William Morris

I don’t remember when I first became aware of William Morris, his art, craft, and socialist views but ever since I was a young child I have been aware of England and English style, long before I ever went there.

Acknowledged as the father of the Arts and Crafts movement, William Morris is arguably the single most influential designer of the nineteenth century, and is still one of the best known of all British designers. This is due to his extraordinary talent as a pattern designer, his colourful and inspiring life story and to his forceful intellect and personality. Morris was much more than a designer: he was a socialist, scholar, translator and publisher, an environmental campaigner, typeface designer, printer, bookbinder, writer and poet. He was fervently, energetically creative and strove to achieve mastery in a “complex vortex of crafts, art, literature and politics”.

Dismayed by the dehumanising effects of industrialisation, he championed the value of human endeavour and passionately decried the corrupting nature of of manufacturing for profit. He believed that “true artists were people who expressed themselves completely through the material they worked with, benefitting from the full value of their labours”.

I have posted some of his floral fabric and wallpaper designs (categorised under Pattern).

I also love his books and typefaces. Morris set up The Kelmscott Press in order to have total control over the finished product of his reproductions of medieval books – from designing typefaces such as Golden, Troy and Chaucer, to paper production, ink manufacture, setting and binding.


More more information


Wells, N. M., 1996, William Morris, The Life, Times and Work of the World’s Greatest Artists, Brockhampton Press, London UK


Time to post something about art that inspires me. I’ve been a fan of Melbourne artist Nellie Zimmerman for a while and was fortunate enough a few years ago to be given a painting from her Pollen series for Christmas. The vibrancy of the colours, the textures, layers and depth of the land/city/seascapes that Nellie creates are awesome. Literally, awe inspiring. Wish I had a bigger budget! You can find more about Nellie at http://www.nelliezimmerman.com


Shaun Tan on the creative process

Painting from Shaun Tan's book, Memorial.
Painting from Shaun Tan’s book, Memorial.

I’ve been spending a bit of time lately on Australian author and artist Shaun Tan’s site and finding it very inspiring – he’s very generous with his knowledge and experience. I find it surprisingly reassuring that it is a relatively normal practice to spend time ‘mulling things over in my head’ when I’m working on a creative piece. I bake, I do the ironing, clean the kitchen – I have called it procrasti-baking before, but it all adds up to the same thing: ideas are whirling in my head and I need to be patient and wait for something to pop out. Which it inevitably does.

Shaun’s thoughts on his creative process:

“Most of the few picture books I have done have each taken about a year to complete. Much of that time isn’t necessarily productive in any visible way – true of many creative projects I think. It involves a lot of thinking while doing other stuff (eg. washing dishes) and playing with many ideas that may or may not work, making loads of scribbly notes and doodles in sketchbooks.

“With a blank piece of paper in front of me, my imagination is not especially fired up. I could start drawing, but everything would end up looking the same – and most likely stuff  I’ve done before. So I actively look to absorb foreign ideas and influences, which is one key lesson learned from years of illustrating different SF stories. Good ideas don’t just turn up, you have to go looking for them.

“Research – reading, looking at pictures, playing with different media – provides freedom from the creative paralysis that comes with infinite possibility. I need specific points of reference to develop ideas, and also a kind of resistance to my own stylistic ‘default settings’ so that I think outside the usual circles, and actually learn something new.

“Painting and drawing for me is not about creation but about transformation. It’s not so much about expressing preconceived themes or a mastered delivery of statements but rather a process of slightly absent-minded discovery, of seeing where certain lines of thinking take you if you keep following them. I know I’m on the right track when there is a sense of unfamiliarity about what I’m doing, that I’m actually being surprised by the way mixed drawings and words make their own novel sense, and I can coax them into surrendering whatever meaning is there through repeated drawings.”


Augmented reality project

Today I’m working on a project for a third year university assignment involving the use of augmented reality. The purpose is to “augment the student experience by enhancing the ‘experiential’ qualities of life on campus”. To do this we are using the app Aurasma and have been experimenting around campus with this.

Our brief is to create a set of images for new students to discover across the university that will help them explore and get excited about campus life.

Being a mature age student, I’m old enough to be the mother of most of them (and in fact some of my children’s primary school friends are here), and I have noticed many similarities between these students and my own kids at home (ages 21, 19 and 17).

One thing people in this age bracket like to do is sleep when I think they should be awake, so I’m thinking of designing a pointer/signage so that kids with the Aurasma app can find somewhere to lay their little heads down for a wee nap.


7 May 2013

Time for an update. I’ve found this assignment really difficult as my Photoshop skills (limited though they are) are very rusty and I’ve been snowed under with other work. Still, my original concept of creating a character that reflected the majority of the student cohort’s desire to sleep in public places has carried on and I’ve managed to create some imagery that reflects this. Nothing fancy here though.

M_Stuart_ACG305_#2 Cat-on-cloud-sign-no-sky