Stacey Weaver + Just South West

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We recently sat down with Stacey Weaver, the creator and photographer of Just South West. 
We get to know the woman behind the lens and the brain behind the brand.

Stacey, tell us about your creative journey. How did Just South West get to where it is today?
Stacey wears our Helena frame in Pink Java TortArt has always been a great outlet for me, personally a fantastic way of expressing myself. In 2015 I found I wasn’t in a happy place in my life and photography became very much a therapeutic outlet. At this point I was spending a lot of my time shooting on very tiny Instax film. We had these beautiful flowers in my flat and right then and there, I had this vision of capturing these teeny tiny details of the flower and blowing them up on a  massive scale.

From there I created my first series of images. Initially I had a lot of "not-so great feedback" from friends and family. "Who would want a photo of a half-dead flower on a black background"? they would say. Quite clearly I ignored the feedback and continued on producing my work.

For me this photographic work was my side hustle, my hobby, an artistic outlet for a long time. I was working 40hrs a week in my retail/marketing job whilst continuously adding to my photographic collection. Working on Just South West any chance I could get; mornings before work, lunch breaks and at home at night.

My first ever stockist was Alex and Corban Home, selling through their Christmas pop up shop in Takapuna. Alex then used my work in her ‘Room Reveals’ feature in Your Home & Garden magazine and I was sold through the A&C online store.
From there, it was a snowball effect!
Fast forward two years - I've left my job and have gone 100% full time with Just South West. I couldn't be happier. It is such an amazing feeling (with a large side of stress) but it is so great being able to do my own thing, that I've created and worked very hard for.

You're a Fine Art School graduate. How has your past study impacted on your art practice today?
A close friend of mine recently shared with me an article written by Carissa Potter. It really resonated with me, accurately capturing my thoughts on the art school mindset.

"Unlearning some things you may have learned."

1. The end goal of making art is either to teach or show in galleries.

2. Your art is not interesting unless it is conceptual and esoteric, or highly aesthetic in an innovative way and critical.

3. If you want to be taken seriously as an artist, you cannot talk about money. And you absolutely cannot want to earn money. We were taught that wanting money—a.k.a wanting to earn a living wage and be paid for our work—was similar to selling out.

4. Your work has to be either commercial or fine. There are boundaries to each and approaching fine art from a business-oriented perspective is not ok.

It's not realistic. I believe it's such an archaic view of what art can be. In this day in age, in 2018 with the world of social media, it’s okay to hustle creatively,  it's okay to create content, its okay to freelance. Commercial work has a place and a purpose.

How did you navigate that artistic dilemma of not wanting to sell out but also earn a living off your work?
When I started shooting I had no intention of selling my work - with no idea of what potential it had.

My latest series Nirvana is a fantastic representation that the art world does not need to be so black and white.

I can create my limited edition fine art photography printed on cotton rag, and at the same time produce commercial work.

They can, and do, work harmoniously together.
An artist's career is not ONLY showing in a gallery. Yes, I make product. And yes, that's totally going against everything you're taught at art school, but that's okay. 

Tell us the story behind your latest series Nirvana? 
I've always had it in my head that I wanted to release a limited edition series. I wanted to prove to myself, that although I am producing product, I am not limited to that. Demonstrating that it is possible to create both fine art and commercial work. Going against the black and white mentality that was drummed into me at Art School. It's called Nirvana because in a Buddhist sense that word means "rebirth". I felt it was the perfect title for the stage in life I'm at right now. The images themselves I have worked on for over a year. I had these images in my head for a long time and I've finally managed to create something from them; leaving my job and fully committing myself to Just South West has been a massive backing behind that. I've now released a range of scarves and have so many more exciting creative mediums for my work to be displayed - more on that coming soon!

It's such an amazing feeling seeing the return of hard work. All of the time and energy I've invested in Just South West is starting to pay off.

You can find all of Stacey's beautiful work on her Website

And keep up to date with all things Just South West related on her Instagram @justsouthwest

Stacey wears our Helena frame in Pink Java Tort


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