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The Burning Question: Our highlights

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We learned a lot last night at the design panel and discussion “The Burning Question.” Our 3 brilliant speakers Paul Ryding, Anita Murphy and Christopher Murphy came from illustration, product and graphic design backgrounds and each brought their wealth of knowledge and experience (work and life) to the panel.  Interviewed comedian Graeme Watson did a stellar job of interviewing the panel.  Onstage, the designers discussed design and mental health, why Belfast is a great place to set up a creative business and we even learned about Paul’s “secret” background as an accomplished baker (and pastry chef!).  Our event covered 3 key topics – Design & Society, Design & DIY Culture and Design & Wellbeing followed by an audience Q & A.

These are some (well, a lot!) of our highlights from the discussion:

Design & Society

“Belfast is a perfect place to nurture and grow a career internationally” – Paul Ryding

  • You may be faced with designing for controversial or serious topics which you have to deal with sensitively. Paul spoke about his experience designing the cover illustration for the Trayvon Martin book “Rest In Power“co-authored by Trayvon’s parents.
  • Belfast is becoming an exciting place to set up business, an “untilled field” with a lot of potential. Paul moved from Glasgow to London to Belfast and has been happy to set up business in the city.
  • Both Anita and Chris spoke about how where you are based is now irrelevant thanks to the internet and that there is so much potential to develop your skills in the worlds of Art and Design.

Design & DIY Culture

“Find the time and an outlet to be creative.” – Anita Murphy

  • Chris spoke about one of his earliest projects – an electronic record label on which he created hype around ten initial “fake” releases before creating a real sellable one.  He spoke about taking risks and that sometimes when you are in the middle of it, you just have to deal with it.
  • Anita spoke about how as a designer, it’s also important that you know how to run a business and work with clients.
  • Anita had to make the tough choice of choosing between studying Psychology at university and going to art college and was told by others that she was “too smart” for art college.  She felt that this was due to the complete misconception that design doesn’t require intelligence when in fact some of the most creative people out there are in fact very smart. The lack of focus on creativity at school has inspired one of Anita’s passions at The Creativity Hub – introducing design to kids at a younger age.

Design & Wellbeing

“There is still a stigma attached to discussing mental health in Design.” – Christopher Murphy

  • Chris spoke about overcoming “Impostor Syndrome” – the feeling that everything that you are doing is in fact a total sham and that you will be discovered any minute when in fact you may in all likelihood be fine or even successful!
  • Chris talked about a very personal story of his attempted suicide.  This served as a turning point in how he was running his life and business and he made some major changes to make sure that everything was more balanced and that he was able to do everything he wanted.
  • Some of the biggest challenges can be self-doubt and Anita spoke about the challenges of making tough decisions such as downscaling the business and as a result having to let people go.
  • Paul spoke about what an inspiration it can be to teach and be in touch with those just embarking on their creative careers.

Final thoughts…

  • Anita – Problem-solve every day, get all the advice that you can and think of business as a list of things to be designed.
  • Paul – Work at it every single day, if you have a good product and you do it for long enough, you are likely to succeed.
  • Chris – Ask other people for advice on money.  Share any lessons you learn along the way and see the world as your audience – what you do may be niche but if you look internationally, you’ll likely find enough like-minded individuals to allow you to run a good business.

Audience Q & As

Design, Mental Health, Loneliness

  • Do something that is purely a passion and fun, not work. For Chris, this is “breaking out” the keyboard and embarrassing his kids!
  • On loneliness – build a network of people that can be your support.
  • You may need to make changes to your lifestyle – diet, exercise, quitting alcohol or drugs etc.

Drawing – do you have to be good at it?

  • Anita said that drawing is simply another way of communicating – in Japan, it is taught alongside writing so that it becomes second nature.
  • Do not be afraid of drawing!

Can drawing also perhaps be something other than sketching –  like collage for example?

