Thursday, March 21, 2013

Everyone is naturally creative

Some books I'm reading by prominent authors on our children's global future

I just came back from a Skype call with one of the world's leading lights on developing and nurturing creativity in education. Professor Yong Zhao is a thought leader and author of "World Class Learners - Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students", who is taking action to spread this most important message around the globe, that all children have natural creativity that needs to be encouraged and nurtured to enable entrepreneurial thinking in a global world. Globally connecting children is an enormously exciting project that he has begun - but it is a simple concept - learning from each other, sharing and creating, which is what children do best - but only if they are given the freedom and encouragement to do so.

This is very close to my heart because as a child, I was always doing something creative. I spent most of my childhood exploring nature at our local creek and dam, climbing trees and spending many hours drawing pictures. I was always considered to be an artist by my family and it was encouraged. However, as I grew older and was looking at developing my career, I decided my path was as a designer and I spent alot of time and effort to make sure I became one.
I had many obstacles to cross, however, with many people saying to me, "why don't you keep that side of your life a hobby and look at something else to do, like teaching or nursing." 

But I knew myself better than that and knew in my heart that I was creative and that nothing was going to stop me. So I am pleased to say that I have worked for the past 20 years as a designer and creative thinker and I am so excited to finally see that someone has been brave enough to approach this kind of thinking in education.

I too have begun a journey into this area, to encourage parents to become mentors for their children and to guide them into their life path, rather than resisting what comes naturally to them. 
My work is now bridging the gap between school and home and encouraging parents and teachers to work together for the child. But more than ever, I feel that parents need to feel that they too can be the inspiration for their children. Parents have a role to play as mentor and guide and once their child begins school, this shouldn't cease. It should continue and be encouraged. 

I truly believe that everyone is naturally creative. Many people have said to me, "Oh, you're so creative. I can't draw or be artistic at all." But being creative is not just about having drawing or painting skills.
It is the ability to think beyond the obvious. To encourage your thought processes to challenge ideas and systematic approaches to things. Surely things don't have to stay the same, particularly if they are not working. There must be another way!
It is clear to me that many things need to change in education, because our world is rapidly changing.
Information is at our fingertips and is constantly appearing in our minds. It is what we do with that information that is most exciting and powerful.

Entrepreneurial and creative thinking is a key to our children's future. They will have to think of new ways to live and work - they are already doing this - they are working on i-pads on a beach somewhere in Thailand so they can have work/life balance. They are already inventing new jobs and new careers for themselves through the resources that are now available to them globally.

I know many parents are worried about how much time their children spend on the internet, but why not spend that time with them? Encourage conversation around what it is they are doing on the internet. Encourage them to research and discover the world around them. To be aware of their opportunities and strengths to grow even stronger in this world.
They now live in a global world - whereas when I was growing up, I lived in a small country town and only went to the city on special occasions. We only found out about the rest of the world through TV shows and I clearly remember the first outbreak of war in Iraq and how fearful we were that it was the start of World War 3!

Information is there, it is what we do with it and how we can learn to create new ways of doing things that is the most exciting part of the world our children now live in.
Children are not fearful of this, you as a parent are fearful - but only through a lack of knowledge or understanding - and constantly thinking in terms of consequence.
There are consequences to our actions, however, by putting that fear into children, it is restricting their ability to express themselves and be free to think creatively without consequence or adverse reaction.

After hearing Professor Zhao speak this morning about developing teachers and parents as mentors who inspire creativity in children, I have enormous faith in my own children's future. I would encourage all parents to spend real time with their children. To be in the moment with them, to begin to understand their creative thinking. Listening to children closely provides many magical moments and the more you do it, the clearer their messages become. They are always looking at things in a new light, from different perpectives and are so curious that sometimes we forget they are still learning - we forget they don't know things yet and their curiosity is all about discovery - how wonderful it will be when all of us discover this and nurture that quality in each of us that comes so naturally.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

What do you do to stay new?

The new year always brings a sense of excitement to everyone. A chance to make a fresh start, to begin new projects, discover new ways of doing things and of course to begin fulfilling your new year's resolutions.
I started thinking about how that feeling can be really inspiring and motivating, particularly if you are in business. There is a feeling of hope and possibility that, once you get busy and stuck into the year, can sometimes dissipate quite quickly.
I recently had a haircut and a slightly new style and I was amazed at the reaction of my friends. I was told I look younger and fresher and that obviously boosted my confidence and positive outlook. I really was overdue for a change, and with many changes happening in my life this year, I thought, what better way to create the new me with a new do.

