Amy Slatem {feature + giveaway}

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

I am so excited by today's feature. I have long admired Amy's work and am thrilled to share her talent with you! She has some super rad skills with a pen and pencil and you can even get some of her artwork at the Arts on Main market in Pretoria. She proves that local is indeed lekker! 

“'Illustration' is a term used fairly loosely to outline my art, design and continuous doodling. My work largely leans towards portraiture in various mediums, focusing on capturing the nature and personality of whomever and whatever is my subject, be it people, animals or objects, often with an added twist of hand typography. I offer a variety of personalised and quirky illustrated projects that are often based around the ideas brought to me by clients," Amy says.

1. How did you start and how long have you been doing this?

Art has always been at the heart of most of what I do, but it’s only since I’d finished varsity and started in my 8 to 5 design job last year that I really started developing and focusing on promoting my illustrating and freelance commissions in my own time. I not only found that I had a lot more free time during lunch breaks and outside of work than I had while I was studying, but I also really needed to get away from the computer and back to pen and paper and creating with my hands. Things really seemed to start developing after I bought and began filling my first Moleskine journal with drawings, collages and musings early last year.

2. What sort of products do you make? Do you also provide services?

A general focus of my works is portraiture, but not limited to just faces, rather portraits as visual descriptions of my subject matter, from people to trees to buildings to objects. I provide personalized illustrative services to anyone who would like to have their ideas (calm or crazy) or perhaps the likeness of a loved one visually captured. I’m also very active on social media continuously sharing (especially on Instagram) whatever work or doodle I’m busy with or have just finished, so I guess I do some visual entertainment in a way too.

3. Where do you find inspiration for your creations?

People, my surroundings and general media – often sitting in front of a computer all day I tend to come across many interesting and inspiring things on the internet, especially via Twitter, that spark an idea which I jot down and revisit again later. My journals and random scraps of papers I’ve scribbled on when an idea strikes house a lot of base thinking and inspiration, but often I actually find that a blank page and a pen while listening to music is where most work starts.

4. What are some of the challenges of being your own boss?

To be honest, I’d have to say being “clueless” a lot, at this stage there’s still a lot of trial and error that I go through to find what and how things work with dealing with clients, costings, time management and general business things.

5. How do you perceive the South African creatives/design landscape?

Inspiring, diverse and professional (generally). I have a handful of really great and talented creatives which I follow quite closely, not only for their work and technique but how they individually navigate the creative industry and the local platform. It’s also far more encouraging and relatable looking at our homegrown talent because it feels more obtainable and possible to get to that level of success compared to looking at the international landscape. Local is lekker!

6. What is your favourite colour/ material to work with, and why?

I’m all about colour, but when it comes down to picking a favourite one and material: black ink, definitely. I love its possibility, its easy transitions from bold lines to subtle suggestions, from outlines to typographic possibilities. Give me any surface and a fineliner, brush and ink, ballpoint pen or koki and I’m a happy doodler. Its permanentness can be both exciting and frustrating, a challenge which I enjoy.

7. What would you do if you won the lotto?

My rational self would invest most of it and be responsible before booking a flight to somewhere beautiful and foreign that offers endless drawing possibilities… and wine. Once all my sketch books, experience and inspiration levels are sufficiently full, I’d head home and set up the most amazing and inspiring personal studio space with all the art supplies that my present self can only dream of at the moment…

8. Where to from here?

Buying that lotto ticket…

9. What has been your proudest moment since you started?

Realising what I sincerely want to do. Finding that passion and direction really helps to inform everything I do now with the consciousness of where I want to go –being a full time independent illustrator and making a name for myself in the industry, both local and abroad. I plan to get involved in more solo and group exhibitions, grow my client base and work on my own projects to keep exploring techniques and subject matter. 



Like Amy's Facebook illustration page and share the post with the necessary comment to stand the chance to have YOUR COVER PAGE personalised and illustrated to use on FB &/twitter. To enter, click here.

The time has come to sell my car...

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

When is it time to buy a new car? I've been threatening to buy a new car for ages now, but I find that without a balloon payment - which is irresponsible and really expensive if you ever get into an accident - I will not be able to afford a brand, spanking new car out of the box. You know, when my mom bought her Toyota Corolla out of the box in the 80s, she paid about R2800 for it. LOL! You're lucky if your blown front light is that cheap these days.

Anyway, so I set myself a goal that as soon as my racy little Kia Picanto {his name is Blikaspaai} reaches 150 000 km, which is around the corner, I am going to sell it - even if it is all paid off and doesn't cost me a cent besides the occasional do-it-yourself services. I need some aircon guys. Summer in the city in my car is no joke. 