  • Stop worrying about what people think – a drawing can be as simple as a sketch.
  • Your signature style is what makes your drawing more than just a drawing. Paul said that everyone can draw.  The difference between someone that is good at drawing and everyone else is simply the number of hours that have been put into crafting their skills

What happens when educators tell you that you are not good at drawing?

  • Educators have a responsibility to critique students in a non-dismissive way as they are responsible for shaping the students’ design educations and future careers. Chris talked about being educators being “designers of minds.”

and we’ll end on this quote by the hilarious Paul Ryding:

“Life drawing is like broccoli – people hate it but it’s good for you.”


“The Burning Question” was supported by Creativity NI as part of Creativity Month.

#blickstudios on
It's hard to believe it's almost February and after a super busy January we are only getting back in the swing of things with social media. Here's our peaceful Malone Studios which has yoga classes most days including the weekend. We have our @womenfolk.co peer mentoring starting this week and are also busy working on some new projects for creatives to be announced soon. Enjoy the weekend spring will be here soon
It’s your last chance to book for our returning Animation Club event in partnership with Can Do Academy happening this Saturday, see full event details below:

These mini animation master classes by Can Do Academy are a great introduction for children to the colourful world of Lego animation!

The workshop will allow participants to make a complete animated Lego film on an iPad, using sound effects, visual effects, titles and lots of imagination!

Your child will learn to use special iPad apps and they will receive a copy of their film at the end of the session! They can bring their own Lego characters or use the ones supplied by us. You do not need to bring your own iPad.

EVENT DETAILS
Date: Saturday 14th January 2023

Time: 10am – 12pm

Venue: Blick Shared Studios, 51 Malone Road, Belfast, BT9 6RY

Age: Children 7 – 14 years

Cost: £20 + booking fee

Book through our website link in profile
Happy Holidays and thank you for all your support this year! We will be taking a bit of a break until the New Year when we have an exciting start to the year with a research trip to Vietnam with Belfast Design Week. We also have an exciting new project with Creating A Space that will be launched in the New Year and we will be launching our new website and a new program of events and support. 

Christmas isn’t always an easy time of the year for everyone, but it is one of the few times of the year you can put on your out of office and switch off completely for a few days. This is especially true if you work for yourself. I hope you can do your best to make the most of this, and enjoy a well deserved break and get some time to rest and do what brings you joy.
So hard to believe the year is almost over. The end of the year before the festive break while things are still fresh in your memory is the perfect time for a bit of personal and business reflection. How do you feel the year went? what went well? what didn't go so well? what did you enjoy? would would you like more of in 2023? what do you want to say no to? what boundaries do you want to put in place? what opportunities do you want to pursue? what do you want to achieve? and perhaps most importantly what do you want to remember in 20 years? The quote by Annie Dillard "How we spend our days is how we spend our lives" is a good reminder, time goes so quickly and it's important to remember the big picture and not get too caught up in our day to day business activities, goals and achievements. 

#reflection #endofyear #creativebusinessowners #creatives #smallbusiness #smallbusinessni #nicreatives
As usual Christmas has crept up on us here at Blick, so we are a bit late in the day with this post, but we wanted to share info on some of our current and past Blick residents you can support this Christmas if you have any last minute gifts to buy. From books to art, fashion and jewellery we have put together a blog with details on our website 

One of our residents @mehimandherdesign a Belfast and London based design agency also have a great festive giveaway offer for local makers, start ups, charities, artists and art organisations. They are donating 12 days of free design time in Northern Ireland in 2023 (see blog for more info). This is such a great opportunity, if you think it might be useful I highly recommend you make the most of this opportunity and get in touch with them. They are lovely as well as very talented and have loads of experience to offer 

Link to blog with all the details in our profile

#blickstudios #belfastcreatjves #buylocal #supportartists #supportsmallbusiness
This week in the final month of the year, as the year draws to a close we are thinking about what we want to get done before the end of the year. Having a look at what tasks we have been avoiding so we can get them done and out of the way and start 2023 without anything hanging over our heads. Is there anything you have been avoiding in your business that you know you would feel better if you just got it done?

