A sprinkle of poetic prose…

´Magic is cloaked under the blanket of gratitude´…

In 2019, following years of writing down thoughts and poetry, writer and poet, Maria Kouka was gifted a 1920´s typewriter by a loved one. This set her on the path of visualising her poems with a delicate, endearing and timeless approach.

Reflecting the fragility and beauty of the written word, this particular poem by Maria Kouka inspires me to wrap myself up in all that l am grateful for, all the richly blessings and magic that sprinkle my own precious life.

Maria warmly describes her goal…

´to connect with people through the power of my treasured words, and hope that they find comfort, healing, and inspiration through them; all whilst knowing that we share some of the same life experiences´.

The idea to connect with people through her poetry has led Maria to scatter her poems all over the London. An innovative spark of artistic and interactive brilliance which truly speaks to my creative soul!

You can discover more about the project – London Poetry Treasure, watch the related playful reel (Highlights/ Found poetry), and explore further prose, affirmations and quotes on Instagram. For original prints, personalised vows, and other artistic delights head to her website.

A plethora of prose and verse, to captivate the heart, magically awaits…

Richly embroidered memories…

A photograph has the intense power to evoke a moment of long-gone by, a visceral connection to the past, and yet while we might not feel a personal connection to the person or people, we still have visual access to a story.

l discovered the thought-provoking work of calligrapher & fibre artist Han Cao via the eclectic and visually abundant social media platform Instagram, a scrolling moment led to a “Wow, now that is a unique and creative approach to embroidery”…wishing to see more l eagerly clicked ´Follow´.

Combining the handicraft and intricacy of embroidery and the papery fibres of antique photographs, long forgotten memories are given a breath of new life – with wit and soulful meaning.

The swirls of a steam train captured from a canyon scene become enchantingly surreal, as they move out and upwards above the edge of the fragile frays of a vintage postcard.

A gentleman’s suit is re-imagined, from black & white – blossoming into full bloom, while a May queen radiants in all her magnificent flowery splendour – inspired by the song ´Wildflowers´

Which nicely leads me to the pieces that l find most thought-provoking – the portraits…where faces have been exquisitely replaced by embroidery – and in some cases an explosion of colour. l felt compelled to dig deeper…Han Cao goes onto beautifully describe…

“My ´flower wife´ series which celebrates the life and beauty of women, who often appear secondary in photographs from the early 1900s. The flowers represent natural beauty, but also strength, as flowers return season after season in full bloom.

As a creative who believes in the magic of story-telling, and the inner-connections that life weaves, l am truly captivated by the work of Han Cao.

l have high hopes you’ll be captivated just as much as l am…

Photo credit: Han Cao website / The flower wife seated (´flower wife´series)

creative orange studio

Innovation is a common term in business today, some say overused, and often mysterious. Taking a look at the current Innovation landscape and one theme will dominate: ‘technology’. Today when we talk about technology we talk about computing, electronics and all things digital.  However, ‘technology’ used to be associated with ‘useful arts’ and included things such as printing, beer making and leatherwork.  Interestingly the root of the word technology identifies with craft and skill, with no mention of electrons at all!

What if we put the idea of ‘craft’ back into innovation? What value can craft add to innovation? I propose it can add a lot of value if we look at how innovation is done rather than focusing on the what. In his 2016 book “Innovating A Doer’s Manifesto …” MIT’s Luis Perez-Breva proposes that innovation is something that can be learned:  “The process of creating what eventually becomes an innovation is something you can learn and become better at through practice.” This is exciting because it helps to de-mystify innovation and make it accessible to everyone. 

Here is where the idea of craft can be useful. If we look at how a craftsperson works-we could say their practice, we can use this idea of ‘practice’ to learn how to innovate. Peter J Denning & Robert Dunham, innovation & entrepreneur writers also suggest that innovation is a personal skill that can be learned and advanced through practice in their book “The innovator’s way”.

