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Simon Upton – Photographer

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I first came across Simon at the Australian Institute of Sport when I was there on a swimming training camp as a young teenager. Who knew that out professional paths would cross again 15 or so years later, this time with Simon as a fashion photographer and myself as an art director/producer.

Simon was accepted into the Australian Institute of Sport at the age of 16 and spent the years 1984-1992 representing Australia at swimming, where he went on to achieve great success both in Australia and at many competitions around the world. This career culminated in his participation at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Korea.

Towards the end of his swimming career Simon developed a passion for photography, which took him again overseas, firstly Europe, were he began working as a photographic assistant in several countries.

By 1996 Simon had moved to New York where he gained professional work with American and European magazines. After 5 years and several notable commissions, he moved back to Sydney directly after the events of September 11.

I’ve shot with Simon a few times over the years on advertising jobs for brands such as Gallaz, Dotti, Jeans West and Flamingo Sands… His work speaks for itself. Simon has a great eye for detail and also happens to be a relaxed, great guy who loves to surf, fish and travel in his spare time. He’s also a great dad to his boy’s.

In the last 10 years Simon has established himself as one of Australia and Asia’s top fashion and portrait photographers – his work featuring in leading magazines and advertising campaigns for BONDS, DAVENPORT, LOVABLE, MYER, JOCKEY, RIP CURL, OMEGA, JUST JEANS, PANTENE, L’ORÉAL, NIKON and other global brands.

Simon is known for his local and international celebrity portraiture – having photographed Christy Turlington, Renee Zellweger, Cate Blanchett, Milla Jovavich, Cindy Crawford, Eva Longoria, Fergie, Hayden Christensen, Naomi Watts and many other instantly recognisable faces.

Check out some of Simon’s latest work at simonuptonfoto.com or follow him on instagram @simonuptonpics

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Q & A:

1) At what age did you start as a professional photographer/did you always want to be a photographer/what do you think you would you be doing if you weren’t a photographer?

At 24 I started assisting a few well know photographers in Amsterdam, but had begun doing a few tests with a local model agency; I probably only assisted over a 1 year period, as was keen to begin my own work.

2) Did you study photography/or just learn on the job/teach yourself? Who were some of your greatest creative influences during this time?

I never studied it, though in high school I had a group of friends who were all pretty into it. I never really had creative influences in this early phase of my career, I was a young Australian in Europe, so everything I did inspired me, even though I had traveled already extensively as a competitive swimmer since the age of 14, having the freedom was something that was completely new, and this new found career path that seemed so fun and enjoyable. I love taking pictures, always have.

3) How would you describe your particular creative style, and do you feel it has changed over the years as you’ve grown as an artist?

My style of pictures has developed constantly and only the last few years I feel I have my distinctive look. My shoots are very non-stressful, I like everyone to have a good day, and show what they can do. I really think the collaboration is important, so getting a good team of people together for a job the key. I think you never stop learning about light and understanding it, and where the best light is is the key to my pictures. If you haven’t got it the picture won’t work.

4) What is your favorite subject matter to shoot? Do you have an all time favorite photo that you’ve shot? If so – what is it of/is there a story behind it?

I do enjoy working with celebrity’s. I find it a bit more challenging. These shoots are not just about how you work but also how you manage and communicate with people and in most instances in a very short time frame. This condensed, almost pressure cooker type atmosphere I sort of thrive in. Once you gain the trust then you are able to get that relaxed feel in your images, you are able to create images that are seen in some cases globally and garner much attention.

5) What do you love most about your job? What are the biggest challenges for you as a photographer?

I love everything about my job. There’s nothing I don’t like. An issue for me of late though has become the archiving of imagery. I’ve spent so much time compiling all my imagery of the years into a situation where I know where everything is and can be accessed. I’m probably 1/4 of where I’d like to be. Certainly the freedom of being a freelance photographer is something very important as it gives me very importantly the time with my family and in particular my 2 sons. The biggest challenge as a photographer is being able to stay at a top level. I’ve had to make plenty of decisions which I’ve felt have played a big part in this. You are only remembered by your last shoot, so everything you put out there needs to have your signature on it.

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6) You’ve just finished work on your first book… How did this inspiration come about? How long did this project take? When and where and will it be available to buy? Is this the start of many books to come?

I just finished my 1st book which will be launched in Feb 2014. It’s a photographic book on the Australian RODEO scene, all shot reportage at some of the most iconic country rodeos in SA/VIC/QLD and NSW. I had been looking at doing a book for sometime, and when on a shoot in Narrandera in outback NSW I noticed at the pub one night all these crazy images of cowboys riding bulls. I got talking to the locals and they suggested I come back to check out there RODEO. Once I had been it was obvious this was what I’d been looking to do. It has been a lot of fun and I’ve met some great people along the way. I love this country and the more I see the more I want to explore. The people are what struck me the most, as the realness and down to earth nature of all the people I met really struck a chord with me. It will be sold online (details to come), as well as in some select book stores. It’s called TOUGH STOCK. I’d certainly like to think its the 1st of many. I mean I travel constantly and have a library of many different places/cultures and topics.

7) You’ve worked with many celebrities / amazing models over the years – who have been some of the more interesting that you’ve shot?

They have all been interesting. The people I have worked with and all very different. For me working with Cindy Crawford who I have worked with quite a few times now is always fun, as she trusts me so I can therefore present to her ideas such as the lady vs. vamp shoot I did. Working with someone who is so professional and good at what they do is inspiring and models these days cannot move and act the way those big names from the 80-’s do, which I guess is why so much of the imagery around the Linda/Christy/Naomi period is timeless.

8) As a creative person – who and what inspires you?

For me light inspires me. Being at the right place and time of day and seeing the imagery that happens so effortlessly. We all experience it, I just get to capture people in it with a camera. My kids are my biggest inspiration apart from that.

9) You’ve shot all around the world … What has been the best location you’ve shot at over the years?

Too many to name… Seychelles a definite, Africa for its scenery and wildlife, Rio de Janeiro for its vibe. But for me my fave location is BROOME, Western Australia. Such an amazing place and had some really special times there on holiday with my family through an indigenous elder who has become a good friend and has shown me many amazing things and shared a big part of there culture. It really is something we are special to have in Australia.

10) What next – any other interesting projects you’d like to plug/mention/tips for young punters!?

Right now I am working quite a lot with HARPERS BAZAAR. After several years away it’s finally great to be back shooting great fashion pictures. I’m constantly on the move and have good projects happening almost weekly. The MODEL CO advertising I just shot with Rosie HUNTINGTON-WHITELEY has just come out that we shot at Hayman Island and my new BAZAAR COVER of ANTM winner Melissa Juratowitchh came out today. Apart from that I am about to leave on a 17 day surf trip (been on one every year for 10 years) through Sumatra with 8 old mates. A break I feel invigorates my soul and keeps me fresh.

N’FA Jones – Singer / Songwriter / Producer

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Photo: Michelle Grace Hunder

I met N’FA way back when he was a model and have a memory of him even back then having a bit more substance and originality to him than first met the eye. At that time he was also still a competitive athlete. He was a sprinter/hurdler and competed for Australia across a few key events. A few years later N’FA hit the Australian music scene with a bang in the 2000’s as part of the ground breaking Melbourne outfit 1200 Techniques. The band actually formed in 1997 with their first album, Choose One (2002), becoming a crossover success debuting at #20 in the Australian music charts and leading to an ARIA award nomination for “breakthrough artist”. The band went on to to win “best debut artist” and “best hip-hop act” awards at the Dance Music Awards. The album included the hit single “Karma,” which also charted in the Australian Top 40 and won ARIA awards for “best independent release” and “best video”.