#creativestartup #creativebusinessowners #creatives #smallbusiness #smallbusinessbelfast #smallbusinessowner #businesssupport
January seems the return of our kids animation workshops in partnership with Can Do Academy 

These mini animation master classes by Can Do Academy are a great introduction for children to the colourful world of Lego animation!

The workshop will allow participants to make a complete animated Lego film on an iPad, using sound effects, visual effects, titles and lots of imagination!

Your child will learn to use special iPad apps and they will receive a copy of their film at the end of the session! They can bring their own Lego characters or use the ones supplied by us.

EVENT DETAILS

Date: Saturday 14th January 2023

Time: 10am – 12pm

Venue: Blick Shared Studios, 51 Malone Road, Belfast, BT9 6RY

Age: Children 7 – 14 years

Cost: £20 + booking fee

Book through our website link in profile
It’s that time of the year again, this week in our Creative Roundup we are highlighting some local festive markets and workshops, all ways you can support local creatives this Christmas. We have also listed some other opportunities and events that might be of interest to NI Creatives.

CHRISTMAS WORKSHOPS & MARKETS

CREATIVES COLLECTIVES MARKET
DATE: Sat 19th Nov
TIME: 11am - 4pm
LOCATION: The MAC Belfast

ASTRAL FIBRES POPUP
DATE: Sun 20th Nov
LOCATION: Bullitt Hotel, Lobby

HUNTER PAPER CO - LETTER WRITING TO SANTA
 DATE: Sunday 27th November
TIME: various
COST: £5

WINTER WREATH MAKING SHARED THREADS FUNDRAISER
DATE: Saturday 10th December 
TIME: 10am - 12 noon
LOCATION: Portview Trade Centre
COST: £30

BEARDED CANDLE MAKERS MAKE YOUR OWN CHRISTMAS GIFTS - CANDLE EDITION
DATE: 25th Nov 
TIME: 5.00 - 7.00pm
LOCATION: Teolai, 30 Main Street, Castlewellan
COST: £55

WOMEN IN BUSINESS MERRY MARKETPLACE
DATE: 30th Nov
TIME: 5.30 - 8.00pm
LOCATION: The Merchant Hotel, 16 Skipper Street, Belfast
COST: Member £5, Non-member £10

OPPORTUNITIES

100 ARCHIVE
The 100 Archive charts the past, present and future of Irish design by publishing 100 notable communication design projects, selected each year following an open call.
CLOSING DATE: 31st Jan 2023

EVENTS

SIGNIFICANT OTHER EXHIBITION
Group exhibition showcasing women artists
DATES: 21st - 26th Nov
LOCATION: Artcetera Studio

CRAFT NI MAKER FORUM
DATE: Thurs 24th Nov
TIME: 10am - 12pm 
LOCATION: The F.E. McWilliam Gallery and Studio, 200 Newry Road, Banbridge

FOYLE FILM FESTIVAL
DATES: Friday 18 – Sunday 27 November 2022
LOCATION: Various

NAVIGATING EMOTIONS AT WORK
DATE: Nov 21st TIME: 5.00 - 6.00PM GMT
LOCATION: Online

HOW OUR SOCIAL CONNECTIONS IMPACT OUR ECONOMIC SECURITY
DATES: Wednesday 23 November 2022
TIME: 18:00 – 19:00
LOCATION: online

PIXEL MILL LEGAL WORKSHOPS
DATE: Thursday 24th November

DESIGN LEADERSHIP: HOW TO SOLVE BIGGER PROBLEMS AND LEAD BIGGER TEAMS
DATE: Tue, 29 November 2022,
TIME: 17:00 – 18:30 GMT
LOCATION: Online 

