What: What do you know? Where: The Exchange Hotel When: 30 August Recap by: Brisbane Ambassador, Lee Mathers
On the surface, Brisbane might seem like a sleepy little town. At The Fetch, we’re doing our best to disprove that mindset. It’s just that sometimes these great events take place in the strangest locations.
To wit: you would not expect a large group of technologists, internet enthusiasts, programmers and developers to gather together at The Exchange Hotel in the middle of the city on a Thursday night, but so it was for What Do You Know, Brisbane?, an offshoot of The Australian Web Industry Conference. It’s a chance for people who work on and with the web to get together to learn and connect.
The Brisbane edition (there are also similar events in Melbourne and Sydney) saw eight fast paced presentations in an hour. They included information on structuring content for the web from Sally Bagshaw and our over-reliance on maps in data presentation by Chris Horsley.
All of the presenters are industry professionals and their points of view (along with pizza and beer thanks to the sponsors) were lapped up by the crowd of about one hundred. Carolyn King from Credos Associates provided design tips for fitter websites to generate healthier conversion results and Damon Oehlman gave us a recipe for “baking” a web front end. These talks worked in nicely with Luke Brookers quick five minutes on “Designing Delightful Experiences, Responsively”.
The night finished off with Rob Bare from R&B Creative showing us how great working at a digital design agency can be and Mehdi Khalili talking about how to make websites work offline.
So, summing up, what did you miss? The chance to find out what Brisbane really knows – that is, quite a lot!
Tell us a little bit about what you do and how you have turned your passion into a business?
I illustrate, doodle and design. This is what I have done since I can I remember. My mum used to say: “Give her a pencil and a piece of paper and she’s all set”. Turning it into a business from a late-night hobby was a natural step and was something many people have told me I should have done long time ago.
One of the people I have to give a credit for giving me that necessary ‘wake-up call’ is Darren Robson, an incredible coach and businessman whom I stumbled upon while still working as a full time employee at another company. He was the one to push me to finally start my own business. I took the plunge and never looked back.
How did you get started and what were you doing before you established Natalka Design?
Natalka Design was established in my head for many years now, it just hasn’t been official yet (and I guess many entrepreneurs and business owners can relate to it). There was always some distraction or something else I was busy with and couldn’t commit fully to starting the business. I had been a teaching English as a second language and Art to special needs children, translation services and worked in social media as a Community Manager for an online company. However busy I was, there was always time for designs even if it meant 1am at night and on my fifth coffee. I didn’t mind doing that since it is my passion. I started thinking seriously about setting up my business this year and thanks to previously mentioned Darren and other circumstances it all came into place and Natalka Design is here.
Drawing and design are very ‘on trend’ at the moment. Why do you think this is?
I think that it doesn’t matter if it is a small organisation or the corporate world – everyone needs illustrations and visuals to get their message across. I don’t think it is just a trend – it is a shift in ‘communication’ that will feature more and more as part of a branding and marketing campaigns. I’ve seen visual designers working at conferences, free drawing during speaker presentations and publishing their artwork in ‘real-time’.
These days the information flow is so quick, that using visuals is a quick form of communication. People have no time to read 10 pages of text or get easily distracted during meetings where they have to digest a lot of information just by listening and writing. Helping people to understand a message through illustration, doodle or design makes it so much easier to grasp it and respond to it.
What has been the most interesting job you have done as cartoonist/designer?
I have had so many different projects that it would be hard and unfair to just pick one. However, if I am to give one example, it would be illustrating parts of a book called Ackroyd’s Ark – Two by Two created by actor Sir Timothy Ackroyd who has trusted in my skills since he met me and let me be part of this amazing publication published for charity focused on wildlife animals in Africa called Tusk Trust under HRH Prince William of Wales Patronage. It was a project that is very close to my heart and means a lot to me as I am a big supporter of what they do and I love animals.
What are some of the challenges you face as an ARTrepreneur?
There are always challenges on the way and I guess there is no entrepreneur who doesn’t face them especially when they start a new business. I’d say finding your target market and getting your footsteps into it are not easy but once you’ve connected with the right people and have got your branding and advertising right it is then only a matter of time before you start seeing positive results. I was also a bit anxious about entering the world where there are already many other companies offering services in design. However, I decided not to focus on that as I think there’s space for everyone, also the style and approach I offer is unique and fresh. I think challenges make you stronger and shape your business in the right direction.
When did you move London and what’s keeping you here?
I moved to London in September 2008 to do my MA studies in Polish-English Translation. The initial plan was to finish them and go home… and I’m still here! I guess like many other creatives I just felt London has so much to offer especially for the type of business I run that I just naturally immersed in the creative and entrepreneurial side of it. On the way I met
amazing people and now London feels like second home to me. What’s also keeping me here is that it’s so diverse, multicultural and vibrant. There are always loads of things to do and it never gets boring. I get inspired through so many things around here. Of course, a break from the big city is a must in order to step back for a minute and get your creative flow back on track. Last but not least I couldn’t live without the amazing concert scene in London and delicious coffee!
What are some of your favourite events to attend in London?
Depends on what type of events you are interested in. If you want to get the newest links in tech and business MiniBar or Silicon Drinkabout. I’ve met many interesting people there. I also enjoy events with more relaxed approach where people meet to be sociable and not necessarily talk business. I would definitely like to see more events from The Fetch in London!
