Friday, 18 July 2014

Word up

So here's something I've never spoken about publicly before. When I was 15 I had my IQ tested and was found to be in the upper 10% of the country for my age. That same year still aged 15 I dropped out of school with hardly any qualifications.

If life hands you melons!
If life hands you melons by snorg tees

From the moment I started school I know it wasn't the place for me, I was much slower at learning than everyone else, was constantly humiliated by teachers and teased for being stupid. This sadly isn't an uncommon story and I'm guessing it'll come as no shock when I say the reason behind it all is because i'm dyslexic (which by the way is a really hard word to spell). There is still debate over dyslexia being a real condition, I'm fully open to this discussion but for the moment no other term is available which better communicate my mental block when it comes to words.

Trying to explain what reading and writing is like for me is very hard. It is the only reality I have or will ever know. Put basically though I just have no understanding of the rules around letters. To me they are just abstract shapes with no sound attached, this means every time I think about a letter I have to step by step mentally recall what noise goes with it. I've gotten pretty fast at this over the years and if that was all there was to it i'd be ok, however as we know language is far more complicated than that. So over time i've taught my brain to remember words with no rules attached. This means I think of them as shapes that symbolise their meaning. I have hundreds, thousands of these committed to memory. This memory bank of words allows me to lead a pretty functional life. I'm not going to lie it is hard, people that really know me see how taxing it is on my energy and my time. My eyes now are practically burning through the computer screen because I'm so deeply focused. My work flow is always interrupted because I have to stop typing so frequently to google a word I'm stuck on. It's also hard because I'm a very rapid thinker and can't recall the memorised words fast enough to keep up with my brain. Often the speed at which I try and get the thoughts written before they are forgotten short cuts me recalling the spelling correctly. I more often than not have typos, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors in whatever i've written and the more tired I am the worse it gets. The other kicker is, when you can't read very well spellcheck is of limited use, I often get tripped up by spellcheck giving me totally the wrong word and of course I'm none the wiser.

So why write this now? Well it's come up a number of times this week, people have corrected me or rather my spelling on social media. I'm not particularly upset by this, I take it all with a nod, a smile and a wink usually in emoticon form. I do however, want to publicly explain why my spelling is more often than not pretty shabby. The thing is I know how much spelling means to lots of people. It's great to take pride in it. I understand how it makes things clearer, harder to misunderstand, look more professional but personally I don't care, I can't care. The mere fact I've pulled together a half readable blog post is something that would have been unimaginable for the 15 year old me. This takes more energy, reading and re reading than I want to go into. The thing is, though, I want to write, I love language and word play and telling stories. I don't believe because I can't always get this complex system of communication correct that I shouldn't have the same right as everyone else to use it. In fact in this age of social media it would mean me turning my back on a huge part of modern life and interaction. I also wouldn't swap my disability for normality, I strongly believe that what I lack in reading and writing skills I have made up for in other more unusual ways. I'm happy to keep my achievements and my bad spelling.

Just as a side note to any kids or parents with young ones living with a learning disability, it you're smart and dedicated you'll be ok. School kind of sucks for people like us but it gets a lot easier once you leave that world behind.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Swellington

I'm just back from a week in Wellington and what a whirl wind of a week it was. Once again I did a class and talk at Handmade both of which turned out to be pretty popular. By Sunday I had come down with a stinking head cold and wasn't feeling the sharpest so I truly apologise to anyone who came along for being a bit on the fuzzy side. As always it was a real pleasure and I got to meet so many lovely people. I miss teaching a lot and it's nice to have a taste of running workshops again.
In my drawing class with my 1 minute self portrait. It's hard to tell us apart I'm the one on the right.
I might have an opportunity or two to do some teaching in Auckland later this year, if you have any ideas of what you would be interested in me teaching I'd love to hear your thoughts. I feel like digital illustration would be a great option but I'm not sure I can get access to a computer lab.


I haven't been to Wellington for a year, in some ways it felt like nothing had changed and in other ways it felt totally different. I got to try out a couple of new restaurants, Thunderbird a tex-mex which does great breakfasts and even better dirty milkshakes (dirty with booze not actual mud). I also went to the charming Loretta's on cuba street. Its name has left me with Nick Cave's 'Curse of Millhaven' stuck in my head but the restaurant is a lot sweeter natured than the murderous little girl in that song.