The group went on a hiatus in 2005 and have since been described as “an important part” of the mainstream recognition of hip-hop in Australia, whilst drawing influences from other genres including rock, funk, soul, electro, drum and bass, electro jazz and breakbeat.

Since this initial success N’FA has re-invented himself as a solo artist – N’fa Jones – No Fixed Abode – and has gone onto to have a successful music career in his own right.

Over the years since, N’FA has played at premier music festivals such as Splendour in the Grass, Homebake, Good Vibrations, Falls and Pymarid Rock, not to mention touring with international and national kings such as De La Soul, Roots Manuva, Souls Of Mischief, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Arrested Development, Butterfingers, Blue King Brown, guesting with Katalyst, Resin Dogs, Foreign Heights, and Breaks DJ’s Nick Thayer, Bass Kleph, Daedelus and Son Of Kick to name a few.

After spending a few years working as a musician in the UK and touring various European countries – N’FA has returned to Australia and continues to write and collaborate with other killer homegrown acts such as Drapht – featuring on the 2011 hit – “Bali Party” from their ‘Life of Riley’ Album which won the ARIA award that same year for ‘best urban album”.

In 2012, N’FA also featured with Drapht on their ‘Tasty’ EP with this great track titled “1990’s” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RAAtTKga5G8

Most recently – N’FA has again been working with Drapht and his label ‘The Ayems’ and will be releasing this new collaborative album in early 2014 – titled ‘Black + White Noise’.
This LP is a diverse and dynamic scope of music, journeying through the dark and light soundscapes of Hip Hop, future beats, soul and roots. The first single “Life’s A Game” has just been released.

To see N’FA live – check out his upcoming tour dates here:

N’FA JONES TOUR DATES

October 18 – The Manor, Leederville WA
October 19 – Electric Vines Party, Swan Valley WA
October 20 – The Get Down – DJ Set, Perth WA
November 9 – Rocket Bar, Adelaide SA
November 20 – Sosueme, Beach Rd Hotel, Sydney NSW
November 22 – Laruche, Valley Fiesta, Brisbane QLD
November 23 – Revolver, Melbourne VIC

http://nfajones.com

Q & A:

1) You’ve had a colorful and full life and have had success across sport, modeling, acting as well as music. Which has been your biggest love to date out of all of these disciplines/creative options and what has been your biggest success or career achievement so far?

Well, It’s all had it’s highs and lows… I never really made an effort or cared for modeling or acting… That stuff just happened by accident really, although I have some great memories… I was always focused on sport and music as a kid… more for the love than the practical outcomes. Perhaps with a more practical focus I might have achieved more still. With my athletics, I’d say running 4th at the Olympic trials and medaling at 2 National champs, and representing Australia in the 110m hurdles was pretty awesome. Training with amazing people and world record holders was amazing as a young man. With music, every song is an achievement… Every gig when the people show their love, and every time a fan/new friend tells me how my music has had an effect on them, to the energy of rocking a huge festival crowd – for me is an amazing natural high that is difficult to explain, but am grateful for.

2) You had great success with the band 1200 Techniques in the early 2000’s and more recently have been keeping busy on numerous collaborations working with other amazing talents. Do you have a preference with how you choose to work musically these days? Ie. Solo/as part of a band/collab? How have your collabs come about and who have been some of your greatest creative influences over the years?

No preference really. I find that as long as I’m connecting with the music, then the writing process is fast and easy. I really don’t like to force a song, or it never feels honest and real. I’ve done collabs over the internet, and in the studio with artists. Both work well if I’m vibing.

3) How would you describe your particular musical/creative style, and do you feel it has changed over the years as you’ve developed as an artist/performer?

I’m not sure how to describe my style. I guess melodic introspective rhymes. I just flow, and the words and subject matter seems to arrive. I don’t think much has changed in my style. The development is probably more in my comfortability within myself, my style, and my vibe. My voice has definitely developed and got stronger over the years, and perhaps my performance isn’t quite as high energy, but the energy has shifted, and is stronger in a less erratic way.

4) You lived in the UK for a while. Do you feel this changed your musical/creative direction? Tell me a bit about this experience.

I learnt a lot more about the hustle and hard work in the UK. I wouldn’t say it altered my music direction, if anything it made me more aware of who I was and what I was about as far as content, style, and musical purpose. The more I travel the more I realize that I’m uniquely my own person, and that the only way to stand out is to be the only you there is. Whether people get it, see it, or understand it isn’t as relevant to me as what being my own artist is. (I think that kinda reads a bit wanky, but it’s definitely true) If you chase trying to be someone else, you’ll loose yourself.

5) What do you love most about your work? / What are the biggest challenges for you as a musician? / would you ever take your career to the States, or are you happy with pursuing the Australian vibe?

Yeah I’m happy with my work. Almost all of it from day dot until now. The only stuff I’m not happy with is anything I felt that I had to force. But it’s all a learning curve.

The hardest part is keeping the belief is oneself when nobody seems to be listening or caring about the music I care so much about, and working out how to be seen and heard amongst everything else. As far as the States, I would only work the scene abroad if someone out there believed in it and wanted to help make it happen. Otherwise, I don’t see myself getting on a plane anywhere and saying “Hi, I’m here, look at me”… That’s just not me… I’m definitely putting feelers out into the world now, and if there’s some love I’ll suss it out, but I’m not desperate for a result.

6) What type of training (if any) do you need to do (or do you personally do) as a rapper/vocalist? Who is your idol or someone that you feel is at the top of their game when it comes to your genre?

Just rap, sing, and if you can, then freestyle a lot. Mind you, I’ve never really practiced that much, but I think it all through in my head plenty. I think developing your tone is a major factor. Even if you can write well, if your voice is horrible to listen to nobody will listen, unless they relate to you on some other supernatural level.

The rapper’s at the top of their vocal game to me are KRS ONE & Black Thought. Their voices and overall skill levels are close to untouchable.

7) What do you do in your down time when you’re not writing, practicing or performing? What are you creatively passionate about?

I like to spend time with my family as often as I can. Creatively, it’s pretty much just music for me. Though, I do love to cook. When I have a minute, I like to cook for a bunch of friends.

8) If you could work on any creative project – what would that potentially look like?

It would probably be an Arts/Music Festival. More boutique and cool than big and crazy. I’d also make it a fundraiser and try to tie together everything that I love about art from visual to audio layers in-between into a weekend. I don’t think it would be in one spot. I’d make it happen across the city in different spaces and venues.

In fact, as I write this it’s inspiring me to make this happen… I might get onto this and see what I can make happen…

9) What’s your all time favorite song? and fave band/s? What is the best gig you’ve ever been to?

Song – Hmm… Perhaps “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong. I know, I know – but it’s just so beautiful and evoking.

Bands – wow this is hard.. Well, from the live shows I’ve seen – Burning Spear, The Roots, Rage Against The Machine, Little Dragon, Hiatus Kaiyote.

I haven’t actually seen Rage Against The Machine live, but they get a pass for being the most kick ass live band of our generation.

10) What’s next for you? Any other interesting projects on the horizon/collaborations or future goals you are yet to achieve?

I’m about to release my new album “Black + White Noise” on The Ayems label. I’ve just released a new single “Life’s A Game” and I’m about to do a lil’ tour and build toward the album release in early 2014. I’m also steady working on music and plans with my House Of Beige crew (Sensible J, Dutch, Remi and crew), DJing, Family vibing, and chillin when I can.

