Interview Me: Jeweller Emma Jane Donald (contemporary jeweller)

Emma Jane Donald, a contemporary jeweller from Melbourne, recently invited me to her home studio to talk about her latest work and inspiration. The very fun interview was helped along by George her lively puppy and some great gluten free ginger cookies. Thanks Emma Jane!

Tell me about your background and what led you to jewellery design? It started at high school where I studied sculpture and art subjects. I studied sculpture as part of a Fine Arts degree at Elam, the Auckland University Art School in New Zealand. I specialised in sculpture, but not in a traditional sculptural way, more about installation and performance.

My interest in jewellery really began when I moved to Australia and met William Griffiths, a New Zealand jeweller making in Melbourne. He said to me, come and see if you like making jewellery and hang out. I hadn’t really thought about jewellery until I met him. I ended up just mucking around in his studio making my own things. My first piece was something really instant – a safety pin pressed into cuttlefish with molten metal poured into it. I was chuffed, and thought ‘this is the best thing ever!’ I felt quite inspired by William’s work and I enjoyed working with him so much that I decided to study Jewellery Engineering at NMIT.

How would you describe your work? I’m inspired by geometric patterns, formations, structures and architecture. I think I started doing angular, sharp work because I wanted to test myself technically. Geometric shapes can be trickier than making round organic shapes. Because my course was a trade course, we made hinges and very precise things. I wanted to prove that I could do those technical objects and now I have ended up doing hinges in my work.

The NMIT course is so different to the RMIT course. It’s a trade focused course, for instance we would spend 3 weeks making hinges. I chose the course for that reason. I had already done fine arts degree so I wanted to just get down and get some skills.

What common themes link each of your designs? I suppose it’s the whole geometric thing, similarities of the forms. I’m trying to incorporate spheres into my work so it’s not all sharp and aggressive. It’s tricky to make the angular stuff spherical, especially with the geodesic shapes. I want to start using more stones but at the moment I work just with metal.

Is your creative process ordered or organic? Ordered. I’m not organic at all. Making a cone or dome becomes a personal challenge, then I will start joining them together to make a necklace, bracelet or pendant. Quite often I will make something that starts off as one shape, like a geometric shape, then I will start multiplying the shape to become much larger.

When you start a piece do you think ‘this is going to be a necklace’ or does it evolve? Sometimes it’s pretty definite – at the moment I’m trying to make smaller pieces. I find it harder to make smaller pieces. Even though I make geometric shapes, I’m pretty rough and ready. Once I have an idea I want to get it out!

Do you work alone or do you share your creative space? I work alone. It means I can work more effectively when I want to. It can get a bit lonely. Sometimes you can wear your pyjamas all day and not leave the house.

How do you stay connected to the wider creative community in Melbourne and internationally? The Internet, I go to exhibitions and I’m friends with a few Melbourne jewellers – William Griffiths and Julia de Ville and Katherine Bowman. Internationally, I don’t have much of a connection with New Zealand jewellers because I didn’t make jewellery there.

I’m just as much interested in video art, noise and sound. It informs my jewellery work. A little while ago I saw this work in an architectural magazine that was big, black and folded, and I liked it.

Sometimes it comes from other sources. It doesn’t have to be in your field. Sometimes it’s just a really good song. I’m really into Siouxsie and the Banshees at the moment. I listen to music when I work, otherwise it’s quite boring, especially when you are by yourself. Once I have an idea I might cut out the music, or if I am having trouble working out something mathematical. When I’m doing production stuff, the louder the better!!

Where do you find your creative inspiration? It’s haphazard. If I did know where to go for inspiration, that would be awesome! I would go straight there. I think it just happens in bouts. I have bouts of heaps of inspiration and will just flow on from there and hopefully ride the wave until I get another bout.

Which designers, artists or creative people do you admire? I definitely like Buckminster Fuller, he’s awesome. I love the way he builds with geometric shapes. It draws on nature and cellular growth, how things are reproduced in life. Using multiples of geometric shapes to make a mass.  Simon Cottrell is another favourite – I really like the way his work is constructed. His pieces seem to grow in an organic pattern, while still retaining an affiliation with the materials he uses. I like the juxtaposition of hard clean materials and the softer rhythmic references in his work.

