Thursday, 30 July 2015

Craft Conversations with the Pros: Kath Stewart

Today is the turn to ask the craft questions to Kath Stewart. Kath is one talented, brave and funny lady. I am glad that we are friends, I am happy that she is in the craft industry for this crafting world needs people like her! Talented and outspoken!




A brief professional paper crafter journey:
I suppose I’ve always been creative…as a young child I always had my nose in a colouring book and that progressed to knitting and sewing to make clothes for my dolls, then creating fashion statements (horrendous when I look back) for myself and my children. I’ve probably had a go at every craft imaginable, some attempts more successful than others. I ran my own Ceramics business for 10 years but closed it down in 2004 to take early retirement…the idea of a lady who lunched seemed appealing but boredom soon set in. It was time to look for another outlet for all this excess creative energy. A friend persuaded me to accompany her on a card making workshop organised by Personal Impressions, rather reluctantly I have to confess - why would you want to make cards when you can pop into a shop and buy one was my first thought? - but I soon discovered that magical things happen when you put stamps and inks together, I was well and truly hooked and the rest is history.
When and how did you start in the industry? 
I started off like lots of crafty folks do selling cards at craft fairs and making specially commissioned cards which I loved at the time but on reflection, it was lots of hard work for very little reward and took over my life completely. By pure chance I spotted an advertisement in a craft magazine for Fiskars demonstrators and applied, nothing ventured nothing gained as they say and was more than surprised when I was selected to attend an interview day in Newcastle and remember with cringing embarrassment the total disastrous project I made in an attempt to win the judges over. Must have been my scintillating personality that did the trick, to my amazement I got the job.

Was it full time? Part time? 
What type of job at first? Did you started as a creative straight away? 
Unfortunately for me my location in the far flung North East corner of the UK didn’t present many craft store demonstrator opportunities but Fiskars asked if I would like to demonstrate with the team at the SECC in Glasgow. I made some samples for the show and voila…they liked them and asked if I would like to make lots more to showcase Fiskars products. That progressed in to making projects for magazine adverts and media presentations and for the last 5 years I’ve been lucky enough to organise and teach the Fiskars workshops at the Hobbycraft shows at The NEC in March and November.
I’ve also been given the opportunity to work with great companies in the industry as part of their design teams, been featured in craft magazines and most important of all, had lots of fun and made wonderful lifelong friendships along the way

How do you describe your job nowadays? 
Is it hard to work full/part time in the craft industry? Can you name your major challenges you face?
Every day I pinch myself, how lucky am I to be able to say that I love what I do and do what I love, to turn what was once a hobby into what is now a full time job. Winston Churchill once said that if you find a job you love, you will never work again and here I am sharing my passion for paper crafting with lots of crafty folks, a dream come true. Not everyone might realise that a lot of hard work goes on behind the scenes, the kitting marathons and burning the midnight oil on a regular basis to nail deadlines but for me that’s just part and parcel of the job and the upside is, it keeps me out of mischief and the biscuit tin (most of the time).
Would you do anything differently?
Definitely NOT...it's a lifestyle choice, a passion and the mistakes I've made along the way are all part of life's big learning curve.

Out of everything you do and have done, what is your favourite? 
What I love most is escaping my sometimes lonely craft room existence, leaving behind the one sided long conversations with my dog usually about the most idiotic nonsense, getting out and about and meeting fellow crafters. I teach monthly workshops at my local craft store, The Papeterie in Aberdeen and look forward to meeting up with my lovely Kath’s Klub girls for a fun day. 

 

Your proudest moment and achievement?
I’m not sure that I have one particular proudest moment or achievement but it does warm my heart when people tell me that crafting was a life saver for them bringing them back from the depths of depression. If sharing my passion has helped just one person that would be amazing.

What do you think is more important to make it in this industry: creative talent, hard work or luck?
To succeed in any industry you need to be passionate about what you do, be prepared for lots of hard work, having creative talent helps along with lots of luck, sadly it's sometimes about who you know and being in the right place at the right time.
 


What is your favourite project type (mini albums, cards, layouts, home decor...) and colour? 
Thanks to one person I’ve moved on from being a CAS card maker to embracing a wide spectrum of crafting, love mini albums, mixed media and everything in between. And the person in question is the super talented, humble, sweet, generous with his time and inspiration...the most wonderful ambassador for the industry, the guy we all love, my hero Tim Holtz and my favourite colour…seriously do I have to pick just ONE…well it’s probably the latest colour to be added to the Distress Ink Family.

Where you go for inspiration? 
Inspiration is everywhere, Mother Nature is only too willing to share her wonderful palette of colour and textures and a visit to Pinterest or the blogs of the many crafters who share their amazing talents with us all can't fail to inspire.
What is next for you: (both what you are doing next and what you Would like to do next) 
Who knows what the future holds. I thank my lucky stars that I have fairly good health.
I’ve learned over the years that you can indeed teach an old dog new tricks and with a bit of luck there’s still life in the old “won’t see 60 again” crafter. Here’s to many more years doing what I love.

