Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Close Up with Lisa Tilse From The Red Thread

An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet,
regardless of time, place, or circumstance.
The thread may stretch or tangle, but will never break.
Ancient Chinese Belief

Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.
I do a lot of different things! I've described myself in the past as having creative ADD (attention deficit disorder) because I always want to try new things and use new materials and techniques. When I started the red thread I was creating children's portraits and art for children's rooms. Since then I've created quite a few different products, including hand printed timber cards, chalkboard eggs, my signature personalised Heartboxes, a range of sewing kits and patterns and recently laser cut timber brooches and decorator pieces.

I am currently focusing more on expanding my range of sewing kits and working on fabric and surface design.

Who (or what) inspires you to do what you love in your own creative business?
I think I inspire myself.... the creativity within! Being creative is just who I am and what I've always done. My parents were always so supportive and encouraging when I was young and they instilled in me that I could do or be whatever I wanted to. I still carry that with me and always aim high and work towards my goals. And of course I am inspired by all the other creative people out there - both the famous and the not so - people who are living their creative passion. I'm endlessly inspired by the blogs of other creatives.
Where do you get your inspiration from when you design/paint?
I never lack inspiration... I'm inspired by everything around me. I don't think I have an off switch... wherever I am and whatever I'm doing I'm always absorbing my visual surroundings.

What are the five words that people who know you would use to describe you?
perfectionist, calmdriven,sleep-deprived,creative
Tell us about your very first job and what path have you taken since then?
I have a BA in Visual Communication from UTS (formally Sydney College of the Arts). My first real job was as a junior graphic designer when I was fresh out of uni. I had a fantastic female boss who ran a wonderful studio and I got to work on lovely projects. From there I art directed a fashion magazine and a children's magazine. I worked as a senior designer in London, and then returned to Sydney to a similar job. From there I set up a successful design studio with a business partner. After that I went freelance and haven't been employed full time since.

I started the red thread when I became a mother 7 years ago. I have done a lot of markets over the years and I still do some corporate design jobs on a freelance basis when they come my way.

Describe a typical day in your studio space?
There is no typical day! I have recently swapped around a couple of rooms in our house and my studio/office is now a bigger room with lots of space to spread out and large windows that overlook our garden. I really enjoy working there and feel like I have more head space as well as physical space. My working day starts after the school run, although I usually check my emails before breakfast. Like everyone I spend too much time answering and writing emails. I blog, and read blogs. I do admin. I have lots of journals and sketch books with ideas, sketches and notes. I get my ideas down first by drawing, and then I work them up on the computer. I make personalised orders, and pack orders. I create prototypes of new products. I write lists, and all going well I get to tick a few things off!

As a Solo Artist, what is your biggest frustration?
By far my biggest frustration is not having enough time to design. There are so many other things to do when you run your own business that take your attention away from what you do best. I'm working on that though!

Tell us about how you prioritise your studio work.
I try to block out days and parts of days in my diary and not let other demands encroach on that time. Usually things are prioritised according to what's most urgent. There's nothing like a deadline to get you moving!

Since you are working at home, can you please tell us about how do you connect with other artists, and your customers (i.e. how do you network)?
I have friends who are artists and designers so it's always great spending time with them. Together with Steph from Bondville I organise the Sydney abcd quarterly meet ups. abcd stands for artists, bloggers, crafters, designers - it's a wonderful opportunity to hang out, connect and exchange info with likeminded souls. I try to attend design events like Semi-Permanent - not to network, but just to feel connected to the wider world.  I belong to The Brown Owls craft group, and I have started a craft group with other mums from my daughter's school. The craft groups create a wonderful old fashioned sense of community. And I've made a lot of creative friends through having market stalls. But by far the best opportunity to be a part of a creative community has come through my blog, and from visiting other blogs. It really is an amazing way to 'meet' others. I don't do Facebook or Twiiter though because they are both big black holes that threaten to suck even more of my precious time!

 What advice can you offer other creative people who are just starting out and following their passions?
Find what you love and what you are good at and work hard at it. Keep learning and moving forward. Be yourself and most importantly be original.

What dreams do you still want to achieve or fulfil in your life?
Personally and professionally I just want to be the best I can be... I'm working on it! (that sounded very Oprah, didn't it?!) I'd love to go back to uni and do my masters in fine arts, but I'm also passionate about doing what I'm doing now and I'm not sure I can manage both.  I have many goals - both short and long term - but for now I'll keep them in my journals!

What is your proudest moment so far?
There are a few that spring to mind:
Becoming a mother (corny, but true)
Having my graphic design work published in a number of international books.
Creating a business that is personally, creatively and (mostly) financially rewarding.
Having my products in shops all around the world.
What is the most important lesson in life that you have learned?
Everything comes from within.

What book are you reading right now, and do you have a book you would like to recommend?
I've been reading a lot of fiction lately.

In the past few months I have read and loved: 'Room', 'The Help', 'The Time Traveller's Wife', 'The Book Thief', and at the moment I'm reading 'The Master Butcher's Singing Club'.
Where do we find you and your artworks? 

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