What would be your dream project? I would like to make jewellery for the Pope. You could make some really awesome geometric crosses with heaps of jewels and gold. Everyone would see it!

What do you enjoy outside of jewellery? I take my dog George for walks but that sounds quite boring! I like to go out and listen to music. Music is a big part of my life. My boyfriend is a sound engineer and he’s really into it. I think it can really change the way you feel about things, which is very cool.

What advice would you give to emerging contemporary jewellery artists? When I first started I made really big pieces and perhaps should have started with smaller pieces. Big pieces are more time consuming and they don’t sell as often. Everyone does it differently, it’s just finding your own practice, finding your own style and discovering how it works for you. I know people who have completed a NEIS course, which sounds really good.

Is it hard to switch hats between being a maker and running a small business? Yes! I’m not good at business but it’s all a learning process. It’s very easy when you are on a creative run and think ‘yeah I’m just going to go for this!’ but you know in the back of your head that it’s not commercial to make really big pieces. But as an artist, it’s really hard to put the idea away once you have had it.

Visit e.g.etal at 167 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, to view Emma Jane Donald’s current collection.


Interview Me: Alessandro Cellai (winemaker)

I met Italian winemaker Alessandro Cellai at Cafe di Stasio on a cold, wintery Melbourne day. Coming in from the cold, I was welcomed with a glass of his Classico Riserva Il Poggiale 2006, the perfect way to learn more about this up and coming hero of the Italian wine industry and get an afternoon of food, wine and an enjoyable interview underway. You can read more about lunch over here.

Alessandro is the general manager of two wineries and has also started his own project producing his great love, Pinot Nero. Nothing short of an overachiever, Alessandro also likes to race vintage cars, run the odd marathon and produce some of the most exciting wine from the Chianti region in years.

The Italian tradition is for families to operate a winery over many generations. Is winemaking in your DNA?
It wasn’t in my family, it is my own passion. My uncle was a priest in his first church. I was very young, so 4 or 5 years old, and he introduced me to the vineyard world. I think my passion is connected with him.

I studied at winemaker school first and then chemistry at university. I had my first experience in the wine world at Rocca Della Macie for 6 years then in 1996 I became winemaker and general manager of Castellare di Castellina. In 1999 I was brought in at Rocca di Frassinello as winemaker and general manager there too.

I have had a wonderful experience with Castellare, since the beginning they have been extremely connected with the respect for tradition. No blend between indigenous and international grape varietal and we are very focused on Sangioveto grapes. That is an amazing experience because the Sangioveto is one of the top grape varietals of the world.

Castellare di Castellina vineyard in Chianti country

Beautiful stonework at Castellare

The 'terroir' at Castellare

How did it feel to be recognised as one of the Decanter Magazine’s Italian ‘Stars of Tomorrow’? Has it changed how your wine is perceived?
That article was, for me, a surprise. Early in 2009 I was interviewed by one of the sub-editors of Decanter, based in Italy. She asked many questions about my philosophy of production, the property, my story. At the end of the interview she told me ‘you are nominated from a panel of historical and great winemakers from around the world as the new, greatest winemaker.” I was very embarrassed. And then on 1st April the magazine appeared and I was extremely happy. For me it was the high point of my experience because, of course, I have a lot of experience but I am not at the end, many steps to do, so that for me was like a push to be better.

Has the nomination increased your profile as a winemaker?
Yes. It was incredible advertising about myself around the world. I got many phone calls from friends around the world from this article. But for me it is very important to keep the attention on the quality and to my philosophy – to do better and better and better. As soon as you have an award like this you have to maintain the outstanding standard. The risk is to go down very fast. I know that I have to do better.