Maybe my favourite foodie find was the Chai Tea cart outside of Floriditas. What with the head cold and all, the lemon and honey was a bit of a saving grace. Plus how lovely are the graphics, hand painted by the owners wife. nice job.


I also finally managed to get my hands on a cronut about two years after them being a 'thing' (thank you Moore Wilson's). Ok what ever, I live in Dunedin trends take a while to reach us. They got a bit squished on the flight home but both Scott and I enjoyed them all the same.


Goodness this post is turning out to be more about food than Wellington, I guess that tells you a lot about how my brain works. Anyway this is the last culinary related item. How lovely is my friends beautifully renovated kitchen. They started the job about three years ago just as I was moving down south. I can't get over how amazing it turned out. The photos don't do it justice, it honestly should be on the cover of a homes and gardens magazine.


Something else I always enjoy about Wellington is the street art. Quite a lot of new cool additions in the past year. 


Finally my sweet boy blow his Air Points (thank you Scott) to let me extend my trip for an extra three days so I could stay for the opening of Swonderful's first Pop-up shop. I've know Evie of 'Evie Kemp' and Amy of 'Mylarke' for a number of years now and it's really wonderful watching their businesses grow and evolve plus all the things they are achieving together. I'm pretty jealous of their union it can get lonely being self employed and I can see it benefits them both having a creative alliance. Their work looks fantastic in the pop-up shop and just Swonderful on it's own merits is well worth a visit. The Swonderful Pop-up shop is open through out June at Swonderful Boutique, 241 Cuba Street, Wellington.


Other Wellington highlights included shopping in Khandallah's new home ware shop Tea Pea. Dropping by Matchbox and reading zines. Seeing behind the scenes at iko Iko. Meeting a whole bunch of tweeter people in person (even if I could only recall twitter handles and not full name in most cases) and generally having epic catch ups with my Wellington friends.

I have a pretty busy few weeks ahead, I'm back in teaching at the polytech next week and have really got to get cracking on my Christmas range. Having some time in a different city and away from the computer has been so worth it though. I'm feeling full of ideas and energy. I guess this is where I say something totally cheesy like watch this space.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Playing Catch Up

So yet again two and a half months have flown by without me even noticing or blogging. I'm sorry sad neglected blog. Here's a brief list of what's going on in my world.

Nature: photo taken of the aftermath of a massive fish savaging a smaller fish.  Madame Cake
1. I've set up the 'art club' as spoken about in the last post. I'm running it through Tumblr. It's called The Anti-Social Club and everyone is welcome to join in. Three weeks in and the work being shared (as shown above and below) is so much more than I dreamed it would be. You can check out all the amazing work and briefs here.
Giselle Clarkson - Spoonbills and Patterns
Lucinda McConnon Self Portrait

2. I'm giving a talk and teaching an illustration for beginners class at Handmade Wellington next weekend. My talk is pretty much together and I'm spending this weekend lesson planning for what I'm hoping will be a really fun drawing class. 

My friend Tash will be running her amazing Holland Road Knit lounge as usual and another dear friend Kate is teaching a really cool 'make your own hanging terrarium' class. (I so wish I could go but sadly I'm giving a talk at the same time). It's been a year since I've been to Wellington and I'm very much looking forward to the trip.

3. Finally, my partner Scott and I have been working hard saving money so we can go away at the end of the year. Scott is planning and handmaking his first set of designer toys which will be showing at DesignerCon in LA at the start of November. From there we're traveling to Bristol (England) to stay with my family. We're planning a little dash up to Edinburgh and flying visit to Amsterdam before ending our holiday by hopefully (table applications don't open until September eek) taking part in Renegade Craft Fair in London. 

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Art Club...

I really want to start a weekly 'art club'*, it would be somewhat like flight club without any fighting and you'd be encouraged to talk about it... alot, so basically nothing like fight club at all. 

I want to start it because I'm looking for a low pressure reason to draw, paint, make a sculptor, take a photo, write a poem or whatever creative itch I need to scratch every week. I could do this on my own but it's nice to share a creative journey with others and the internet makes that so easy. I also need to have some way to be held accountable, I don't really get anything done that doesn't have a deadline.

