Today is the start of my new series! Three weeks of every month, I shall be bringing you a variety of bloggers and designers, sharing tutorials and an interview, just for you. To start us off this month, is the lovely, Kirsty Neale. I had the privilege of working with Kirsty on her bestselling book “Hoop-la” and she truly is wonderful at what she does. So, lets find out a little bit more about her…
✎ Tell us a bit about yourself…
I’m a freelancewriter and designer-maker, living in London with my partner who’s a musician, and our cat, who’s not. I like stitching and making things from paper, and my second craft book, Paperie, was published last month.
✎ Where did your love for ‘all things craft’ come from? Do you have any upcoming projects?
I’ve made things for as long as I can remember. I loved drawing and my mum taught me to sew when I was five, which was the start of a pretty big love affair. At times, I’ve drifted away from more traditional types of creating, but it always sneaks out in some form. It’s often a kind of problem-solving – my brain is pretty good at working out how things are made and I sometimes find it easier to explain stuff by drawing it. If my mum had bought me Meccano, I might have ended up an engineer, but she went with a needle and thread, so craft it is!
As far as upcoming projects go, I’m currently working on a new book idea and also have some fun personal projects on the horizon. My sister and my best friend are both expecting babies in the autumn, so I’m spending lots of time on Pinterest, trying to decide what to make for them.
✎ What’s a typical working day for you?
It really depends what I’m working on. As much as I enjoy both the writing and designing/making parts of my job, it takes a definite mind-shift to switch between the two, so I’ll try to set out my day based around one or the other. Because I work from home, I also have to fit in things like running errands and doing laundry – all the boring-but-important stuff – and then there’s keeping on top of my Inbox, too. I’d love to tell you I’m super-organised, but . . . that would be a lie. Deadlines help to keep things in line, I try to deal with emails early in the morning, and after years of working crazy-long hours, we now have a fairly strict no-work-after-supper rule. Apart from those rough guidelines, it’s very often a free for all. I’m definitely in the market for scheduling and organisation tips, if anyone wants to pass on their favourites . . .
✎ For you, what’s the best part of working in the craft industry? Do you have a particular favourite interest?
I think the best part is probably the variety. As much as I like (and have tried) the idea of selling handmade items, I tend to get bored making the same thing over and over again. Designing projects for books and magazines means I’m always working on something new. I could live to be a hundred and not make it to the end of my ideas list, but at least this way I get to make a pretty good dent in it.
As for particular interests, I love pattern and colour, whether it’s on paper or fabric – in fact, I think those things are probably why I gravitate towards paper and fabric. I like experimenting with different media, but it always comes back to those two things.
✎ You’ve worked with many people, including Mollie Makes. Is there a dream collaboration or blog you’d love to work with?
I’ve been lucky enough to work with lots of companies and blogs I really love. The blog tour we did when Hoop-la was published last year was especially good – I drew up a list of my favourite bloggers, spent ages building up the nerve to ask if they’d like to take part, and was amazed that nearly all of them said yes. I ended up organising the whole thing halfway through writing Paperie, but their lovely, generous posts made the chaos totally worthwhile.
I don’t particularly have a dream collaboration right now, although there are still plenty of people I’d like to work with. I really enjoyed designing the patterned paper sheets which are included at the back of Paperie, so maybe something involving surface pattern design might be a fun idea for a future joint project.
✎ And finally, what advice would you give to someone who is starting in the creative field?
It’s tricky. I sort of fell into the career I have, and I think that’s true of a lot of people in creative industries right now. Blogs and online communities make it easier to get noticed and build useful relationships these days, which is obviously great. There are also some fantastic online classes around, often focussing on really niche subjects or areas, and a growing number of books on building a creative career, too.
As a basic starting point, I’d say it’s most important to just make/draw/write stuff – as much of it as you possible can. It helps to develop and hone your style, and then to keep on top of it later on. Do the opposite, too – read and study and look at stuff other people have written or made, both things you like and things you’re not so keen on. It can be just as useful to work out what you don’t like and why, as it is to take inspiration from your creative heroes. If you’re planning a creative career, it’s also useful to look at the business models of creatives you admire – find out how they make a living from their skills, and see how that might apply to you. The business part can be hard (it’s not my favourite either!), but it’s important if you want to make a real go of things.
Catch Kirsty here on Thursday 8th August, where she shall be sharing a tutorial with us. However, in the meantime, you can check out more of her work on her blog ‘Ginger and George’ . Also, if you wish to find out more on her books ‘Paperie’ and ‘Hoop-La: 100 ways to use embroidery hoops’, or wish to make a purchase click on this link!
Thank you for joining us today and hope to see you Thursday.