In April 2019 I was pleased to help organise an event called the Craft Innovation Salon which brought together a diverse group of people from the worlds of craft, industry and academia.  This event was made possible by the collaboration of the UK’s Crafts Council and University of Arts London. During the day we explored this idea of How we do things by thinking about mindsets and skills, and later how these might be applied in partnerships between craftspeople and industry. 

Some of the themes from the day can be seen in the illustrations by Josie of Studio Jo Jo shown above. Participants enjoyed hands on activities to promote discussion, and the diverse mix of people.  Overall there was a lot of appetite for further discussion in the area of Craft Innovation. So next time you hear the word innovation, perhaps you can think about the role that craft could play?

Looking Glass while digital in approach has been curated with the intention to showcase craft across a wide platform of mediums – reflecting creativity, innovation and inspiration from a variety of visual perspectives. This ethos organically led to a conversation with invited guest writer – Ann Marie Newton.

 Ann Marie has a career spanning over 20 years in the Textile & Fashion industries, this includes roles as a scientist, designer and technologist. Her career has been based in the USA & UK but has included travel to many countries in Asia.  Having just completed her MA in Innovation Management at the renowned Central Saint Martins college in London, Ann Marie is now pursuing her interests in workshop facilitation, writing, weaving & all things creative including setting up her freelance company Creative Orange Studio which reflects her love of the colour orange. Ann Marie would love to hear from you, please email her at AMC@creativeorangestudio.com.

Name that tune…

Music has the power to evoke memories – be it a riff, a lyric, the sound of a certain instrument, or vocal, a song has the magical ability to conjure up a visual in the mind…transporting us back to a moment in time.

Combined with curiosity as to the creative process of other designers, and my love for music l feel totally captivated by Katrina McHugh´s project and subsequent book – “Pop Charts: 100 Iconic Song Lyrics Visualized”. With a artful mix of poetic understanding and visual positioning, Katrina draws us in to ponder on a song title – in all its playful beauty.

As an artist, author, creative director and co-founder of Flight Design Co . Katrina started her work while participating in “The 100 day project” – undertaking a daily practice of visual creativity. How inspiring that this path would organically lead to the development of “Pop Charts”.

l love the idea of dissecting a song and reflecting it in a visual capacity. Fun for the eye and uplifting for the spirit. The approach to weave elements of nature into the piece highly resonates – as l am a graphic designer who finds the natural world balm for the creative soul.

l warmly invite you to further explore the project, its thought-provoking origins of visual inspiration, and to happily discover the answers to the diagrams above – personal favourites of mine.

Wishing you plenty of joyful “name that tune” moments.

D is for…dream catching

Every journey begins with a new step. l find this statement exciting, it carries a heady sense of exploration, possibility, and promise. This carefully chosen note-book sits perfectly aligned with the origami wish-boat, instinctively named ´Dream Catcher´.

With a joyful feeling of renewed creative buoyancy…as the year unfolds, l wonder where my dreams will take me ?

l love the idea of catching my dreams (even dreams still to be realised) – with imagination, meaning, curiosity and insight as my fellow travellers. Naturally visualization (in its various forms) plays an integral and creative role – my daily tool at play.

Wishing you all sparkly dream catching.

Three photographers, one planet, many stories…

The planet we inhabit has many a story to tell.

My invitation to the team at PlanetVisible included a request for each member to select one photograph which they felt captured the essence of their project. The response – three powerful images encapsulated with poetic and heartfelt words.

The collaboration between photographers Jean-Luc Grossman, Justin Hession and Pascal Richard sets out to explore, document and share photography stories from around the world.  Together, they travel across the planet – vast and hugely rich in its beauty and complexity. The collective passion for their craft is highly reflected in their work!

