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Less polish...a blog by Franca Westaway

Less polish

"Less polish, more authenticity"

My first blog post.

Wednesday 17th May 2017

I've been meaning to start this for quite a while now, but have been waiting....for what?

Today I sat and read some of the great words from Karen Young (amongst others) in Grace Bonney's wonderful book 'In the Company of Women'. Karen Young is a Product Designer and Entrepreneur from New York and these words of her's really leapt out at me.

"Less polish, more authenticity"

I guess I've been waiting to start this blog until I felt I was at a point where I was ready to present myself, and my work, as some sort of finished product, as a polished offering. And when would that be? I asked myself. As a (reluctant to admit it) perfectionist and control freak I want everything I do to arrive fully formed and fantastic, a sort of 'Ta-dah!' moment in the unveiling. But the fact of the matter is that I have begun an adventure and am learning and growing and gathering as I go.

My adventure is to follow my heart and fully commit to a creative life. To follow my dream to make beautiful and ethical work, to give everything I've got into building my own business based on my creative drive. For most of my adult life I have buckled down and done the 'sensible' things that I thought I 'should' be doing. In real terms that meant not chasing dreams but getting a respectable job as a teacher. That way I could be creative but also do what I was supposed to be doing as a card-carrying member of the grown-up population.

Somewhere along the way from being an effervescent child, full of ideas and dreams of theatre, costume, fashion, fabrics and sheer creative joy I took on what were mainly unspoken, but sometimes blatently spelled out (not naming my school careers advisor!),codes and conventions about how I should be. Don't think that I can actually do anything of worth with art, don't draw attention to myself, quieten down, sit down, tone down, there's a good girl. the colourful world slowly turned grey and I took to wearing mainly black. Add in a few knocks as I ventured out into the world of work, The Rag Trade, and before long I found myself 'settling down'.

But the dreams and ideas and joy didn't go away, and here I find myself finally giving myself the permission to be exactly who I am and to do what drives me, lights me up and comes direct from my centre, my heart. Perhaps it's age but I've come to see that life really is too short to do anything less that be, do and give as much of myself as I can. Last year I gave up my teaching job and began taking the fantastic online e-course 'The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design' run by Rachael Taylor and Beth Kempton of Make It In Design (

So here I am, drawing, painting and designing, building my work, my business, my life as I know it has to be. This is a work in progress, I feel like I'm just learning to walk. I was waiting until I could run gracefully and with great ease before I was going to present myself, a finished article. This will never be finished, it has started and I am going to share as much as I can of my less polished, more authentic self as I take all the steps I need to to become a fulfilled and working designer, running my own business.

I'm pretty nervous about saying all of this, nothing here is polished, but I want to actually let anyone who cares to see that I'm a work in progress. I'm passionate about what I do and I know that I can learn and develop and build the creative life and business that I dream of. I'm sharing this journey whatever may come.

I aim to post something every week or so and will let you know what I'm doing and how I'm feeling, successes, failures, the lot. Thanks for reading, check in again soon.

Franca :-)

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