Category Archives: Arts & Crafts

An Interview With Art2Arts

Online art galleries are fast becoming a popular alternative to selling and buying art in a traditional gallery.  My guest this week, Michelle Gibbs, established  Art2Arts online gallery in 2006 and I caught up with her recently to find out more about the business and the art itself.  Welcome Michelle…

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Hi! My name is Michelle Gibbs. I’m an artist, online gallery owner and art tutor.

What inspired you set up the Art2Arts online gallery?

I started the gallery when I began selling my own artwork. I then started to admire the work of other artists and asked them if they would like to appear on the site as a ‘guest artist’ and the gallery grew from there.

Online art galleries are gaining popularity – what are the advantages for the artist showing their paintings online?  What are the advantages for the customer?

The advantage for the artist is that they are showing their work to a much wider audience, including giving the artist the opportunity to sell their artwork abroad. The customer can access a much broader variety of artists, without having to pay the much higher gallery high-street prices.

Art2Arts prides itself on its policy of not selling mass produced prints & having only original artwork on offer. How important was it to you that you instilled that policy?

This has been our policy from day one and will never change. In a world of mass-produced things, with places like Ikea, we all wind up with the same things and I think it’s important to be unique and it’s more rewarding knowing you have an original hanging on your wall.

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You are a full time artist as well as a part time art tutor.  I do love your paintings – the “Deep Blue Mountain” painting of yours really caught my eye on your site. Do you have a favourite theme that you enjoy to paint?

I am inspired by the sky, I love cloud formations and I don’t think we look enough and appreciate the world around us. I love seeing the world through artist’s eyes. I enjoy painting landscapes in oils but equally love the freedom and spontaneity of creating my more abstract themes.

It is obvious looking at your paintings that you are inspired by your travels. What place/country has given you most inspiration?  If you could visit any place in the world to get inspiration for a set of paintings, where would you go?

I have been lucky enough to travel a lot and you’re right, it’s evident in my work, however I’m also inspired a lot by the English countryside. I live right near the beach and am always heading over when I see a beautiful sunset or a moody sky to capture it to paint, so you don’t always have to go far to seek inspiration.

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When buying art for yourself or when you visit art galleries, what sort of paintings attract your attention? Any favourite artists, past or present?

I have a few paintings from artists from Art2Arts. I also like to buy paintings from local artists when I travel. I recently visited Venice and watched an artist draw a scene of Venice in Charcoal which I couldn’t resist buying. I’m inspired by many artists both past and present, the obvious ones being Turner, Constable and I particularly admire the impressionist painters.

I’m sure every artist has some form of art theme that they just cannot master as well as other themes – some avoid drawing people, others animals etc.  What theme are you not so keen on painting?

I’ve never really painted animals, they don’t appeal to me at all. I did paint my dog as an exercise recently but I would never want to start taking commissions for pets. I enjoy doing the odd portrait painting, but more for me than from a selling point of view.

There are many fabulous art museums/galleries throughout the world – I personally love the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam – have you got a favourite?  Is there any that you haven’t visited yet but is on your bucket list to do so?

Where do I start…..so many! I recently travelled around Italy so we went to so many art galleries and saw some amazing work. I really enjoyed the Penny Guggenheim in Venice and Florence.

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Apart from yourself, you have many fabulous painters showing in your gallery.  Are there any painters excelling in a particular theme? Any unusual artwork?

We always have our really popular artists that are always selling a lot of artwork. The two that stand out the most are:
Caroline Ashwood – Abstract artwork
CK Wood – Poppy paintings

Art2Arts is based in the UK – are the paintings available to be bought/shipped overseas?

Yes, we offer international shipping so most of the artist can be sent anywhere in the world.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I like to dress up when I go out, however despite owning a variety of heels, it’s like watching bambi walk! I do prefer my flats lol! But I will suffer in the name of fashion.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from your own!)

I have a book fetish, in fact I really need a bigger bookshelf, so I am on Amazon a lot and it’s dangerous because you only have to click one button and it’s on it’s way. I’m always buying art books.

Oh Michelle… I’ve a book fetish too and that Amazon click button is fatal!!

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

Well I’m pregnant at the moment so sadly it’s going to be flat comfortable shoes and big baggy clothes. Not very exciting.

Boots or Shoes?

Boots, more comfortable and I’m always cold so they keep your feel warm.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about Art2Arts

www.twitter.com/art2arts
www.facebook.com/art2artsonline
http://www.art2arts.co.uk/magazine/

Congratulations on the forthcoming birth, Michelle and thank you for sharing your art with us.  Well, dear readers, do you love visiting art galleries?  What about street art?  I saw some stunning street art scenes in South France …and the artists around the steps of Montmartre in Paris.  What galleries/places can you recommend?

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Michelle Gibbs

Deep Blue Mountains – Michelle Gibbs

Patchwork Landscape – Caroline Ashwood

Ethereal Poppies – CK Wood

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Pot Luck

Author Jennifer Bell is under the spotlight this week, telling the tale of leaving her life in London to go west to Cornwall to set up a pottery venture.  Not just any pottery venture. Her and her husband’s pots were so successful they were sold beyond the UK to Europe, USA, Japan, Australia and South Africa.  Now retired and living in a riverside cottage, I caught up with Jennifer to talk about her books, her pots and her love of Cornwall…

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Hello! I’m Jennifer.  I am well retired – to the point of not counting birthdays anymore. Living beside a river on the south coast of Cornwall and still, compulsively, it might be said, obsessively, writing stories for children.

“Pot Luck” is the tale of your move from London to the wilds of Cornwall, where you had set up an internationally successful pottery company. So what gave you the inspiration to move from the city to deepest Cornwall and to write a book about it?

From childhood, growing up in a Manchester suburb, I dreamed of a country cottage and a rural life-style – you know the idea, an orchard, chickens, rosy- cheeked children ….I was fortunate to meet a man who shared my dream and who had also studied pottery at Oxford Art School before going on to do music at the R.C.M. We both knew Cornwall slightly from childhood. It really is a different country. You feel it as soon as you cross the Tamar. It’s an ancient landscape, somehow history is nearer the surface, evident in the windswept cliffs, deep lanes, Celtic saint names, old stone crosses ….

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You originally trained as a nurse – so how come you decided to get involved in running a pottery company?

I enjoyed nursing very much – looking after people, ill and often apprehensive – and I liked being able to make a difference but the lure of taking charge of your own life, living to the full, experiencing both excitements and disasters was irresistable. No cheque at the end of the month but many adventures. I think our two sons also benefitted from seeing the self-discipline needed in running your own business and both have successful careers.

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You’ve also just written a delightful children’s story “Jem The Fowey Pirate”, set in the Cornish town of Fowey. How fun was it to write a children’s story? What was the inspiration behind this tale?

