Monday, July 18, 2011

Author Talks – Daniella Brodsky

I’ve decided that If I want to be a writer I have to start attending events where I get to meet other writers. I need to start mingling with people who have actually made it in the arts world.  Which is  how Steve and I decide to sign up for one of the author talks at the Hornsby Library.  The talk today is by the author Daniella Brodsky whose book Vivian Rising has recently been published in Australia.  She was born in New York and has recently moved Down Under to live in Canberra.   It is amazing to think she has published 10 books and has already experienced my new dream…that of seeing one of her books made into a movie.

We are there early and get an introduction to her.  We chat and she asks about my exhibition.  Yes, my photos are still up at the library.  It is very special to be attending an event at a venue that is actually hosting my exhibition.  I’m not a star yet..but I have taken a small step.  My travel movie plays while we wait for people to come in and I hear whispers about my photos..and the journey I’ve been on…

The evening commences with a Q&A session.  Daniella talks about her style of writing and how important it is to feel a connection to her characters and to understand what makes them tick.  This resonates with me as of course it is how I take photographs as well.  She talks about the importance of writing everyday and how researching plays a big part in the stories she tells.  She tells us there is wealth of information at the National Library of Canberra (don’t rely solely on Google) and mentions the exciting search facility Trove, which is transforming the way she writes.  Much of what she says rings true for me.  She finds travel invigorating and a real inspiration for her writing and says her style is quite organic in that she doesn’t really have a plan when she starts writing.  Her characters develop as she writes and as she researches the situations she places them in.  She bases her characters on real life people and herself although of course she does change them to make sure they become interesting reading material.  I take notes furiously and file this knowledge away for future use.  It is fun to sit and listen to someone so young who has become so successful and it gives me inspiration and courage to tackle the competitive yet compelling world that writers inhabit. 

It has been a fun evening and I certainly want to attend as many of these events as possible.  After the talk, there is a book signing and wine and sandwiches laid out for all those who attended.  Many of the people browse the exhibition and I chat to some of the attendees who ask about my travels and the work on display.  We say our goodbyes to Daniella and thank her for an entertaining evening.. P1010172

“When we engage in what we are naturally suited to do, our work takes on the quality of play and it is play that stimulates creativity.” –  Linda Naiman

Friday, July 15, 2011

Launching Connections

I’ve taken two days leave for the launch of Connections.  The lead-up has been hectic organising publicity, getting the catalogues and other material printed and making sure all the other bits and pieces were coming together.
I’ve spoken to the Bush Telegraph, the Hornsby Advocate and the Chronicle in Pennant Hills and links to these reviews are on my website connec2nil.  My partner Steven who has Sandwich Board Posterbeen in Copenhagen for 2 weeks, flies in first thing on Thursday morning and my day starts with a trip to the airport.  After a quick shower and a bite to eat we drive to the library to set up.  The process of hanging the photos and text is harder than we imagine but after two days of running around we are almost ready for the launch.
In addition to the photos we have a table with flyers, business cards, evaluation sheets, reviews, guest sign-in and my printed blogs for people to browse through.  A few chairs are scattered around the room but this will be a stand up event.  A sandwich board with a colourful poster at the entrance heralds the exhibition.
My friend Anita is busy setting up in the kitchen and by 6pm we are ready for our first visitors who start arriving shortly after. 
Steven opens the speeches with a warm welcome and invites the Mayor of Hornsby to the podium.  He gives a lovely speech to launch Connections and I wrap up with thanks to everyone who helped makes this a success and a bit of inspiration thrown in for good measure.   Steve and I have made a movie about my year away and they play as people watch and browse and chat.  The room is buzzing and I ‘ve launched my first exhibition…
A Travelbugs Journey Part 1 of 2
A Travelbugs Journey Part 2 of 2

  “The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.” — Alan Alda

Monday, July 11, 2011

Designing a Catalogue and other bits and pieces…

A good exhibition needs a snazzy catalogue that will be unique and define you.  I was cover pagetossing up between colour schemes and designs when I decided the picture of the masaii warriors performing their jumping dance would be my cover page.  The red colour of their sarongs jumped out at me and I realised that the sandy yellow of the African landscape was the perfect compliment to the bright reds of their clothing.  This became my perfect colour palette for the artwork that followed. 

Determining how the artwork would be captioned and written up was my next challenge.  I tossed up a lot of ideas with my partner and then went back to read bits from the blog I had kept on my journey.  After a number of attempts I wrote the first piece on Laughter – the Universal Bond which became my template for the rest of the catalogue. 