And finally, Do you remember when we first met? Any good/bad impressions?
I remember well the first time I met Paula.  It was at the Hobbycraft show at The NEC, my first time teaching a Fiskars workshop and across the aisle were the Sizzix Team. Paula was so friendly kind and helpful, can you imagine the embarrassment of having borrow a pair of scissors from Sizzix to open my box of Fiskars tools and did I happen to mention that she is also so unbelievably and annoyingly gorgeous.
Paula's version: You are too kind Kath! I had seen your work online before we met and loved it! I am a big fan of both her work and her persona. I already admired Kath deeply but this week even more so.

You can find more of Kath here:


Monday, 27 July 2015

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Craft Conversations with the Pros: Pete Hughes

Today is the turn to ask the questions to Pete Hughes, someone who I both hate and adore. I hate him because every single time I see what he has done it makes me realise how much talent he has and how little I have. But the truth is that he is one of the loveliest, most talented, versatile and trustworthy people that you will ever meet, and I am not just talking about the craft industry. It is impossible not to adore him!

Craft Conversations with the Pros Pete Hughes by Paula Pascual
When and how did you start in the industry?
I started life as a freelance cartoonist/illustrator and I was working for an educational publishing company named SLP when we became UK distributors for Ellison Educational Die-cutting products. Three years later Ellison asked us if we would like to distribute a new craft brand called Sizzix and the rest, as they say, is history!

Was it full time? Part time?
It was a full time post.

What type of job at first? Did you started as a creative straight away?
While training at Art College I worked evenings and weekends at a local hotel which I continued to do after I left college and went freelance, I ended up as the restaurant manager and tried to balance this with my freelance work. Later on I took up a full time post as a designer for the company mentioned above.
Pete at the Sizzix/Ellison Europe Studio

How do you describe your job nowadays?
I work office hours based mainly at Ellison Europe HQ. I prepare projects for UK and European magazines, content for our website and my blog. I also create projects for workshop classes when I visit some of our distributors and retailers many of whom have become great friends down the years.

What would you do differently?
Nothing really! I don’t like looking back although there are certain techniques/products I wish I had discovered earlier!

Is it hard to work full/part time in the craft industry? Can you name your major challenges you face?
Sometimes; inspiration is hard to come by and at times the deadlines are a killer. I always feel a sense of responsibility to show the Sizzix products in their best light while still pleasing the magazine/client, but above all, pleasing the person spending their hard earned money i.e. the customer. My own personal taste or preferences come bottom of the list!
Card featuring two of Pete Hughes Elegance dies

Out of everything you do and have done, what is your favourite?
I know it’s a bit of a cliché but…. The last thing is always the best.

Your proudest moment and achievement?
My greatest achievement is continuing to grow as a designer while remaining enthusiastic and curious. I don’t have a single ‘Proudest Moment’ but it is very nice to receive compliments from the people in the industry whom I admire and respect.

What do you think it's more important to have a job in this industry: creative talent, hard work or luck?
A combination of the three but hard work it is the most important! Specially to make a long career out of it.

What is your favourite project type and colour?
I love cards because I like to work quickly and make simple statements. Layouts are always fun to do and there are so many fabulous styles to choose from, I just wish I had time to do more. Favourite colours change like the weather but I do love working with minimal colour palettes and I am loving monochromes with various shades of grey.


Where you go for inspiration?
Everywhere! You will often find me in high street fashion shops with my camera phone in my hand. Pinterest is a great source of inspiration which can act as a creative springboard when you’re stuck for ideas. I love those ‘eureka’ moments when all the pieces fall into place and you discover a new technique.


What is next for you?
Somebody once asked me what my ambition was and I said simply to become a better designer, this is what I love to do and that makes me happy. I just want to continue to grow as a designer and explore new styles and techniques for as long as I can.
Pete's projects for Tim Holtz at the Sizzix booth at Paperworld 2015


And finally, Do you remember when we first met? Any good/bad impressions?
When the very first Sizzix machine landed on these shores It was my job to create some projects which would hopefully persuade people to invest in this brand new technological marvel! 
I set about buying a few books and visiting craft fairs. I also subscribed to Crafts Beautiful magazine which was and continues to be a great source of inspiration. The projects that really appealed to me where designed by a young lady named Paula Pascual but it wasn’t till a few years later that we actually met, when you introduced yourself I didn’t catch your name at first for two reasons….. I’m quite deaf and you talk at 3000 words a minute! I thought that you looked familiar and it was only a little later that I put two and two together.
I am happy to say that you came to work with us and I was able to learn so much from you about techniques and new products. Like me, you are always striving to offer people something new from old familiar dies and you are always very generous in sharing your ideas with others.
I’m also happy to count you as one of my favourite people in the whole wide world (maybe it’s because we are Birthday Buddies?)
We are Craft Twins! Born on the same day, though different years!