Now, the other problem is that I just can't settle on a car to buy, even if it is used. My mind changes every week - I want a Mini Cooper, or no, how about a Hyundai iX35? Wait, I really want the Volvo V40, but now this Suzuki Jimny looks real cute. Why can't all cars just look the same?

I also know that my car will be quite difficult to sell - so I'm probably going to sell it to my parents, because I'm accident prone and my dog liked climbing on the roof of my car. Or maybe someone on Gumtree might be interested, they also have a really nifty tool that let's you determine how much you should charge for your car, based on the colour, year, kilometres driven and so forth. It also shows you in graphics and has extra tidbits of info on the side to help you decide on the price. But, if you want to make sure your car is in tip-top shape before you sell it, here are a few tips {note that I will also be implementing it immediately, to save what I can}. This picture below is not my car. I can only dream to own this car.

Keep It Clean

While keeping it clean may not seem like an important part of maintaining a vehicle, it truly is. Washing the outside of the vehicle keeps it looking good, while taking care of the inside helps maintain its value. Do not forget to wash the underside where salt and grime tends to build up. If the salt and grime are left in place, it can cause rust and other problems.

Change the Oil Regularly

While you may not necessarily need to change your oil every 4 800 km, especially if your car is newer, it is important to never let it go too long in between changes. At the very least, have the oil changed every 12 500 km. If the oil breaks down too much, it can damage the engine. Do not forget to have a new filter installed at the same time. When you have the oil changed is also a good time to have other parts of the vehicle checked out. If you do this all at once, you are less likely to forget something.

Check Brake Pads

When the brake pads wear down, they can pose a danger as the brakes will fail to work as they should. If they wear down too much, the metal on metal contact will ruin the rotors and this can result in very costly repairs. Have the brake pads checked every couple of months to make sure a replacement is not needed.

For more tips, head over here.

Image via Ultralinx
Collaborated post


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

You might not be aware of this, but I started and still run Staffordshire Terrier Rescue South Africa, as staffies are terribly close to my heart and I cannot stand the idea that these beautiful, special and lovely dogs are in shelters, out in the cold (in some) and not getting the attention they deserve (in some). 

 Staffies are actually very attached to their people and crave constant attention and they demand to sleep in bed with you. I started the 'rescue' - currently only a facebook page with about 4 000 followers - after I bought my first staffie, Mila. I soon realised hat there were a lot of staffies actually looking for homes in shelters, and not just 'pavement specials'. 

It is a pipedream to someday start a non-profit staffie sanctuary, but then I would need a bigger yard, and a bigger bed. But for now I help rehome dogs that their owners can no longer keep, or want. 

Could you believe that one 'owner' phoned me and told me if I don't come and fetch his dog now, he is going to let the gate open so she can run away, because they were moving to Cape Town in three days? I have heard of many other horror stories and have been involved with finding homes for staffies that were used as bait dogs. They turned around at their graves and emerged as the most loving, sweetest and gentle dogs you have ever seen. 

One thing I have learned is that rescue dogs are the most forgiving creatures on earth. Despite the abuse, neglect and pain they went through, they just want and crave love and attention and they want a lot of it! Rescue pets are the most rewarding pets! 

 I too have two rescues, which I got through my rescue page. Diezel and Minkie, which are my models. Both these dogs owners had moved to places they could not take their pets with and while Diezel was quickly rehomed, Minkie sat in a kennel for months, hurting herself as a result of kennel stress. I remember when I met Minkie for the first time, she was so happy to be out of her cage that she was uncontrollable, borderline annoying.

 {lazy pillow c/o Hill's Pet Food}

Now, she is the most chilled dog on the face of this earth. Minkie was also super feisty when we got her and she would bite me all the time, especially if I tried to put medicine on her raw wounds - self-inflicted from kennel stress. 

That's why Hills is also trying to create awareness of the plight of these periled pooches and as such teamed up with TEARS Animal Rescue, in Cape Town - which also often have staffies and pitbulls. #Savedbythedogs is an initiative that hopes to change people’s perception of rescue dogs; rather than unwanted castaways they are superheroes in the making, able to transform human lives with love and companionship. 

Each month, as part of the campaign, TEARS takes some of their four-legged superheroes into central Cape Town, rescuing people from the daily grind with an opportunity to walk a dog or play with the super-cute puppies.

 #savedbythedogs is happening once a month with the next outing on Wednesday 15 July, from 11am to 2pm. For info and dates follow #savedbythedogs or contact TEARS Animal Rescue on 021 785 4482 / 061 722 7903 /

I CHALLENGE JOBURG RESCUES TO DO THE SAME! We need something like this in the bustling city, just to slow down and have a refreshing afternoon outside with dogs that so desperately want love. 