It took a lot of brain dumps and discussions with my partner Steven before the words to each picture were written.  Eventually I began to see more of a pattern and the writing highlighted not just the place where the photograph was taken but my reflections of that scene.  I feel pleased with the final result because I am now not only sharing my photography but also my writing which formed a big part of my year away! 

african lady

As I mentioned previously, the catalogue was completed in Microsoft Publisher.  It was printed by means of a digital printer and cost approx. $5.50 a copy.

A final copy of the finished product has been included as an e-book at the end of this blog.   Once I had designed my cover page, the invitations, flyers, thank you cards and all other exhibition material such as posters fell out of that theme easily.  I have included a sample of the invitation and my business card so you get an idea of the material that was produced.  It took a lot of evenings and weekends from our lives but I felt pleased with the finished product.

A sample invitation and business card.. 

Invitation Postcard           Business Card3    


“Every day is an opportunity to be creative – the canvas is your mind, the brushes and colours are your thoughts and feelings, the panorama is your story, the complete picture is a work of art called, ‘my life’. Be careful what you put on the canvas of your mind today – it matters.”  — Innerspace

Project Managing an Exhibition :)

I believe you can achieve anything with a good spreadsheet and this is where my engineering skills of project management and event management can add value to my artistic endeavours.  Most people have sophisticated project management systems…but I love a good spreadsheet!  It was a spreadsheet that helped me get around the world..and it will be a spreadsheet that will help plan my exhibition. 

I set out my spreadsheet with 4 important tabs.  I need to itemise my expenses (Budget), list my contacts (Contacts) including those who will provide publicity, identify my tasks (To Do), and think about who I might invite for the launch (Invite List) and indeed who might actually launch this event. 

While the venue has now been booked and choosing the photos from the thousands I took underway there are many other add-ons that will make this event look professional. 

I decide I want to print catalogues, a business card, a flyer for advertising, invitations and posters for the library.  I also decide I want to launch my website and play a movie of my year away during the event.  It would be a good idea to get some feedback on the day hard_coverso I design an evaluation sheet and buy a guest book for signing.  I also decided to display copies of my printed blog using Blog2Print, a great website for saving your blogs as a pdf or for printing as a blog book!    

As it turned out, these add-ons would actually take lots more time to complete than the photos as Jason was doing all of the hard work in that department.  Jason had also offered to help with some of the processing and after we had selected the group of photos that we thought would be worthy of an exhibition, he helped sort through and choose the ones that would present the best mix.  The magic formula for me was about one third each of landscapes, portraits and wildlife.  While I prefer my portraits over my landscapes, Jason reminded me that from a commercial perspective, it would be the landscapes that people might want to  hang in their living rooms.  Having already sold two landscapes within the first week of my launch I am glad I listened to professional advice. 

Before we could start work on the exhibition, we needed a name.  I think the idea of structuring it around connections came out naturally as I talked through my adventures with Steve.   Without a doubt, it was the Connections I had made with the people in particular but also the wildlife and the places I had travelled through that followers of my blog said stood out for them.  And so, the name of my exhibition was born. 

By Easter a few of the photos are framed.  They are looking fabulous.  We go away to Port Mcquarie for the long holiday weekend.  We both need a break but during the long pleasant evenings we troll through my photographs and choose the next lot for framing. 

I discover Microsoft Publisher and start experimenting with my catalogue.  This software is prefect for my needs, easy to use and has everything needed to design not just catalogues but all of the other material from business cards to flyers and banners. 

Food and drinks are the other two items that could be tricky.  My friend Anita who is a chef offers to look after the catering and I decide to use cellarmasters to order the champagne and wine for the evening.  My girl friends will help with the serving.  Things are coming along, but I need to get cracking on that catalogue…..and organise a bit of publicity.


“…before a dream is realized, the Soul of the World test everything that was learned along the way. It does this not because it is evil, but so that we can, in addition to realizing our dreams, master the lessons we’ve learned as we’ve moved toward that dream. It’s the point at which most people give up. It’s the point at which, as we say in the language of the desert, one ‘dies of thirst just when the palm trees have appeared on the horizon.’” -Paulo Coehlo

The Exhibition – Finding Venues, a Printer and a Framer

It is exciting to put a dream out there.  It is a lot of hard work to make it a reality and really impossible to achieve with out the help of people around you.  Some of these people as in my case were my partner (Steven) and close friends, who get caught up in the excitement of everything I do.  But others were people who came into my life while in the process of making the exhibition happen and I owe them a lot for all they taught me.

The first step in the process was finding a venue.  I had only just spoken to the librarian (after an introduction from a friend at the local Council) about the possibility of exhibiting at Hornsby when she called to tell me there was a slot.  It was the only slot available for all of 2011 because of a cancellation..and it was in 3 months time!  It was April and I had locked in my first exhibition so I needed to get a move on.  They say be careful what you wish for.  I had only just  got back to work after a year away..and I had already promised I would have an exhibition ready in a few months…!  I knew I had to find a place that did excellent printing. I Googled and called many professional photo shops in Sydney but they were expensive and charged by the minute for their advice.  I was getting desperate…. 

