imogenwilsonjewellery

Walk with me, every step of the way as i try to grow my teeny craft business into something sustainable… watch this space!


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Make Good Art- Neil Gaiman

Today’s blog is a short one to read… but longer than usual if you choose to watch or listen.

This week I re-watched Neil Gaiman’s commencement address at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. It’s a video I had seen when it first hit the internet and I loved it then… and I was chuffed to re-discover it last week. It is a beautiful and inspiring speech which hit home in several ways that weren’t as relevant to me the first time I watched it. The first is something he calls ‘imposter syndrome’ the fear that one day someone in a suit and tie will come and knock on the door and say “Sorry, it’s all over, you have to go and get a real job”. It must sound so irrational to someone not intimately in touch with the creative self employed lifestyle, but I understand the fear innately as it is one of the nightmarish fantasies I have often…

The second was the best piece of advice he received, ignored and wishes he hadn’t. Simply to appreciate the ride he was on, enjoy (and be aware of) his succcess instead of being too busy meeting the next deadline, creating the next idea, getting to the next job. This hit home for me quite hard, I try to fill my days as full as possible, always a new job lined up, I do stop to smell the roses, but not in the way he described and not nearly enough… It has made me change the way I work slightly, to have more fun in the moment and take advantage of the fact I work at home, my way.

So instead of writing a long blog, I leave you with the video to watch here. You won’t regret it… if you are creative or not.

The third was… Make. Good. Art.

Make Good Art Neil Gaiman

Make Good Art Neil Gaiman


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Studio Envy – How to make the most of what you’ve got

I feel extremely lucky to have a studio. A whole room to call my own, to spread out my mess and unload my brain onto the canvas of its walls and, most of the time (if I’m honest), the floor. In previous houses I’ve worked out of a corner of the lounge, and I have several friends who still do. There is nothing wrong with doing it that way of course… but now that I am full time I’m so glad I have my own space to express myself in.

Floor biggest shelf

There’s my chair, the one I’m sitting in right now writing this blog, and there is the mess that is usually by my side…

The trouble with living in an age when everyone and his dog have a design blog, a point and shoot camera and a million times more talent in using it than I do. Everywhere online that I look not only do people have amazing photos of their studios, they also seem to have studios that are full of light, are tidy, clean, and beautiful. They are often so beautifully manicured it’s like no-one has ever worked in them. Whenever I see one of ‘those’ studios (don’t pretend you don’t know what I mean) I am filled with jealousy. Jealousy, that these imaginary internet people have such tidy work tendencies.

Beautiful, light, bright and oddly empty, studios- Magazine ready!

Beautiful, light, bright and oddly empty, studios- Magazine ready!

I had a professional photo taken of my studio at the start of this year, the very talented and lovely Alden Williams (a friend of a friend) came over and took this photo of me, below, for a photo essay he was creating about self employed Wellingtonians and their environments. I tidied for weeks, in fact it’s possibly the tidiest my studio has ever looked. But he didn’t want it to look staged so he chose bits and pieces and messed it up a bit so it looked more lived in…

Photo thanks to Alden Williams. Me at work

Photo thanks to Alden Williams. Me at work

Anything I tidy in my workspace is almost immediately messy again five minutes later. I have rearranged it umpteen times making things more accessible (so they don’t need to ‘live where they lie’ when I’m finished with them) but I just don’t seem to have the touch. I also have genetics and years of procrastination working against me; I’m both a hoarder, and someone who has a million projects ‘on the go’ so half they stuff that surrounds me is to deal with ‘later’. While I type this I have piles of half finished collage and a box of wedding bits and bobs to make into an album under my desk,  mere centimetres from my feet. I live in a house with nearly no storage and even though these projects have nothing to do with my business they are art/ craft projects, so they end up here, where they will stay till I have the time to deal with them.

Before and after desk photos, creative people rarely tidy

How my desk usually looks vs. how it should look…

A couple of months ago I started a Pinterest board called Studio Envy & Ideas (you can see it here). I started it to collect ideas so I could give my own studio a facelift. The things I have pinned are storage solutions I think are clever, things I might try to copy…

Pinterest storage solutions a plenty!

Pinterest storage solutions, so many great ones, how to choose?