Our granddaughters love coming down to Cornwall (from London) and have a special song that they sing when crossing the Tamar bridge – this can cause a little surprise when travelling by train. We live by a river ( Kenneth Graham’s inspiration for ‘The Wind in the Willows). The girls love walking and making camps in the old, oak woods and are always asking for a story ….

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As much as you like writing children’s books, is there any genre you would like to dabble in that you haven’t yet tried?

I’ve always written and love setting myself challenges – a short story starting and finishing with the same sentence, another – a bleak railway halt and the most unlikely person to alight from a train ( it turnes out to be a London prostitute!). Most of all though, I love telling stories to children – seeing the world through their eyes.

What books did you enjoy reading as a child? What genre of books do you enjoy reading now?

I was lucky as a child that my grandparents lived in Snowdonia – very beautiful but wet, wet, wet! On those days I would hide in my grandfather’s study, behind his tatty, leather armchair and read to exhaustion. He didn’t have any children’s books beyond a complete set of Arthur Mee’s Children’s encyclopaedias – but he had Shakespeare’s plays which I was lucky to read before anyone told me they were difficult.  He also had bound copies of Punch through the 1920s and 30s. Fascinating! Nowadays, I particularly enjoy 19th century Russians. I have just watched  the TV drama ‘War and Peace’ – lovely Sunday evening stuff – but that novel has always been my default holiday reading so now the story is spoilt! I may have to find something else. I love the quirkiness of Annie le Proux and have just enjoyed ( and always enjoy) Anne Tyler’s ‘A Spool of Blue Thread’.

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Having run your own businesses – pottery, a B & B establishment and a smallholding on a wilder part of Dartmoor – you are now retired and an author – so, when you are not writing what other hobbies/past times do you enjoy?

Our garden is part of The National Garden Scheme which raises money for charity, so it’s a fairly full time job keeping our acre up to a good standard for visitors. I do have an escape clause though, in a phrase that I have adopted from Prince Charles. I heard him describe Highgrove once as ‘ never weed free but exuberantly planted’. A good description of a garden. I also love dress- making both for myself and for my granddaughters. We also have a small motor boat which we pootle around in. Malcolm fishes and we sometimes, when tide and a lovely evening coincide, go down river for supper in Fowey and Golant.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I would love to say that I am “au fait” with the latest designers, but I’m afraid our uniform down here is mainly Barbours and wellies. For special occasions though we have two really interesting shops – casual clothing in beautiful, natural fabrics – Bridget Foley in Tavistock and Mount’s Bay Trading in Truro. I also have a pair of black, knee-length boots, bought in Italy, which I cherish.

“Pot Luck” is published by Jennifer Bell in conjunction with WRITERSWORLD, and is produced entirely in the UK. It is available to order from most bookshops in the United Kingdom, and is also globally available via UK based Internet book retailers.

It was so lovely to have you on the blog, Jennifer. Your grandfather’s study sounds delightful – I’m a bookworm and my idea of a heavenly room is a snug room lined with books and a big comfortable armchair to curl up in.   Dear readers, what would be your ideal room? Would it be a walled garden, a verandah overlooking a river bank, an airy conservatory, or a walk in wardrobe?  Do share your views – I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Jennifer Bell.

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An Interview With Crystal Parade

A bit of sparkle and razzmatazz on the blog this week – Crystal Parade  is the UK’s premier partner and supplier of Preciosa Crystals, Swarovski Crystals, and Crystallised Swarovski Elements – as well as supplying fabrics, feathers, fringes, crinolin and motifs for use in the theatre, TV, film, events, fashion, bridal and theming industries, among others.  I caught up with Wendy Miller, the Managing Director, to find out more about her sparkling inspiration and her passion for boots!

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Hi, my name is Wendy C. Miller. I’m an entrepreneur, Director/Producer of Musical Theatre, and Managing Director of Crystal Parade. I enjoy acting, gardening, singing, travelling, and spending time with close friends/family.

Crystal Parade was awarded the Feefo Gold Trusted Merchant accreditation this year. What was the inspiration behind Crystal Parade?

The inspiration behind Crystal Parade was to essentially collaborate with the Creative Arts sector in a closer way. Having a certain amount of knowledge, experience and a great passion for the industry, my desire was to build an online business which could add further value to the marketplace by providing high quality products, specialist advice, innovative ideas and excellent customer service.

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Your main areas of speciality are providing all kinds of Swarovski Crystals, Preciosa Crystals, principal fabric, abstract fabric, fancy fabric, feathers, fringe, crinoline and motifs for use in the theatre, TV, film, events, fashion and theming industries. You’ve recently supplied the products to embellish the outfits for Fleur East, Little Mix & Olly Mur’s dancers on X Factor, for example. How satisfying is it to see the finished costumes on stage that your company have helped to produce?

It is extremely satisfying to work with some of the world’s leading stylists, designers and artistes. We are very passionate about our business, our product range and the services we offer, the whole
team strive to provide excellence at every opportunity. The end result always gives us great pleasure and we are enormously proud of our collaborations.

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You also supply Swarovski Crystals, Crystallised Swarovski Elements and Preciosa Crystals and other such products for use in bridalwear, beauty, costumes, cardmaking, dance, equestrian,
jewellery and nail art. What products are most popular?

At Crystal Parade we have such a comprehensive range of high quality products to choose from, be that crystals, fabrics or trimmings, we find every industry has a different requirement. For instance our smaller sizes of Swarovski flatback crystals are extremely popular with nail artists and beauticians, and the larger sizes are used more for crystallizing dancewear, shoes and theatre costumes. The Crystal Clear and AB (aurora borealis) are easily our most popular colours in both Swarovski and Preciosa however, it depends on seasonal inspirations and of course which pantone colours are on trend. We’re always on hand to offer specialist advice whatever the requirement.

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You recently launched Crystal Parade TV where you showcase your latest ideas and fun projects which people can easily make – what has been your favourite “idea” or “project” which is featured
on the channel?

We have filmed around 10 episodes so far, crystallising different types of desirable objects for the home and garden, all of which are easy to make plus they look fantastic when complete. My favourite is a close call between the Marmite Jar episode & the Winter Lantern video . Both were interesting projects to work on and topical but the Winter Lantern episode features a cheeky cameo appearance by my cat so I would have to choose this purely for the entertainment value!

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What has been the most unusual item/ enquiry requested to be decorated with crystals?

As you can imagine, we receive all sorts of requests, some more interesting than others but one of the most unusual, not to mention humorous, enquiries we received when we first started out was to help crystallise a battery powered adult toy. Unfortunately we were unable to assist on that particular occasion!

Can you tell us about the Crystal Club?

