Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Close Up interview with Artist & Designer Sally Walsh

Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.
Ever since I was a child I have always been drawn to anything and everything “arty-farty”.  I just love to make and create, whether it’s making a dress or quirky accessories (as I usually can’t find what I’m looking for in the shops), creating canvas art, designing logos or brand identity work.  I live in the lovely Sydney and earn my crust as a Graphic Designer and Artist, with a colourful working history that has always encouraged my creativity.  When I am not working away in Sydney I love to get out and about and travel through this beautiful and intriguing world of ours, stocking up on inspiration and fond memories.

The Sillier Than Sally crew – Sisters,
 Sally Walsh and Cara Hill
Photos by Amy Walsh

I have recently launched a new business “Sillier Than Sally”, a fabulous wearable art range, with my lovely but nutty sister Cara. This venture is really exciting for us, as the brand is all about fun, fresh, bold, unique and slightly off centre designs and prints.  They’re for anyone who wants to feel unique and special no matter what the occasion.  The designs and colours are energy lifting, confidence giving, and a little bit cheeky!  Through this brand we have let fly with our arty-farty ways, to create a unique hand made clutch line, bunting and screen printed tote bags, with a soon to be released jewellery and hair accessories line.

We are very excited about further launching the brand at designer markets and in boutique shops soon.

Who (or what) inspires you to do what you love in your own creative business?
My loving family and friends inspire me and give me courage and support.  Starting a new project always has a great energy about it and inspires the hell out of me.  Traveling has also been a huge source of inspiration for me…. from intense glorious colours, smells and textures at markets in Guatemala, to strange, different and exciting foods in China, to amazing landscapes and culture filled Thailand, to family values and lifestyles in Vietnam, to amazing traditional jam sessions (that make your heart tingle) in a country pub in Ireland, to the sun setting in the Greek islands.

I have learnt through traveling, that I am a resilient little shit and am quite capable of doing anything I set my mind to, and that if you can get out of your own way then you don’t just dream big, but reach those dreams and make them a reality.

Commissioned Animal Portrait, by Sally Walsh 

Where do you get your inspiration from when you design/paint?
I draw inspiration from everyday life, it surrounds us….a good thunder storm, a lovely colour combination, beautifully designed material (that I have to keep buying), finding a lost/discarded treasure in a garage sale or market, a good hug, a fabulous movie, or at the moment my biggest obsession and inspiration hit comes from vintage paraphernalia, like post cards, sheet music, magazines, ledgers, photos.  I have been collecting them like crazy and I just can’t seem to stop (I think I have a slight problem)…  I’m looking forward to incorporating them in an upcoming series of whimsical vintage illustrations.

What are the five words that people who know you would use to describe you?
I actually put this question out to our Facebook fans and friends, I got some varied, absolutely lovely replies, but I thought this one was quite good:

Crazy, crazy, crazy, crazy and crazy....I can use the same word more than once right?” from my best mate Lauren, dating back to year 7.

Sillier than Sally Clutches 

Tell us about your very first job and what path have you taken since then?
I jumped into hospitality straight out of school.  I naturally fell into it as it’s in my family’s blood, and I guess unlike becoming an artist, it’s a “real job”.  So I initially dabbled in hospitality, with designing and creating art as a passion that sometimes paid the bills.

We had many fun adventures together hospitality and I… working backstage at Rock ‘n Roll concerts, to events like the Aria Awards and Big Day Out.  Through to working overseas at events like the Italian Winter Olympics, the Beijing Summer Olympics and many other little side adventures.  Hospitality was always there for me when I suffered from “SAS” (Starving Artist Syndrome), but in the end my creative side won out, that and the fact that I also love learning new skills and mixing it up.

So over the last 5 years or so I have further studied design, worked in the floristry industry, printing industry, worked for Disney on animated feature films like Bambi 2 and Cinderella 3, freelanced in illustration, canvas art and graphic design.  My latest position as Graphic Artist at Advertising Agency SapientNitro was working across an array of high end renowned and boutique brands.

Sillier Than Sally Tote Bags

Now I am focusing on my new business “Sillier than Sally”.  This venture has been waiting not so patiently to come out to play for many years now, but as you can see it’s been a journey to get here….I am also still freelancing in design, illustration and canvas art.  I love designing and painting and it also balances out the running costs of starting up a new business…well sort of!

So my path has been varied, a long and beautiful one.  A collage of fond memories, dreams, great people and a bit of rock ‘n roll.  It’s a work-in-progress and it has certainly been an adventure… I’m pretty sure I took the scenic (and probably not the smartest) route somewhere along the way.

Describe a typical day in your studio space?
7:30 – 9:30 am, start at the studio, depending if I run errands on the way there, like picking up post and materials. Sometimes I will try to squeeze in some designing (before I head off in the morning) for an upcoming line, as my home computer is more powerful than my laptop.

