Friday, February 15, 2008

Interview with Bronwyn of Smoke and Ochre

This weeks interview is with Bronwyn of Smoke and Ochre

Tell us a little about yourself

I am 38. I have lived in Johannesburg all my life. I am married with two dogs and a cat.

The name of your blog is Smoke and Ochre, where did that come from?

I took the name from one of my favourite poets Ingrid Jonker. Smoke and Ochre is the title of one of her collections of poems. Her poetry is quite sad and poignant, but incredibly beautiful. I also like the way the words smoke and ochre fit together so well.

Have you always been interested in design? Do you work in design?

I don't work in design, I'm a freelance journalist, researcher and producer of radio, television and film content. I'm mainly doing documentary work at the moment. I've always been interested in design and décor and love décor magazines, more as a personal interest than anything else. The internet opened up a whole new window in the design world for me and got me completely hooked.

Everytime I read your blog I want to redecorate my house. How often do you redecorate or reorganize?

Thanks for saying that, it feels good to know that I've inspired you J I don't redecorate as such as often as I'd like to, my house is more like a work in long term and slow progress. My furniture pretty much stays put, but I love creating and inventing new displays in all the different rooms, adding smaller items, and changing the bigger items as I can afford to. I am addicted to thrifting and love vintage things, so I am constantly adding and changing the smaller décor items around. I've been thinking about simplifying….I hate clutter, and I don't want to accumulate too many possessions. I think that having too many material possessions burdens you down somehow. I don't know how I'll ever curb my love for thrifting though!

I have been introduced to many new designers through your blog, how do you find so many designers and home designs.

Mainly by spending far too much time on the internet. You end up jumping from link to link and at the end of the trail you find the treasure. Online magazines, newspapers and other blogs are a great starting point. For example I might see a great photo on Marie Claire Maison online and then I'll google the photographer and find (or not) nice pictures on his site, the photographer may have interesting links on his site or mention a magazine I haven't heard of, and so the trail for beautiful things goes on. Flickr is another great source, I also read magazines. It's amazing how often I google one thing, and find something else lovely but unexpected.

What most inspires you

Things I see on the internet, other people's blogs and art, music, books, books, books, things I see on TV or hear on radio, my husband, my friends, my step-mom (she's very artistic and creative), being with creative people. Ideas inspire me a lot – South Africa inspires me completely, there is so much political and social debate going on all the time, so much wonderful art and culture, colour inspires me, thrift stores, pots of paint, art and stationery supplies, driving through interesting ethnic and cultural neighbourhoods, I love to explore different places.

Do you have a favorite design blog or magazine?

Difficult to say because there are so many good blogs. I love all the blogs on my blogroll. My two favourite mags are the South African Elle Decoration, House and Leisure and Visi. I wish I had more access to international magazines but they are so expensive in South Africa. I was in Australia last year and it was heavenly to buy the Australian décor mags like Real Living and Inside Out.

You say you love all things Scandinavian, how did that love start

Through the internet and discovering the beautiful Swedish design blogs and stores.

I know you also enjoy collage and journaling. How did you get started with these two crafts and how much time to spend on them

I have always loved to make and create things and have been keeping visual and written journals since I was thirteen. I've always had the need to express my thoughts and feelings in journals, to draw and paint and make collages in them. I've also always loved collage and sticking and juxtaposing different and clashing images together. I love grungy, bold, bright messy styles. Once again, I discovered a lot of altered art and new visual journaling styles and ideas through the internet and books. I spend a lot of my spare time on arty/journaling stuff. I have my art table and computer desk next to each other and I can happily spend hours playing between the two while I listen to music or good talk radio. Over the past few months I've discovered the joys of Photoshop which I've been teaching myself, and today I got my first professional request for a graphic design quote. So who knows, hopefully this is something else I can explore as well.

What made you start a blog and how has it evolved

Being a journal keeper most of my life, the minute I discovered what a blog was I was compelled to dive in. My first blog was a political, social, news commentary blog but I eventually got bored with it and stopped blogging. About two years ago I discovered altered art and art blogs and decided to give blogging another bash. It started out purely as a place to put my journal pages and then kind of evolved into a more décor/design blog.

How did you become a guest blogger for Elle Decor and what was that like?

I had made contact with Heather, of Skinny laMinx and Elle Décor via email and she invited me to guest blog. At first it was a bit intimidating, but once I started and got positive feedback I really enjoyed doing it and had fun looking for content.

I have also read your articles in Thought Leader which I thought were great too. I actually enjoyed quite a few articles at Thought Leader.

Bronwyn, Thank you so much for your time. After speaking with you I have bought two books, one on Ingrid Jonker and also the book When a Crocadile eats the Sun. Thank you for giving me a little more insight into South Africa.


Lynne said...

nice to learn more about the talented and gracious Bronwyn:)

Barb McMahon said...

And to find a new blog in the process!