The Crystal Club is an exclusive member’s only community for those who love to add sparkle to their lives and are dedicated to the art and craft of crystallising! Crystal Club members are able to build up ‘Sparkle Points’ every time they purchase from our website and then receive money off as well as receiving up to date information on all competitions, freebies, discounts, giveaways, special offers, downloads, projects, inspirational ideas plus all the latest news & workshop updates.

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As you are based in the UK, do you offer products or services overseas too?

Yes we do, Crystal Parade are recognised in the industry as the source of creative inspiration. Known as the go-to supplier of crystals, fabrics, feathers and trimmings for both consumers and businesses, we regularly work with customers from Europe, Middle East & Africa, America & Australia.

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Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

On the whole I’m a jeans and t-shirt girl. We have a smart casual dress code in the office so I get to wear jeans every day, consequently I have lots of different types,styles and colours. Joe is my favourite brand. I usually team them with a cool pair of boots, shoes or brogues, a nice artistic shirt/top, finished with a funky scarf and nice handbag!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Apart from www.crystalparade.co.uk? 😀 I like Steve Madden for shoes & I love shopping in Waitrose!

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I just got some new ankle boots from Moda in London but I need some more Joe Jeans

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Boots or Shoes?

It would have to be boots. I’m a huge fan of boots, plus we are currently working with the award winning musical Kinky Boots in London. We provide the crystals & fabrics for the show. You should see the boots! WOW!

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more
about Crystal Parade.

Website – www.crystalparade.co.uk
Crystal Parade TV – https://www.youtube.com/user/CrystalParade
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Crystal-Parade/301559506525421
Twitter – https://twitter.com/CrystalParade1
Pinterest – https://uk.pinterest.com/crystalparade1/

It’s always a great pleasure to have a fellow fan of boots on the blog – I do love your fashion sense too, Wendy – you can never have enough boots, shoes or jeans I say! (Plus the odd glamorous dress or two)  I will try to get to see Kinky Boots – if only to witness the boots themselves! And as for the request for a crystallised adult toy…. Ah, dear readers, are you into crystal embellishments? What fashion/footwear item would you love to embellish? Dare I say it, but any other items?   Do share your thoughts, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Crystal Parade except for the shoe photo.Last photo: Daily Mail 
[http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-3357710/Girl-power-Little-Mix-Fleur-East-leggy-display-team-epic-mash-hit-singles-star-X-Factor-final.html ]

Shoe photo credit: Linda Hobden

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An Interview With Inkerman

I’m talking luxury this week with a capital L  as I chat to Louise and Kiki, founding directors of Inkerman, the luxury British brand producing and specialising in bespoke gifts, trophies and awards.  With Valentines Day and Mothers Day looming on the horizon, what better way to say “I love you” than a bespoke design or one of Inkerman’s exclusive gifts?

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Hi Louise and Kiki, welcome! Please introduce your business:

INKERMAN – founded by us, Louise Eadie and Kiki Grigson in 1996, was the first of its kind – we identified a gap in the corporate gift market and turned our entrepreneurial skills into filling it.

What inspired you to launch your business Inkerman?

We both worked in the corporate department at Tiffany’s and realised there was a real gap in the market for a British Brand, as we were continually being asked for British products

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Who came up with the brand name “Inkerman” and the little red box packaging idea?

Our first office was in Louise’s basement in Inkerman Terrace, Kensington. The name Inkerman was chosen for its British heritage, being one of the battles of the Crimean war. The red box was chosen during a visit to the box makers; the colour red was chosen for its strong colour and relevance to the Union Jack.

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I love your sterling silver rolling bangle and, in your exclusive pewter collection, the Westminster Jug. What gift products seem to be most popular at the moment?

Our new British Pewter collection continues to be one of our best selling products. We work with British craftsmen to produce our stylish range of tumblers and jugs which look fabulous and wear beautifully well. Pewter is wonderfully sensorial on the lips, enhancing the enjoyment of the drink whether a cordial or chilled champagne. It is also super durable making it the perfect companion for summer fun. And because pewter is the fourth most precious metal in the world, our range of tumblers and jugs will always bring glamour and a touch of style to any outdoor event – even if it’s raining and you’re wearing wellies!

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Out of all your products, do you have a favourite item?

That is a difficult question to answer because we are so personally involved in the design of all of our products, we really love them all. However if we had to choose:

  • Kiki’s favourite is the initialled tankard which she has just given to all her godsons.
  • Louise’s favourites are the Tusk Elephant bowl and Chianti carafe with the silver trim. 

Your company specialises in producing one-off pieces, bespoke designs and special commissions. What was the most unusual item you’ve had to create or produce?

A hand-made carbon fibre sail trophy sitting on a glass and steel plinth commissioned by a private yacht company for a regatta. It looked amazing.

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What are your party must-have gifts/ideas?

Our focus is always on the best of British and working with the very best British craftsman. Favourites for Christmas 2015 were named glass dressing table bowls and initialled tankards. A party must have is our fabulous leather tasselled clutch that comes in a great choice of classic colours, Navy, Orange, Pink and Tan – I don’t go anywhere without mine!

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As you are based in the UK, do you offer your products or bespoke services overseas too?

Yes we supply all over the world.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Our job is fully and completely hands on. It can involve visits to workshops, meetings with customers, designing new ranges and occasionally packing boxes so comfort is absolutely essential. We usually like to wear classic pieces like cashmere v neck or shirts, trousers or jeans and trainers or loafers.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Louise’s favourite for something special is Mojo and McCoy in Hungerford, set up by A P McCoy’s wife Chantelle and the Duchess of Cornwall’s daughter Laura Lopes. Kiki’s favourite is Anthropologie.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

Where do we start?

Boots or Shoes?

Trainers for comfort; boots and shoes for smarter occasions, when we need to dress to impress!

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Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Inkerman.

www.inkerman.co.uk

Facebook.com/inkermanlondon

Twitter.com/Inkermanlondon

Thanks for visiting the blog Louise and Kiki – your gifts are exquisite and your leather tasselled clutch is a favourite of mine too!  For Christmas and New Year 2015, my candles (fake and real) and fairy lights were an important feature of my entertaining decor – I didn’t have a proper Christmas Tree as my two kittens would have had a field day! I did however have a small stick tree with lights at the end which was just as lovely. What dear readers are your party decor must haves? Do tell!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of Inkerman (Louise Eadie & Kiki Grigson)

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Working From Home – Sewing

I’m heading Down Under this week to speak to the lovely Joy who has written a brilliant e-book aimed at stay at home mums who want to start their own sewing business from home.  Surrounded by business since she was a small child, Joy offers a wealth of information and  practical advice.  I was also taken with her “folded book art” business, so I had plenty of questions to ask!  Welcome Joy….

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Hi! My name is Joy, I live in Australia, I am a mum, wife, writer and freelancer, thanks for having me.​

Congratulations on publishing your e-book about starting your own sewing business from home. Where did you get inspiration from to write this e-book? Who do you hope to inspire?

