TORI VEYSEY - Journeyman Creative

Tori Veysey is a Graphic Designer by trade, brimming with all kinds of crafty talents. She lives in Cambridge, NZ with her husband Brendon and their two boys (three year old Van and baby Cruz). She always has a creative project or two on the go. For this feature, I photographed her through the process of making an animal plushy soft toy.

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When and how did you gain your love for drawing and craft?

I have always been encouraged in my artistic endeavours. My Dad is a very creative person and growing up I remember him constantly teaching me new skills and broadening my scope of creativity. He did a lot of drawing and woodwork with my brother and I when we were kids. And though my Mum would not consider herself an "artistic person" she was always sewing, knitting or crafting too. Somebody in the house always had a project going on.

Tell us about your creative style and what you like to create?

I think I'm pretty eclectic with my projects and creations. I am a graphic designer/illustrator by trade and I work a lot on the computer, so when it comes to my hobby projects I like to branch out a little. I dabble in photography, sewing, typography, interior design and painting. I'm fairly self-taught in these areas and I think that is part of the enjoyment for me. I like a challenge and problem solving, so figuring out a new craft whilst in the middle of the project is fun for me. I've been known to bite off more than I can chew technically speaking so its real learning curve!

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Talk us through the process of making a plushy.

Generally I start with a pencil sketch of what I want to create. Nothing fancy, just a reference for proportions and colours or patterns I want to use. After that I rummage through the fabric that I already have collected over the years, which is usually followed by a trip to the local opshop to hunt for a specific fabric. I like to use second hand items where I can with my crafts which keeps costs down and is better for the environment. After I have collected my materials I will draw and cut out a pattern on paper. I use the same shape for the arms and legs, followed by the body and head which is one piece, and then the ears, and this case antlers. Once I have the main pieces cut I play around with how the clothing will look on the body. This process is generally a make-it-up-as-I-go-along type scenario. Then I get to sewing! I do all the main parts on a sewing machine and any smaller details or finicky bits by hand. I usually sew on the eyes and face details last, stuff it and close it up! I have made 6 of these now and each time I do things a little differently.

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How does your stage of life inspire or conflict with your creative expression?

Because I like to try my hand at lots of different things, I quite like a change of pace or situation. As a mum of young boys (Van 3 and Cru 7 months) I have found that I want to create things for them. So in recent years, lots of my crafts have been centered around toys or clothing for kids.

I'm lucky enough to work from home and for myself so I have an office which is my "creative space". It helps for me to have somewhere separated from our "living" space where I can go to create. It also means I can make a mess, which I often do when I'm in the throws of a project, and then shut the door and forget about it – not stressing that the main living area is a tip and that the kids will get into a half started project.

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How do you balance your efforts and time with family / work and creative projects?

I'm someone who always needs a side gig. Big or small. Just something to keep my creative brain active. And something that is for myself. In my day job I can make suggestions and often I have quite a lot of creative control, but at the end of the day the client has the final say and it's nice to have a project where I am the boss and get to make all the decisions. Since becoming a mother I have found my side projects to be more valuable than I would have thought. Initially I thought I would no longer be able to do projects for myself (who has the time?!) but as I began to find my groove, balancing motherhood and work, I discovered that it was really important to me. When I am up in the middle of the night and feeding the baby I daydream and scheme about things I want to make and do. In many ways it keeps me sane! These ideas can be brewing for a long time before they are actually brought to life. So when life is too full and there is no time for "making", I figure out the details in my head, and slowly chip away at an idea. It also means that when I finally do have some time to create something, Im ready and rearing to go.

What would you say to other creative mums who need some encouragement?

Don't feel guilty about doing a project for yourself! As mums, sometimes we think our entire lives have to centred around our children in order to be good parents. But I’m a firm believer in "happy mum, happy kids". I think it's important to find a balance and to give ourselves a break every now and then. I find it helps to take on small projects that can be completed in a short amount of time, or larger ones that can be picked up and put down as time allows. Whatever project it is that you are doing, make sure you have fun and enjoy the process of it. It shouldn't feel like a chore, it should bring you joy. 

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Since our interview, Tori has embarked on a number of new projects… You can see more of Tori’s professional work and creative ventures on her website