Also, if you would like to get your hands on a lazy pillow, here's your chance. Let your best friend snuggle up on a cosy new #hillslazybed this winter. The giant lazy pillows (worth R350) are free when you purchase two bags of Hill’s Science Plan or Ideal Balance Canine sized between 10kg and 13.6kg. The pillow comes in three colour variations and is ideal for medium and large dogs. For mini breeds the super-cute lazy pouch (available in five colours and worth R250) is free when you purchase two bags of Hill’s Science Plan or Ideal Balance Canine Mini sized between 1.81kg and 3kg. The #hillslazybed offer is available at participating veterinary outlets from 1 July, while stocks last. Terms and conditions apply.


Outdoor room {decor}

Thursday, July 9, 2015

So, I have this stoep that I've been neglecting in the three-odd years I've been living in my house and decided that, besides my kitchen update that I'm currently tackling {when will it ever end?}, I am also going to convert this nelgected stoep into an outdoor room, an all-round entertainment area I can be proud of!  Am I a bit too optimistic to be thinking of Spring already? With the beautiful weather we've been experiencing over weekends this winter, I think I'm allowed to already be thinking of how I am going to optimally use my outside space.

Before you start decorating your outdoor space, decide on the style you would like to implement. Do you like French Country, or super modern? Do you opt for the more rustic, vintage items or does retro or Scandinavian inspire you? For me, I like a bit of everything mixed together, and in design speak, it's called eclectic - hoorah, a label for us indecisive folk. Also, make sure to choose a colour scheme that works outside. White may be crisp and a nice colour, but remember that by dust, weather and pets it is not going to stay white for long. If you have a lot of greenery going on around your outdoor room, go for a more subtle colour, like grey, to contrast against it.

I love yellow! It's such a fresh, inspiring and fun colour and it is the perfect hue to use as a contrast colour or to draw attention to a specific spot. I combined it with more neutral colours, such as the throw pillows, the porch carpet and the wooden deerhead, which are all currently on sale at Spree.

The idea of an outdoor 'living' room has become more popular over the years and living in the beaufitul country we do, I can understand why this trend has caught fire. You can use anythign from steel furniture, to wood, to rattan, but keep in mind that when you choose wood funiture it will need to be treated agains the elements quite often.

Use this space as an extra area to show off your style and hang some vintage finds around. Currently, I have a couple of crosses, a ceramic dear head and oversized steel keys against an empty wall, which immediately gave my stoep a bit of oomph. It also creates a talking point if you have guests over.

It's easy to lay an outdoor room out if you have chosen the function of the room. If you are concentrating on a seating area, ensure you have a coffee table for magazines, snakcs and drinks. I quite the idea of an outdoor lounge, and have had my eye on this daybed from MRP Home for months now!

If you have the space, create a seperate dining area, either with a small round wire table and two chairs where you and your loved one can enjoy coffee and rusks in the morning or have dinner on a late summer's eve, or go for the family option and get a big wood table with a couple of seats. Make it interesting by adding a bench on the one side of the table and a mix between wooden and wire chairs in different colours.

I can't wait to start my makeover! Now, I only need to find a solution to keep the dogs out of my outdoor room.

Brooklyn Brothers {eat here}

Monday, July 6, 2015

If you are a sucker for real American cuisine, like my dear husband - you know, those types of dishes you see on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives - then Brooklyn Brothers, which recently opened in Bedford Centre is definitely worth a visit.

Besides the very trendy design elements the company used to decorate their space - including wood, exposed lights and black subway tiles, they also have a motto: "If you like it, eat it." This definitely applies here, as it boasts milkshake flavours such as Salted Caramel Popcon, Roasted Marsmallow and American Apple Pie. This is just but a few mentions. Oh and their buffalo wings comes in 20 different flavours! Guys! Where do you even start?

For those that are particularly peckish, or have come in a large group - tricky, as you would have to book well in advance to have space - there's also the option of buying ONE HUNDRED buffalo wings, aptly known as The Brotherhood. Could you even? I think I need to set up one of those food contest challenges with my friends to see who can eat the most wings.

Regrettably I don't have any proper pics of what we ate, but for those ladies that are watching what they eat and still want to abide by the rules, you can have the 'Skinny' option, just toss the buns aside.

What made this place especially fun and different is their menus. You receive a clipboard, a pen and a sheet of paper with all the options you would like - want onions? You can have onions! Want mushrooms? You go mushrooms!