Paula's version:
 I don't really know when we first met properly. Pete is one of those crafters that when I started going to shows in late 2002 early 2003, I could immediately identify as a huge talent and great personality. I learnt his name through the articles in magazines, as they always caught my eye as the most creative and colourful. 
Since I started to work closely with Sizzix in 2011, Pete has become one of my closest friends in the industry (and I do have several) but his no nonsense approach, creative talents and great sense of humor have been such an inspiration and a constant delight!

And the link to your blog and any social media?
Social What?
Pete does NOT do social media but  you can find Pete´s weekly amazing projects here on the Sizzix blog. Also, check this other great interview on the Hobbycraft blog here.


Thank You Pete for your time, inspiration and friendship!


Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Craft Conversations with the Pros: Dawn Bibby

Who else should start the Craft Conversations with the Pros series but someone that every paper crafter in the UK will know: Dawn Bibby!

(To read more why I started this series click here)

Craft Conversations with the Pros Dawn Bibby by Paula Pascual

Since 2007, I have been quite close to her both professionally and personally, so I have seen her in many situations that people can only guess. I consider dawn a close friend and one of the few people who actually has gone out of her way to help me.

August 2007, in her house making samples together.


Without further ado, here you have her story.

Dawn, when and how did you start in the craft industry? 
Well I guess I started as a child drawing images and making cards but I really started making and selling cards when I was about 23 (25 years ago) when I was doing craft fayres and shows. I began making cards and selling them which then led me into selling the supplies for people to sell their own. I then couldn't find all I wanted so started designing and working with companies to produce them.
It was whilst at a show a lady said she thought my demonstration was very good and had I thought of selling on TV ? She gave me a contact and QVC and well the rest is history I guess! I was the first person in the UK to take rubber stamping and paper crafting on to TV. 
And it was a battle believe me ... The buyers couldn't understand why anyone would be interested in pieces of paper and rubber stamps. And they down right refused to buy sticky dots for at least a year!!

What type of job did you have at first? Did you started as a creative straight away?
I started in this industry at 16 I guess when I went to college studying textiles and fashion. Specialising in knitwear and surface pattern design  My first proper industry related job, while I was still at college, was in a knitting and sewing machine shop - Hobkirks. I demonstrated machines and helped advise and teach customers. While working there, I designed knitwear and started to sell my designs into shops and privately 
After a while, I became disenchanted with my role and in particular the pay, so I decided to go for a higher pay working in a compact disc factory - Phillips and DuPont. I was still designing and selling and ran party plan through family and friends.
I then took 18 months out and became an au pair in Switzerland. I ended up designing for a boutiques in Zurich and doing private orders there too.
At the age of 21 I came home and set up my first proper business (with the help of my beloved mum) on the enterprise allowance scheme. I built my stock and started supplying stores and attending shows. I soon saw the potential for supplying product rather than finished items and set up a little mail order company - Topaz Crafts. Armed with finished garments and cards plus the fabric paints, glitters and stamps I toured the UK attending shows and selling. Hence my meeting the lady whom gave me the contact number for QVC.

  At a QVC craft event in London Olympia 2009  
Well my career developed more into creating TV shows and selecting product for them. Still designing but building a team of people to execute those shows, which included product selection, formatting kits, creating finished samples, planning the shows and then executing the live show on TV.
Approximately, 4 years ago I joined Create and Craft where I became more of a craft expert presenter.
  

What would you do differently? 
Take more time to live and not be as career focused. Also listen to my head more than my heart. One should always follow your gut instinct and, sometimes, I did not!

Is it hard to work full/part time in the craft industry? Can you name your major challenges you face? 
For me, working in this industry is a passion and a lifestyle choice. There are never enough hours in the day to do everything or create everything. If you are dedicated and passionate it's a wonderful industry to be in.
However I don't think we ever really get paid for the time and effort put into projects or work and to many people they cannot see value in the time spent creating. After all, it's just a card! Or just a handmade item, why should we be paid an hourly rate for a knitted jumper that took 72 hours to make? Get my drift? Or even £5 for a card that maybe took an hour and a half to make. 
But we do it with love and passion and, nowadays, more people are respecting "handmade" and thankfully valuing it more.


Your proudest moment and achievement?
I think my proudest moment was the very first time QVC ran an advert with my profile and name in it! I was so excited to be given that opportunity and rang my mum screaming down the phone  Mum was my biggest fan and without her I could not have achieved any of this.

What do you think is more important to make it in this industry: creative talent, hard work or luck?
Creative talent gives you the passion to succeed, but then you have to put the hard work behind it. If you work hard and are talented, people will notice then the luck comes to you - it's the Law of Attraction. 

