also continually blown away by all the talented artists and crafts people in this City. You can’t help being inspired by their originality and innovation. If they work with re-cycled, repurposed materials, even better!

When it comes to creating my work I find the most inspiration comes from the materials I work with. The gorgeous retro prints and patterns on vintage Lino and Laminex, the lolly shop colours of Bakelite buttons, and the Nana inspired fancywork in pretty op shopped doilies.

Brooch Collective

Which designers, artists or creative people do you admire?

Illustrator Madeleine Stamer of Little Circus Design

Her work is utterly delightful as is she. I’m lucky enough to own two of her sweet prints (which I traded for some Betty Jo pieces.) Madeleine has also designed the CD cover art and merchandise for our friends The Blackeyed Susans retrospective Box set. Beautiful bird inspired artwork for one of my favourite bands (but I’m biased!)

Jeweller Liana Kabel of Plastic Girl

A Jeweller after my own heart. She repurposes domestic items such as knitting needles and Tupperware. I own a nice selection of her work and admire her ever evolving style and business acumen.

Fashion Designer and Printmaker Hannah Kopacz of Made with love by Hannah.

L.A. based Hannah makes beautiful folkloric inspired skirts, dresses and more. I own four of Hannah’s skirts (swaps again) and am always coveting more. Her eye for colour and whimsy is second to none. And she has the best collection of cuckoo clocks I have ever seen.

Sculptor-Rosalie Gascoigne.

I was lucky enough to see the retrospective of her work at Ian Potter gallery. I am often asked if I have seen her linoleum collages and installations. Once I mentioned to a woman I feel like I am channeling Rosalie at times as she is such an inspiration. It was sort of a joke, but would you believe it , the woman was into psychic stuff and took me very seriously....Na Na Na Na (Twilight Zone theme music) .

What would be your dream creative project?

I would love to create an installation of a child sized room where every thing is made from vintage Lino. The cushions, cutlery, ornaments, every thing. This would be all financed with the imaginary grant money I dream of (or Tattslotto if I bothered to enter).

What are you looking forward to?

I am planning to start having market stalls in the New Year. It will be nice to meet some of my customers in person. It sometimes gets isolating when you work in your studio all day and only deal with people online.

Melbourne Questions -

Where do you shop for the materials and tools of your trade?

My main material is recycled vintage Linoleum. Not something you can just pick up at the local craft store. I mostly come across it by chance, but these days I have a very fine tuned lino radar and seem to find it regularly. I mainly source it from Council hard rubbish collections, junk shops and The Darebin Tip recycling Centre “Outlook”.

Lately I have been given big piles of forties and fifties lino from friends who are renovating and polishing their floor boards.
Since I have started my blog and spread the word about my hunt for vintage lino, I have had donations from all over the country, often arriving as pieces in parcels and post packs. I always repay the sender with a piece of Betty Jo Jewellery (or some monetary repayment if they prefer!).

I scour op shops for old buttons, buckles and embroidered doilies (which I chop up) and regularly check out markets, garage sales and school fetes.

I buy my findings from The Bead Company in Smith St. Collingwood, and
glue, tools and hardware from BIG Bad Bunnings. (I’m sure they pipe subliminal messages over the PA system at Bunnings to make customers stay and buy more hardware.)

What/where was the last great meal you ate in Melbourne?

We eat Vietnamese regularly, and as always, find you can’t go past Coconut Palms in Smith St. Collingwood. The Salt and Pepper Squid is rather fabulous.

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

A typical Saturday morning would usually involve a bit of mooching about, coffee, reading the papers, getting jobs done like mowing the lawn, or my least favourite, housework! That said, if there was proper motivation, I’d be out and about at a local fete or market, riding my bike, or having the decadent blackberry French toast for brunch at my local cafe Pearl Oyster…. if it’s not too crowded (it’s usually chocka block on the weekend, best go on a weekday!)

Melbourne’s best kept secret?

This place isn’t really a secret on a balmy summer evening, but The Gelobar in Lygon St East Brunswick has the best gelato in town.

Whoops! Why did I just tell every one about this place? It’s kinda crazy at the best of times.

Snow Scene

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Katie Kirk

The fabulous work of US illustrator / graphic designer Katie Kirk has been doing the blog rounds since it appeared on Grain Edit a little while ago... but I just love these wedding invites so much I had to jump on the bandwagon!

Aren't they fantastic?? So original and so fun! The invites are for Katie’s sister who plans to get married in Mexico and then have big after-party in Wisconsin!

Check out Katie's illustration website and her company website - Eight Hour Day.

Limited edition Stork print by Katie Kirk - available in Katie's Etsy shop.

Illustrations by Katie Kirk for MyGofer (more here)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Nicholas Jones' Flinders Lane favourites on the D*S guest blog!