I wrote the book to help stay at home mums that are feeling deflated from “just being a mum” – I know the feeling all too well and I think the only thing that kept me sane was having something on the side to make me feel valued. This isn’t your million dollar income, though it could be, it’s more about providing a little more income without added stress.​

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You’ve been surrounded by business ventures in one way or another since you were young. Growing up, was your career aspirations business orientated or art orientated or did your dreams follow a different path?

Growing up my Dad worked for himself at markets and fairs so I was exposed to that life from about 3-4 years of age.  I enjoyed it.  I have always been entrepreneurial. My mum always said I could be anything I wanted when I grew up and I believed it. This led to me being 28 and having no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up. I decided not to grow up, and keep with my folded book art but share more of my knowledge.​

As I’m somebody who cannot knit or crochet and can barely sew despite 3 years of needlework lessons at school, I really am in awe of you! Do you find sewing/ craftwork therapeutic?

I personally am like you, I can do little more than basic alterations, I was working with a client to set up her sewing business when the inspiration for the book came to me, that you don’t need to be an expert to make money sewing.​

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I was mesmerised by the fantastic folded book art featured on your website & shop. Did it take long to learn? Is it a craft talent handed down by generations?

I would like to say it was easy, but when I started about 7 years ago there wasn’t a lot of information available. I purchased a tutorial for a basic folding pattern and with trial and error learnt how to create my own patterns. It is still one of my biggest forms of income. I decided to start selling tutorials myself because I was getting a lot of interest from the US but $40 for shipping was a killer.​

Apart from the folded book art, you have also launched themed book jewellery. Sounds very fiddly to me! What pieces of jewellery or folded book art in general are your most popular sellers? Is there a difference in preference in Australia compared with, say the UK & USA?

The book jewellery is a bit fiddly, and it’s the only item I make in batches -the process of all the gluing is just too hard for single pendants. I have found that popular books make popular pendants. I am working with the Twilight series at the moment, and they are proving popular. Another of my best sellers is wedding confetti cones – in fact, this last weekend, I coiled and posted 250 of them to celebrate various weddings!

Are you looking at writing other e-books in the future? What topics would you like to cover?

I will be writing more books. I am following a business start up trend – things you need to know, getting started with wordpress – internet marketing is the umbrella genre.​

What sort of book genre do you like reading? Favourite books or authors?

At the moment I am following author Dave Koziel, who is also an entrepreneur. I do like reading success stories and advice. I implement them and then write about how to model them for smaller businesses.

If you could visit any place in the world to give you art & craft or business inspiration, which place would you love to venture to & why?

Ooooh, such a tough question! I imagine doing a folded book art lesson in the castles of the UK or Europe would be amazing.​

When you’re not sewing, blogging or running your art & craft business, what hobbies/past times do you enjoy?

My internet business/entrepreneurial pursuits are my hobbies.  I love getting out there, learning the latest changes and helping others achieve their success. It’s a bit of a running joke in my household. I truly am earning doing what I love.​

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Normally in jeans and a shirt, something comfortable. We have up to 5 children home at any one time and much more than this is just too impractical for me.​

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I love vintage and used clothing so mostly I will purchase awesome finds on ebay or etsy.​

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

For the last 3 seasons I have not been able to find knee high boots I like  – they are still on the list and I guess since it is nearly Summer here they will need to wait until next season.​

Boots or Shoes?

I can’t make such a choice, it’s all about the heel! I am addicted to heels but I have no where to wear them.​

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about you, your crafts & e-books.

Book art can be found at http://tintiara.com
​Small business advice and a link to Amazon for my book can be found at http://joyouscreature.com
Twitter @joyouscreature​

It’s been a total joy to speak to you and I wish you all the best in your business ventures.  I must say, your dream of holding folded book art lessons in a castle sounds good …. Thornbury Castle in South West England is now a hotel but it still has original features and lounges lined with bookshelves galore – I can imagine that being a good venue!  Any readers got any good ideas of the perfect location?  Do share, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Joy Ireland.

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An Interview With 7ven Crystals

Despite the spookiness and darkness of Halloween, I think it’s now “time to shine” as I introduce onto the blog Luis of London based 7ven Crystals, whose company makes items into works of art by using the finest Swarovski Crystals.  Everything from jewellery to clothing can be crystal customised and I caught up with Luis recently to shine a light on his sparkly business ….image

Hello my name is Luis Moreira, I’m 28 years old and I am a Portuguese crystals designer. I attended a school in arts but, to be honest, all my life has been connected with arts somehow.  Over the last five years I’ve become more and more experienced in working with this kind of material. I moved to London three years ago because the market is way more open to luxury items than in Portugal. The crystals that we use are from one of the most famous crystal brands – Swarovski.

What inspired you to launch your business venture, 7ven Crystals?

Ever since I was 18/19 I always wanted to start my own business, but at that time I had no idea of what kind of business it would be. Then one day I was watching a fashion show on tv and they were talking about this big brand of crystals called Swarovski. The programme covered everything from how it was made to the designs that they did, and I’ve became obsessed with the idea! I did some research and around three years or so later, I was starting to make some small designs. From that point to starting my own business, I knew that it was only going to be just a matter of time!

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When did you start to get a passion for fashion and art?

The passion for art was first – my grandmother used to draw incredibly well and my uncle from my mother’s side was very talented in arts as well – so I guess that was already in my blood!

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Early days yet I know, but what products are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season for embellishing with Swarovski Crystals?

Oh that’s easy, it’s definitely the high heels and lingerie! There is a slogan that says ” diamonds are a girl’s best friend” – I would like to change that to ” crystals are a girl’s best friend” – simply because diamonds are very expensive and not everybody can afford them, but crystals are luxurious and glamorous but still much more affordable for any lady. It’s not only for ladies –  we make items for gents as well, watches for example.

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Out of all the products you’ve decorated, do you have a favourite item?

Probably a pink and white crystal bracelet and a black watch I did for an international celebrity. The bracelet was my first big design.

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What has been the most unusual item you’ve decorated with the crystals?

The most unusual request was from a lady that asked me to glue a crystal onto her leg – for obvious reasons I didn’t do it! The most unusual item that I’ve done was probably a trash can – the lady loved crystal items and asked me if it was possible to do it. Of course I said yes, because any item is doable. One of the things I really liked was the fact that this lady understood our brand message.  I would like to make it very clear, that we can make any item not only from our collection but from your own house as well. Basically you can become the designer – just let us know your idea and we will make it happen. Remember the old shoes that you don’t wear anymore because they are old and ugly? We can make them look even better than they were new.

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How long does it take to embellish a standard pair of heels?