Nate Smith – Photographer

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Nate Smith is one of the best surf photographers going around. His work has been published in most surf mags globally and his images never fail to draw you in and put you right there with him – either on the beach or in the water. The best surf photographers have a true love and appreciation for the ocean, with many being rad surfers themselves. It is this sixth sense that helps them read the wave and predict the next line the surfer caught in their lense is going to take.

Nate’s ability to also capture the personality and essence of the guy’s on tour is a true testament to his connection with the industry and what makes the surfers on tour tick. Like many great photographers of athletes, musicians and personalities – it is the photographers ability to get the shot and not get in the way from the subjects art form that is similarly an art form in itself.

Like the pros on tour – being a surf photographer following these guy’s around isn’t a bad gig if you can get it. I hit Nate up with a bunch of questions below to find out what his vibe was on both his work and the industry.

To really make you feel like you wish you were on holiday – take a look at some of Nate’s work here…

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My name is Nate Smith, I live on the Northern Beaches of Sydney which for those who don’t know is about a 30 minute drive North of Bondi. The waves in my area are generally pretty fun. I’m a full time Photographer who shoots all things Surf and its Lifestyle. I have just recently become freelance after about a 15 year stint with one of Australia’s leading Surf Publications, and the feeling of now being able to shoot for a few different magazines and get the creative juices flowing a touch more is awesome. I live right across the road from a really cool little stretch of beach, it’s quiet and great for chilling. I live with my beautiful girlfriend Jodey-Alice and my Cavoodle Puppy we call Bronx, life is really cool at the moment. Travel, art, meeting people and getting outdoors are all things that I really enjoy… Oh, and sleeping, I really like this.

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Q & A:

1) You’ve carved out a real niche for yourself as one of the best surf photographers in the world. How did your job come about – or was it just something that you fell into? / What is the key to getting that ultimate shot?

Ah, to be considered one of the better guys out there shooting Surf and its lifestyle is really cool, although I don’t buy into that too much, so thank you. I just like taking images and doing what i do, surfing is a really nice life style and its taken me to some amazing destinations which leads to you to some great photos. I’ve worked really hard to get myself into the position I’m in at the moment but I really think my best is yet to come. Getting the ultimate shot is something that I believe comes by paying attention and knowing what it is your after and knowing how to get it.

2) Did you always want to be a surf photographer? / Did you study photography? / What’s the best job (ie. most creative/fun/biggest project/surf trip) that you’ve worked on to date and why?

I got into photography via surfing in contests. I did this for a fair while at a good level, won a couple of events until an injury put me out for 6 months. I started shooting photos to kill time and didn’t stop. So here I am! I’m self taught. And the biggest funnest surf trip was many years ago with Quiksilver. We shot Young Guns 2, had a really big boat and a helicopter strapped to the roof of the boat for two weeks; not to mention guys like Kelly Slater, Julian Wilson, Ry Craike and Dane Reynolds among many others. That was purely an extravagant trip by Quik.

3) You’ve met and worked with all of the best surfers in the world. Do you have a favorite surfer to shoot? What’s your all time favorite photo (that you’ve shot) and what’s the story behind it?

No, i dont really have one in particular surfer to shoot, they are all really good on their day. Some guys are slightly better than others but above all they are all great. Just depends on where and what the waves are doing and who you have to shoot. Obviously guys like Kelly, Dane, Julian are great but then there are guys who live in Sydney like Kai Otton, Luke Stedman, Nathan Webster – all of whom I dig shooting.

4) If you could work on any creative project – what would that look like?

Ah good question… well if money was not an issue, I’d say a wave pool scenario which has not yet been made although I believe we are not far off … would be the thing I’d have set up. A stadium like set up with a dome roof that could open and close, a program to set your waves to your liking, and a multitude of different angles above and below the water that i could shoot from under all sorts of lighting conditions ranging from natural, to artificial etc.

5) Who have been your biggest (creative or personal) influences in getting you to where you are today? / who are your creative heroes? / What are you creatively (or ethically) passionate about?

My biggest influences when I first started in the surf game were and still are guys like Ted Grambeau, Bill Morris, Chris Van Lennup, Scott Aichner, Jeff Divine, Art Brewer, Aaron Chang, Jeff Hornbaker… Outside this, I’d say Dave LaChapelle, Annie Leibovits, Herb Ritts, Richard Avedon, Craig Stecyk 111 and Steve Sherman, ah there are so many I really admire but anything these people have done I’m into seeing. As for what I’m passionate about, well basically trying to take the best shot I’ve ever taken every time I shoot.

6) Camera equipment and technology has changed dramatically over the years. How has this changed how you shoot? / do you feel this technology has assisted you and your work creatively?

Well when I first started it was all film and manual. You had to learn from a roll of 36, not a 64 gig card and auto which ALOT of people do nowadays. I am really thankful that I started when I did, there were people around that cared about what you shot and how you shot it so you actually got to learn a lot from that. It was much slower and way more expensive but what you did shoot was usually way more rewarding when you got it right. With digital it’s all instant, people want gear yesterday! So that demand is really full on. The desire for content daily is huge and I’m a believer of quality over quantity, so the whole digital thing is a tough one. The digital process can be really great and it’s all I use now, but there really wasn’t anything wrong with film and that whole set up. Digital hasn’t landed on its feet as yet I think, so we are seeing a decline in print over digital content yet the price of imagery has gone down for the photographer yet the gear expense has gone through the roof. Clients do not want to pay for quality and a general “ah that will be ok, it’s good enough ” mentality is really noticeable.

7) You’ve surfed all around the world. Do you have a favorite surf break?

Yes, i think anywhere in Sumatra is heaven on earth. Warm water, fun to solid waves, boats, mates and really healthy food all make for a great place to surf and hangout.

8) Any career tips that you can also pass on to other aspiring action sports photographers? What is the best career advice you’ve ever received? / What are the biggest challenges that you face in your line of work?

My advice is something I get asked a lot now, so all you kiddies out there dreaming of a Surf Photographers job, get a back up job, a trade or a uni degree cause there is a good chance at some point you will need it. This industry is very small, tight and fickle. But in saying this, the advice I was given by a mate and former photo editor Lee Pegus was, its a long hard road but don’t give up. My challenges range from sharks, sunburn, bluebottles, excess baggage fees, pro pain, boredom…. but the positives are greater!

9) What’s your life motto?

Work Smart not hard, or actually both.

10) What’s next for you? Any other interesting projects on the horizon/collaborations or future goals you are yet to achieve?

I have recently just gone freelance after working with Tracks Magazine for the best part of 15 years. I had some really fun times and highly rewarding times with that mag, but its time for change. Time to work with different mags and spread my wings. I’d really like to do two things, a series of photos of the homeless people from around Sydney and another series on the Sydney Skyline. After visiting NYC last year I have come back with fresh eyes for how beautiful our own city is.

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Letitia McLean – Friend of Mine

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Friend of Mine is a Melbourne / LA based fashion label – owned and operated by Letitia McLean and Teale Talbot.
(Tesh used to be my sales agent when I had my own fashion label – Flamingo Sands – and has been working in and around the fashion industry for around 15 years)

The FOM label has gone from strength to strength over the last few years and the product continues to get better and better. I personally love the stuff and always make a few purchases each season. It suits my style perfectly. It’s got a great mix of casual pieces, cheeky tees and sexy party frocks with some stand out leather must haves – all with a rock n roll edge.