OH the excitement. My 3rd guest post over at Design*Sponge just popped up! Today I am sharing Nicholas Jones' favourite spots in Flinders Lane... please check it out and tell us what you think! x


Sedonia - Gamon st, Seddon (spot the O-check stationery!!)

Ceramics by Jo Luping

If you pop over to my Design*Sponge guest blog today you will see a lovely little round-up of illustrator Jane Reiseger's favourite local haunts in Yarraville...! It was so fun to run around Yarraville photographing Jane's picks... and especially because she introduced me to a gorgeous new shop - Sedonia!

Sedonia is just off the main Yarraville drag.... it is such a fabulous little nest of beautiful homewares, gifts, accessories, clothes, kids stuff, stationery and much more! It is so well-stocked - full to the brim of colourful covetable gorgeousness. Next time you're over that way I highly recommend a visit!

41 Gamon st

(03) 9689 9368

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pop Up Co Op in Bowral!

Bowral's new Pop Up Co Op! LOVE those cross stitched initials by Tamara Maynes.

Remember I posted about SoHi magazine a little while ago...? Well... if you needed any further encouragement to visit NSW's Southern Highlands, I think I just found it.

Sarah K, designer + retailer of tiny museum-like store Arp, master-crafter and previous Design Files interviewee Tamara Maynes, and Monique Germon, designer + creator of Tasmania's Love + Clutter and more recently *Public Office, have joined forces to create the Pop Up Co op - a super up-market temporary market of curated and crafted design.

The Pop Up Co Op brings together an immense variety of super-covetable items - limited edition pieces for the home, furniture and fashion, stationery, books, fresh flowers and even on selected days, cup cakes from heaven. It looks SO incredible I'm quite sure the beautiful little town of Bowral doesn't quite know what's hit it!

The Co Op just popped up on October 11, and will run until Christmas.

Pop Up Co Op
Shop 7 Corbett Plaza,
Bong Bong St.

Hours -

10.00 - 5.00 Monday - Saturday
11.00 - 2.00 on Sundays

Monday, October 26, 2009


Amazing hand-made chest of drawers by my sweet fella Gordon Johnson. (He does not have a website. He is allergic to self-promotion).

Gratuitous detail shot. See-through drawers! Fancy schmancy.

OH my goodness you guys are so lovely with all the sweet birthday comments, emails and tweets! Thankyou thankyou thankyou! :) I am the luckiest blogger ever. Also, so sorry I was totally out of wack with the timezones so my first D*S post is taking way longer to pop up than I realised! Sorry about that.

In the meantime, I had a few requests to see my beautiful new chest of drawers, courtesy of my very clever boyfriend Gordon, who can make these things with his own two hands. Amazing!

I love the pearly, coffee coloured timber finish.... It's Queensland Walnut. Also perhaps my favourite thing is the smokey-coloured see-through acrylic drawers! Fancy fancy.

For some crazy reason (I think because he wasn't sure if the chest of drawers would be finished in time), Gord also bought me these beautiful vintage posters by Rene Gruau from the wonderful Galerie Montmartre! Oh my. It's a bit ridiculous, no?

Le Rouge Baiser posters from Galerie Montmartre! (Sorry for the reflection)

Design*Sponge guest-blogging!

Illustrated map by Neryl Walker - for my Design*Sponge guest posts this week!!

Oh my goodness. It's a big week in Design Files land. First, it's my birthday today! I have been awfully spoilt by my sweet fella... He made me an absolutely beautiful piece of furniture - AND he bought me not one but TWO stunning prints from my favourite Galerie Montmartre! Is that not just ridiculously over the top?? Sheesh.

BUT that is not where the excitement stops, dear readers! This week Grace from the ever-fabulous Design*Sponge has invited me to be her guest blogger! It is a dream come true :)

I think due to the time difference, my first post over on D*S will not pop up until later in the day Melbourne-time... but I have included a little sneak peek here because I just can't contain my enthusiasm! I have asked some of my favourite local illustrators and artists to help contribute to my D*S guest posts - each day I will introduce D*S readers to a different pocket of Melbourne, seen through the eyes of each of these talented Melburnians. Today's post showcases the work of East st. Kilda-based illustrator Neryl Walker. How AMAZING is her illustrated map?? She's so clever. Please please please pop over to D*S later today to see the full post!

ps) Don't worry, I will be blogging here as usual all week... it's gonna get busy!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Interview - Paul Fuog on his experience working with Stefan Sagmeister in Bali!

Paul Fuog in Bali whilst assisting Stefan Sagmeister on his recent sabbatical year

Paul and Karim Zariffa work in Sagmeister's Ubud studio (top), and on location shooting an animation (for a sneak peek at the resulting little film, watch the TED movie below!)

Stefan's temporary studio in Sayan, Ubud

This is an amazing story.