The hysteria around my haircut was quite understated compared to the excitement around the world over Michelle Obama's new 'bangs'. Who would have thought that a simple haircut with a fringe could cause so much excitement. It's more exciting than Barack becoming president for another four years??
But, there's no denying, that feeling of something new really gets us going and makes us feel new as well.

It got me thinking about how brands are creating that feeling for their customers. How do you create that exciting feeling of receiving something new or displaying something new in your business?
There is nothing better than that feeling of purchasing something new, especially if the packaging, price and overall brand experience has been a part of the excitement.

I remember feeling so excited to receive a package in the post after purchasing a product online. It was exciting just to receive a package in the mail again, even though it was purchased on the internet. Opening the brown paper package was thrilling, but even better, was the packaging of the product itself. It was really well designed, with a shiny black box opening like a treasure chest, revealing another package inside that had a zip. Inside was my brand new hair straightener; to go with my new do!

Everything old is new again too. I recently heard a discussion between my husband and daughter about these new skateboards that the kids are calling 'pennies'. My husband kept arguing that they were "always called skateboards when we were young", but apparently they are no longer skateboards, according to my daughter, "they are pennies and that's final!"
Even the old bikes we used to ride as kids are making a comeback. They are relaunched in new colours, rebranded and tada! the vintage bike is new again.

So what can you do to create something new each time you connect with your customers? Now more than ever it is easier to do this. Through social media and blogging, to email and even old fashioned telephone calls, you can add something new each time. It might be the way you sign off on your emails - try something new each time and see if your customers notice. Or a new message of inspiration on facebook every day, a new blog each week, or even introducing a new product into your range occasionally to capture their attention again.
Afterall, it is your current customers who are your brand advocates. If they are excited by your brand each time they come in contact, there is more chance that they will tell others and stay loyal to you and your newness.

Let me know what you do to stay new!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Every picture tells a story

Brand image is a perception and it is shown in so many ways. How we speak, our tone of voice, how we behave and how we look. Everyone has a unique story and it's important to tell that story and portray that image when you are communicating your brand to your customers.

Take a look at these images below that I took on my travels around country Victoria recently. So much history and stories to tell. When you look at these images, try to imagine the stories behind them and let your imagination run wild - maybe even write me a short story of what you think the history is behind these wonderful images I had the pleasure of photographing.

I love the shapes and textures of this old piece of machinery that someone
invented and carefully, painstakingly constructed to perform a task. 

This old hay and grain store is in Lancefield, Victoria and looks like it
has many stories to tell. Perhaps it was once a town hall or even a pub. 

The old typography adds to the charm of this otherwise quite plain
weatherboard building. It looks to have been handpainted too and reminds
us that talented craftsmanship was prevalent in designers and signwriters
back in the old days - thankfully there are still some typographers out
there who take pride in their craft.

I love these old rusty bolds that were also once a creative and innovative
invention to serve a purpose. I also love the colour as you can tell, the
rusty red colour is the colour I chose for intoimages.

The word produce invokes a sense of the normal and home grown products
that have now become chic and trendy but once upon a time were how
people lived their everyday - growing their own vegetables, making their
own bread - completely normal activity - somehow it is nice to hold onto
these old ways to maintain our humanity and simplicity.

I came across this charming little tractor while out for lunch in Donnybrook
earlier this year. What a beautiful part of the world and possibly not very
well known to most people. It takes me back to my country upbringing
and reminds me of the space and freedom of being a kid in the country.

Once again the rustic and the rusty is appealing to my
senses. Love the old bluestone hut, gum tree and tractor
composition - what a story it tells!

I wonder at what point and why this vehicle was abandoned.

Great shapes and lines - an exquisite piece
of industrial design. Have to admire our
predecessors who had such talent.

When I take photos to represent a product, some careful thought goes into how to present the scene and how it will be perceived by the viewer. Composition, lighting and telling a story is what I love about art direction and presenting the story in such a way as to entice and provide an experience for the viewer. The images draw you into another world and connect with each person in a unique way - it is that connection that resonates and encourages a person to buy or follow a brand.