Is your approach to winemaking traditional or progressive?
If for you, traditional means old, no. If traditional means respecting the traditions, yes. I think the life of winemakers is the total respect of the grape varietal and the total respect of the terroir for that grape variety. Take Sangioveto, for example, in Chianti you have to respect the synergy of the Sangioveto grape and the terroir of Chianti. For this reason, in this situation, to work in the sense of tradition is correct, because the tradition means no blend between indigenous and international grape varietals and for me that sense is there to preserve the terrior of the Chianti. That is the work, for me, of any winemaker around the world, they have to preserve and protect the relationship from grape varietal and terroir.

But what about in new areas with no immediate history?
Of course if you are working in a new area without any tradition of grape varietal you can do anything you want, you can experiment. But if you are in a very strong terroir like Chianti Classico, like Barolo, like Brunello di Montalcino, like Brunello di Montalpuciano, you have to respect the connection between grape and soil.

How does what you do at Castellare di Castellina differ from what you do at Rocca di Frassinello?
Of course another good skill of a winemaker must be the ability to work at the same time in different realities and with a different approach. At Castellare we have an approach of tradition, at Rocca di Frassinello we have a modern approach because there is no historical relation between terrior and grape varietals. Now, there, I think we are in the right place to blend part of our great experience of Castellare with Sangioveto and part of the experience of international varietal like cabernet merlot and cabernet franc, some Bordeaux blends. I think that is also a wonderful experience for me as I have an experience to work in both sides. With the opportunity to try something new at Rocco di Frassinello and to maintain and consolidate the experience at Castellare.

Has working with Christian le Sommer enhanced your winemaking? Have you been influenced by French techniques?
Christian is the winemaker at Rothschild. They are not participating during the fermentation but of course the experience that I have in staying close to them was great because they are probably considered one of the best in the world and I had the opportunity to have several visits to Chateau Lafite and Chateau Rieussec, spending several times in Bordeaux. Of course it was a nice improvement of my experience but, talking about Sangioveto, they have no experience with that. I am more connected with that grape varietal. I get from them, international grape varietal experience.

The Renzo Piano designed Rocca di Frassinello

Sunlight streaming through the Renzo Piano designed windows

The hallowed ground of the cellar

The perfect barrel

How do you remain passionate? What keeps you going?
My philosophy is that to make wine it is always a challenge, always is a trial to do the best in comparison to last year. But every vintage is different, every year you have a different microclimate, different weather, in the different seasons. You try to control some elements, but some are outside of your control. For that reason, it stimulates me to work better and better and improve upon vintage and vintage.

Sometimes your effort is not the only things you can put on the table, you also need good weather, wonderful season, temperature, several other things. You need luck. It’s a small component but it’s there. Always, I say to my uncle (the priest), I command myself to the Gods.

Do you have many interests outside winemaking? What do you do for fun?
My hobbies first is vintage car racing. I only do one or two races per year, because I have no time. I have a Fiat 128 and I am very excited about that. I’m very, very excited about that. As soon as I am in the car I try to de-charge all my stress and tensions. The adrenaline is amazing. That is my first hobby.

I like to play soccer and do marathons and to ski. I was a ski instructor when I was young, I had the licence to teach kids. So I love to ski too.

What inspires you? Who do you look to for inspiration?
My inspiration is always from one man, Giacomo Tachis. For me he is the best winemaker in the world. He has now retired but he was the winemaker of the Antinori family. He also is the father of Sassicia, the father of Tingerello, the father of all top wines from Italy.

I had the opportunity before I finished university to listen to him speak. For many years I was a teacher at the university. Since my first words with him, I felt a connection from my mind to his works. So after that seminar I had to ask him something, in fact, at the end of the seminar I went up to him and said ‘Mr Tachis, I am at the end of university and my idea is to start to work in the wine business. I know something about you, it was wonderful, your words, I appreciate a lot your philosophy and I agree totally with you. I would like the experience to taste some wines with you.’ And he said ‘Come to my house next week, Wednesday 3pm.’ I was so emotional.

So from that day till now I establish with him a very, very strong relationship. He is not only a great winemaker, but he is a philosopher. He touched the wine, looking for something different. Not only the grape. He is extremely connected with the Galileo Galilei philosophy, for example, the interference of the light in the maturation of the grape.

