profile : penny black project

The Penny Black Project is a clever little art project for people who want to be more creative but find that they are short on time….so pretty much most people with a creative bone in their body! Participants are encouraged to follow project briefs to create a series of miniature artworks. Illustration, collage, crochet, textiles, sculpture and photography and any other medium you fancy can be submitted. In 2012 the Penny Black Project has also expanded to incorporate a range of vintage postage stamp paper products aimed for everyday inspiration.

Do you have a day job, if so what is it? 
I am currently a fulltime student, studying business and majoring in accounting, and work part time as a book keeper for the Design Centre Tasmania. After I finish uni my goal is to become a qualified accountant and start my own fulltime business supporting creative people in business (and pursue my own creative interests).

When did your business begin and why? 
The Penny Black Project started in August 2009. I was working fulltime, studying part-time, and was looking for a way to incorporate more creativity into my everyday life. I had just finished an art project 4 Words 4 Paper which encouraged participants to create a series of artist books, I had gotten so much from participating in this project that I decided to create an art project of my own. The key for me was to keep the projects small and by chance I stumbled onto the idea of basing the projects around postage stamps, starting with the first postage stamp the Penny Black, and so the Penny Black Project was born.

Inspiration/design aesthetic? 
I am a big fan of Scandinavian design and the idea of design that is available to everyone. I love their idea of having beautifully crafted things for everyday living. I am also drawn to Japanese minimalism and the concept of shibumi - the beauty in the simple, subtle and unobtrusive. I am also a big fan of design that uses recycled and reclaimed materials - in my own work I try to keep the use of new materials to a minimum.

Designers you admire? 
Lately I have been very much inspired by the work of Japanese Architect Tadao Ando. He has been described as one of the most influential built environment designers of the post modern era, but what I admire most is that he is entirely self taught, having only completed the first year of an architectural degree before deciding to drop out and go his own way. I love this as it goes to show that if you put your mind to it you really can achieve anything (even if that means going against the system). But I would have to say that my favourite designer is Matty C Smith, who has been helping me with the design work for the Penny Black Project, from branding all the way through to a potential retail store for the future.

What do you love about what you do...and any little gripes or niggles? 
Running an art project I am constantly amazed at the creativity of the participants. I send out the same brief to everyone and then 6 weeks later I get an impossible range of responses, all completely different and totally individual. It is incredibly inspiring and motivating. However with all this inspiration and motivation around I do find that there is just not the time to get everything I would like done. I am hoping that this situation will improve once my studies are finished (at the end of this year!).

What can our lovely customers expect to see you exhibiting? 
Expect inspiration and hopefully a little motivation to pursue your own creativity. If you don’t think of yourself as creative then there is always the lovely stamp ephemera for you to keep or perhaps share through the post with a friend (but really if you don’t think of yourself as creative, but secretly wish you were then I think the Penny Black Project is exactly the project for you).

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