It depends! If we are talking about a pair of heels with just the heel in crystals then maybe around one hour.  If the customer asks for a pair of shoes all covered with crystals it will take approximately one to two days, but if it’s urgent it is possible to make them in seven hours.

Looking ahead – are you hoping to expand your collection of ready embellished items or will you be concentrating on doing bespoke items?

For me the biggest priority is to get 7ven Crystals known by as many people as I can! In terms of collection, yes, I am preparing a new collection to be released after my planned photoshoot. But I love it when a customer comes along with his own ideas for the items.

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As you are based in the UK, do you offer embellished products or services overseas too?

Yes, we can ship items anywhere in the world. That is one of the reasons that we are doing a photo shoot – to get ourselves known worldwide! I was very lucky that I’ve got a brilliant, gorgeous model (Cat Voysey) and the only thing I can say is that this shoot is going to be out of this world – so stay tuned everybody! Well, our slogan is Time To Shine!

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Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Always  jeans – I love jeans – and probably a white shirt, leather jacket, and  a nice watch. I have a passion for watches! In terms of footwear, probably Christian Louboutin trainers. (And, of course, some crystal item!)

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Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Yes, The 7Ven Crystals ahahaha! I have – probably the essentialone.com for new daddies and mummies.

What’s next on your clothes/shoes wishlist?

Buscemi Trainers – I am in love with them, and a MCM backpack.

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Boots or Shoes?

It depends on the weather!  When it comes to the ladies, I think a high heel shoe will always look prettier than a pair of boots.

Links you would like to share:

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Seven-Crystals/1488583511369929?ref=hl

Twitter: @7venCrystals

Website:http://wallett7777.wix.com/the7vencrystals

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Thank you for dazzling us with your beautiful crystal products!  I have had a phone case crystallised and many of my friends have had their shoes crystallised with stunning results.  A crystallised bra top would be really fab to own (although not sure if I would be brave enough to strut my stuff in one…. well, I might need a glass or two of wine beforehand!) Tell me, dear readers, have you had anything crystallised? What would you love to have embellished with gorgeous crystals?  Do tell!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from 7ven Crystals.

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Nightmares Are Made Of This

Adults should never underestimate the power of a child’s imagination – from clowns to parental lies about bogeymen or monsters who live under the bed in an effort to get your child to behave – these figments of imagination run riot in tiny minds!  Exploring the topic of parental lying, Singaporean author/illustrator Trivia Goh, has got together and published a collection of local lies commonly heard in Singapore and presented them in a book of gorgeous illustrations and light hearted rhymes.  Nightmares are never far from anybody’s mind during spooky Halloween week, so I caught up with the delightful Trivia to find out more …… 

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Hi! I’m Trivia Goh, a 24-year-old artist, illustrator and designer based in Singapore. I studied at the School of Art Design and Media at Nanyang Technological University, majoring in Visual  Communications. Currently, I’m working towards my dream of living off my art.

Congratulations on publishing your book, “Nightmares Are Made Of This” – a children’s book for adults, touching upon the topic of parental lying; the lies parents tell their children to get them to behave as desired! Where did you get inspiration from to write this passionate book?

Thank you very much! The inspiration stemmed from the culture here in Singapore, where, every so often you’ll catch wind of a parent telling scary lies to their kids to get them to stop crying, to stop running, to stop talking…it is all very instrumental and the stories they come up with are incredible. (I have to give them that!). Some stories are passed down for generations while others are just made up on the spot to instill that momentary fear. I like my works to be meaningful so I decided to illustrate these dark stories for parents to better see what kind of imagery they are putting into their childrens’ head and henceforth be more mindful of their words.

 

 

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As well as being published author, you are also an accomplished illustrator too. Growing up, were your career aspirations writing or art based or did your dreams follow a different path?

When I was growing up I thought I’d be an artist. But somewhere along the way I got caught up with all the expectations to get a “real” job. So I allowed myself to go down a more commercial path of a designer. But I think I’m back on track now!

Your book contains a collection of local lies that are commonly heard in Singapore, presented with illustrations and light hearted rhymes. What was the lie most used on you as a youngster growing up in Singapore? What’s the funniest, oddest or your favourite “lie” in the book?

The one about the watermelon seeds! My mum used to tell me not to eat watermelon seeds otherwise they’d grow a watermelon in my tummy. I always thought to myself that the seeds are germinating in the tummies of those who ate the seeds. The oddest lie in the book has got to be the one where parents tell their children not to pick their nose because there’s a fanged worm in there and it will bite their finger if they do. It took a while to figure out how the illustration would be like if they do and the whole time I was thinking that is such an odd thing to say!

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Your book though is meant to be educational for adults – to make parents aware and be mindful of their interactions with the young ones and not to under estimate the power of a child’s imagination. Although you are based in Singapore, is your book available to purchase overseas? Do you offer a digital format (eg Kindle) as well as the giant sized book and smaller sized version?

Yes the small sized graphic novel ( 20mmx 80mm) is currently available online on my website, at My Imagination Kingdom (an independent bookstore) and soon it will be up on the shelves of Kinokuniya. I felt the need to get this out there to the world and not just in Singapore. The giant book is making an appearance again at My Imagination Kingdom at a meet the author session and I’m looking to make it available for sale in future.

If you had to write a book in a different genre from “Nightmares Are Made Of This”, what genre would you pick?

I’d pick children fiction and fantasy. Those books are precious precious gems. I once read a children’s picture book about picking stars and I learnt a whole lot more on how to grow as a human being from that book than any adult self-help book I’ve ever read. When we create the impossible things, we inspire people to do the impossible.

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Are you looking at writing other books in the future? What topics would you like to cover?

I’m looking at a part 2 for Nightmares Are Made of This, and this time with contribution of parental lies from people all over the world. (I’ll make an announcement on my Facebook page  when this will be in time). For now, I’m focusing on illustrating and I will be compiling my works into little books on a regular basis. I’d like to cover topics that seem very trivial but matter a lot. It is how it is with little things.

What sort of book genre do you like reading? Favourite books or authors?

I like reading fantasy and fiction. My current favourite is The North Star by Peter H Reynolds. My usual reads include JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series and Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

If you could visit any place in the world to give you some book/illustration inspiration, which place would you love to venture to & why?

Gruyères, Switzerland! To visit the Giger Museum! H.R Giger, Tim Burton and Edward Gorey are great inspirations I live by.

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When you’re not writing and illustrating, what hobbies/past times do you enjoy?

I like to watch movies. The romantic comedies, fantasy films and animations provide a very good form of momentary escapism and that really brings fresh perspective to things.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Denim shorts and baggy shirt with plain black flats – they go with everything! 

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

Yep! I frequent postsecret.com & iwrotethisforyou.me – to feel human.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

A blue grey bridesmaid dress. A friend of mine is getting married in November!

Boots or Shoes?

Boots. Adds a little edginess!