Paul Fuog is a super-talented young graphic designer, who runs a boutique graphic design studio in Melbourne called Co-öp with his lovely wife Dan Honey. They work out of offices in Melbourne's beautiful Curtin House... and actually, Paul was one of the first people I ever interviewed on this site early last year.

For three months earlier this year, Paul found himself in Ubud, Bali, with none other than Stefan Sagmeister, assisting him during his client-free sabbatical year! (deep breaths!)

Is this not AMAZING!? When Paul first mentioned this to me in passing a few month ago, I could not quite believe it! What an incredible experience...! Of course, I was instantly enthused and so curious about the whole idea of a creative client-free 'sabbatical'! Lucky for us, Paul has answered all my nosy questions in great detail, giving a fantastic insight into this once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Please read on to learn a little more about Paul's incredible 3 months in Bali - the projects he worked on, his impressions of Stefan, and the influence this unique experience has had on his own work and creative practise!

You should also definitely watch Stefan's recent TED talk about his time in Bali... truly inspiring.

Stefan talks to an eager TED audience about his time in Bali and the concept behind the creative sabbatical.

How did you come to work with Stefan Sagmeister on his recent sabbatical year in Bali?

My adventures in Bali came about because I was planning a trip to New York in early February of this year. I had a meeting scheduled with another great New York studio called 2x4 and I decided to email Stefan to see if he would be available to catch up while I was there. Joe Shouldice, the designer looking after Sagmeister Inc in Stefan's absence replied.

"I'm sorry, Paul but Stefan is actually conducting his 2nd client-free sabbatical in Bali, Indonesia and will not return until September 2009".

I responded,

"Thank you Joe, sounds like an amazing adventure. I look forward to seeing the fruits of Stefan's 2nd sabbatical".

The next day I received an email from Stefan,

"Hello Paul,

Thank you for your mail.

I arrived exactly three months ago in Indonesia and have already nicely settled in. I am in an beautiful house in Sayan, a tiny village close to Ubud, the spiritual, crafts and artistic center in Bali's jungle-like interior. As far as I can tell now, the ceremony culture is incredibly active and alive, the craft intricate and varied – there are entire villages of woodcarvers, stone masons, wig makers, textile weavers and silversmiths close by – and all the art is crap.

My desire to conduct this experimental year in a place that's the opposite of New York seems to become very true, I get up every morning at 5:00am awaken by roosters who I then encounter later in the day again while they get their thighs massaged in preparation for the cockfights
complementing most temple ceremonies".

After this small introduction he then asked if I would be interested in joining him for 3 months, from April to July, to work on some truly interesting non client focussed projects".

I replied,

"For sure!!!!"

What were some favorite projects you worked on with Stefan?

The main project I was working on, along with a number of daily experiments was the 'Darwin Chair'. The chair is a stainless steel structure featuring 230 printed sheets of paper as its cushion. Each sheet has a unique detailed print that is relevant to the evolution process. From the big bang right through to the digital age. The idea of the chair is that the owner can change its appearance simply by tearing off a sheet. So in a sense you control the life span of the chair. You're in charge of the rate of evolution.

Graphics and work-in-progress for the Darwin Chair

My most favourite projects or exercises were the ones that involved a collaboration with the other designers. The team was very cross disciplinary. I worked with Philipp Gmeiner, an architect from Austria, Karim Zariffa, a motion designer from Montreal and Benjamin Bryant an industrial designer from Brooklyn. We worked and lived together so we were constantly trading ideas. These were definitely the most rewarding times and in returning home I've found that I really miss this dynamic.

How is your time structured whilst on Sabbatical? Is it very regimented, or very flexible? How do you know when a project is finished, and when it's time to start something new?

We generally operated in a logical and ordered manner. We had weekly production and progress meetings much the same as a typical design studio. But, of course, the projects and environment made it anything but typical. Here is a fairly ordinary working day in Sayan, Ubud.

8.15 - 9.00 Jump on the flamingo pink scooter and head into the main street of Ubud to grab some breakfast, trying desperately to dodge the rabid Bali dogs.

9.15- 9.30 Arrive at the studio which is about a 2 minute ride from my apartment. Have a strong Balinese coffee on the patio overlooking the pool.

9.30-10.00 Stefan, Karim and Philipp arrive. We have a work in progress meeting which is a good chance to fill everyone in on where you are at and get some feedback / input.

10.00 -1.30 Head up to the studio and continue to work on some prints and concepts for the chair.

1.30 - 2.00 Nanga has served lunch so we head back down stairs for a banana smoothie and some Nasi Goreng. Yum!

2.00-2.30 Straight after lunch we work on some concepts for representing some statistical data for Stefan's upcoming documentary.

2.30-4.30 It is back upstairs to the studio to continue working on the Darwin Chair.

