Snippets’. Chats with Creatives. We are back with series two! Here at Digital Fabrics we love everything print, pattern and colour and we love to know what makes designers tick. This second series is all about asking some fun and different questions and learning about the inspirations and ideas behind the artist and their work. We hope to inspire others by sharing snippets of these creative stories. We gave the artists and designers featured a varied and different set from series one list of questions to choose from so we will learn something new from everyone involved, should be fun!
Today on Snippets we are talking to Stephanie and Amy, Sydney based couple behind Outer Island. A design label that prides themselves on creating products inspired by nature such as ornaments and textiles, all made from natural or recyclable materials in Australia with a colourful and fun vibe as well as being educational and respectful to the environment.
Outer Island is the collaboration of Sydney based couple Stephanie Chambers (artist) and Amy Ranck (graphic designer). We love traveling, collecting and being in nature. I’m from New York and Amy is from Australia so we joke that we’re both from islands, which is where the name Outer Island comes from, but really what connects us is our love for collecting and making things. Two years ago we moved to Sydney from Brooklyn and had our first Aussie Christmas together. Inspired by our endless birding and bushwalking, we wanted to bring the magic of Australian nature to our own Christmas tree. We moved here with our beloved ornament collection, but found it hard to find unique, colourful, well designed Aussie ornaments, so we started there. After making ornaments we expanded to fabric items. Everything produced by Outer Island is made in Australia using only natural or recyclable materials. Sustainability is a big part of our mission statement and we work with ethically minded vendors and manufacturers. We work out of our sunny studio in Darlinghurst and our business is a year and a half old.
What 3 words best describe your creative style.
Magical, Colourful, Purposeful
Which part of the creative process is your favourite and why?
The beginning is always the most fun. When we’re working on a new design, we work together to decide what we want it to look like, then I do the drafting and Amy does the art directing. Running a business, we try to divide and conquer to make the best use of our time, so this beginning part is always the most fun because we get to work together.
Each day varies, but after about 10 months in business, we sat down to create a schedule that we felt would keep our business on track. We scheduled weekly meetings and also started calling Mondays ‘Marketing Mondays’ to force us to step away from painting and designing and to focus on getting our product out into the world. We use google drive to organise our documents and really started treating our business like a business around 10 months as well. Think: BINDERS. We also use spreadsheets to track our productivity and a free online project management tool called Kanban-chi. I use an old school paper and pen planner to stay on track and each month we have different larger projects that we try to get done so we can make sure to stay out of the weeds. I love to paint and Amy loves to design so it’s important for us to have easy tools and systems to work with to keep our productivity on track and to also move the vision for Outer Island forward. We try to think ahead and put systems in place now that will make it easier for us to scale.
If you could spend a day in another artist’s studio shoes who would that artist be?
[Stephanie] I’d actually love to see how it worked in large workshops during the 1600’s in Northern Europe. I’m obsessed with Dutch still life paintings and would very much like to be a fly on the wall to understand how it all came together. I’m a big Northern Renaissance nerd. I love how their paintings represented nature better than nature could have through their compositions and richness which then really emphasised for the viewer how beautiful nature truly was.
Tell us about your creative space, what are your tips for keeping a creative studio space organised?
Buy a label maker! Every now and again we have a big strategy meeting and in our last one we realised our studio was a mess. So we went out and got proper storage things and a label-maker and went to town. It’s been so much easier for us to work efficiently since we did that. We also regularly clean the studio because it makes us feel crazy if it’s a mess, especially if it’s during a busy time.
What projects or collaborations from last year stuck out, good or bad and what is coming up this year that you would like to plug!
We’re expanding our line of ornaments with lots of new ones and will also be expanding our Christmas crackers this year. We really want to be able to give people items to enjoy that will bring the magic of Australian nature into their homes and create special memories. Nature needs all the help it can get and we believe if people have reminders in their homes then they’ll feel more connected to nature and if they feel more connected to it then they can begin to protect it.