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about you and your book.

My Website : www.trivialities.com.sg

My fb page : https://www.facebook.com/trivialities.sg

Meet the author session event pg:
https://www.facebook.com/events/ 82549393434355 /

My instagram : @trivialities

Thank you Trivia for taking time out to chat to us about your wonderful book and illustrations. A lot of people I know find clowns scary, but for me it’s the humble cow … no particular reason why… so what gives you goosebumps dear readers? Do share your secrets!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Trivia Goh.

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An Interview With Paulia Scarves

This week I’m talking scarves with the lovely Julia of Paulia Scarves.  There’s nothing better than updating and adding colour to a plain coloured dress or sweater than a colour printed scarf, and even better a limited edition one in luxurious silk. A colourful printed scarf is such a versatile accessory – from brightening up your daywear to adding a touch of glam in the evening – it certainly is a must-have for your wardrobe.  Julia has also sorted out a lovely offer just for readers of this blog… details at the end ! Without further ado, let me introduce Julia and let’s find out more about Paulia Scarves….image

Hi!  Paulia is a venture set-up by my brother Paul Davis assisted by me. By day I work in IT sales and by evening I am known as Julia Hollywood,wife of Bret Hollywood – Boxing ring announcer and TV sports presenter www.hollywoodmc.com! Both Bret and I are very keen on fashion and hence my involvement in Paulia. Paul is an IT consultant and also a gifted and talented photographer. Paul and I hail from an ‘arty’ family as our father, Eric,  was a very talented artist and writer. Many of his pictures adorn the walls of our family home in Ruislip and the walls of my home.

What inspired you to launch your new prints and scarves business venture in June 2015?

My brother is a truly excellent modern photographer and I am very keen on fashion and we came up with the idea to develop some of Paul’s photographic images into scarves. Paul’s photography can be viewed at www.pkds.pics.

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When did you start to get a passion for fashion and art?

Art is our blood – with Paul, his talent manifests itself in primarily photography but I reckon he could paint too! My talent is mainly seen in interior design and I have had articles published on a garden and kitchen I remodelled at my former home and I have also nearly completed re-modelling my new home. Fashion is just my passion and I really found my feet in fashion when I married Bret as Bret is known for his sartorial elegance and sense of style and I have been very indulged by him and frankly have a wardrobe to die for!!

Indeed Bret’s shoe wardrobe is very impressive as I found out a few years back when I interviewed him ( press HERE to read Bret’s interview)…

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Early days yet I know, but what colour scarves are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season via your outlet at the swish Lisa La Moda Boutique in Gerrards Cross?

We have four scarves available from our limited edition range and they are all proving very popular but the monochrome effect may be just in the lead! They are designed to be flexible and complement many outfits and have topical, on-trend colours such as pinks, blues and greens.

Out of all the scarves in your collection, do you have a favourite? Favourite print?

My personal favourite is the wall abstract design as it is the perfect match for a super blue jacket which I bought from my most favourite fashion store ever – Lisa La Moda (www.lisalamoda.com) and the scarf with the blue and pink is just a perfect match.

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Apart from selling your scarves and prints at Lisa La Moda, you also had a “pop-up” stand at a recent Art Fair. Did you enjoy the experience? What items went down a treat there?

The art fair was a super weekend – the scarves were very well received and one lady even bought two, Paul’s photographic art was also well received and he sold some pictures too. We will be doing more art fairs so watch this space.

Which famous lady would you love to see wearing your scarves?

For me that would be a lady with elegance,someone like Victoria Beckham or Kiera Knightly or Angline Jolie. For Paul, he thinks they might suit Kristin Scott Thomas.

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Looking ahead to Autumn/Winter 2015 – what colours do you hope to introduce to your collection?

The scarves we have just launched will continue into the Autumn/Winter Season but watch this space as we will be releasing new designs and we are also looking at other fabric options as well as the top-quality, hand finished silk scarves we produce today.

As you are based in the UK, are your scarves and prints available to purchase overseas too?

Paulia is based in the UK and our scarves are available on our website www.paulia.co.uk. They will be available to order online to overseas customers.

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Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

The style you will most frequently see me in is a body-con but I also have many other styles of dresses. Dresses are my thing – I collect them and I have many timeless pieces as I do like value for money too and I do make sure I get lots of wear from my wardrobe. Sometimes I will say to Bret – I haven’t had the opportunity to wear such and such a dress for a while let’s plan an evening out so I can wear it! One of my favourite designers for cocktail wear is Catwalk Collection – these dresses are available at Lisa La Moda. Shoes are not my thing so much as I have size 3 feet which leads to much disappointment as many shoes I like are out of stock! Even though I have managed to cobble together a collection of some 200 pairs of shoes and boots over the years…

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Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (I think I know the answer to that question already!)

Lisa La Moda is top of the list as I love the experience of being able to try on all the dresses which you just can’t do shopping on line and Lisa always offers me a glass of champers, having said that, I do also shop at Net-a-Porter. They have great clothes and a fantastic delivery and returns service. I also like Selfridges this is where I go to buy jeans they have the best jeans selection in my opinion.

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What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

Next on my list is a lovely laser cut skater style black evening dress that I saw at Lisa’s shop the other day as I have the perfect jewellery to match… but do I need another dress? Well of course I do!!

Boots or Shoes?

Different shoes for different occasions but nothing beats a pair of elegant stilettos and my favourite are Stuart Weitzman as they are comfortable and as a good looking as a comfy shoe can get. I do also have several fabulous pairs of Jimmy Choos  and my favourites are some fur lined biker boots that I have worn to death…

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about you and your business venture

www.paulia.co.ukwww.pkds.pics

STOP PRESS! SPECIAL OFFER!

I just wanted to let you know we have created a special page for your followers to access purchasing the scarves at £55.00 (inclusive of packaging and UK delivery) as opposed to £85.00 list price.

Instructions are :

Go to http://www.pkds.pics/bootsshoesandfashion
Enter password boots_55.

We will keep the page live until 31st December 2015.

Thank you so much Julia …. I agree, one can never have too many dresses …. but I don’t think you can honestly say you’re not a shoe person!!!! Wishing you and Paul much success with your venture – the prints & scarves are fab and I look forward to seeing the introduction of the new fabrics in 2016!  So, dear readers, a question for you – if you have a plain black dress & need to add a scarf, what colour(s) would you pick? For me, I would go for hints of red! I look forward to reading your ideas!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Julia Hollywood and Paul Davis.

 

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An Interview With Really Color

For children and adults alike, colouring can be a calming past time – even some family restaurants give children colouring pencils and colouring pages to amuse them whilst awaiting for their burger and fries.  My guest this week has taken this simple idea to the next level – his idea is to turn your existing personal photos into colouring pages.  I caught up with Dieter of Really Color to find out more …image

Hi there! My name is Dieter Marlovics and I’m the founder of ReallyColor.com. I’m 39 years old and have a 7-year-old daughter who tells me what to do…and I do it.