The label has built somewhat of a celeb following with the likes of Erin Wasson and 4thandBleeker both being avid wearers.

As in most successful business partnerships – the best teams bring different, but complimentary strengths to the table. FOM is no exception. Whilst Tesh mostly bases herself from Australia taking care of sales and all things commercial business growth, Teale lives between Bali and LA and oversees much of the creative design and production elements of the label.

Tesh answered a few questions below so that any aspiring designers out there might get a better idea about the realities of the business side of things and commercial challenges that all designers and creative businesses face.

FOM has some exciting collaborations coming up – so watch this space…

friendofmine.com.au

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Q & A:

1) Can you give us a bit of background on how you got to where you are today, and can you provide any tips to young people who are wanting to start their own fashion label?

Starting a fashion label, like any commercial enterprise is tough!! But in fashion there is the added curse of being cool, its a fickle business, balancing creative concepts with business ideas and customer needs – it requires adaptable individuals to really succeed. But if commercial success is not what you’re chasing, the Australian Fashion Industry is incredibly supportive of great ideas and designers.

2) Did you always want to be a fashion designer/have your own label?

As a sixteen year old, YES!! In my twenties I quickly learned the other, imperative aspects to the industry. Like any business, fashion takes all types, at a point I put my creativity aside and accepted I had the business acumen to really live my dream.

3) How would you both describe your creative (or personal) style or point of view, and do you feel this has changed over the years as you’ve grown as a designer/business person?

Style….. always a sticking point with me. I tend to take it all on and figure out what fits – years of representing other brands meant I’d try to fly the flag for their ‘style’ philosophy…. Then we launched ‘Friend of Mine; where I could really ensure there was a cutting edge brand for me, (and the me’s of my youth)

4) You’ve worked with many well known personalities/models over the years – what have been some of the more interesting collaborations that you’ve worked on, or people that you’ve worked with?

No doubt it’s rewarding to see someone notable wearing your clothes; Erin Wasson, Rumi, Phoebe Tonkin are some recent ambassadors. But I gain more satisfaction from the collaboration process – teaming up with Nasty Gal for an exclusive or a line for NZ retailer Superette. These retailers are true supporters of the Friend of Mine brand, their customers love it too – so when we can join forces it always comes together well.

With this approach in mind we developed an exclusive hand painted leather line for our own online store – arriving September. Artist Elbie from WA is hand painting each piece for our customers and the end garment is amazing, something you’d treasure in your wardrobe forever.

5) What is your idea of great design and good business?

Great design vs good business – They go hand in hand, in this day and age good design may not survive without good business. Designers need to flexible, reactive and adverse to the luxury of educational environments. The consumer is ever changing and unforgiving.

6) What motivates you to continue to do better?

Working in a great team, doing a job I’m passionate about. It’s mostly fun, sometimes stressful. This is my life, along with my husband and gorgeous kids – it’s what I do. Every day I analyze the way we’re doing it now, investigate alternatives and try to shake it up a bit – never sit still, as soon as something becomes a bit the norm – maybe it needs reviewing, question it at least.

7) What has been your most memorable or special moment to date in having the label – (successes, achievements, bloopers or otherwise)?

So many…. where to start. I have fond memories of our first US trip. We did NY, and well that was NY, but arrived in LA (it was Teale’s first time) and I think we both realized well this is the America where ‘Friend of Mine’ could take off – that required intense investigation, hilarious road trips and a few mojitos, but we survived and the brand is pretty well established in the US now with Teale living in West Hollywood.

8) As a creative person – who and what inspires you? / what are you creatively passionate about?

I’m creatively passionate, its a bit of an obsession and I apply it to every aspect of life – furnishing a space, drawing up the family blackboard, planning the calendar – is all visual for me. Right now I’m obsessed with interiors and can’t stay away from nearby Leonard Joel Auctions – it makes more sense to bid on something cool and old, than flat packed crap.

9) What’s next for you guy’s? Any other interesting projects on the horizon/future goals you are yet to achieve?

My husband Will is planning a food venture with Down Yonder Store, a driveway diner style out the back – Friend of Mine is showing at Coterie in New York next month….. Heaps, never a dull day – stay tuned @downyonderstore @madebyafriendofmine

friendofmine.com.au
downyonder.com.au

Luke Kennedy – Editor, Tracks Magazine

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Luke is the Editor of Tracks Magazine – the Surfers’ Bible, which has been a mainstay of surf culture since 1970.

Luke got into surfing at the age of seven by following his Dad down to the beach and has been affiliated with Tracks since his early 20’s.

He started working full time at Tracks eight years ago and has been the editor since mid way through 2008.

Luke is an articulate, interesting guy that has a job that most guy’s (and possibly a few girl’s) would envy. Luke gets to travel the world doing what he loves i.e. surfing, writing great stories, editing amazing surf imagery and hanging out with pro surfers – many of whom are now his mates.

“It’s been a great ride so far. I’ve met interesting people, worked on some great projects, been to a number of amazing places, learned a lot and made mistakes”

Sure, he has to hit editorial deadlines and has the difficult task of helping to choose the Tracks Vixen each month, but I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have it any other way.

To check out some of Luke’s work and some of the amazing action photo’s that the mag is famous for – head to tracksmag.com

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Photos: Nate Smith

Q & A:

1) Many people would attest that you have a dream job… Can you give us a bit of background on how you got to where you are today / and if you weren’t doing what you are doing now – what would that possibly look like? What do you love most about your job?

Someone once said that if you hold the line on something things will work out in the end. I guess surfing is the one thing I’ve maintained a commitment to my whole life.

I began submitting articles to Tracks while I was at university studying an education degree, majoring in English and physical education. I’d always enjoyed writing and felt like the best way to combine my two passions was to write an article and send it in. I think I had about four lines of the first article published but things improved from that point on. When I graduated, I worked as a casual teacher and continued to submit articles. There was actually a classic moment where a kid pulled out a Tracks Mag in class which featured a shot of me surfing in a Nude surfing contest at Bondi.

2) Did you always want to be a writer (editor) or work within the surf industry? / What makes a great surf journalist/editor?

I always enjoyed writing and was drawn to the diversity of content in Tracks. It always conveyed the idea that being a surfer was a dynamic path that encompassed travel, being creative, politically aware and trying to lead a life less ordinary.

3) Who have been some of your greatest influences during your career? (photographers, writers, pro surfers, peers or other)

I think a great surf journalist or editor has to have an appreciation for the many different elements which make up surf culture e.g. its colourful characters [famous and not], the special locations, surfboards and the craftsmen who make them; the nuances of competition and surfing’s unique style of humour. The challenge is to bring all these elements to life through engaging writing and striking images.

4) Surf journalism relies heavily on great imagery to accompany the copy and sell the story. Who have been some of the best photographers that you’ve worked with over the years / what makes a photo worthy of a Tracks cover shot?

I’ve been fortunate to work with the likes of Nathan Smith, Dave Sparkes, Simon Williams, Marty Tullemans, Russel Ord, Andrew Christie, Andrew Buckley, Jason Childs, Peter Wilson, Bill Morris, Spencer Hornby and Tom Servais. There are so many. Mostly, I admire their dedication to an art form. Photographers are way more dedicated than most of the pro surfers. A Tracks cover ideally rips you away from whatever you are thinking about and makes you go Wow! Technical precision is important but you also want it to either remind you of why you fell in love with surfing in the first place or, like a good piece of art, to maybe tap into an emotion or feeling you hadn’t had before.