The problem with 'the art club' is having to come up with and write a weekly brief. I don't want this to be as simple as drawing an object (although sometimes it could be). I want the briefs to be thought provoking and answerable in any number of ways. The briefs also need to be short enough to be summed up in a tweet. I'm writing today to see firstly if people would be interested in me investing time into setting this up and secondly to get ideas for projects. My initial thought was to run with classic but very open themes like 'still life', 'figurative', 'light', 'landscape' but is this too old school/boring?

Lately I have been back working nearly full time as a graphic design freelancer. Unexpectedly I'm really enjoying it. If you don't know my history I worked in a couple of design agencies for a number of years and pretty much burnt myself out creatively (like so many people who work in the industry). Spending all day designing does mean however that my personal work is not getting done. It's really important to me to keep doing personal work on the side so I never kill that creative flame again. That's why I'm so keen to get this off the ground. Please have a think and let me know if you're interested in giving it a go. 

If it seems like there's enough interest I'll pull together the logistics and a number of project ideas next week and we can start getting creative.

*Better name and graphics still to come!


Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Valentine's Cards for Non Romantic, Romantic Types

I think I've said this before but I'm not much for Valentine's Day. I've spent more single than coupled and when I am with a partner I usually agree it's silly to celebrate but then feel like I'm missing out. Talk about over thinking. To be honest I handled the whole thing with a lot more grace when I was on my own.

Anyway for some reason finding alternate ways of expressing feelings without being soppy or all that romantic is something that seems to resinate with me. So if you've left buying a card a bit late and can't be assed making your own here are 3 downloadable cards.

If like me you're currently hooked to 'The Bachelor' then maybe this is the card for you. Lets face it top 3's not bad there are some real hotties on that show. Download here...


This one is for horror movie fans, it's funny how quite a romantic statement can be turned into something totally creepy with the right font and the addition of the word soul. Download here...

I bloody (pun intended) love Sharknado, it's sharks and tornados and even a chain-sew. Really what more could you want . Anyway I figured this would make a good card for boys. You can say you care, drop a pop culture reference an give them a picture of a shark all in one hit. Not many valentines cards that do that. Download here...

Monday, 20 January 2014

New Year, New House Again

Castro our dog photo bombing our new home
I'm sorry I've been so quiet lately. December is always a blur and this December we also got given notice on our rental home so the landlady can renovate and sale. This happened to us pretty much at the same time last year and to be frank I just wasn't ready to move again so soon. I tried hard to stop it being a black cloud over Christmas but I just couldn't see the bright side. All the fun holiday plans and creative projects I was so looking forward to got scrapped, replaced by house hunting, organising the move and packing.
St Kilda Beach

St Clair Beach

I guess it's all worked out fine in the end we have a nice house in a better area, close to the beautiful beaches of St. Kilda, St Clair. I'm still feeling fairly shell shocked from the move and I differently don't feel like my usual happy-go-lucky self yet but hopefully once all the unpacking is finished I'll be able to get my head straight and get on with life and work as usual.
Castro enjoy his new walks

I don't know if I have big plans for 2014 but I sure have some modest ones that I should put in writing soon. One of which should be 'working hard not to neglect this blog'. I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and that the new year is off to a grand start. C x 

Monday, 25 November 2013

Rust and Stardust

I have been really busy over the past couple of months, a combination of teaching, freelancing at home, freelancing out in real offices, plus doing everything needed to keep Dear Colleen ticking along. I'm not complaining just with so much pressure on my time something had to give and sadly this blog was it. So much has gone on that I want to share, I'll do a real catch up soon. However today I want to write a little piece about two girls, three dogs, a warehouse and a dream.

Amy and Evie work in Auckland and have joined forces to set up what, they aim to become New Zealand's foremost hand printed textile studio. They have a great space and although they look incredibly set up they are seriously short of kit. That's where PledgeMe comes in. If you have a minute to look at their campaign they have been working their socks off to design a stylish range of rewards so you can combine giving a helping hand with Christmas shopping (or just treating yourself). 

Scott and I were running around the house last night trying to measure our collie dog to make sure he'd fit on the 'Outside-In floor cushion'(above). He does, just, so we've snapped one up. Below is a little peak at my favourite items but please go and have a look at the whole range.

Four Camping themed symbol cushions.
Pup tent, like those cat caves but 1,000x nicer to look at.

Running a Crowd Funding campaign is really hard work with no guarantee of reward. Even it you can't help out financially please think about sharing a link or telling a friend. These little things are so greatly appreciated and really do make the world of difference.