That is my inspiration as soon as I am in front of a new wine or new vintage. He has a great appreciation of my wine, but he respects my work and tastes my wines when they are bottled, at the end of my work.

What is your favourite wine to drink?
Pinot nero is the great varietal of my life. When choosing a bottle of wine in a restaurant I go straight to pinot nero. I think the expression of pinot nero is like a gentleman with a jacket and tie. It’s muscle but it’s extremely elegant, extremely soft, able to age for a long time, able to be drunk for year and year and year, but the elegance is the main character of the wine. The pinot nero has velvety character in the mouth is extremely round, is never heavy. That is my idea of wine. To make wine with good body but extremely elegant, that is my approach to wine.

The Domini Castellare wines are available nationally from Arquilla Wines. To locate your nearest stockist, please contact Arquilla Wine – or phone 03 9387 1040

Interview Me: Yuko Fujita (contemporary jeweller)

Yuko Fujita is a contemporary jeweller from Melbourne. Her new show at e.g.etal is a collection crafted from found wooden objects into amazing pieces on a surprising scale. I went behind the scenes with Yuko from her Mt Waverly community woodworkshop in the lead up to KODAMA (return to me).

In this new collection you have used found wooden objects combined with silver and gold. What inspired the concept for your solo exhibition KODAMA (return to me)?
I am attracted to natural materials such as paper, cotton, wood, silk, wool and leather. I see individual, unique character and warmth in those materials. I think they become more attractive when they are dented, stained, wonky, discoloured, stretched and scratched because it gives me a feeling of their life and history.

I see many wooden objects that have passed their prime or have fallen out of use, having been replaced by our ever-changing consumer society. I still see the life in these objects and thought that I can give new life to them again.

The title Kodama has double meaning in Japanese. One means “tree spirits” and the other meaning is “echo” (sound refection). It is said that the reason you hear echo in the forest is that the spirits of tree is responding the sound you made.

My process for the work in KODAMA (return to me) was like communicating with these existing materials. I see the objects and they respond to me through their shape, color and texture to bring form to each item. I transform them into imaginary plants, creatures, and habitats which they may have belonged to somewhere in the past.

Describe your workspace. Do you work alone or with other people?
I have a basic studio at home but most of wooden items were crafted in the wood club I joined called the Mount Waverley Wood Workers Inc. I became a member in order to learn the woodwork skills I needed to realise the work and to access larger machinery. The workshop is full of skilled and enthusiastic woodworkers of all ages. They are very helpful and have much knowledge to pass on. I also like listening to their conversation during coffee break; it is quite a different experience for me!

What path led you to contemporary jewellery?
I began with a degree in Japanese literature in Tokyo then I came to Australia to study jewellery. First I studied NMIT and later completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts (gold and silversmithing) at RMIT. I found jewellery quite similar to literature in the respect I went from using words to tell a story to using materials and visual language instead.

I learn a lot from my cats such as being patient, amused by small things and playing in imaginary worlds, which I think help me to work as a contemporary jeweller.

Where do you turn for inspiration?
Materials, shapes and colours inspire me. I would say I am more inspired by elements rather than artwork or artists. I like doodling which often accidentally inspires me.

What next for Yuko? Will we continue to see wood in your work?
I have been enjoying working with wood and would like to develop my woodwork skills further. I think you can expect to see more wood and metal combinations from me in the future.

KODAMA (return to me) is open from 14-31 July as part of the State of Design Look.Stop.Shop program.
Opening night: Thursday 15 July, 6p-8pm, RSVP
167 Flinders Lane, Melbourne.

Interview Me: Annie Feolde (chef)

How did a French woman, cooking Italian food end up hosting dinner in a Greek restaurant in Australia? With a very full passport and a passion for food and travel, that’s how! I met Ms Annie Feolde, the first woman to achieve three Michelin stars, on the eve of a series of dinners in Melbourne for Vittoria Coffee. While Annie’s English was excellent, I left some cute little mistakes in there as they were so endearing! Bon Appetito!