5) What motivates you to continue to do better?

When I was a teenager I would read Tracks cover-cover in a state of rapture. I would hope that I could recreate that experience for the people who read it know. I don’t know if I always get there but that’s the goal.

6) Do you have an all time favorite story/interview that you’ve written? If so – what or who was it on/is there a story behind it?

It’s hard to go past sitting down with Westerly Windina and having her explain how and why she became a woman after spending her early life as the famous surfer, Peter Drouyn.

(This following article is another of Luke’s favourite stories and shows where he truly inherited his love of surfing.)

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7) Clearly you are super passionate about your surfing and have surfed some pretty exotic destinations around the world. I know that surfers hate giving away their secret surf spots – but what are some of the best breaks that you’ve had the pleasure to ride?

G-land is still a stand out for me. It was the first major trip I did for the magazine and I went with Tom Carroll, Jim Banks and Joel Fitzgerald. The whole place feels alive – the reef, the jungle and the wave with all its moods and different sections. Obviously being in the company of three great surfers/g-land specialists and witnessing first hand how they approached the wave also made the experience more memorable. And despite the fact I nearly died there in 2010, Sunset is also a favourite.

8) During your time as editor of Tracks Mag, what has been your most memorable or special moment to date?

Witnessing Joel Parkinson win his world title at The Pipe Masters last year was a pretty special moment. There was so much tension in his camp on that final day and on a couple of occasions it looked like it wasn’t going to happen. When he finally did, two backyards full of people erupted. Being right on hand to see Joel pop the champagne was great. My favourite memory however involved having a drunken conversation with Kelly Slater after he’d won the Hurley pro at Trestles in 2011. After stealing his beer, I also had to apologise for calling him bald so often in my stories. He is still the most engaging person I’ve ever had a conversation with. When Kelly talks, you can feel the intensity.

9) As a creative person – who and what inspires you? / what are you creatively (or ethically) passionate about?

As a creative person I’m inspired by people who make a commitment to their passion, whatever that may be. I’m also a bit of a renaissance man at heart. I like the idea of being able to do a few things well, rather than being single-dimensional. I also have a few close friends who are also very influential because they seem to make an art form of life itself.

10) What’s next for you? Any other interesting projects on the horizon/future goals you are yet to achieve?

I have a few projects coming up but it’s sometimes hard to think beyond the next wave and the story I’m working on now. If I have those two things working well together, I’m generally pretty happy.

Dan Brophy – Writer, Director, Actor

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Dan Brophy is a writer, director, producer, editor and freelance videographer based in both Sydney and Melbourne.

Dan is the guy that lights up a room with his smile. He’s always a lot of fun to work with on jobs, and it’s been great to see him develop his talent within the film and television space.

I can really relate to many of his answers below and I look forward to seeing his creative journey continue – particularly that long awaited script!

You can view Dan’s latest work on Vimeo.

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Q & A:

1) You started work in the creative space as model and over the years have developed your skills as a writer, film director and producer. Is there a discipline that you prefer if you had to choose one? Do you prefer to work on fashion, music or TVC work? Do you feel your time as a model now makes it easier to direct other talent in front of the camera?

Writing is the thing I love most: When you write, there is nothing but possibility – the reality of shooting and all it’s associated burdens of finance and logistics are yet to burst the bubble of your dreams.

That being said, directing is magnificent – telling a story across multiple disciplines and orchestrating them to sing in harmony is a great art form for a well-contained control freak like myself. Though, the thing about directing is not even Martin Scorsese spends more than a few weeks on set every few years. The rest of your time is spent in pre or post production – if indeed you are working at all, so no matter how much you love to do it, you hardly ever get to.

When I direct I probably do have an empathy and deep respect for actors that isn’t common amongst my fellow film geeks – who are usually terrified of the strange, fragile, volatile creatures that professional performers can be.

2) Did you always want to be a Director? / What’s the best job (i.e. most creative/fun/biggest budget client) that you’ve worked on to date and why?

Before I even understood what a director did, I always wanted to be either an actor or a writer or an artist, and being a director combines all of those crafts.

Recently I worked on a job that I’m really proud of. I directed the Summer 13 campaign for womenswear brand Sussan that is part of an image overhaul they are going through, rendering the brand much more youthful and cool. It looks great and has a nice energy to it, though in the grand tradition of high street fashion, it was pitched as being much more edgy than it ended up.

However, the thing that gives me the most joy is a script I’ve been working on for about three years now. It’s taken so long, not only because it’s a lengthy process for one person to write a series with four main characters, but also because I had to teach myself HOW to write for TV – there aren’t any books on it and the structure is different to feature film writing. It’s been magnificent watching the characters grow and evolve and to me they are living breathing people. I cry when I write a sad scene and I laugh when they do. It’s the hardest and best thing I’ve ever done.

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3) How would you describe both your creative (or personal) style or point of view, and do you feel this has changed over the years as you’ve grown as a director/creative person?

My style and my point of view is ‘classic with a subversive twist’. It’s probably influenced by being raised in and by a city such as Melbourne. As I travel the world I am really glad that I view the world from a Melbournian perspective.

Growing up in Melbourne you have an awareness of style and design and culture because it is part of the dialogue of the city – and once you have a base understanding of something you are then free to subvert it. It reminds me of that saying ‘an artist can paint the sky red because he knows it’s blue’.

4) If you could work on any film/creative project – what would that look like? Do you have dreams or plans of heading overseas to make your mark?

My dream project is this current script, which is ultimately a love letter to the city that I adore most.

I would bounce back and forth from cities in Australia to other film making hubs of the world.

People always say what a shitty place LA is, but I think if you HAD to go somewhere for work, at least it’s sunny and you can live in a house and go to the beach and enjoy a plethora of low-carb food options. The modern art scene in LA is becoming exciting too.

5) What motivates you to continue to do better? / who have been your biggest (creative or other) influences in getting you to where you are today?

I love creativity in all its forms and I love being around motivated and productive artistic souls, which is why I love Melbourne so much. I am usually so turned on and inspired by seeing what other people are doing it makes me question ‘what do I have to offer that’s unique and important?’
But it’s hard; the world isn’t geared towards pursuing ‘wild and creative’ pursuits. We are raised to value security and therefore money always seems to come first, but yet there is the age-old notion that all the money in the world doesn’t buy happiness, yet there are still people blindly pursuing ‘having’. I’m intrigued by that idea at the moment: the push and the pull of art and commerce.

6) As a creative person – who and what inspires you? / what are you creatively passionate about?

Julia Cameron has a theory that every single human being is creative – it’s just the degree to which they need to express that creativity varies. For some, making dinner or getting dressed is enough. For others, they need to lock themselves in an attic and paint all day to satisfy their needs. I am passionate about people finding their passions and expressing themselves.

The way this ‘lack of expression’ often manifests is in the ‘back-firing’ of that energy which might otherwise be used to express oneself: toxic drinking habits, drug habits, dating, eating, shopping habits are usually what I notice people do to ‘take the edge off’. The most gloriously self-destructive people I know are the one’s who never learnt to truly express themselves. And that saddens and excites me greatly. Saddens because I feel for them, and excites because it inspires me to act.

7) What are some of the biggest challenges that you face as a young filmmaker, if any?