What’s next and where do you go from here?
That’s a big question and there are big plans, however I am taking it easy to make sure it’s the right place or time to bring new ideas into life. Apart from services in illustration and design, the plans for the future look bright and although there’s too many running through my head every day I would like to start collaboration on new exciting projects with other organisations and individuals.
Natalka Design is planning to publish educational books for children, books for women (the topic and style strictly confidential as of yet!), create mobile apps and run creative illustration workshops for businesses, individuals and schools.
I would like Natalka Design to push innovative ideas and stand out with what its offer. As I always say: Impossible is just WAY too easy! Put your mind into what you really want to do and make it happen. To be honest, there may never be the best time to do it but if you don’t try you will never know.
This is a guest post by Cheryl Lin, the founder of business streetstyle fashion blog, BusinessChic.com.au.
Dear web workers of the world,
You have a choice! Actually you have lots of choices!
From the freedom of choosing wherever in the world you would like to work from and whenever (!) to how you want to present yourself. Truth be told, you can wear pyjamas all the time if you so wish or the same black skivvy, jeans and sneakers day-in-day-out regardless of whether you’re working on your own or presenting to millions of potential customers!
However in this day and age of mobility and the global workforce, it’s more important than ever to differentiate yourself from every other web worker in the world because we don’t get a second chance at making first impressions. In-person communication is 70% visual which means that the clothes that you wear when you work and meet people in a professional or social (that might lead to more work) capacity are the first things that people will see and judge you by. Sure your work might be awesome but do you look as good as the things you create? Take a moment to check yourself in the mirror and consider whether you’re happy with the visual brand you’ve created for yourself or if you’re actually selling yourself short.
Regardless of whether you are happy, I’m going to share five steps to creating and finessing your visual identity to increase the prospects of your making a positive impression on your peers, clients and even yourself!
Work out your style
Like whatever it is you are specialising in, it’s important to have an idea of what your work style is and how you want to look. When you get dressed, have a think about what you have on that day. Are you working, meeting with potential investors or folks you’d like to work with? Is what you’re wearing appropriate and does it present you in your best light?
I’ve come up with three general style sub-categories that are specific to web-workers; broader categories can be seen on BusinessChic.
i. The minimalist:
So I paid out Jobs earlier. The man knew that he was a minimalist and planned his wardrobe such. He didn’t wear the exact same turtleneck, jeans and sneakers everyday, Jobs found a brand who made what he liked and did it well. Then he filled his wardrobes with multiple versions of the same products so that he could present his minimalist self, crisply and cleanly, every day.
ii. The creative:
Maybe you are someone who spends their free-time scouring online and real-world markets for something a bit different to wear. You have your basic pieces like jeans and jackets – make sure that these are well-maintained (no frayed hems).
iii. The it’s clean crowd:
You wear whatever you find that’s clean. Even though you generally rock the messy bedhair look, you’ve showered and are wearing clean clothes – even if you’ve been up gaming all night! However if want to smarten up your look a little, make sure that your clothes fit well and aren’t too faded or bear holes that you aren’t proud of. A usual easy way to smarten up jeans and a tee is to incorporate a well-cut blazer into your look.
Generally make sure that your shoes are decent or don’t complain to the client when you’ve stomped in a puddle on your way to meeting them and water has come through the hole in your shoe.
Personalise and shine
So you have worked out the look that you are going for. When going out to purchase the items to create your work wardrobe, consider making tweaks to suit you or show your personal flair.
You’re a minimalist like Jobs? Try getting some really ace sneakers. How cool would it have been if he’d rocked Marty McFly sneakers?
You’re Creative? Turn that souvenir you bought on your last travels into an accessory to string up and tie around your wrist or dangle from the gadget you use most.
You’re Clean? Hurrah you’re clean! Now consider working on your hair. Is bed hair the best look for you or can you mix it up for when you have a special meeting? Try getting a sharp new do or put effort into your headgear if no-hair is your look. Experiment!
Fail well, fail often
The you in better packaging may not happen overnight but it will happen. Try out a few looks, some will work better than others. Develop an eye for what looks good on you and the pieces that make you feel good and empowered to take on the next challenge!
Once you’ve established your style, it’s all about maintenance. Conduct periodic checks to see whether your clothes are smelly, splattered, stained or wearing out and act accordingly! Also be prepared for tumultuous weather and consider whether your clothes are appropriate for the season! Get an idea of the clothes and looks you like to create your work look. This means that whenever your clothes wear out, you’ll know what pieces you need to replace them.
Similarly don’t be afraid of keeping an eye out for new things. Check out magazines and streetstyle blogs to see what folks are wearing and whether there are new looks that you want to try for yourself.
And remember what you wear to work isn’t the most important thing; it’s the work you do and relationships you develop that matter. While you polish up your style and people notice the you-in-new-and-improved-packaging; remember to keep it real and not to lose sight of the key things that matter. Until then, I hope that you choose to take some pride in your visual presentation and feel free to share your progress with me on BusinessChic.com.au.
Bio: Cheryl Lin is the founder of business streetstyle fashion blog, BusinessChic.com.au. Her work has appeared in Vogue, Peppermint, Melbourne Street Fashion, (small)lust, Pugnacious George and Australian Cyclist. Cheryl is available for personal styling consultations, wardrobe audits and even offers a professional profile photo service so that web workers can present their best selves online. See here for her services.