Gemma Cagnacci, Designer & Photographer
What can't this woman do? We've been following along with Gemma Cagnacci's stunning photographs for years, moving the way she always brings a sensitive eye to what she finds. Her design sensibilities and passion for adventure make her a total creative powerhouse.
What do you do?
I am a bit of slashie - a textile designer by day, creating ranges for some of Australia's major retailers and also a travel blogger/photographer in my spare time. For the context of this interview, that is the angle I'm going to go with as that's how most people know me on the web and social media.
Do you have a maxim that you live and work by?
Work hard and be kind.
What are the three milestones that have led you to where you stand?
* Finishing my degree with honours (Bachelor of Design at COFA) after five years of studying at uni.
* Our 'big trip' to the Middle East and Central Asia in 2011, marking the start of my blog which has since given me so many amazing opportunities.
* And most recently, becoming a mother, which has been an incredible addition to my life and given me a whole new outlook for the future and our plans.
What projects do you have in the pipeline?
Creatively, I'll be honest and say that I haven't got anything real soon as I've been busy doing the whole new mum thing and juggling that with part time work from home. However, I feel like I'm starting to get a new groove and there are some things I'm keen to work on over the next year, although they'e a bit hush hush at the moment. Travel-wise however, we have a few small trips planned to Byron Bay, New Zealand, the Cook Islands and hopefully somewhere a bit further afield towards the end of the year.
What is your dream project?
I have so many! But two that come to mind:
- To collaborate with women in isolated regions and create a textiles/design range.
- Buy an old run down colonial era villa in South-East Asia or Sri Lanka, do it up, and have all our family and friends come and stay.
What is one facet of your field that you want to see change?
I'd like to see more value and respect given to creativity and original content. So many images are being used without credit or permission. I love Pinterest and Instagram, and I think things are improving, but I feel sometimes people don't realise the amount of work and effort that goes into creating visuals and content.
Can you share a creative experience that you have found defining?
My first independent overseas trip after I had finished school was to Vietnam with my sister. I remember arriving in Hanoi and the onslaught of colours, textures, sounds, people, smells etc had such an impact and I had so much fun trying to capture it all visually with my camera. It was on this trip that I caught the travel bug and fell in love with photography again. It was like a great collision of two passions and I haven't stopped since.
Do you have a supportive female network in your field? Was it always this way?
I feel the blogging community is very much more female lead and there are so many women who inspired me to start sharing some passions of mine - travel and photography - and and to create original content. Lucy Feagins of The Design Files and Julia Manchik of Mr and Mrs Globetrot are two that come to mind. Putting my work out there, I have only ever received support and encouragement from my peers and have never felt any negativity.
What’s something surprising about you, that we might not know?
I keep details about my day job on the down-low and mainly share all the other bits I do outside of work. But with my role as a textile designer, I have been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to design some of the biggest selling home textile ranges in Australia.
If you could choose to hear from any female contemporary at a Make Nice event, who would it be and why?
Beci Orpin or Elke Kramer. I'm a huge fan of both their work. So original, creative and beautiful. Plus they have kids, so I have a whole new appreciation for what they do!
What is the best advice you’ve been given, or wish you had been told sooner?
When it comes to having to make a decision, take action. Don't sit on the fence. Either way, you'll make the right decision or you will learn from it.
What are you listening to, reading, watching of late, that is inspiring or entertaining you?
I am constantly listening to music and recently have had the tunes of Tinariwen, Sampha, Caspian and some old Radiohead playing in the background. My husband and I love watching a good TV series together in the evening once bub has gone to bed. Currently we are watching Silicon Valley, The Silk Road with Dr Sam Willis, and the new season of Chef's Table.
What do you want to be asked about that no one ever asks you?
To be honest I have no idea!
How can we find our more about your work?
Who would you most like to answer these questions next?
Singer/songwriter Nadia Reid.