I am interested in how a French woman came to Italy to cook Italian food and went to Tokyo? It doesn’t matter where you were born, what is important is to show your customers what you have in your environment and what you can present them. It is important because I’m still, of course, French and I love my country, we have very good habits and traditions, but since I spent time in Florence, after a few years, I understood that I had to integrate myself into the place that I was living.

When people visit they prefer to eat Italian food. I understood it very quickly when VIP lady in politics didn’t eat anything of my French cooking, even when I had already become quite known, because she wanted only something with Italian traditions and at that time I was not prepared. It was my own fantasy. So she didn’t eat and I was so upset but I understood that I had to change my style, it was a necessity. 

How did you feel about having to change your style? A certain difficulty at the beginning. We have to understand where we are. This is my mentality. Some other people might want to stick to their own origins, I don’t. And so that’s it, I started to open some cooking books and at first it was quite strange for me but then I understood the mechanism, because there is always a mechanism in everything and then I fell in love with this kind of cooking. It’s endless!

Had food always been part of your childhood? Yes. My parents and grandparents had always had hotels. It’s in our blood. For me the business was really disgusting because you don’t have any private life. But there is something inside our blood that pushes us to this type of business. Because apart from the terrible hours there is also a nice way to meet people and you can learn something. It’s a window onto the world. I love creativity, independence. I want to move as I want, I don’t want to be in an office. I spent 3 years in an office in Paris and I couldn’t stand it. 

After one year of studying English in London I went to Florence to improve my Italian. This was after my stay in the Post Office in Paris. It was very dull. At first I tried to find a job that could allow me to travel, because I have always been attracted by other countries and systems. So with the Post Office I was sure I would have been sent somewhere else. I had the good luck to be sent from my village to Paris. But when you don’t have enough money, friends or family Paris is very cold, very mysterious. It was not my cup of tea so I organised to leave.

In Florence I met my husband who had started this business of wine bar. He was so passionate and I thought this is the man for me, he loves quality and this was what I was looking for. We were noticed by journalists, this is how it worked back then. Then we reached the top of the Italian gastronomy and the very top of the wine cellar situation but this is never enough. Not that we are ambitious but we know we can do more…more and more and more. Sometimes we are a bit tired  (laughs!).

How do you maintain the pace? I imagine there would be quite a bit of pressure to keep your 3 stars? Actually we are not that anxious during the year, we do our best because it’s inside of ourselves. The time the new Michelin guide arrives, then we start to be frightened like hell. They are really anonymous, good for them! They have to have a good, true idea of what we are doing. Some of the guides are easier to recognise but the Michelin can be really difficult. Sometimes when we see someone in the dining room behaving in a funny way we think, ‘ah this one smells of Michelin’ (laughs).

In Australia we have had this food revolution recently where everyone is more aware of food due to shows like Masterchef, do you find now your customers are more aware of what they are eating – taking notes, taking photographs? There has been a big evolution in the past 30 years. It has changed dramatically…for the best. More competition, more research for the good items and a window open on the other countries that before were completely on apart. Italian people are very conservative, nearly like French people! And so we talk always about the globalisation, it is true, it has impressed all of us and we can’t go back now. Before we could see the difference between one city and another, between one country and another and on the other part of the globe.

Australia produces very good wine. This confirms the global evolution on each field. It’s nice but it’s very difficult to keep on the pace. For instance with everything related to computers, you have news everyday. Before I couldn’t stand bloggers I couldn’t let anybody hold a telephone even in my restaurant. I felt like I wanted to put a barrier so the phones wouldn’t work, but then it is true that we need it. It’s a new world, that’s it. I used not to do it, photography, for me it was an offence, a kind of intrusion, but now I am changing.

Have you found your cooking has evolved into an Italian style? It’s Italian style from Italian traditions but of course I cannot forget about what I saw in France. It’s not hard to switch off the French part, if you find something is nice and new and better you try to complete, transform, interpret.