Pack the car…I seem to carry a lot to and from the studio each day…sketchbooks, diary, more sketchbooks, laptop, hard drive, DSLR camera…get to studio, fluff around for a bit, realise I have forgotten something, swear for a bit, then start work.

 Working away in her studio

First up is some paper work, write out the day’s to-do-list, check emails, FB, harass suppliers about their sloppy delivery times.  Usually my sister arrives by then, with her little baby girl Cypress, and her over excitable dog Sparrow.  We have a good chin wag for a bit and then get stuck into the work load.  At the moment that consists of screen printing out designs onto tote bags or sowing and putting together clutches.

Break for a late lunch of cheese, crackers and wine then back into it again.  We might spend a whole day working across one line, or split up different jobs between us, depending on the need for a particular line.  In the afternoon if the sun is good we might photograph some of our wares or create some new screens for printing.

Day usually finishes up with some more paper work, and ordering more materials.  Head home from 5 -7 pm.

About 2 -3 evenings a week I will spend some time catching up on Facebook, updating my (usually overdue) blog, designing an upcoming line or working on a freelancing project.

 As an Artist, what is your biggest frustration?
Only having 24 hours a day.

Tell us about how you prioritise your work.
Still working on getting the right balance here….I try and spend time on all aspects of the business:  creating, designing, paperwork, advertising and marketing.  I have a lot on my plate at the moment with the business and freelancing…the balance is not always there.  I try and get as much down time with my lovely hubby Brett and my family and friends as possible….still working on this though.

I am less insane when I have a good work life balance!

Sillier Than Sally Bunting

Can you please tell us about how do you connect with other artists, and your customers (i.e. how do you network)?
Mmm….another thing I am still working on!  Just launched a new “Sillier Than Sally” Facebook page.  I have a blog that I need to update more often, I attend exhibition openings and word of mouth via fantastically supportive friends is gold!

What advice can you offer other creative people who are just starting out and following their passions?
  • To try and try and try again!
  • To keep believing in what you’re doing, even if you stumble now and then.
  • Find the silver lining.
  • Don’t listen to the naysayers and energy vampires out there.
  • Write or sketch down all your ideas, as you can always come back to those little gems later.
  • Learn to put your work out there with confidence (not cockiness’) and to manage money...I’m still working on those last two myself.
 What dreams do you still want to achieve or fulfil in your life?
  • Have a solo exhibition.
  • Live in the country.
  • Paint and draw my way through Africa, then have an exhibition on return…I am actually doing this later on this year.
  • Open a boutique shop/café, filled with glorious “Sillier Than Sally” stock and other fantastic designs and products sourced from far and wide.
What is your proudest moment so far?
Hard to pick just one, so here are a few….Watching Bambi 2 with my husband and family, and being able to point out scenes I had worked on.  Growing the balls to launch my own design range.  Corny I know but, every time we create a new line of wearable art.. they are like our babies and we are such proud mammas!

Sally Walsh and husband Brett McCracken

Who do you most want to meet and why?
  • David Downton - London biased fashion illustrator.  I would love to pick his brain on illustration and watercolour techniques.
  • Fafi - Paris based street artist.  Would love to watch her at work, creating one of her fantastically feminine pieces.
  • Norman Lindsay  - (Deceased… so might be difficult) Australian Artist.  His work has always entranced me.  So lovely, sweet and slightly evil all at the same time.
What is the most important lesson in life that you have learned?
Enjoy the ride, as it’s all about the journey.  That and don’t leave microwave popcorn in the microwave for extended amounts of time.

What book are you reading right now, and do you have a book you would like to recommend?
Recommended book:  Wise Heart, by Annah Stretton.

It’s a seriously great and engaging book on the success of New Zealand entrepreneur, Annah Stretton, where she shares the strategies and tools that got her to the top.  (http://www.annahstretton.co.nz/shop/AccessoriesOther+Products/Wise+Heart.html)

Where do we find you and your products?
Sillier Than Sally – Wearable Art Range


charles said...

Sally great interview,love it, all the best and good luck to you and cara ,iam so proud off you ,love always dad x x x

Anonymous said...

Great interview, I am a big fan of Artshine. I love the interviews section. By reading the interviews it really helps me to realise my passion and what I love doing. You really inspired me Sally.

All the best


Unknown said...

Hi Glenda
Thats really lovely to hear we have been a source of inspiration to you.

ArtShine and the interviews are just fantastic aren't they, and are great at helping with finding the right path.

Best of luck with your path.


Unknown said...

Hello Chef.
Thank you for your never ending support!
xxx Sal

Unknown said...

Hello Charlie & Glenda,

Thanks for your kind comments. Sally is a very talented lady. We love her products and design.

Thanks for visiting our blog and it 's great to hear from you again Glenda.



Unknown said...

Hi Chef/Dad
Thank you for your never ending support.

Pure Leverage

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