4.30-5.30 We jump on the scooters with a bag full of bananas and head to the Monkey Forest. When we arrive at the Monkey Forest, one of the little rascals sniffs out some Party Animals (lollies from home) that I have in my pocket and he practically rips my pants down in the middle of the forest. Once the guard rips him off, we arrange a typographic piece with the bananas and let the monkeys invade. The work will be used as a title treatment for one of the projects.

5.30 - 7.00 Work on some illustrations for a book.

7.00-8.00 Head downstairs again as Nanga has prepared a beautiful dinner.

8.30-10.00 Put together a pretty shonky tripod set-up to support my digital camera while it is suspended above the studio pool. Get Karim and Ben to assist me as I jump in the pool and drag a jellyfish sculpted recycled plastic bag back and forth through the water. I repeat this 1000 times until we finally get a decent shot. I hop out of the pool looking like a prune and head back to the apartment for a Bingtang.

Recycled plastic jellyfish

How would you describe working with Stefan?

Inspiring, a little daunting and very productive. Stefan has a very inclusive and positive approach to brainstorming and conceptual meetings.

He works extremely hard to realise his vision. Despite being in the game for so long, Stefan still has a relentless motivation and desire for excellence. He is just not interested in any aspect of mediocrity.

How do you feel this experience has influenced your own work and your creative process since arriving home?

Before I left I felt boring and predictable. The experience opened my mind up to what design could be and encouraged me to think big and believe in the possibilities. It was an extraordinary situation where I had so much time to think. I was separated from the mundane activities of my normal day to day and given the opportunity to reflect and project. I thought and created without distractions. Influences from the outside world were minimal, the internet was terrible, there were no bookshops, the galleries were boring but this turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it encouraged me to focus on what was truly important to me, not what I thought was important to others.

What is next for you and Coöp!? Have you been inspired to take a new creative direction or to start any new personal projects as a result of this unique experience?

Firstly I have learned to harness the power of positivity. Not in a hippy kind of way - I am interested in positivity in terms of generating ideas. For me, maintaining a completely positive frame of mind when creativity is being initiated is a major factor in my ability to generate good ideas. Stefan is brilliant at thinking pos.

Secondly, this adventure with Stefan reinforced to me the importance of speaking, even when not spoken too. It has made me realize the true benefits of personal work and graphic authorship. It helps you define your own unique voice, discover what you really want to say as a designer and also how you want to contribute to the world. As graphic designers we are employed to speak on behalf or through our clients and we seldom get the opportunity to explore our own voice when we are working to a client brief. At the moment I am continuing my exploration of recycled sculpture and working on some pop-referencing time-lapse videos.

Daily Experiments with the team in Bali

Huge thanks to Paul for this amazing insight into his time in Bali! Please do head over and visit the Co-öp website to see more of his fantastic work :)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Lizette Bell

All photos by Lizette Bell

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of meeting Melbourne photographer Lizette Bell. She is so super lovely and made me feel very comfortable in front of the camera!

Lizette's work is so diverse... of course I was drawn to the interiors, but she has some beautiful fashion and beauty work too... check out her folio here. Lizette is represented by Katrina Herschell Management.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Dream Home

This is basically my dream home. Call me boring... but bright white walls and industrial details really float my boat :) Also love the birch tree in the courtyard, and the built-in cabinetry is pretty lovely too. Oh and the bathroom! Swoon.

This place was for sale in Melbourne a few weeks back... with $1 million as the price guide (meaning it probably went for, like, $1.8 or something!). I actually spotted it on the fabulous Desire to Inspire but forgot to share until now... such a fabulous pool of inspiration over there.. I can't keep up!

*update - Melbourne reader Edwina has her finger on the pulse... she's just emailed to let me know that the talented interior designer behind this beautiful home is Susie Cohen of Cohen Design Studio. Can't find a website for them unfortunately... Thanks Edwina!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Kate Endle collage illustrations

Collage illustration by Kate Endle

Seattle-based Illustrator / collage artist Kate Endle just followed me on Twitter... (Thanks Kate!)... so I found myself wandering over to her website. There are some lovely things... lots of bright and fun stuff for kids rooms etc, but I think I prefer her beautiful browns, greys and more muted tones. My favourites are her abstract shape collages. (Love that one on the dark background, top left).

Original collages and prints are available from Kate's Etsy shop.

Bindi Booth - new things

Birds of a Feather - all illustrations by Bindi Booth

Tree head girl

Illustration for Curvy #5

Cute pigeon-toed ladies!

Melbourne illustrator Bindi Booth has been busy busy busy. She's recently joined the Jacky Winter 'Hatch', and she also has a lovely new website which is definitely worth a little looky!

Look at these super-cutsie illustrations she's did for Peter Alexander PJ's... pastel perfect! Makes me feel like ice-cream! (oh, wait, I always feel like ice-cream).

Yardage designs (above) and illustration (below) by Bindi Booth for Peter Alexander