Do you find that people focus on the fact that you are a woman with 3 stars as opposed to a chef with 3 stars? Yes of course. Italian people are very macho. And so they were surprised because you can reach the two stars but the three stars! I was the first on the Michelin list and now there are five women in the world with three stars.

We are good friends and we have done many, many parties together, charity dinners and so on. We have a very good relationship. And before when we were the only 3 lady MS chef we used to call ourselves, La Tres Gracie (The three graces). You should have seen us, not only grace but graca (fat). Just a little bit, because this is our business.

Where do you find your inspiration? Seasons, market, books. Fantasy of course, sometimes on Saturday night at midnight or later I go to the kitchen with a little plastic bag and say ‘now I am going to do my shopping.’ So I open all the fridge and take a few things. So the next day I am in front of several things and say ‘what can I do with this’ and I try.

I’m not sure if you have television shows like this, a competitor get a basket with several things and has to cook. I do the same for myself and for my husband, sadly he is not a very good spectator – he doesn’t like garlic, onions and salt anymore. So in fact sometimes I invite friends during the week or when he is travelling and eat everything!  And then when I am in France during august or Christmas then I have to show my friends, I cannot help myself, I invite, therefore I want to please them and at that moment I have to do my best for them.

There’s something about that striving for perfection, even when cooking for friends, it’s in you isn’t it? Yes, you cannot slap a plate on the table you have to do it as you are used to.

When you are at home on a day off what do you like to eat? I love using vegetables, in particular artichokes and leeks. I love everything that is vegetable. Of course I love cheese but it’s fattening. Both Italian and French cheese is very interesting. I don’t eat desserts easily anymore. I love foreign cooking – Thai cooking and Chinese cooking and especially Japanese cooking.

Do you have any advice for young chefs? Work hard, and never stay still. You have always to get informed about the evolution around the world and keep your identity at the same time.

Enoteca Pinchiorri is in Florence. You can learn more about the restaurant and Annie Feolde at

Interview Me: Melissa Cameron (contemporary jeweller)

Last week I interviewed Melissa Cameron for contemporary jewellery gallery e.g.etal. Melissa is an interior architect turned contemporary jeweller making in Melbourne. I visited her unusual studio space, a lovely little artist collective in an old Victorian house in St Kilda, that she shares with artist Mary-Lou Pavlovic and four other sculptors and painters.

Interview Me: Nigel Stefani (illustrator)

You must enjoy what you do in life as you are only here once, right? It’s an important statement about how we work and why we do what we do. Illustrator, Nigel Stefani is the embodiment of this statement – after training in fashion in London and working for cult luxury label, Comme des Garcons, he decided to follow his true passion of drawing and make it his full time gig.

Stefani recently moved to Australia and is emerging as an exciting new talent on the illustration scene. I sat with the charming Londoner recently to talk about his work and preparation for his first exhibition, Couche, at DesignaSpace in June.

Nigel Stefani
Tell me about the path you took to illustration? 
I’ve always been fascinated by illustration as an art form. I’ve always drawn, since I was a little youngin’. I got to the point in my life where I thought I wanted to do something I love as a career. There’s a lot of trial and error in what I do, I’m not sure if I have succeeded yet or anything like that but it’s definitely something that’s instilled in me that you have to follow your dreams. Have you always drawn? Yes, ever since I could pick up a pencil. Always, always, always.

Did you undertake any formal training?
Kind of. I did a lot of drawing at school, obviously in art class. I don’t think I have ever been sat down and taught ‘this is how you do this’. I have just kind of been encouraged to follow different methods of imagery with a pencil or whatever.

So I hear that you have been to fashion school, did you do any illustration there?
Yes I have. In my fashion class, it wasn’t solely illustration, your ideas were meant to be produced in a way that suited your personality. It wasn’t much about what your sketch book looked like, more the process your sketchbook took, the journey. Ultimately you were producing clothing. My sketchbook was very messy and had a lot of stuff in it. It looked like my brain!