The idea of ReallyColor is to turn photos into colouring pages. What inspired you to start the business?

The idea for ReallyColor was sparked during a Friday night pizza party. My daughter was 4 years old at the time and in a goofy mood. Fully aware that I’m a neat freak, she was finding art supplies (among other things) and throwing them on the floor in front of me laughing and running away before I could catch her. She started pretending to use her crayons and markers on tables, chairs, floors, clothes, walls, my hair, her friend’s dog (but he got away), her shoes, and then explaining how she simply wanted to change the color of…well…everything! She then pretended to start drawing on the wall, and I dove in head first to stop her. Not wanting to stifle her artistic development, and needing some peace to finish cooking dinner, I took a picture of the wall, printed it out, and told her that she could go ahead and draw on the wall, but only on the piece of paper with the printed image. I thought to myself how cool it would be for her to be able to color real things instead of the constant barrage of fictional cartoon characters. There were a few nervous sleepless nights spent staring at the ceiling, which ended in the morning with my laughing little girl jumping on me cannon ball style. SHE may have been laughing, but that wasn’t the sound coming out of MY mouth! After some time researching and collaborating with my colleagues, I decided to fund the building of our first prototype to see if coloring real photos could even be done well enough for at least my daughter and her friends to have fun with. The rest, as they say, is history.

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My children enjoy downloading colouring pages and I noticed on your website you do offer a range of free downloadable colouring pages. Turning your own photos into colouring pages makes it a lot of fun. What other uses can ReallyColor offer?

Our customers are doing things with ReallyColor that we never imagined when first starting the company. For example, teachers have created ReallyColoring pages from photos of various flags around the world, different well-known landmarks, or famous individuals now and in history, and used them as teaching aids in the classroom. Parents have used them as a unique way to share memories, as birthday party favors, or to create their own calendars. Brides and grooms have created ReallyColoring pages from their wedding photos and included them in their thank you cards. ReallyColoring pages are even being used as an early intervention tool to help treat autism, to aid in speech therapy, and even to help treat Alzheimer’s patients.

What is the cost of converting photos to colouring pages? Although you are based in Chicago, do you accept other currencies, eg the £ and Euro?

ReallyColor sells photo credits and each photo credit is used to download one completed coloring page, which is also then sent to a user’s email inbox. Physical ReallyColor gift cards will soon be for sale in retail outlets and other venues. On our web site, we sell three packages:

Single one-time-only coloring page downloads: $1.49
10 Photo Credits: $3.99
50 Photo Credits: $14.99

We are a U.S. company so our currency is in U.S. dollars, but we accept payment from any credit card or PayPal account. We have sold ReallyColor Photo Credits in the U.S., United Kingdom, Canada, Denmark, Mexico, Poland, Netherlands, France, South Africa, Australia and many more. Basically, you can pay us with pretty much any currency and from any country on planet Earth.

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Once photos are downloaded to be changed into colouring pages, do they remain stored on your system?

We do not store our users’ coloring pages. Once our customers have their pages, they own them and can do with them whatever they want. We also don’t store payment information once the transaction is completed. Our users’ privacy is a huge thing for us.

Have you got any tips on how to get the best colouring page results?

Like anything in life, you get what you give. The same applies with ReallyColoring pages. The larger, brighter, and more crisp your original photo is, the better your coloring page will turn out. We have built an editor, which allows you to easily erase things you don’t want to see in your coloring page and draw in things you do. Our customers can spend as little or as much time with the editor in order to make each page as perfect as he or she wants to.
What we are most excited about is our Photo Quality Scoring Tool, built by our Chief Scientist, which automatically analyzes uploaded photos across multiple dimensions and assigns each a quality score (1-100). This has turned out to be an amazing guide that is helping our users choose great photos.

Is ReallyColor available as a mobile app?

Not yet, but we are obsessing about this! A significant percentage of ReallyColor users create their coloring pages using the mobile browser on their tablet or smartphone with great results. So, even without a ReallyColor mobile app, there is nothing stopping anybody from watching their kids’ soccer games, recitals, or sitting at a café on the beach overlooking the water, and creating a ReallyColoring page from the amazing family photo just taken.

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Your career revolves around technology, photography and art – but as a child, what were your career aspirations?

Oh boy…as a child I had many ideas of what I wanted to be when I grew up. Let’s see…scientist, astronaut, professional tennis player, Superman, racecar driver (I’m still going for this one every single day), Indiana Jones, and a rock star wearing big aviator sunglasses.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

When it comes to men’s fashion, I am pretty much a moron, so I like to keep it simple. If I could, I would walk around in khaki shorts and Birkenstock sandals every single day. Given that I live in the entrepreneurial world, I stick to jeans anytime it’s not too warm for pants. I have a tall, slender, athletic build with very long legs, so finding jeans that don’t look too baggy or too tight (not very manly in my opinion) is sometimes a challenge. The brands I like are Kastle, Seven, and Joe’s. I prefer boot-cut jeans, but am being informed that this is out of style now?! In Summer, I usually wear Polo golf shirts. Recently, I’ve also discovered Henley brand shirts, but they only look good if I go to the gym often enough. In winter, I prefer comfortable sweaters. When I do have to dress up a bit, I usually throw on a Hugo Boss button down shirt and dress pants. Sometimes I will add a sport coat, but only if I’m feeling dangerous. As far as shoes go, I prefer anything without laces (other than my gym shoes). In my closet, you will find one pair of brown loafers, one pair of black loafers, one pair of gym shoes, and of course, one pair of Birkenstock sandals. In winter, I add a pair of leather boots and a pair of serious snow boots that I wear in the mountains during ski season. I don’t have more room anyway, since the girls in my life (little and tall) take up the rest of the closet space.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I don’t spend much time shopping for fashion, but I usually buy gym shoes at TennisWarehouse.com. When I shop for clothes offline, it’s always a purposeful visit where I know what I need, I walk in, ask for it, maybe try it on, pay for it, and leave. There isn’t one store I prefer over another and usually depends on what it is they sell and if there is a good deal to be had.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

My Seven jeans are starting to wear out and yesterday my daughter snuck up behind me and tickled me through a hole in the upper back leg of my jeans. I decided that this is a problem I should probably solve. So…I’m going to go buy a new pair of Joe’s or maybe a pair of Kastles.

Boots or Shoes?

I prefer my leather boots in Fall, Winter, and early Spring. Why? I think it’s because they are bigger and make the shape of my lower legs look more substantial while still looking like leather shoes when covered with pants. Once the weather gets too warm, though, I stick to shoes. That reminds me…I do need some flip-flops that I can get wet when going to the pool. I’ll probably buy a pair of those if I’m feeling fashionably ambitious one day this summer.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter/instagram etc so that readers can find out more about ReallyColor.