What is your favourite project type (mini albums, cards, layouts, home decor...) and colour? 
My favourite projects constantly change - right now I'm loving knitting and making bracelets.
Favourite colour pink but I don't always use it in my creations. I'm quite into turquoise at the moment. 


Where you go for inspiration?
Inspiration is all around me - nature is the best! and also, fashion. The colours and trends are always to be watched as they translate into every area of our lives.

What is next for you?
What is next for me on this incredible journey ? Well now that would be telling.... I'm currently on a well earned break and busy designing and creating and will soon be setting up a Facebook page selling some of my handmade creations. 
But I will be back working in the industry from September! so you must keep your eye on my official Facebook page and Twitter.

And finally, Do you remember when we first met? Any good/bad impressions?
When we first met Paula - I think it was in Amsterdam on a craft event. I thought you were lovely , a little bit flustered but so full of fun and love for crafting. We soon became good friends and you shared your love of exquisite dark chocolate - introducing me to Hotel Chocolat!
May 2007, in one of the QVC prep rooms


Paula's version:
I met Dawn in Amsterdam at a trade event. I remember clearly how nice she was with me and anyone else who speak to her. Soon after that she asked me to do some work for her and from then onwards we became close friends.
I feel that Dawn is one of those few people who actually listens to what you say even if you do not think she does. It is a rare quality!
You can read and hear a lot of things about Dawn Bibby. Not everything you read out there is true.

You can Find Dawn online here:


Introducing Craft Conversations with the Pros



I am starting a bit later today with a new weekly feature in this blog: Craft Conversations with the Pros.

It will be a series of interviews with more or less the same questions and I will be asking every week, on a Thursday to a different professional crafter. I will start with some of my closest and oldest friends in this crazy and beautiful industry of ours.

The original idea came because I am often asked how did I start in the industry and/or how to get a career in the creative craft world. I have no problem in answering the first question. the second, well I don't know if I am the right person to ask!

However, as I am fortunate enough to have a lot of good friends in this craft world, I thought I would ask them some questions relating to working in this industry.  I specifically asked them to be as honest as possible, as often when I read interviews on craft magazines, it is more about how great all is (which is true) but I also think it is important to say if it is incredibly hard work.

I also wanted to share more about how important it has been for me personally to meet all these great and talented people. I have made great friends and I am very thankful for the friendships that working in this industry has brought to me. The personal aspect is a very essential one! That is what you will see a more personal question at the very end.

This is something that I have been thinking of doing for the last two years. It is taken me two years to actually write the questions and send them to my craft peers. Crazy or what?

I have some great names lined up, it is going to be a very interesting read!

The first one is going to be: the one and only Dawn Bibby!

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

A visit to Sizzix Europe HQ!


This year I was invited to visit Sizzix Europe HQ in Wales as part of a blogger meet. As I used to be a full time employee of Sizzix not that long ago, I love going to Sizzix to see everyone who works there and specially meet the bloggers that I have been following for a while.


 It was quite an internattional affair with (from left to right): Silvia Curti from Italy, Karine Cazenave-Tapie from France, Quim Diaz from Spain, Gerry Van Gent from Holland (though originally from Bulgaria) and Annika Flebbe from Germany. And then, me representing the UK and Spain I suppose!


Its always a sight to see the Sizzix showroom. With gorgeous samples made by Pete Hughes and Angela Southey, the in house creative designers.


The Big Shot Plus, of course place of pride.


Its always lovely to see that projects I did a couple of years ago are still gracing the walls of Sizzix.


And all those beautifully made quilts and patchwork elements. Angela is so talented!


When you have so many bloggers and Instagram addicts, this is what happens when someone gives you a pretty little something.


We did some crafting on the creative room. This is where Pete works daily.


We visited the warehouse so we had to wear this very attractive vest, but Silvia was rocking hers. The luck of being italian!


 I think I was the only one excited to be wearing the vest! Its fun but not very pretty.


The next day, it was just Annika, Gerry and myself (the other three had arrived a day earlier and left a day before us), we had lunch in this lovely meeting room. Create and Inspire, good creative words to have around!


And then it was my turn to record some tutorials. I have never seen my name on a clacket board. I got all excited! (To be fair, it doesn't take much to make me over excited!)


Quite a professional set up!


And I had to take this photo! I thought it was so funny!


And then it was time to say goodbye to one of my favourite people in the world, Pete Hughes, such a joy to see him and spend some time in the craft room like the old times. This time though, I had to share him with great talented people.



On the way to the hotel I suggested to Gerry, Annika had already left for the airport, to go to the beautiful village of Llangollen, as it is not far at all. Such a pretty place


We had fun!

It was a great little trip and I came back full of inspiration, thank you Sizzix!



Monday, 13 July 2015

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