In this country, one of the biggest challenges is that people don’t get excited about watching Australian cinema. And I don’t blame them – the same type of films always seem to get made which have the same problems, all ultimately coming back to the fact that there isn’t enough money to pay a writer to do as many drafts as are needed to make something really good. In the US it is not uncommon for a film to have one hundred paid drafts (often by teams of writers) and the average script goes through around ten paid rounds of redrafting. And because what’s being made is never that great, there isn’t the money or willing investors to make the next lot of films better.

That is why I’m currently more excited by the idea of writing TV, at least if it’s good, it will find an audience online and that’s why I’ve taken three years to write this project – because I’d rather be good than famous.

8) You have studied your craft at uni and also attended VCA … Any career tips that you can also pass on to other young and up and coming – want to be filmmakers?

I wish someone told me to ‘write what you know’.

It’s such a common scenario for a teenage to ape his or her hero and make a film about the life of a thirty-something. In lieu of any actual truth, all they can do is fall back on imitation. However, a teenage point of view of their own world is exciting and can be incredibly authentic.

I’d also tell my filmic brothers and sisters to get active and just do it. Especially now that technology makes storytelling so possible. No one ever tells you that your first five or more projects are allowed to be bad. So the more you make, the sooner you will develop your own style that doesn’t rely so much on homage.

And write more. Share your writing with other writers to get the feedback to make your writing better because that is the number one problem with film making in this country – the writing. You can make a bad film from a good script but you can’t make a good film from a bad script.

9) As a model – you had one of the best rigs in the biz. Do you still like to keep fit and look after yourself? Any chance of yourself jumping in front of the camera again – or do you prefer to be on the other side these days?

I guess I’m in as good a shape as any now, but where as I used to be purely result-driven with exercise, now I’m more motivated by how is makes me feel which is why I incorporate more than just weights, like yoga and a weekly 80′s aerobics class which friends of mine run in Redfern.

I used to crave the validation that came with acting and modeling when I was younger, which of course was in direct contradiction to the best mentality to have when working. Now that I feel confident as a writer and director, I’m actually much more free when I come to perform, and I hope that I can continue to express myself in that way.

I did recently play a small cameo in my friend’s show Twentysomething – in episode 3 of season 2. I play an obnoxious gym instructor. I was also recently in a Renault car commercial where I played an obnoxious male model type. That’s not to be confused with the obnoxious male model type I played in the Uncle Toby’s commercials of a few years back. #onetrickpony

10) What’s next for you? Any other interesting projects on the horizon/collaborations or future goals you are yet to achieve?

I’m living in Sydney at the moment so I can finish my script – it seems I had to get out of Melbourne in order to write about it. Though I’ve never been happier with my workflow than in the last year (maybe it’s because I know five people here and there’s no where to go out!).

Because there is more commercial work up here, I am able to support myself with directing gigs while I write, which has been my goal for some time now.
I’ve been writing and directing sketch comedy with a small crew of very talented performers when I’m in Melbourne and I can’t wait to do more of that, and I’m hell-bent on making a film for Tropfest this year, and I’m currently writing a blog all about my observations of being a Melbournian in Sydney. Seriously, it’s a different world up here.

To view some of Dan’s current projects and work go to: www.danbrophy.net

Max May – Hair and Makeup Artist

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Max May is one of Australia’s leading hair & makeup artists – working alongside notable clients such as Rose Byrne, Teresa Palmer, Abbie Cornish, Sarah Murdoch and Lara Bingle, whilst working on the covers & pages of fashion bibles HARPER’S BAZAAR Australia, Singapore and China, OYSTER, RUSSH Magazine, ELLE Japan, GRAZIA Australia, UK and Italy, and TEN Magazine.

Starting off as a Hair Stylist, Max soon moved in to working with Makeup due to his long-term love affair with drawing & painting. Taking cues from the techniques used in visual arts, along with the combination of colour palettes, Max soon moved up the ranks in the Beauty & Fashion Industry as the one to watch.

Although self-taught, Max’s intuitive sense of artistry and skill make him one of the most sought-after Australian Makeup artists, working along side such brands as La Mer, MAC, Becca Cosmetics and L’Oreal. And to top it all off Max is just a great guy and a lot of fun to be around!

Check out Max’s blog here: maxmade.com.au

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Q & A:

1) Did you study H&M/or just learn on the job/teach yourself? Who were some of your greatest creative influences during this time? (photographers, references, peers or other)

I’m pretty much a self taught Hair & Makeup artist. I started my career assisting. It started with hair that came very naturally to me cutting friends hair through my early twenties. I started playing with makeup experimenting with colour and shading when I started assisting. I had many influences and was always looking through magazines and books to find inspiration and define myself and my style. Photographers like Steven Klein, Mert & Marcus, Avedon, and Helmut Newton were huge parts of my beginning and still today! Makeup artist like Charlotte Tilbury, Kevyn Aucoin and Pat McGrath inspire me on a daily bases.

2) What do you feel makes someone a great hair and make up artist?

Having a style that is recognized.

3) How would you describe your creative style/trademark look, and do you feel it has changed over the years as you’ve grown as an artist?

The part of my style that is mostly recognised would have to be my skin, conturing and use of warm bronzy gold colour and my beach wave “day after hair’! I think my style has expanded and grown a lot in the last few years especially since starting Maxmade my beauty blog where I have had the opportunity to experiment and create beauty images that would not be that accessible in the Australian market.

4) Do you prefer to work on shoots/events or on shows? Do you have an all time favorite photo, shoot or job that you’ve worked on? If so – what is it of/is there a story behind it?

Everyday is a completely different day to the last, you never know what to expect and the challenges are always new. I believe that you are only as good as your last job. I have had many moments in my time especially in my early days shooting with people like stylist – Mark Vassalo and photographers – Simon Lekias and Georges Antoni are some of my most memorable as I was so fresh and wide eyed.

5) What do you love most about your job?

Being creative and being surrounded by people that share similar visions.

6) Do you have any tricks of the trade or magic products that you cant’ live without in your kit? / never leave home without?

Eye lash curls I could not live or do a makeup without. YSL Radiant Touch, Tom Ford Contour and Illuminate, Becca Cosmetics Shimmering perfectors, O&M Seat Salt Spray, Elnett Hairspray and La Mer Lip Balm

7) As a creative person – who and what inspires you? / What are you passionate about? / What motivates you to be better?

The smallest of things in your day to day life can inspire you – from a movie to exhibition you may go and see. I’m motivated by the desire to always challenge myself. To push myself and take myself out of my comfort zone. I love that rush you feel; it makes me feel alive.

8) What do you enjoy to do in your down time when you’re not working?

I train at the gym, do yoga, run, travel, spend time with my friends and my boyfriend. I like to cook and I love to day-dream of what is possible.

9) What next – any other interesting projects on the horizon/future goals you are yet to achieve? (feel free to plug any new collaborations, your blog, products etc here)

Travel, love and my art is always my main focus. My blog Maxmade will be a huge part of the next few years for me. I started it late last year as an outlet for my creative juices and since then it has grown into a full-time job, reaching out to everyday girls wanting to learn & get inspired about hair and makeup, getting insider tips and tricks and finding out the hottest and all time faithful products on the market that artists like myself use as a hair and makeup professional in the fashion and beauty industry.

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Teisha Lowry – Indah Organics

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Teisha Lowry is a beautiful young lady – both inside and out… (so annoying!)

I have worked with Teish a few times over the years – predominantly in her capacity as a model.

Teisha launched an organic skincare range 5 years ago now which is doing great guns and has also gone on to develop her interest in all things health and beauty in writing a book.

She is also in the middle of producing content for a new online portal covering all things diet and well being.