Want fries with that? then you'll have to think very carefully, as you also get quite a few options here. We opted for fries topped with cheese, jalapenos and mince, because YUM! But I wasn't too fond of it, as I soon realised there was some baked beans in there. I hate baked beans! Why do Americans like it so?

My husband opted for a basket of 'suicidal' hot wings, but we both are used to really hot and spicy food and felt that it was a bit too tame for our taste. They do have extra chillie sauce, so perhaps, if you would like the bite, opt for that. Flip also had a beef smashburger which he thoroughly enjoyed.

Oh and before I forget, the clever guys at Brooklyn Brothers also tapped into the craft beer market and have several favourites and some American flavours as well.

For about R250 for two people, you will want to roll out of this restaurant.  While other online reviews were a bit harsh - remember, it is still in its teething phase - it's worth a visit! 

Sugar & Vice {feature}

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Not a lot of people have it in them to make something great out of a bad situation, but Natalie Vice, from Sugar & Vice, did exactly that. After being retrenched in 2014, she decided to follow her dream and start her own design business. If you love ceramics and you love stunning design, then you will love Sugar & Vice as Natalie makes all things nice.

How did you start and how long have you been doing this?
Back in 2013 I was working full time as a marketing manager, but felt that I really needed a creative outlet and to find a way of pursuing my passion in a more permanent way. I was spending all my free time drawing designs and hand making samples for what would be become the basis of Sugar & Vice.  I also took time out to see some of Europe and to walk the Camino de Santiago. Anybody who knows about the Camino will know it is all about a personal journey.  For me that journey was about realising that owning my own business and being able to share my creativity with others is my true passion. 

After I was retrenched, it was just the push I needed to start focusing on Sugar & Vice. It allowed me to give Sugar & Vice the attention it needed to start to become a real functioning business without solely relying on it for income. A year later and I was finally ready to focus on Sugar & Vice full time. It was scary and it took courage but I was convinced that I had to follow my heart and do what makes me truly happy. 

I started out selling online through my own website and those of others, stocking in local stores and exhibiting at Decorex and Kamers vol Geskenke. It has been a long, exciting and insightful journey, which I would do-over in a heartbeat.  I am grateful for the experience and how well my designs and product range has been received by customers.

What sort of products do you make? Do you also provide services?

At the moment I only make homeware products, functional and decorative home décor.  All the designs are hand drawn by me and then printed on the various products.  I used to do graphic design jobs here and there, but my main focus at the moment is S&V.

Where do you find inspiration for your creations?

 I find inspiration everywhere, especially in Cape Town as it is such an inspirational place to live in. However I would definitely say my work has been inspired by tattoo art as well as Ndebele house paintings, the natural Cape fauna and flora and patterns gathered from my travels.

It is my love for patterns that has lead me to develop my obsession with nature, skulls and hearts. I keep going back to search for new inspiration from Mother Nature, human anatomy, mandalas, henna, tattoos and geometric motifs for my illustrations and are never disappointed with the outcome.

What are some of the challenges of being your own boss?

That I put a lot of pressure on myself and have to remember to chill!

How do you perceive the South African creatives/design landscape?
I find that there is definitely a competitive nature out there, as it should be, but every other creative person that I have met has been very welcoming.  As designers I think we need to stick together, encourage and support each other and do more collaborations together to keep things fresh for our customers. Artists are usually their own worst critics and that’s why we need each other’s support.

What is your favourite colour/ material to work with, and why?
I love drawing detailed illustrations with a fine liner on paper.  It’s very therapeutic and meditational to draw in such meticulous detail.  I also love working with clay and am planning to bring out limited edition handmade ceramics so watch this space!

Now, we always feel that there is too much month left at the end of our money. What would you do if you won the lotto?
Mmmm I have never entered the lotto and don’t think I will, but if I do get my hands on a big sum of money…I would get a gorgeous retail shop and studio where I can show off my products and meet all my lovely customers. I would also travel for sure!

Where to from here?
I am extending my product range to incorporate bags, t-shirts, clocks, wall art and wallpaper to name but a few.  Eventually I would like to get a store and create a beautiful space to sell my products and host fun social creative workshops. I’m also planning to partner with other artists to collaborate on new projects for limited edition products and also breaking into international markets.

I can't wait to follow your journey. Tell me, what has been your proudest moment since you started?

There were three proud moments – the first order that I got on Etsy which was a Deer Me Ashtray from a customer in Jerusalem.  The second was the first time S&V was featured in the media, in the Sunday Times. And the third time was the first time I interacted with my customers face to face – at the Oranjezicht market.



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