Hello everyone! Today is a chance to meet another of my creative online friends - the very lovely Kate of Grace & Flora. Kate and I first got to know each other via Instagram, but have since met in person a couple of times at events where she was selling her gorgeous jewellery. I'll let her tell you more about herself and her creative life...
Hi! It's lovely to have you here, can you introduce yourself: What’s your name and where do you come from? What do you do?
Hi! I’m Kate and I live in Twickenham, South West London, though I grew up in Bristol. I’m a jewellery designer and silversmith, I make nature inspired jewellery from silver in my garden workshop.
What’s your personal definition of Creativity? What does it look and feel like in your life?
I would say creativity is when I let a more playful, exploratory part of myself take the wheel, it’s freedom and a sort of harnessed wildness, where something that wasn’t there before is created. It’s a bit like letting life force flow through you and I can get lost in it. Einstein says creativity is ‘intelligence having fun’.
(Ah this is great, I love all the words you've used here - play, exploration, freedom - and the Einstein quote is wonderful!)
Apart from in your work or business, how do you let your creative side out to play?
Until my art teacher went on maternity leave I was painting once a week which I would like to take up again when she returns! I get immersed and it’s also lovely to see what the other students get up to as we have such different styles. I also love taking photos and am working on my photography; Instagram is a great motivator. And a little writing too. I think allowing ourselves to be creative is essential to our well-being and always unique and personal to the individual.
(It sounds like you've got a lovely mix of creative outlets here, and I agree about finding things that allow you to be yourself. Painting is something I've never quite got to grips with, but I love that you're giving it a go and enjoying it, I hope we'll get to see some of your work at some point!)
Have you always felt creative? Have there been times when you’ve struggled with it?
I come from a creative family, my brother is an artist and my mum makes pottery, calligraphy, knits and is a great cook. I was creative as a child and was good at art and even made jewellery as a teen. During my twenties and much of my thirties I neglected my creative urge and I think it took its toll. I rectified it at a weekly painting class back then which I loved, and of course picked it up again when I started my jewellery business.
(Wow what a creative gene pool! I think so many of us have similar experiences - we spend our childhoods trying lots of different creative things, but then they get forgotten about once we hit adulthood and all the seriousness and stresses that come with jobs and homes and families of our own. I think it's wonderful to see so many people rediscovering their creative passions.)
Where do you find inspiration? Who or what do you look out for?
My inspiration for jewellery making comes from nature - I have always loved nature, so much so that I studied Zoology at university. Now my daily dog walks take me out foraging. I look for beautiful shapes to cast into pieces such as twigs, shells, leaves and flowers, and I love natural colours, especially greens and pinks. I also like to read and visit art galleries which I always find inspiring in a more general way. You never know what you will learn about life or about yourself.
(I'm always curious about how people's academic backgrounds often lead in unexpected ways to their ultimate passions and career choices - Zoology is a really interesting one! I completely agree that nature's details can be incredibly inspiring, as can learning about other people and places.)
(Photo 1 above - from Kate Grace & Flora - photos 2 & 3 taken by me)
What top three tips would you offer a nervous creative?
Experiment - I would say that it’s important to experiment, let yourself go a bit and don't worry about whether it will be a success or not. So much is learned from so-called mistakes and failures. If something doesn’t feel right you can move on to trying something else. It’s never wrong as we learn something each time. I made some very mediocre jewellery when I first started, but I needed that step to get me here.
Don’t worry about what other people think - If you create something you love and it makes you feel alive then that’s the most important thing. My clause here is that if you’re making to sell and your things are being seen and not selling then it’s worth reviewing, maybe with kind friends! Sometimes if we are a bit disconnected from others, as many shy creatives are, we end up down a path that’s not right; if this happens it’s time to let go and move on with those learnings.
Be authentic - Whether you are making something, writing something, or whatever you’re doing, it has to come from the heart and soul. People notice when it doesn’t I think, and they need to feel your unique spark! It’s the only way to live a life, we only get one! Authentic living takes courage, though the more of us who do, the more the world comes alive!
(These are fantastic tips, thank you Kate. It can be so tricky as a passionate creative if you're trying to turn your hobby into a business and it doesn't seem like anyone likes what you're making. There's definitely an argument that the right people to appreciate it are out there somewhere, but in the short term it can be more motivating to move on to something else and keep the special things for yourself.)
Where can we find you online?
My favourite hang out is Instagram: www.instagram.com/graceandflora
My website with a shop, blog and monthly newsletter is on my website: www.graceandflora.co.uk
(Thank you Kate, I'm sure people are going to love seeing your work and what you get up to!)
I hope you've enjoyed reading this Q&A, and I'd encourage you to go and check out some of Kate's links - her Instagram account is utterly beautiful, and there are so many pieces in her jewellery collection that I'm coveting! I look forward to introducing you to another amazing creative soon, but for now - have a fabulous creative day!
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