Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Review - Conversations with Creative Women by Tess McCabe

I've been planning to review this book for ages. Then I got the gig as monthly book review columnist over at Creative Women's Circle, a website run by Tess McCabe, also editor of this book. Just so you know. Full disclosure and everything. I have to say I like it now, don't I? Just as well I do!

I put in a pre-purchase order for this book last year because I was so excited about it. I'd only just discovered Creative Women's Circle (a bit behind the times, me) so I didn't know much about it. But when I saw this book being promoted, well, I did know a few things:

1. I like interviews
2. I like creativity
3. I like books, and
4. I'm a woman.

So I guess I'm the perfect audience!

Title page with letterpress Creative Women's Circle bookmark by The Hungry Workshop.

I'm too embarrassed to show the cover of my copy as it's covered in coffee stains. Usually I'm very careful with my books - precious, even - but through a series of events involving a clumsy waiter, an overfull latte and a wobbly cafe table, my copy of CWCW came off looking the worse for wear. Go here to see what the very stylish cover actually looks like (and get yourself a copy too!).

In a nutshell, Conversations with Creative Women is a book of 'interviews about the careers and creative lives of 15 Australian women'.

 Double-page spread of Lucy Feagins' desk

The first couple of interviews I turned to were Lucy Feagins, editor of the influential and informative daily blog, The Design Files, and then Pip Lincolne, renowned Melbourne crafter, retailer, blogger and author. Both interviews offered something new about these very clever ladies and I was interested to hear about the ins-and-outs of their respective businesses and the daily realities of doing what they do.

Pip Lincolne's published books

I was also introduced to creatives new to me (probably not to other people though!) and will be following up for more information on their blogs and websites (provided with each interview). I loved hearing how Kristen Doran built up her home-based textile business into one that supplies stores around Australia and the world.

Polli has been on my radar for a few years now but I had no idea about the story behind the jewellery brand and how two friends built such a successful business from a hobby.

I was in awe, truly, of Seja Vogel's adorable miniature felt instruments and was fascinated to hear the story of how she began making them.

Seja Vogel's felt instruments

One story that really resonated for me was that of Grace Camobreco, graphic designer and creative director of Taylor and Grace. She talked about the time she was fired from a job very early in her career and how it turned her into the designer she is today and gave her the drive to always 'get it right'. I think anyone can identify with a career blow such as this and to hear how it transformed and motivated such a talented, successful woman is inspiring and instructive.

Another element I love about this book is that each interview is preceded by a title page designed by a different illustrator or designer. Each visual introduction is thoughtfully realised in a style that describes the interviewee. Here is Pip Lincolne's title page designed by Yan Yan (Candy) Ng (bottom right). I love this allusion to all things Pip and her dedication to the handmade revolution. Perfect!

And another thing that's pretty freaking amazing about this book is that it was compiled, written, designed and published by one person. To read more about Tess McCabe and the process of producing this book go here for an excellent interview, courtesy of The Design Files.

So, yes, I do like this book. And if you like interviews and are interested in creative business, creative process, or just other women's lives and careers, you're bound to like it too.

You can buy this limited edition book here.