INVEST NI WEBINAR: SPOTLIGHT ON JAPAN
DATE: Thu, Dec 1, 2022 
TIME: 9:30 AM - 10:30 AM GMT
LOCATION: Online

Link to full blog with details and links on our profile
What do you want to achieve this week? This week’s question for reflection is super simple, but also a really good way to start the week. What do you want to achieve this week? Be really specific and honest with yourself. What is genuinely achievable within the timeframe and what is most important? Setting realistic and achievable goals is important, so you stay focused and don’t feel discouraged but also so difficult. It is easy to be overly optimistic with your goals and to-do lists or to focus on the things that are most enjoyable or easier, not what you actually need to get done to move forward.

I have to remind myself every week to be realistic about what I hope to achieve. Breaking down my weekly to-do list into urgent tasks (usually client work, admin etc) and things I would like to get done (big picture work, funding applications, new projects etc). I try and map out my urgent tasks then set aside some time and schedule in at least one thing from my things I would like to get done list each week so that I keep moving forward and working to achieve my overall goals.

How do you work out your to-do list and set your goals and priorities?

#creativeentrepreneurs #creativebusinessowners #smallbusiness #creativestartup #creative entrepreneurship
Did you know we have lots of free industry expert videos on our @womenfolk.co website? We have highlighted them on this week's creative roundup on our blog alongside different events and opportunities for creatives this week
We're excited to be bringing back our @womenfolk.co peer mentoring group

It’s very simple, but also very effective. Starting in January 2023 on the last Tuesday of each month we will host a get together with a small group of self-employed creative women or women in the process of starting a creative business to chat about business and life. Each person will get the chance to speak. Sharing their monthly progress, plans for the following month, future goals and aspirations as well as any challenges they may be facing. This process gives you the opportunity to connect with and learn from like-minded creative women and helps with motivation, accountability, goal setting and planning. 

As we want the group to be a safe-space for sharing we will be limiting numbers to a maximum of 8 participants. There is no cost to joining the group, but to ensure commitment and suitability participants need to fill in a short online registration to secure a space.

You can find the registration form on our website (link in profile) or if you have any questions about the group email christine@blickstudios.org

#workforyourself
#womeninbusiness
#womenfolk #womenindesign
#creativewomen #creativebusiness #creativewomencommunity #womenentrepreneur #womenentrepreneurs #womenentrepreneurship
Sunday mornings have just become available to hire the Main Room in our Malone studios. Perfect for yoga, meditation, classes, workshops etc, only £15 an hour for regular ongoing bookings. Get in touch for more info
This week's question for reflection is a tough one. It can be hard to be honest with yourself about where you find fulfillment especially with a creative business that may have started out as a passion project. Things change, just because we once found something fulfilling or enjoyable doesn't mean we still do, especially when it has turned from a hobby to a way of earning a living and all the pressures that brings. Of course for practical reasons we may still need to do it for the time being at least, but it's worth reflecting on for the future
After a week being away doing my first business/ solo travelling since before the pandemic. This week's question for reflection is a simple one. What do you want more of in life? and in your business?

#personaldevelopment #businessdevelopment #reflection #intentions #questions
This week's question for personal reflection came from a conversation we had in the studio about wanting to improve our writing skills. In this instance it was for a funding application, but I would also love to be able to write better for our website and social media and just think it would be a really useful skill to have for so many areas of business. It got me thinking about other things I would like to improve my skills on over the next period including social media (it's so hard to keep
uptodate with all the changes) and listening (covered in our creative roundup and the subject of a blog we will be releasing later in the week). Time just flies by and nothing changes if you don't take the time to think about what you would really like to do with your time and what would really add value to your business and life. Its worth taking some time to have a think about what skills you would like to develop and invest your time and energy in for both your personal and professional life 

#personaldevelopment
#skills
#investinyourself #improveyourself #improveyourlife #reflection #intentions