It was because we chose to have breakfast at Rav's Cafe in Pennant Hills that everything fell into place.  We had just visited some of the local kitchen showrooms very early in the morning.  (Most people would come back from a year away and take life easy.  I was also in the process of renovating my house – new wardrobes, new floors and a new kitchen thrown into the mix for good measure!).  We were starving and many of the cafes were not open when we spied Rav’s Cafe.  The place was buzzing with the chatter of locals having their bacon and eggs on a Saturday morning and it immediately sent out a good vibe.  We settled in. 

As I sipped on my cappuccino, the lovely artwork on their walls caught my eye.  We got chatting to Anil the owner and learnt he provided the space for artist to banner-aboutusdisplay and sell their work and in turn he got a bit of a rotating exhibition at his cafe.  A win win for all concerned.  Before I knew it I had almost locked in my second venue…and I didn’t know the first thing about throwing an exhibition together!  While in Africa, having breakfast in St Lucia with my girl friend Megs, we had noticed the walls of the local cafe were decorated with photos on canvas and dreamt about doing the same when we were back in Australia.  I found it hard to believe I was making it all happen so quickly. 

It was as we walked out of the cafe that the signs outside Pennant Hills Framing caught my eye.  Professional framers – the sign announced boldly and so we walked in.  Steve Pennant Hills Framingand I clicked immediately with Jason, the owner.  He was enthusiastic and knowledgeable and spent quite a bit of time with us explaining the services he offered but more importantly he didn’t charge by the minute for giving us advice unlike many stores in Sydney.  We got valuable advice on how to frame pictures for an exhibition and in the process found out he did printing of photos as well.  We learnt it is important the frames are all the same size, the same colour (in my case plain black) with a simple white mat to set off the photos.  While the photos could be different sizes, landscapes and portraits, the size of the frame stays consistent, giving the impression this is a collection. 

I had finally found my framer and printer…now it was time to get cracking and chose some photos! 


“Held in the palms of thousands of disgruntled people over the centuries have been ideas worth millions – if they only had taken the first step and then followed through.” – Robert M. Hayes

The New Dream

Hello readers! Thank you for being here at the start of my new creative journey.  I can only assume that some of you followed my blog Journeys of a Travel Bug, where I documented my journey in 2010.  It was a year when I stepped off the treadmill of routine to take a sabbatical from work & my life in Sydney so I could travel and volunteer around the world.   That was an amazing journey and saw me accomplish my life long goal of spending time on every continent including Antarctica. 

It is therefore time to start a new journey and have a new dream to work towards.  My creative journey will attempt to explore the writer and photographer in me and pursue these passions both by exploring my creativity and also by taking classes to improve my technical knowledge in these fields.  I hope to meet fellow artist, writers and photographers who will inspire and help me along the way, just as many of the friends I made on my travels inspired me and continue to be part of my life today.

This new dream will take me down a road which is quite unfamiliar and daunting for me. For years, most of my friends and family have only been exposed to the logical, organized engineer in me and perhaps for them the fact I might even call myself an artist might seem a little strange. My year away was all about living outside my comfort zone and stepping out of the box and giving the right side of my brain a bit of a workout! I intend to keep doing that in the future and inspire others to do likewise. 

Taking a sabbatical in 2010 was an amazing opportunity to pursue the triads of my life – travel, writing and photography. Sometimes when life goes smoothly, we rarely stop to evaluate the past or reflect on the future. Losing my dad in 2009 was just one of the events that led me to think about my own mortality for the first time in my life & wonder, what was it I wanted to look back on, when I reached the end of my own journey.

My time away was as much an external journey as it was an internal one.  Without a doubt what stood out for me were the connections I made with people from all walks of life. I learnt that no matter what part of the world you live in and what your social standing might be, everyone has hopes and dreams for their future. I am very fortunate to live in Sydney, where if I had the courage to make a leap of faith, I have the means to make my dreams a reality.

As I  travelled, I became aware of how happy I felt when I was either writing or taking photographs. I vowed that when I came back, I would have a small exhibition to share my experiences and photos with my friends and family in Sydney.  I planned to make a number of coffee table books to showcase many of the photos that would never make an exhibition after which I would write my first book.  It may be ambitious but I hope this book will one day be made into a movie!  I have always believed in stating your dreams and putting it out there. Well, I have just done that…. 

These are the goals of my new creative dream but of course I will continue to add to it.  I intend that this creative journey will eventually take me and my partner around the world as we start a new life together, living simply and documenting the lives of our global family, all of who have a story to tell. 

“I dream my painting and then I paint my dream” Vincent Van Gogh