Creative mojo

by Vivien Mitchell December 15, 2017

Creative mojo

In the earlier 1980s when Midnight Oil, Inxs and Sunny Boys ruled the Sydney pub circuit and I was in year 11, my mum did what I considered to be the absolute worst thing in the world.  She moved us to Canberra.  At the time, Canberra wasn’t the cool capital it is now. It was full of ‘westies’ – the term adopted from Sydney and referring to the sprawling western suburbs. Basically what we now know as bogans.  Anyway, for a 16 year old, it was bad news.  Through every fault of my own, the first few months were lonely and boring. The broken phone booth at the end of my street provided a free life-line to Sydney friends and my boyfriend.  People queued to use it.

But then, after refreshing summer holidays in Sydney, I returned for year 12. Not happily. Not with the right attitude.  But with hope someone might fill a big void in my now-17-year- old life. On the very first day of college, there she was.  I’d noticed her at the bus stop earlier in the morning – a spunky, sporty girl with hair in a pony tail all the way down her back. She had on a little blue swing skirt and was so obviously cool and new.  In human bio class, we had to introduce ourselves to someone. You know, that moment every teenage student loathes, when they have to muster the confidence to actually talk to someone.  We chose each other, it was simple.  And it turns out, she spoke with an American accent. She’d just returned from a three year diplomatic posting to DC. 

It was pretty much a perfect match.  We laughed almost straight away. We both did well at school, but both loved to party.  And from the get-go (which wasn’t a term we used back then) we got creative together.  If only we had the foresight to copyright our ‘secret language’, based on a series of images – very much like emojis – and with compressed words that are now used by the trillions in texts and messages across the planet. We’d be brazilianaires.  

We discovered we were a natural creative duo.  I was her model, she dyed my hair. We shaped each other’s very existence. There was a lot of intuitive flow and excitement about new ideas. We travelled together and ‘conversated’ with an interesting guy in San Francisco. He left us in a peep show booth. Yep, seriously dodgy. But we survived to tell the story.

The most beautiful thing about it is, 34 years’ later, we are still having fun creating and designing together.  And the icing on the cake, we collaborate and get creative at Solar Bare. She’s the graphic designer behind the logo and all branding and marketing collateral.  We sit for hours together in her little ‘cave’, working through maths challenges during the design process. We laugh and make lots of ‘ooooh’ sounds…that’s when we know we’ve got it right.  God damn, it’s amazing how much maths is involved in textile design! 

We've perfected working remotely via facebook messenger, because we're no longer in the same city. Jo Hoadley has been by my side since I was an awkward teen. And I adore her. I simply would not be who I am today without her influence, friendship, support and spirited sense of fun and adventure.  We’ve had triumphs and tragedies together, celebrations and funerals. When I wobble, she is strong.  She is an amazing design talent, and the kindest, warmest, most loyal and hilarious person you ever could meet. 

This post is to thank you from the bottom of my heart.  You’ve contributed enormously to the distinct style, look and feel, and perhaps even more importantly, personality of Solar Bare.  I love you, jb.




Vivien Mitchell
Vivien Mitchell

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