We're going on a Soul Safari – what I learnt at this years' Soul Safari un-conference



I want to tell you about Soul Safari. A movement started by the clever and grounded Vanessa Holden. Vanessa believes in the power of creativity to fuel massive change. She is harnessing her own powerful story-telling ability to expose the inner-workings of talented creatives from her two corners of the globe - New York and Sydney.

I attended day one of the inaugural Soul Safari event with my mum, while on a mother and daughter birthday weekend last year in Sydney (you can read about it here). After years of attending, and gradually loosing interest, in the standard 'design seminars and speaking events' Soul Safari was a shot in the arm. I was invigorated by these like-minded creative beings, speaking a real language I could relate to.

The Soul Safari gatherings are informal and intimate. Speakers don't perform a practiced script. They are interviewed in a way that provides raw and real insight into why and how they practice their chosen art form.

After two days and sixteen speakers at this years event, I came away with three common threads that really spoke to me -

Creativity is a journey we start early in life / Ideas need to be given time to gather momentum / Collaboration brings the richest rewards


Creativity is a journey, one often started early in life.

Each Soul Safari story began in a common way... 'my dad was an artist, my mum used to sew all our clothes, my great uncle was an architect, my family used to call me 'Mr Vogue Living'...

What we are exposed to as children can trigger a life-long curiosity. But although our creative path may start when we are young, it is never-ending. Our pivots along the way are all part of staying engaged. Lessons learnt can inform the next stage of our journey. Mr Vogue Living, after spending the first half of his career curating other people's interiors is now creating his own.


Ideas need to be given time to gather momentum

As Vanessa puts it "you need to give your ideas velocity, work on them long enough they pick up momentum"

In a world where social media demands fresh  input on a daily basis it can be easy to skim across the creative surface and expect immediate results.

To work an idea to its peak requires time and space. We need to delve deeper and for longer. Explore the options and make mistakes. Give something a long enough lead that it can develop under its own steam.

Don't give up on something that hasn't had time to gather momentum and meet its full potential.


Collaboration brings the richest rewards

The happiest Soul Safari stories came from creatives who were in partnership - wether that be with their staff, business partners, manufacturers or customers. This wasn't a new discovery for me. I've long known collaboration is the key to even better creative outcomes - one can be ying, the other yang - I just didn't know how to go about it. "Be ready to be vulnerable" was the answer I got when I asked the secret to successful collaboration.


I was personally inspired by:


'Full-time tradie, part-time artist' Elliot Routledge (AKA Funskull) who follows the 'happiness' religion / I was inspired by the scale of his work - which he terms 'interventions of boring spaces'.

(Picture above : the artwork Elliot produced during the 2017 Soul Safari Sydney event)




Mr Vogue Living, Editor of said magazine for ten years, David Clark

/ I was inspired by his candid honesty about how tough it was to be forced to change his career when he wasn't ready. How he 're-framed' his time at Vogue Living as a chapter of his creative journey, not the whole book.

(Pictured above : David Clark speaking with Vanessa Holden at the 2017 Soul Safari event)


Urban gardener & merchant, Richard Unsworth inspired me because I'd love to know that much about plants! / He encourages us to: share with other creatives because we are all on our own path and thus there is enough room for everyone : to learn that you don't have to keep 'pleasing' your clients because they employ you to stay true to the brief : and when asked how he copes with working with the unknown element of nature  - through belief and acceptance - Belief that it will turn out. Acceptance that if something dies or gets dug up by the dog, it's ok...

(Pictured above : Richard describes his design shown here as 'sexy granny' - a modern take on the flowering garden)


If you too believe in the power of creativity to fuel massive change,  join the Soul Safari conversation on instagram, I promise you will be well rewarded : )