Let me know your stories. Can't wait to read them.
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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The power in the tradition of a brand

Everyone is aware of the wonderful achievement of her royal highness, Queen Elizabeth who is celebrating 60 years on the throne. Each day we are greeted with images of royal engagements, with the Queen in her matching outfits and Duchess Kate looking glamorous while Prince William dons the regal costumes of times gone by. The pomp and ceremony, the horses and the coaches, the interesting hats and feathers, pins and services that the whole family is involved in, reminds us that there is so much history and traditional customs that are still a major part of the monarch.

It got me thinking about how traditions are so important when it comes to your brand. If you are part of an established company, it is perhaps unwise to forget where you have come from and the history and events that have formed the story of the brand. The royals have managed to move into the future but have not forgotten their roots and the importance of those traditions. Nor have the English people who turned out in their thousands to see the Queen on the streets of London. The United Kingdom is unique in that it is a contemporary society that stays true to the characters and personalities of the Royal Family, forming the identity of the UK. The sense of pride and the awareness that this is something special is infectious throughout the world.

I am a lover of horses so of course I loved seeing them and hearing them trot down the well worn streets of London and outside Windsor castle. It stirs emotion and pride that we, as Australians, are still a part of the Commonwealth and should be proud.

It is doing wonders for the brand that is the Royal Family and, along with the Royal wedding last year, the Queen has managed to make it all about the royals for the past two years. The family have revealed more about themselves and their "normal" personalities, but have also continued to honour all of the traditions those before them had created. This has restored the absolute power of the monarchy in the minds of people all around the world, and the power of tradition behind the brand.

So to forget or be complacent about traditions is to ignore some of what encompasses a brand. 

I think the Queen is quite lovely!!

Friday, April 15, 2011


Recently I took my son for a trip on the train into the city for the day. When visiting the city I like to pretend I'm a tourist and look around with different eyes. To view the world through his little eyes is a great experience also.

There are so many things to see and many busy people to watch.

Red chair sculpture 1 © intoimages 2011
I found this chair just sitting outside the NGV in Flinders Street and couldn't resist taking some shots of it. The colour is the intoimages brand colour so I had to have some record of this chair. It was almost calling me to notice it.

Red chair sculpture 2 © intoimages 2011
I took some shots from various perspectives and it began to take the form of a wonderful piece of artwork or sculpture. Quite a few people gave me some weird looks as I snapped away, but it got me thinking about perspective and compositions and how we look at things a certain way.

Red chair sculpture 3 © intoimages 2011
When developing a logo or branding for clients, as a designer it is part of my job to look at a business from the customer's perspective in order to communicate a message effectively. From the outside looking in. 

As a business owner, it is quite a task to do this to your own business. However, how often have you actually done this and really looked at how your customers' view your brand? 
How do customers' feel about your service and the products you offer? What is the first impression they have of your business and if you were them, would you use you? Would you come back? Or would you try somewhere else?

Red chair sculpture 4 © intoimages 2011
The way customers make purchasing decisions is changing and as business owners, we have to change with it. Our way of thinking and our approach to how we appeal to customers needs to evolve along with the changing landscape of buying and selling. Competition is everywhere now that we have more access to purchasing overseas. 

It is now time to really take stock and look at things from a different perspective. For more information on developing your brand, visit

Monday, March 14, 2011

It's all about the 'experience'

Nature's brilliance © intoimages 2011

I had the absolute pleasure of experiencing the opportunity to photograph a very beautiful garden over the weekend. It was quite an emotional experience to see these gorgeous pieces of nature and reflect on how nature can be so beautiful, and yet so dangerous after the recent events we have witnessed this year.
It is hard to describe sometimes how an experience affects your mood, your outlook or your subconscious but you know that when you have that experience, you want to share it with at least one person or more.

Social media has now made this so much more powerful and many brands are taking advantage of this word of mouth medium to get their message out there. But now, more than ever, brands need to offer customers something extra special for positive messages to be spread around the internet.

Nature at it's most brilliant pink © intoimages 2011

To understand how a brand can become successful, we need to delve into the overall experience that you might have had with a particular product or service. It is that experience that prompts you to tell others to give it a try.
It is therefore no surprise that many high profile brands are developing and rediscovering their brands in an attempt to attract new customers and 'buzz' around their products.

