Get Inspired | with Anja Dunk
This blog is the first of an exciting new series I am doing each month called ‘Get Inspired’. I will be talking to inspirational people who are getting out there and doing things we all admire. If they inspire me, maybe I can inspire you with their stories and glean from them some top tips on how to implement your creativity or do something extraordinary you’ve always wanted to try. I’m not setting too many boundaries and I look forward to seeing how it develops. It will come out at the end of each month with my ‘Easel Editorial’ newsletter that you can sign up for here.
A while back now, I raced mountain bikes and spent a lot of time travelling about racing. At this point I was sponsored by a Welsh clothing company called howies. Each year the riders, skaters & surfers sponsored by howies would get invited for a week away to shoot for their new clothing catalogue. At this time Anja was working for howies and seemed to be the one running around organising everything and everyone whilst keeping a great vibe going, so it was here we first became friends.
Meet Anja Dunk
Anja’s creativity really has no boundries and if there is one person I know who can hold down what many would consider too many projects at once and get it all done in style its Anja. With two books to her name; ‘Strudel, Noodle & Dumplings’ & ‘Do Preserve’ Anja Dunk is fast becoming a household name. I first knew Anja not as a cook but as a creative person with endless energy and ideas who was great at getting things done. Anja also runs cooking workshops, gives talks alongside creating and exhibiting her own Lino cuts.
Stereotypes exist for good reason, and I’ll be the first to admit a creative mind often struggles to manage time or organise ideas. So for all you creative folk out there (and myself) I have caught up with my friend Anja Dunk to see how she manages her time and energy in order to be so productive.
1. When did art and cooking become an earner as well as something that you loved?
My first job in food was in a place called Ultracomida, a local deli/cafe, I was 24. It was whilst making Spanish tortilla and thick hot chocolates here that I realised I would like my career to be in food. I spent all my spare time in a little studio in the woods in Wales painting, printing and drawing – I wouldn’t call it a hobby though, it was just something I did.
2. What was your impetus for becoming self employed?
More freedom, more risk, more control, more challenge – hard to call it one thing really. I certainly have never looked back though.
3. No 1. tip for people who want to put their creative ideas into actions ?
This might be the obvious answer but you’ve just got to work bloody hard at it. Push yourself beyond your comfort zone.
4. For many creatives making yourself seen is the most daunting but most beneficial part. I recently watched you do a brilliant talk (whilst cooking) at a campfire at ‘The Good Life experience’ Any tips there?
These days there are so many ways of making yourself seen, the hardest one though, for me, is public speaking. I am terrified of it and I think I always will be. The only thing that works is to try and tell myself it’s all part of the process, these butterflies and sick feelings before you stand up infant of a crowd. Actually they soon dissipate once the talking starts, it’s just getting started that’s the hard bit. As long as you know your subject and you are being true to yourself things won’t (well shouldn’t) go wrong.
5. How does your average day look?
Get up early / 3 hours of chaos and breakfast before school / get home from school run and tidy breakfast things away before emails and coffee / draw, recipe test, write up recipes / if there’s half an hour spare walk / school run / chaos, 4 o’clock cocktail, homework, clubs, dinner, books / put children to bed / an hour or two of writing before bed also.
6. If you keep one what does your diary look like?
A complete and utter mess – full of scribbles and scribblings out – too busy.
7. Something/someone that has inspired you lately?
For food it’s Diana Henry (always!), and for painting at the moment it’s Mark Entwistle – the light he captures in his watercolours is something else.
8. Your Lino cuts are beautiful, how did you get from cooking to creating Lino cuts and where can people come and learn with you?
Ah thanks Dan. Well, I make lino cuts as Christmas cards for friends and family each year. One year I sent one to Itamar and Sarit of honey and co in London, they stuck it on the noticeboard in their kitchen. When they opened their new food deli/shop ‘honey and spice’ they asked if I would like to sell my prints there – I feel very lucky for the support and wall space.I have hosted a couple of informal lino cut workshops in the past. The next workshop I’ll be doing will be up at Camp Glen Dye in Scotland in October.
9. When working on a project, are you impatient or patient?
If it’s art then I probably lean more towards impatient. If it’s a book and writing, then patient.
10. With so many different ideas buzzing around efficiency must be key. Are you a project juggler or do you try to complete one before going on to the next?
I have to write lists, without them I would get nothing done at all. I tend to juggle but in an orderly way by setting aside a couple of hours each day for several projects that are on the go at once.
11. Any stressful days you’d rather forget but can’t do without?
None I’d rather forget but the days that take me out of my comfort zone are always the ones where I’m public speaking.
12. Best recipe to cook with the kids?
Pancakes or porridge
13. Favourite place to zone out and relax?
14. A Favourite recipe to get us through the cold winter?
Carrot stew with caraway dumplings, spiced black tea with rum, apple strudel.