I just love it when people like Teish are out there just giving it a crack and following their passions and dreams.

There is nothing better when you can turn your dreams into career realties and make a difference at the same time.

Read some of Teisha’s story below and go visit her site at indah.com.au

Q & A:

1) You’ve had a great life so far working as a model and more recently launching your own skincare range of organic products… Can you give us a bit of background on how you got to where you are today? Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

INDAH was launched as a business about five years ago, it has been through many changes, I always try and evolve the brand and keep it modern and fresh. It’s certainly a different brand to what it use to be when I first founded it, but I have never given up, even though people will come along and try and pull you down, I’ve always believed in myself, and because INDAH is a reflection of me, I believe it can be successful. I can see myself in five years living abroad somewhere, most probably the USA as INDAH is finding its way there.

2) Did you always want to start your own skincare line? / where did the idea come from?

No not really, it kind of just happened. At the time I thought my whole world had fallen apart, but I look back and realised all those events leading up to finding INDAH was meant to be. I remember the split second it happened though, I was in Bali searching for a Medicine Man and I crossed paths with a healer instead, and she taught me so much more about using plant oils to heal my broken heart.

3) As an entrepreneurial person – who and what inspires you? / what are you creatively (or ethically) passionate about?

Sounds really cheesy, but Mother Nature inspires me, I feel so blessed to be doing what I’m doing. Right now it’s been a warmish winter day in Melbourne, and my bunch of Jonquils are casting out some amazing aromas in my office, this kind of thing gets me inspired. That’s when its time to pull out my notebook, once I’m on a roll I’ll keep writing or playing with oils, graphics, designing – whatever I can get my hands on.

4) As a young business person, what are some of the challenges that you have, or continue to face? What lessons have you learned on your journey to date, and would you do things differently if you had your time over?

There are many challenges with growing a business, especially from scratch. Unfortunately there are people out there who will do anything in their power to see you fail, even people you thought you could trust! People have always said to me that I take my business too personally, but you kind of do when you’ve put your whole life savings, family money and your actual blood, sweat and tears into it. But it’s so ironic, the people that always say that to me are the ones that take things too far and they will try and hurt you. But I will never give up, I know what my customers want from my brand and I will work three jobs if I have to get my products into as many hands as I can.

5) What motivates and drives you to do better?

My mistakes drive me, when I make them I learn from them and I usually learn from them in a big way.

6) I know that you are an advocate of practicing what you preach and are right into your personal health, fitness and eating well …. How do you keep yourself fit and healthy and what are some secret tips to looking and feeling great? / do you ever have lazy days where you eat chocolate, or grab a burger occasionally?

I believe you are what you eat, so I make sure I put the right nutrients into my body. I treat my body like a temple, it’s a sacred place where my cells go to work every day to make new healthy cells, so I can prevent degenerative disease and live a more enjoyable fulfilling life. My biggest diet secrets are: I try and eat organic, free-range, grass-fed, gluten-free, sugar-free and I try and stay clear of processed foods, I take supplements, super foods particularly my coconut oil. I do admit it is sometimes hard to keep this up, especially when I go out for dinner. I embraced Metabolic Typing about five years ago, when I met my fiancé Darren of Total Reformation and he keeps my diet and fitness regime inline. You won’t see me eating a burger but I do love cacao.

7) You manufacture many of your products out of Bali – how did your relationship with manufacturing in Bali come about?

I use to manufacture my body care range in Bali, I did this for four years. It was really hard to manage production in Bali every month and I couldn’t be there all the time as I was here selling the products. I brought production here to Australia at the end of 2012. However, my coconut oil is still made there as the family and community I’m a part of are amazing, they really understand how to run a farm and business – I’m very lucky to have the best of both worlds.

8) Having spent a lot of time in Bali – what are some of your favorite hangouts in Bali for great food / Spa Treatments or Retreat / yoga / staying? For holiday makers to Bali that are looking for something a bit different and willing to get off the beaten track, is there a hidden gem or secret spot that you’ve stumbled across that you can divulge?

This is a great question! I love Bali, it’s like my home away from home. I do like to stay away from the busy areas. I absolutely love Ubud and the little villages around Mt Agung, there’s something so spiritual about Bali, and this is where I founded INDAH many moons ago. Most restaurants and cafes in Ubud serve raw and organic food and endless virgin coconuts, Sari Organik is one of the most inspiring cafes to visit, it sits in the middle of the rice fields behind Main St Ubud. I see my Avurvedic detox clinic AmrtaSiddhi for some Panchakarma when I’m there too.

9) What do you think are the secrets to being a good business operator or creating a brand (whether it be yourself or your Indah product range)?

Listen, learn and absorb. If you can’t do it on your own seek help, whether that’s a business coach or mentor, you cannot be every hat in the business, so its good to get people in to help you through it. In saying that, find people you can trust, there’s some real sharks out there and trust me! I’ve met a few of them.

10) What’s next for you? Any other interesting projects on the horizon/future goals you are yet to achieve?

Well its funny you’ve mentioned that, over the years I have learnt a lot about eating the right foods for me, detoxing has been paramount as I spent most of 20’s doing the wrong things for my body. I get asked a lot about how I keep fit and healthy, so I’ve teamed up with my fiancé Darren. It’s a translation of my passion for living a healthy lifestyle and we’ve encapsulated this into an online portal called Queen Coco, based on the foundation of Metabolic Typing, organic living and vibrant detox programs which are ideal for correcting all types of digestive problems and therefore can assist with weight loss, increase vitality and energy, a more youthful appearance and natural glow. My first book is in editing stage and I’m planning to launch INDAH and expanding the product categories overseas and online which is a huge milestone for INDAH. I’ve enrolled into a Paul Chek health coaching coarse starting in October. Part of my duties as ambassador for the Borneo Orangutan Survival Australia, Darren and I are off to Borneo to film a mini documentary and somewhere around Asia we’ll hunt around for a place to get married! Finally.

11) What is your favorite Indah product, or the ‘must have’ beauty product that you can’t live without?

My favorite product is my Virgin Coconut Oil. I know there’s so many coconut oils out there, but seriously (I may be a little biased) the best tasting coconut oil out on the market, because its hand pressed and organic! I use it for everything, I put it in my hair as an overnight hair treatment, I take it internally for pure energy and the best thing about it it’s the base of all of my products – it’s the best fifteen bucks you’ll ever spend.

Jason Grant – Interior Stylist and Author

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Mr Jason Grant is a Sydney-based interior stylist and author who has worked with many Australian and international magazines including Inside Out, Belle, House and Garden, Real Living, Vogue Living, Australian Country Style, Gourmet Traveler, Elle Decoration and Living etc.

I think I would have met Jason at least 10-12 years ago. Like most Melbournian creative people, we tend to go to the same work parties and events and mix and work with the same crew…

Jason moved to Sydney around 4 or so years ago now and it’s been great to watch his career take off and branch out in new directions.

Jason has recently published his first book with with Hardie Grant Books “A Place called Home” and is working hard on the second.

He has collaborated with numerous major brands, and has produced a signature paint collection with Australian paint company – Murobond as well as an exclusive stationery line for Officeworks. Jason has also recently started writing for his own “At Home” column for The Sunday Telegraph and Herald Sun.

I flicked Jason a few questions to answer whilst he was on the road in Melbourne recently. Jason was kind enough to come back to me with a few answers below in-between visiting furniture and interiors stores and madly sourcing items for his next shoot.