Many high profile brands are currently in a rebranding phase to improve and develop their brand to the next level and they are doing this by investing in and improving their customer experience.

Living and breathing colour © intoimages 2011
I recently came across an ad in a Qantas inflight magazine for the new Myer shopping experience.
Myer has developed an interesting strategy to promote their new store by utilising the well known fashion designers who are a part of the new customer experience. They have used testimonials from the designers to explain their take on the new shopping experience at one of the most well known retail stores in Australia. It is an enticing invitation for everyday people to experience what we may think is out of reach. To shop in a sophisticated and beautiful environment that could be anywhere in the world, but is right here, in Melbourne.

Some designers were quite emotional about their experiences, "I went to set up our store at Myer Melbourne and found myself teary. Suddenly, everything is brand new....",Charlie Brown, and "Myer has created a beautiful atmosphere - have a champagne, escape the everyday rush and lose yourself in the experience", TL Wood.

Leaves me breathless! © intoimages 2011
It is this physical and emotional experience that ensures you remember a brand and want to spread the word, or go back there again and again.
A trip to Myer was a highlight for many people way back in the 60's and 70's, but somehow lost it's appeal along the way. Myer has now tapped into what made it so appealing back then and it is something that cannot be emulated quite as effectively if you shop online.
Online shopping is a constant threat to retail, so something has to be done to improve and entice shoppers into stores. The answer is that something extra special - 'an experience.'

The 'Rouge' experience © intoimages 2011

An experience doesn't have to be as big and expensive as the Myer example, it can be the smallest and finest detail that adds to the value of what your brand offers. I saw this pink bike parked on Collins Street and instantly had a Rouge experience. This special sign gave the impression that a visit to Rouge Beauty Therapy would be a lovely one. What a great way to promote your business.
Of course, it wouldn't appeal to everyone, but to females walking up the dull, grey footpath on a lunch break, the pink bike instantly attracts attention and entices you to experience the brand.

My son's babycino at his favourite cafe © intoimages 2011

Just like this example, it is something memborable, or personal like special packaging, a smiley face on a babycino, beautiful paper that your stationery is printed on, comfortable and cosy waiting room where your customers feel relaxed while waiting.....this list could go on.

What is the experience that your brand provides for your customers?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Living colour Series 1

These gorgeous flowers were in a garden I saw in Tassie © intoimages 2010

Colour surrounds us and envigorates our moods. It stirs emotions and memories. The colours of nature are sometimes overwhelmingly awesome, especially in Autumn when the colours of the leaves warm us up on those bitterly cold mornings.

I am going to write a series of articles on colour because it is such a major part of my world and my work as a designer. I am constantly fascinated by the psychology of colour and how we take for granted the effect it has on our daily lives and how we feel.
I've included a few interior pieces from my home to express some ideas on colour and how we choose colours to suit our own personal brand.

My favourite cushions in desert red © intoimages 2010
I saw these cushions and had to have them because desert red reminds me of a time spent in beautiful Broome, in WA. The richness of colour there just blew me away and I couldn't get enough photos of the scenery and brilliance that is the Australian outback. So these cushions are my favourites because they remind me of another time and place but the colour is very powerful - my intoimages colour too!

Must have office coffee mugs - one for me and one for you!
© intoimages 2010

When I saw these I had to have them. These are my work coffee mugs that I only use in my cosy home office. In fact, I'm designing my new office interior around them.
The rich red caught my eye and I feel like I'm treating myself when I drink from them. Anyone who knows me well also knows I love a good coffee. You've gotta have a favourite coffee mug. The rich red appealed to me because of its warmth and the affect it has on my day. It gets me going in the morning!

Some much loved rustic items
© intoimages 2010

Being a country girl, I love a bit of rustic. Brown is a funny colour because once upon a time it used to be boring and bland and mission. Now it is so popular and I think it is because it has a warm and cosy feel about it. It also has a sense of style, depending on how it is used. Many restaurants use it in their decor and I've designed quite a few promotional items for clients using brown in the past couple of years. There is a sophistication to brown that has now been revived.

So join me in celebrating loads of colour and how it affects you in your daily life. Send me your comments and ideas on how colour plays a part in your life.