Of course there is also a handful of beautiful (and functional) studios that I can gaze at and daydream. I lean toward the full, busy, shelf filled studios not the stark, white ones (as shown above)

Organised doesn't have to be empty...

It’s not about how much you put into a space, it’s about ho you organise it

My studio needed better storage, shelving, and a bit more order on the walls… I knew that keeping it tidy would be a whole different challenge but I thought I could at least set myself up a bit better to succeed. I took some ‘before’ photos then started to rearrange (which really means that I took everything off my desk and put it on the floor where it stayed for two days because I hadn’t thought it all through properly and I wasn’t sure how to put it all back). I added some more shelves, put everything back and have been working like that ever since.

Before shots

Before shot

I still have grand plans for the space, but I’ve realised what the creative community really needs isn’t another photo of a beautiful studio, it needs an honest one. So today, this is how my desk looks (side by side with how it looked several months ago when the picture above was taken…) . It’s closer to two bikini before photos than it is a before and after… but it’s honest…

before and before

Before and after, not much different really other than some messy looking (yet highly useful) shelving…


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Blinded by the Light- Major Tom Scanner Photo Shoot

Not so long ago I was a total photo shoot virgin. Earlier this year while I was hatching plans for world domination one jewellery line at a time, I planned my first photo shoot for my new brand Ex Libris. You probably know that already, I talked about it here, and here. So with plans to launch two brands a month shy of each other, I planned both photo shoots simultaneously. Enough to make my head spin– yes, not the cleverest use of my time- no… but focusing on one thing at a time has never been my style so while I was planning the Ex Libris photo shoot with photographer Brock and model Genevieve, I had a secret weapon for both jobs up my sleeve for the Major Tom shoot… Me.

I don’t particularly like doing things the way everyone else is if possible, my jewellery is a perfect example of that (I hope). I only make things I would wear, and I like to make things that are fun and don’t take themselves too seriously. So when I stumbled on this; Scanner Photoshoot by Henry Hargreaves while looking for photo shoot inspiration I was sold. It was so quirky and different, I was convinced I could make it my own.

Scanner Photoshoot Henry Hargreaves

Scanner Photo shoot by Henry Hargreaves; the results

I loved that it was different, that it would be a challenge and that I hadn’t seen anything like it before. If it was done well it had the potential to be quite outer spacey, the theme of the jewellery I was launching, it seemed perfect. Plus, how fun does this look:

Scanner Photoshoot Henry Hargreaves

Scanner Photo shoot by Henry Hargreaves; the how. Looks like fun to me, especially if you’d like to see spots…

I borrowed a scanner from my parents and did a test ‘shot’. Of course the way a scanner collects it’s data is obvious from the name, it scans, one line at a time, so staying still was a very important part of the process and it was quite a bit harder staying still than I’d imagined… If I breathed too heavily or blinked at the wrong moment it would totally ruin the image. My first ‘moving test’ where I had my eyes open, then shut, then blinked (just for fun, too see what would happen) looked deranged. The scanner picked up a couple of lines of my eyes open, then shut, then open, then shut. It was terrifying, and (sorry) deleted immediately.

The other thing that became obvious quite quickly was how the scanner stretched my face if I used it landscape opposed to portrait. I went from Audrey Tautou to Ginny Sack in a matter of minutes…

Hmmm, if I'd put them round the other way it would look like I'd lost weight...

Hmmm, if I’d put them round the other way it would look like I’d lost weight…

The skylights in our lounge were my other problem, when I realised I tried several things to solve the problem including scanning with a box over my head. To anyone watching I would have looked ridiculous, luckily I was alone… Nothing cut all the light out so I solved the problem later with my new found photo editing skills.

Post production photo editing removed the sky light and made the photos apear more spacey...

Post production photo editing removed the skylight and made the photos appear more spacey…

A close friend pointed out that the scanner puts a harsh glare on the domed jewellery, the thing I am supposed to be showcasing, which I agree isn’t ideal. However when I use these photos it will be more to represent their size, they will be backed up by product shots (shots of the jewellery, well lit, on a white background) so hopefully these will do. I’d love to know if you think the exercise was a success or not, or about any unconventional photo shoots you have been part of…