Thursday, March 27, 2008

Interview - Natalie Walton

Feels silly to say it, but every once in a while I come across someone that I just find myself really inspired by and drawn to (in a professional sense of course!). It doesn't happen often but when it does it re-energises me, fills me with new ideas, renewed motivation - and even longer to-do lists! At the moment, that someone is Natalie Walton.

I was so excited to read Natalie's fantastic guest blog on Design*Sponge a few weeks ago... It was wonderful to see some great Australian content reaching international readers! Of course I immediately checked out Natalie's own blog, Daily Imprint, and became an instant fan. It's no surprise that I find Natalie such an inspiration - as deputy editor at Australian magazine Real Living, she makes a living out of inspiring others.

Natalie's favourite Real Living cover - love those colours, and that Noguchi lamp on the dresser...

I admire Natalie's ability to successfully juggle so many creative endeavours - constantly tackling new challenges at work, sharing daily bursts of inspiration on her blog, waking up an hour earlier in the mornings to work on her novel(!!) - talk about motivated!

Real Living feature on Natalie's renovation of her own apartment in Sydney - gorgeous pictures and an amazing transformation on a very tight budget!

Read on for one of my favourite interviews yet! I particularly love Natalie's description of the creative people that inspire her - simply, 'women who are living the dream'. Now that's something to aspire to!

Tell me a little about your background - what did you study and what path led you to what you’re doing now?

Writing has always been a passion of mine. So too has reading – obviously, they go hand in hand. I never really knew “what I wanted to be when I grew up” but I knew it had to be something to do with these two activities. I studied English Literature at university and it seemed logical to put a practical spin on what I’d learnt, so I went on to complete a Master of Arts in Journalism at the University of Technology Sydney. I started out as a financial reporter – of all things! – and slowly worked my way through the ranks to get on a title that I could be passionate about – interiors. In one of my many moments pondering what direction to take in life during my late teens, I actually considered becoming an interior designer. On reflection my job strikes the perfect balance.

Working at a gorgeous interiors magazine seems to be what many people would consider a ‘dream job’! Is it a dream job in reality? Was it what you always wanted to do? Has it lived up to your expectation?

Interviewing creative and passionate people; writing on topics I’m interested in (eg, how to buy art); travelling to other cities and documenting my experiences; reading interiors magazines; brainstorming feature ideas; trying to make the best magazine possible – of course it’s my dream job! I never had one particular concept on a pedestal as being my “dream job” but I knew it had to meet certain criteria. And this role definitely ticks all the boxes.

Above - excerpts from Natalie's recent travel feature on Brisbane - I love the personalised feel of these stories... also love seeing her husband Daniel in these shots!

What's the best thing about your job?

All of the above!

And the worst?

Not always having the time or resources to achieve all the ideas I have in my head – but then that’s also part of the thrill. There’s always a race against the clock – and budget!

What does a typical day at work involve for you?

Every day is really different and that’s what I love about this role. So often in previous jobs once I’ve learnt what I needed to know a certain level of boredom has crept in. Whereas this has yet to happen at Real Living – there’s just no time! But, generally speaking, I research feature ideas, write articles, help organise photo shoots, read proofs and make corrections to ensure we’re putting the best possible issue out, help devise a schedule of which features will run when, plus a million other things.

What are you most proud of professionally?

Being deputy editor of real living which is put out by Australia’s largest magazine publisher – ACP Magazines.

What would you say defines ‘Australian style’ (in architecture/interiors)?

There is a casualness and relaxed nature to Australian style. And I think we often shirk away from saying this as if it means that our style is insignificant. In fact, I think it’s the perfect blend of British (fashion forward and edgy) and American (classic and conservative) style.

Where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration in people who are passionate and enthusiastic about what they do, especially when it’s in a creative field. But I recognise that not everyone can have an “interesting” full-time job, but if those people don’t have some outside interest – whatever it is: birdwatching; photography; vintage car restoring – then they’re not people I really want to be stuck talking to at a barbecue. Above all, I want to learn. If I’m not learning, I’m bored.

