heather moore : artists who blog

This week's interview is with South African designer and illustrator Heather Moore, otherwise known as Skinny laMinx. Heather makes beautiful designs for textiles, ceramics, and home decor and is also a contributor for the Elle Decor SA blog. You can see a wide variety of her multi-faceted work in her portfolio as well as in her Etsy shop. Heather just recently sold her 1000th item on Etsy, so congratulations and much continued success!

Why did you decide to start a blog?

I started my blog because I wanted an online portfolio of my work, and a blog seemed like a cheap, easy-to-update option. The world of blogs was totally new to me, and I thought it was fantastic – so generous and enthusiastic! I had no idea that I’d end up with lots of people reading mine.

How has blogging affected your work as an artist/designer?

I’ve joked before that a blog is like one of those Tamagotchi games where you have to keep caring for a little virtual pet. And it’s true! You have to keep feeding the blog, and sometimes you’re not even sure why, but you know you do!

It may sound funny, but my blog has really been a brilliant tool for me to keep producing work. Sometimes, when you’re starting out, there’s nobody to show the things you make, so they sit in a corner, gathering dust. But a blog allows you to do something with the thing you make. So even if it does gather dust afterwards, at least it’s had some purpose, even if it’s only a virtual one.

I’ve learned a lot about taking photographs and about making them look better in Photoshop. It’s perfectly evident to me that a good design blog has good photos, and so I’ve been trying hard to get better. Taking photos has also improved my eye for composition and colour, as well as enhancing my enjoyment of looking. Also, anticipating sharing something on the blog (“I’m so blogging this!”) is a very pleasureable activity.

The biggest affect my blog has had is that it’s given me the most incredible exposure, all over the world. I have not had to do much self-promotion at all, as my blog has done all the work. So although keeping a blog takes quite a lot of effort, it’s definitely worth it.

How did you come up with the name of your blog?

I named my blog Skinny laMinx before I really even started my label. It’s one of the names we give to our funny little Siamese cat called Monkey – it’s kind of a corruption of the old playground chant Skinny malinky long legs… It doesn’t mean anything really, it just sounds kind of cute.

What are your favorite artist/designer blogs? Why?

Wow, this keeps changing, cos there’s such fabulous stuff out there. But here are some current (and ongoing) favourites:

Jezze - Jesse is a good friend of mine and we often work together. I love seeing how she posts about her work, as I’ve often seen the real thing, or the steps towards the real things. She’s got a great quiet humour and a cute dog!

Orange you Lucky
- Helen Dardik is a supercharged Canadian illustrator with an incredible zest for life. She never seems to stop creating and sharing, and she is a very generous and encouraging commentor on my blog too. She’s a total inspiration.

Ninainvorm - Nina van Goor is a young Dutch blogger who posts on such a variety of topics, and has a marvellously crazy colour sense. I like her strong opinions and enthusiasm.

Print and Pattern - This is a long-time favourite, and the mysteriously anonymous bowie style always posts an amazing dose of daily pattern inspiration.

The Bedlam of Beefy - Uncle Beefy makes me laugh every day. He’s a tonic!

Bloesem - Irene Hoofs’ Bloesem has been a favourite of mine right from the start, when she used to post in Dutch! She has an amazing warmth and friendliness that shines through all her inspirational posts.

There are so many more, but I should stop now, cos I could go on…

Why do you think blogs have now become so popular with artists
and designers?

It’s such a great way to connect with people who are interested in the same things as you are. I have found the design blogging community to be so generous and friendly. Whenever I come up against a problem, I don’t hesitate to turn to a more experienced designer who blogs to ask her opinion, and people often do the same to me.

Also, a lot of designers and illustrators work in a fairly isolated way, and sometimes there’s nobody to show the work to (and it’s not fair to expect the cats to clap their furry paws and jump up and down every time you make something). Blogs allow you to go “ta-dah!” when something’s finished, and maybe, if you’re lucky, you’ll hear a faint clapping from your audience.

Do you have any advice for artists/designers who are starting a blog?

Don’t try too hard. Make it fun for yourself, or it will be hard to maintain. Make sure your pictures are big and beautiful, and remember to thank everyone who helps you out.

What has been the most positive and inspirational aspect of having a
blog for you?

Again, I think it’s about the level of generosity and kindness that has been shown to me. When I started blogging, there were blogs like Design*Sponge and Decor8 that seemed so supersonic that I could never have the courage to show them my work. But when I did get in touch with them, they were so friendly and helpful. I’ve never experience this type of kindness in other fields, but I think it’s a culture that is quite well-established now, and is quite self-perpetuating. I find I’m very willing, if not eager, to share my knowledge, because that attitude has helped me grow so much.

And, of course, just the sweet comments that I get every day from my readers are just fantastic. I really appreciate every comment, virtual smile and thumbs-up, because nobody has to do it, but if they do take the time, it’s because they want to connect, and I’m always grateful for that.

Thanks Heather for your open, honest answers and for sharing the exquisite photographs of your work!