Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.
Since I was a child I loved making things. My started my business “Oz Bush Art” thirty years ago, I make and design various items using natural West Australian bush materials – wildflowers, nuts, sticks, leaves.
My business approaches product design with an eco consious mission, creating sustainable products with a low enviromental impact, using Earth-friendly practices.
Souvenirs that are made in Australia. I have been making my products at home in Fremantle since 1986 using natural West Australian bush materials; my products are unique to this state.
Fridge magnets, Bush jewellery, Wildflower jewellery, Bookmarks, Pens – bush, Pencils, Gumnut plaques, Wildflower pictures, Eucalyptus leaf bookmarks, Gumnut brooches, Gumnut bookmarks, Pot plant pets, Handmade paper, Gumnut keyrings, necklaces, Wildflower keyrings and more!
I proudly support the ‘Fred Hollows Foundation’
Who (or what) inspires you to do what you love in your own creative business?
I grew up on a big farm in the wheatbelt of WA and my parents were wonderful role models and inspired me. My father was always making things on the farm including building and designing our house, making the bricks, milling the timber, quarrying the foundation rocks and constructing the metal verandah posts. My mother always told me and my brothers and sisters to “Work it out for yourself” or “Use your brain” when we asked her how to do some things – as a child this annoyed me but has been an invaluable lesson and life tool. My parents worked at what they loved so I grew up with the belief that you work at what you love.
Where do you get your inspiration from when you design/paint?
My inspiration comes in different ways. Sometimes an idea will pop into my head – especially when I wake up in the morning. At other times the materials I use “talk” to me and their shapes and forms are often suggestive of a particular use for them. Or a customer may ask me to make something for them, I then wait for the solution to come to me.
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Leonardo Da Vinci.
What are the five words that people who know you would use to describe you?
Loyal, generous, creative, kind, thoughtful/caring.
Tell us about your very first job and what path have you taken since then?
I trained to be a Dental Therapist at Curtin University straight after high school and worked for a dentist in Geraldton for 4 years. This was the best job – I had the best boss ever, he was kind and supportive and taught me a lot. I loved going to this job every day. Dentistry is both an art and science which suited me well because it was a combination of using my hands plus my right brain and left brain. I loved caring for peoples’ well being.
I left this job to go travelling and was gone for 4 years.
On my return I got a job once again as a Dental Therapist but this ended when I had a motor cycle accident. During my recovery I needed something to do so I did a basic leatherwork course and designed and made leather belts which I sold to several boutiques. This lead me to try making earrings which I also sold to boutiques.
I began experimenting with casting resin, made some items, started selling at Fremantle Market and have now been there for 30 years. In that time I went on sales trips to Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Alice Springs and the southwest of WA and set up a thriving wholesale business with my resin products.
Describe a typical day in your studio space?
My days and my studio are not what I would describe as typical!!!
My studio comprises 4 areas within my garden. One of them I call the dungeon or the black hole – it’s a four square metre garden shed (My friend Tony says I’m the only person he knows that can make a living out of a 4 square metre space!!!) This is where I put on a mask and do all the sanding and drilling – noisy and dusty. At other times this is where I wear my gas mask and mix and pour resin. It’s also a storage area for lots of my raw materials and completed products. I do not like to spend too much time there which is great because it means that I am fast and focussed with the tasks I do in there!
The next part of my studio is just outside the garden shed under an awning. This is where I glue magnets onto various bush nuts or saw and drill eucalyptus sticks for pens. It’s also another storage area for raw materials and partly finished product.
I have another space which is under the pergola protected by 3 walls and covered with clear roof sheeting – lots of daylight which is the best light for working. All of the final construction and lengthy jobs are done here while listening to music or inspirational and informative you tubes.
I have a small home office in my living space – this is where I print and make labels, wrapping paper and do my invoicing and book keeping.
As an artist/designer, what is your biggest frustration?
Making mountains of things to sell!
Tell us about how you prioritise your studio work.
Do the most important thing first. Stephen Covey’s four time quadrants is a great principle, so for me continually doing important but not urgent tasks is my priority.
Tell us about how do you connect with other artists, and your customers (i.e. how do you network)?
I have made friends with lots of creative types from my years at Fremantle Markets. My family and friends are all creative people. I seem to be naturally drawn to those types of people. I reach out to these people to get together – maybe a meal at my place or walking and talking.
Oz Bush Art Collections
What advice can you offer other creative people who are just starting out and following their passions?
Jump right in, learn from your mistakes and keep tweaking what you do. Be business minded, organised, constant small improvements. Customer focussed. Under promise and over deliver. Read lots of books or watch youtubes on marketing and public relations – be on a continual learning curve. Enjoy the journey. Hang out with supportive, positive, inspiring people.
What dreams do you still want to achieve or fulfil in your life?
Wow, what a question! In general I want to keep learning. When I look back at my life I realise that it is better for me to not reveal my dreams – so watch this space!
What is your proudest moment so far?
I’ve never thought about this question before. The one that springs to mind is way back when I delivered my first batch of double wrap leather belts to a shop in Nedlands and they handed me a cheque for several hundred dollars – I was still recovering from a broken upper arm. I was so determinded to succeed.
Who do you most want to meet and why?
My wise self so I could move through life a bit smarter.
What is the most important lesson in life that you have learned?
Hard question – not because I don’t have the answer but because for me there are several equally important life lessons. Be a compassionate & kindhearted person, laugh at myself (laugh at my mistakes – be humble and don’t take myself too seriously), continually step outside my comfort zone.
What book are you reading right now, and do you have a book you would like to recommend?
I have 3 books waiting for me to read – “Quiet” Susan Cain, “The Happiness Advantage” Shawn Achor, “You were not born to Suffer” Blake D. Bauer.
Reccomended books – “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, “The E Myth”, “How to Win Friends & Influence People”, “Stone Soup”.
Where do we find you and your product?
Treetop Walk – Valley of the Giants, Walpole, WA.
Natural Selection Souvenirs, Metcalfe Arcade, 80 George St, The Rocks, Sydney, NSW.
(I’m taking some time off from Fremantle Market this year)
My products are LIGHT, STRONG, HANDMADE, CUSTOM AND QUARANTINE FRIENDLY.