Which designers, artists or creative people do you look up to or are you inspired by?

There really are so many. That’s why I’ve got a blog dedicated to them! I look up to people who work on a smaller scale – such as those I featured on my recent guest blog at Design*Sponge (Real Living editor Deborah Bibby, Dumbo Feather publisher and editor Kate Bezar; interior stylists Clair Wayman and Megan Morton; interior book authors and editors Karen McCartney and Shannon Fricke; illustrators Kat Macleod and Emma Magenta; and “creators” Jodie Fried of Bholu, Kristina Karlsson of Kikki.K, Marnie Goding of Elk Accessories and Virginie Fontes of Honey Bee Homewares and Toile a Matelas) – basically women who are living the dream. On a larger scale I love women who seem to have no fear: Vivienne Westwood, the late Isabella Blow, Anna Wintour, Coco Chanel, Gertrude Stein, the list goes on. As for men, I’m in love with Ernest Hemingway, F Scott Fitzgerald, TS Eliot – I can’t seem to move beyond the modernist period.

I read that you are writing a novel! I don’t know how you find the time! What can you tell us about this ‘labour of love’?

I wish I could finish! I’m so ashamed to admit that it’s a project that’s been going on for more than five years now. But during this time I’ve moved countries, travelled around Europe, got married, had a miscarriage, fallen pregnant again (fingers crossed, I’m now 28 weeks’ pregnant), changed jobs more than four times and started a blog. Excuses? I’m still trying to work that one out. When I’m being good I get up at 5.30am and write for an hour in the morning, when I’m being bad I don’t. At the moment I’m bad – but I’m hoping to finish it – I’m SO close! – during maternity leave. It’s taking so long because, to me, how something is written is just as important as what is written. Every word is there for a reason.

What are you looking forward to – professionally or personally?

Professionally, I’m just focussed on getting all loose ends tied up before I go on maternity leave in June. Personally, the birth of my first child… and getting that novel finished.

And to steal one of your own interview questions(!) – what five words best describe you?

Passionate, impatient, indefatigable, knowledge-hungry, word addict.

Sydney Questions –

What/where was the last great meal you ate in Sydney?

I believe meals made with love are the tastiest – so home-cooked meals (when someone else is doing the cooking) are the best. But I still can’t forget the first time I had zuppa di cozze at Gelbison in Bondi; spaghetti arrabbiata with crab at North Bondi Italian Food and every cheese and cherry strudel I’ve eaten (many!) at the Gelato Bar in Bondi – yes, it counts as a meal to me.

Your favourite bookshop in Sydney?

Ariel in Paddington for making the rest of the world seem that much closer. And second-hand bookshop Gertrude & Alice in Bondi for filling my shelves.

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

I love Saturday because it is “my” day – my husband works – and so I try to fill it with quality “me time”. I start almost every day with a walk down to the beach (used to be a run but the bump is a bit in the way at the moment) then I read the Saturday Sydney Morning Herald, clean the flat (that part I can do without) and write my novel – bliss!

Sydney’s best kept secret?

The Museum of Contemporary Art. I’m not sure what the attendance figures are like at the moment but there was a time when it was struggling to get funding and there was talk of it closing down. I’m so happy it didn’t and wish more people would check it out (not just tourists) because to me it is the best way to give my brain and imagination a good shake up and super-charge of creativity.

below - excerpts from Natalie's travel feature for Sydney and Melbourne.

Natalie's next challenge is just around the corner - she's expecting her first baby in the coming months! Good luck and congratulations Natalie :) It's just the start of another exciting chapter...


  1. Thats a great interview.

    Im so glad I found your blog a short while back, Im not even sure how I landed here - like most blogs - but its great to read about all your melbourne content. Nice one!

  2. Thanks so much Shannon! :) Your comment made my day! I really appreciate it.

    Isn't Natalie inspiring? That's one of my favourite interviews yet.

    thanks so much for your comment x