Where do you turn for inspiration?
Anywhere and everywhere. The title of my exhibition is Couche, which is ‘layers’ in French. The way I draw at the moment is very much to do with layering. So I could see a piece of chewing gum, I could see a spilled drink, I could see a ripped poster, and see the texture. Those things themselves are uninteresting but if you bring them all together in a creative way, you can create compositions that have more to do with what you have to say than just a photograph or painting.
IllustrationWhich artists, or even mediums, do you draw inspiration from?
Artists I admire are people like Peter Blake and the photography of Tim Walker – there’s such a dream like, surreal quality to their work, something I suppose I would try and incorporate into my own. I think the best thing that can come from people looking at your work, is an opinion. Be it good or bad, an opinion is better than anything. 

Music is also very important to me. I can rarely go a minute without listening to some. It is as important as my pencil I think, as I have always found music so inspiring, in all it’s forms.  So to say I love everything from Electro kings such as Deadmau5 to Miles Davis is true, as it is used in such a way, as to aid my own creative thinking. 

Do you think true artists shouldn’t have to ‘promote’ themselves, or is that not possible today? 
In this day and age, I don’t think that exists. If you look at people like Banksy, it’s all very well being a guerrilla artist and stuff but he is obviously promoting himself by being on display everywhere. I think the days are gone of artists just sitting in their studios for years not showing themselves to the world. You can’t survive. If I won lots and lots of money I would, but money makes the world go round. It’s ridiculous in a way. I’ve got quite a romantic view of the world in that I would like to drink red wine, smoke cigarettes and draw all day for the rest of my life, but that’s not really going to get you anywhere other than liver disease and a hangover.

What’s a typical working day for you?
I am working on a new drawing, so I will get up, have some coffee, smoke a cigarette, have a shower, sit down, pick my music for the day, put my headphones on and start drawing. I won’t stop until 3pm till my stomach goes a bit nuts, eat something quickly, start drawing again until about 6pm. Smoke, do a bit more drawing, then go to bed.

My ideal is to have a focus at the end of it. I’m not really drawing towards anything and that’s frustrating. It’s a journey isn’t it. You have to struggle for your art or it’s not worth it. I fully believe that. You have to have months and months or potentially years of just sitting there. The struggle makes you more determined to succeed. If I had done one drawing and got shitloads of press and jobs then I don’t think I would have tried so hard. I changed my style of drawing based on the fact that I didn’t think I was producing artwork that was complicated enough or original enough. It made me think ‘well actually maybe I need to look at a new way of producing imagery’. I’m so glad I did as I am now producing imagery that is ten times better than what it was. Maybe I will look back in five years time at what I am doing now and think it’s total wack. It can only get better, not worse, unless I break my hands and have to relearn to draw.


Where is your happy place?
It completely depends on what mood I am in. If I am frustrated creatively I will need to completely get out of that environment and reassess what I am doing with it. Usually that happens before I start a drawing, not during. During there’s a definite end goal because it’s plotted out. It’s not monotonous or anything but creatively I suppose I get frustrated when I am not creating compositions that are evocative enough. I get out of the environment, look at other illustrators, find some more ‘couche’ to experiment with. Or go for a walk or listen to some music.

When I draw, I will be drawing and drawing and drawing and drawing and I have to sit back and look at the whole thing. I think that can be applied to the whole process – you need to step back and think what am I doing. If you are too introvert and looking at one point you are missing the other stuff, you need to get out of the bubble. If people challenge me it will make me assess my work my own way. That’s the whole point I am in Australia, otherwise I would still be in London, still working at Comme. You need to challenge yourself as much as possible, even if it’s fucking scary and horrible and weird and upsetting, it’s so necessary cause you take something positive from every situation.

Nigel Stefani’s exhibition, Couche, opens at DesignaSpace in June.

Interview Me: Natalia Milosz-Piekarska (contemporary jeweller)


Natalia Milosz-Piekarska

Natalia in her lightfilled studio


I recently interviewed Melbourne contemporary jeweller Natalia Milosz-Piekarska for e.g.etal. You can read the interview here.