The best way to get to know ReallyColor is our web site and our Facebook page. We are thankful to all our customers and grateful that we can have this much fun following our dreams and our passion for changing the world with goodness. Finally, we’d like to give a big thank you to Boots, Shoes & Fashion for the chance to tell the ReallyColor story.

ReallyColor Web Site: http://www.ReallyColor.com

ReallyColor Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ReallyColor

It has been real fun talking to you Dieter and I wish your company continued success.  I love helping my children do colouring and they are very enthusiastic about art.  I find it therapeutic, do you?

Linda x

Photos have been published with kind permission of Really Color.

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An Interview With Natalka Design

The newly elected children’s laureate, author and illustrator Chris Riddell, has recently stated that he wants to encourage children to indulge in drawing every day as well as reading.  It is an ethos most likely shared by my blog guest this week, Natalia Talkowska of Natalka Design.  She describes herself as being not only the Founder of Natalka Design but “Chief Visual Storyteller”… and she’s inspiring enough to be chosen by Microsoft to illustrate the benefits of the Microsoft Surface Pro in their recent advertising campaign (to watch the video, press HERE).  I caught up with Natalia recently to find out about her business plans, the Microsoft campaign, her drawing ethos and I got doodled too…. Join us….Hi Natalia!…image

Hi! I’m Natalia. I run Natalka Design and Doodleledo. The first is all about giving businesses more personality, playing with visual communication, refreshing consulting and show ways to liven events and meetings. Doodleledo is fun drawing get togethers for anyone that says ‘ I can’t draw’.

You have an unique business and one that you certainly excel in! When did you first discover your talent for drawing & doodling?

Since I was a kid I have always been drawing. My mum would say: give her a pen and a paper and she’s happy. Whilst studying I realised more that I can easily record real time conversations and ideas through pictures, not even knowing this could start my business one day. I just loved expressing my ideas as well as others through visuals. I remembered it much more than just text. I cry when I see an excel sheet, my brain can’t grasp it!

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You founded Natalka Design/Doodle-le-Do. Where did you get the inspiration from to start the companies?

Inspiration can hit anywhere and anytime. Anyone that’s very visual knows what I’m talking about. Natalka Design was born at the right time after years of not really loving my jobs to finally standing my own ground and using my skills to help others grow and communicate easier. Now we’re a full service agency working on several projects at a time globally. Our ethos #resisttheusual is something we all treat with care and respect. There are enough approaches and ways of making things happen the same way. We wanted to be different and always be surprising. That’s how Doodleledo was born…a new, different idea out of my observations on how people network in the same boring way and how they often tell me they can’t draw….Doodleledo is for small fun gatherings with drinks and nibbles for anyone that says ‘I can’t draw’. The idea is to leave with a bunch of new friends, not business cards. I must have done something right as now we’re a growing community – launching in 10 cities across the globe with partners and press behind us. We’ve got exciting plans for the future, so watch this space and come to one!

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Congratulations on being chosen by Microsoft to illustrate the benefits of the Microsoft Surface Pro in their YouTube video/advert. The video, apart from showing the tablet & its benefits, also showed ways that visual techniques could be used for events, team meetings and brainstorming. Was it a fun project to embark on?

Oh yes! Totally different fun experience, we had so many laughs and a great time filming in different locations. When the Microsoft team approached us, we knew it will be a great new adventure to embark on. The idea to film me working in natural environment came naturally after first meeting. We knew it would be a great way to showcase some inspiring new ways of working better and faster. Hopefully that came across.

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Powered by Natalka Design, Doodle-le-Do parties were started in London in 2014 and have since spread further afield to Dublin, Poland, Dordrecht, Milwaukee, Nairobi, Toronto, Atlanta, New York and Paris. In fact, more cities are being added as we speak! They sound great fun – can you describe a typical party?

This video will hopefully give you the best feel of it. To really experience it from within, come and join us in London or any other city from where they’re run. If there’s no Doodleledo in your city and you’d like to run your own, get in touch, let’s make it happen, it naturally grows from word of mouth and people seeing it’s a new, fun relaxing and creative way of meeting new friends. Best of all, you get to draw again, like when you were a kid, without thinking too much about it, just enjoying yourself!

Have you got any drawing/doodling tips?

Just do it – get a pencil and pen and observe things – start drawing. It’s like any muscle, it takes practice to develop it. I wasn’t straight away drawing as I do now. It’s such a great thing for your brain to keep it young, energised and on creative mode.

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You’ve worked in a variety of places from 10 Downing Street drawing the Prime Minister to a 5 Star hotel in Miami Beach speed drawing at a tech conference for 3,000 people. What has been your favourite assignment?

I don’t have one favourite as sometimes the most initmate work like visualising private thoughts by a CEO of a company and drawing their stories feels so inspiring, special and private, like they’re sharing a piece of themselves with you is way cooler than speed drawing at huge conference. So I’ve got a lot of favourites that we can’t show results of to the public as it’s just for the internal communication but one of my most favourite assignments would be connected with travelling to new places. That’s always an exciting  learning experience.

You have many fans of your artwork, including celebs such as Khloe Kardashian and Jonathan Ross. Is there any famous person (dead or alive) that you would love to meet to doodle?

Stephen Fry…we would definitely have a cool conversation. It may be possible though that I wouldn’t have enough paper to cover his thoughts! I wouldn’t mind meeting Beyonce and draw whilst she sings haha.

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Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I think it depends on my mood. For meetings or events you’ll see me wearing something comfy yet classy, a black nice jacket with a splash of colour underneath is always a yes but for everyday I like casual, chic, city girl kind of style.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

The list is long but I love Anthropologie, Revolve, Goodnight Macaroon, Asos and Free People for fashion; Other Stories for beauty products; and Intimissimi for underwear.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

Oh, this is hard! So many!! I’m definitely a shoes person… so shoes and cute dresses are on my list.

Boots or Shoes?

Both…depends when and what’s the occasion!

Links you would like to share

Here you go:
Website:Natalka Design & Doodleledo
Twitter: @Natalka_Design #resisttheusual @Doodleledo #doodleledo
Instagram: @natalkadesign @doodleledo
Fb pages: Natalka Design Doodleledo

You can catch me here:
@NatiTal
hello@natalkadesign.com

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Wow, thanks for chatting to us Natalia -and I absolutely adore my doodle.  I love to doodle – especially pictures of shoes – but faces are not my forte!  Have I got any artistic doodler blog readers?  What do you love to doodle pictures of?  Do you think doodling could make your company meetings more entertaining? I love to hear your views so please get in touch & comment!

Linda x

All photos and videos  have been published with kind permission of Natalka Designs.

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