´Cape Verde Kids running down the Sand dunes´. ” The children of Cape Verde are an epitome of ´zest for life´.  At Salamansa Bay on the island of Sao Vicente, a large sand dune and a few old tires are enough to delight a whole horde of children. “Um, dois, três, shouts the elder, and soon everyone is whizzing down the slope at a blinding pace. Tirelessly, they climb the dune again and again with the tire over their shoulders. And every time they have the same happy smiles on their faces. “Sodade” is what they call this feeling, which means the longing for a beloved place, a loved one, or both, that seem inaccessible. We feel safe against it. But soon after returning home, it also affects us and the feeling will not disappear until the next trip to Cap Verde is booked.

´Burning Man photo of three whales and a bike´ “We are all on a journey, an inner journey…experiencing Burning Man from a photographers perspective was both challenging and rewarding. Leaving camp and wandering out into the desert sandstorms where 70,000 people could just disappear before your eyes leaving nothing for one to see but an impenetrable wall of sand. The reality mingled with fantasy and l loved that feeling…There was an inner peace in me. A time in which the essentials become visible to the heart…this is how the series of the “Silent Burningman” was born”.

´Man standing on isolated island´Solitude can bring negative emotions yet it’s the times of solitude that offer the greatest classroom. High up in the Norwegian Arctic we had plenty of time alone to contemplate the surroundings. Big wide open spaces void of all other humans with just the odd visit from the Arctic Terns. Some days were mystic, some angry, some calming but floating for 15 days like a cork tossed to the sea allowed us to explore our creativeness unhidden by any expectations. 

The carefully selected photographs for this posting reflect three very different journeys. yet all three images have the ability to captivate, and provoke further thought, each reflecting their own distinct perspective – capturing a wondrous moment in time.

For their next project the talented trio are looking to explore social issues, bringing their own visual approach to the subject matter.

With much gratitude, l invite you to explore the world through the eyes of PlanetVisible. Their photography stories may indeed inspire your own travels.

Photograph credits: Courtesy of PlanetVisible

A sprinkle of season’s greetings…

It has been said that *”Christmas is almost the Olympics of wit for designers, with the toughest competition and past performance to surpass”.

Not wishing to appear twee or over the top, as a designer l like to take the creative direction of raising a smile with a gentle injection of seasonal humour, and the “Christmassification” of an object is an approach l find most fun.

l was recently asked by writer D.B. Miller if l had interest to come up with visual ideas to sprinkle some wintery sparkle onto her corporate identity, (a project l also had the pleasure to co-create) … during our conversation, it became quickly apparent as how best to add a note of seasonal cheer.

*Extract taken from ‘A Smile In The Mind’ by Beryl McAlhone, David Stuart. Published by Phaidon.

Beyond words…introducing D.B. Miller

I feel most fortunate to have struck up a friendship with the writer D.B. (Daryl) Miller in the spring of 2003. We met through a magazine project which we were both working on at the time. From the outset she inspired me not only as a creative, but as an individual whose outlook in life carried an air of authenticity and richly cultured prose. The words “raise my game” sprang to mind when l happened to glance over her impressive achievements as a writer.

Blending her passion for music and her gift for telling a story, l believe Daryl’s gig-based essays capture a plethora of heightened emotions that arise when watching a band perform live – in her words “the power of something much harder to name”. Her acute observations allow the reader to truly feel.

Daryl’s writings also extend to other creative individuals and spaces, whether it be a floating theatre, a bookstore or a guitar shop in downtown Zurich, her ability to tell their story goes beyond words. The poetic construction of language which features in her work evokes a powerful sense of truthfulness layered with emotive depth and richness.

As the iconic Glastonbury festival kicks off, l warmly invite you to explore online the published works of D.B. Miller.

Visuals: Elizabeth Hitchman

A typographic celebration of a band

Pearl Jam live in concert, Milan, 20th June 2014.

A date that will remain steadfast in memory. A band that l’ve followed since the release of their debut album ‘Ten’ (1992).

A repertoire steeped in emotive music, richly in-depth lyrics sung with  beautifully haunting baritone vocals…a captivating combination of artistic elements – inspired me to design this typography piece – reflecting music which is weaved into my life´s soundtrack.

Perhaps you’ll discover a Pearl Jam song, that speaks to you…