You can follow Jason’s stylist adventures on his daily blog, or like most visual people – he is super active on Instagram – so you can keep up to speed with the latest interior trends, colours, must have items, bargains or just snaps of his daily inspiration.

All images from ‘A place called home’ – thanks to James Geer.

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Jason Grant – Interior Stylist and Author

Q & A:

1) At what age did you start as an interior stylist/did you always want to be a stylist/what would you be doing if you weren’t a stylist?

In my early 20′s – I hadn’t really ever planned to be a stylist – I had met a and worked with a few…. I was given a lucky break and gave it a go and there was no turning back.

2) Did you study within the creative/design space/or just learn on the job/teach yourself? Who were some of your greatest creative influences during this time? (photographers/furniture designers/stylists/architects or other)

I never studied to be a stylist – I guess it came naturally early on… I worked with a number of great photographers such as Lucas Allen and learnt a lot from him on shoots (he’s a great photographer that equally has a great stylists eye)

3) How would you describe your creative style, and do you feel it has changed over the years as you’ve grown as an artist/stylist?

My style is relaxed and causal, fun and not too serious. It’s definitely not contrived or over styled. I have enjoyed the journey and working on my first book was an interesting process to showcase and work out what my style is.

4) What is your favourite subject matter to shoot/work on? Do you have an all time favourite photo or job that you’ve styled for (or object that you’ve sourced)? If so – what is it of/is there a story behind it?

My favourite project has definetly been working on book 1… As a stylist you often work for others, so working on your own project is the best.

5) What do you love most about your job/and what is the key to great design?

I love that I get to do what I love. I work hard but really enjoy it. The blur between work and play is sometimes hard to define but i wouldnt have it any other way.

6) So you’ve just published your first book…. How did this inspiration/goal come about?

How long did the project take? Where is it available to buy? Is this the start of many books, or published works to come?

It is hopefully the first of many. It’s the ultimate to have your own book. It’s something that I have wanted to do for a while now. The planning of the books was some time in the making, but the production was rather quick.

The book is available in most book stores, a number of homewares and giftshops, online also including signed copies are also available from my website mrjasongrant.com

7) You’ve worked with many well known clients over the years – what have been some of the more interesting jobs/projects that you’ve worked on?

I really enjoy most jobs … Large jobs for clients like Freedom are very enjoyable as they are a collaboration from start to finish.

8) As a creative person – who and what inspires you?

I am inspired by the world of fashion and by nature … People like Kelly Wearstler, Jonathan Adler, Sass and Bide…

9) Having been lucky enough to visit many beautiful homes over the years – has there been a stand out location or house/interior that you’ve shot or worked in over the years?

I just visited Byron Bay recently for the first time for a working holiday. I loved it and will return there again soon for a proper holiday.

10) What next – any other interesting projects (work or personal) …?

Book 2 is in the pipeline and several more I hope …

Anton Assad – Great Dane Furniture

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Anton Assad is the owner/founder of Great Dane Furniture.
(You may have seen his pretty face on ‘The Block’ recently where they got him involved in one of the contestant challenges …)

I made my first Great Dane purchase over 10 years ago with a Brazilian Rosewood Danish sideboard. A stunning piece – which still takes pride of place in my living room. I just love it.

Anton is like most successful people … the separation between work and pleasure/down time is tough as they truly love what they do. Because their work is a passion, the two are intertwined.

Not only does Anton have a great eye for what he does, he’s just a great bloke.

If you’re in the market to add some classic Scandinavian design into your life – please visit one of the Great Dane showrooms, and if Anton’s in the house – have a yarn.

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Q & A:

1) You have a successful business that continues to see good growth and carve out its niche within the interiors/design industry … Can you give us a bit of background on how you got to where you are today? What do you love most about your job?

Great Dane formed into the ten-year reality it is today purely by building strong relationships and foundations with our designers and manufacturers.

I don’t view this as a job, this is my passion, collaborating with legendary designers to offer handmade iconic pieces for people to build their homes upon is the driving force behind what I do.

2) Did you always want to start your own business? / how did the idea for Great Dane come about?

I always had an appreciation for Scandinavian design, and enjoyed collecting second hand vintage furniture locally in Melbourne. I recognized the opportunity to offer authentic, quality Scandinavian designs to an eager Australian market. I invested my life savings in a shipping container of Danish vintage furniture, within a day of its arrival, the container was completely bought-out and Great Dane was born.

3) As an entrepreneurial person – who and what inspires you? What are you creatively passionate about? What motivates and drives you to do better?

My kids inspire me to constantly be better at what I do and who I am. I am also motivated in continuing to deliver timeless furniture with integrity. Providing pieces that reflect an effortless way of life where good design is intrinsic to the everyday while pertaining a certain air of Scandinavian luxury.

4) As a business person, what are some of the challenges that you have, or continue to face? What lessons have you learned on your journey to date, and would you do things differently if you had your time over?

Never give up, listen to people who believe and support you, and most of all, believe in yourself and your own judgment. You will make mistakes on the way, learn from them, suck it up and keep pushing forward.

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5) You would have seen some pretty amazing properties over the years – do you have a special design project that you’ve worked on that stands out?

Being apart of the refurbishment of the Opera House’s Western Foyer, our Nanna Ditzel’s ND83 chair being the hero of the room.

Nanna’s work has a lovely feminine touch to it – soft yet clean – so of course, I was thrilled to have the chair placed in one of the most renowned pieces of Danish architecture in the world.

6) Who are your favorite designers? / what are your favorite pieces that you’ve personally collected (or indeed still have your eye on)?

I had the privilege of sitting down for coffee with Kai Kristiansen in Milan earlier this year to talk about our passions. Kai was a plethora of information and inspiration and shared tales of the old days. His most celebrated work The#42 chair is one of my favorite pieces. Its details speak not only timeless design but also harmonious and understated engineering; Kai is a true artist and outstanding man.

7) You have been collaborating with an array of talented designers and creating your own Great Dane furniture pieces. Can you tell us a bit about these colabs and how they came about?

I had always admired the work of Arne Vodder, a retired Danish architect and furniture designer whom many people assumed he was no longer around. His designs made an impact and he carved a significant influence with his work. I somehow tracked him down, and told him how I wanted to work with him. Vodder was retired and his work hadn’t been in production for over 50 years. Together we re-produced the Vodder Tall Boy, No.26 Sideboard and the Vodder Low Boy, ensuring the pieces were produced in the same manner they were originally.

Vodder passed away two years after we met. He was a very humble and understated soul. It was a great privilege and honor to meet him. He is kind of a piece of history for this era.

8) Having spent a lot of time in Europe/Scandinavia on buying trips over the years – what are some of your favorite (or the best) countries for sourcing amazing furniture pieces for the stores?

Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands, and Finland.

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9) What do you think are the secrets to being a good business operator or creating a brand (whether it be yourself or your Great Dane product range)? What in your opinion is great design or the methodology behind great interior styling?

Great Dane was founded on values and traditions of influential design paired with a reputation for quality, service, craftsmanship and knowledge, which have remained true and consistent to Scandinavian design.

10) What’s next for you? Any other interesting projects on the horizon/future goals you are yet to achieve?

We have recently launched ‘The Great Den’ an event space nearby our Fitzroy show room, a unique entertaining space for private dinner parties, cocktail events, launches and tailored events. The Great Den exudes the Scandinavian luxury that Great Dane lives by, incorporating a diverse mix of rare 20th century treasures that I have collected over the years.

There are a number of projects in the pipeline, Great Dane is forever evolving… watch this space!

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