Does Feeling Need a Reason?

What I learned from being unfaithful.


Illustrsations by @kika_canika


If we look at racial segregation, sexuality, and the reasonably flaccid cords around our necks, tying our lives to the prying spheres of our parents — we’ve all had a bit more room to breathe recently. The fingers clasped around self-expression, intimacy and all things good have finally begun to relax.

The ways in which we are now able to present ourselves means that our actions become ever-closer reflections of our inherent selves, our natural characters. These are our fundamental traits (sometimes called constructs) that we must fulfil and express in order to belong; to feel accepted — to have joy.

All going well, in time, all inhibitions restricting the means through which we can explore and enjoy these natural tendencies will be uprooted. Meaning more expression. More joy.

If and when expression is repressed or resisted, however, the symptom is always discord — unease, pain. Directly or indirectly, any emotional or physical conflict results from the denial of someone’s natural character.

A jealous partner, for example, resists the ways in which their spouse’s natural dispositions manifest with other people. Or pigs on factory farms, who chew at each other’s ears because they’re instincts have been cut out of the business model. Or simply feeling miserable, where the misery lies in an inability to accept something — resistance to what is — which casts a shadow of dissatisfaction over your psyche, obstructing your joy.

In summary, the repression of natural tendencies makes us feel bad. Whereas, the freedom of expression brings joy, because our natural way of being is accepted and realised.

Why then, as both people and as individuals, do we still maintain the exhausting notion that something that feels good, isn’t always good?

A perfect example of this is intimacy.

Why, when we all aware of the latent joy stored away in deep physical and emotional connection — love and intimacy — do we reserve so many tiers of human interaction for the bodies and minds of one sole individual: the partner?

When intimacy is honest, pure, it is a perfect expression of our inherent joy. Because, like joy, intimacy knows no prejudice, it holds no expectation, no cost. It is fun and free and natural. To enjoy another’s mind and body is literally to be in joy with them.

Yet the idea of what some might still refer to as free love remains a dangerous and unorthodox concept.

Intimacy is joy expressed within the dance of form. Love is the music of the heart. Yet, these instinctual celebrations are routinely cut short by our fixation with definitions and expectation. It often isn’t long before the ballroom becomes a battleground, and the ballet — a brawl.

I recently slept with someone else whilst in a relationship. I’m sure that many of you upon reading that will be met with the heavy thoughts, maybe even memories that you associate with promiscuity. However, I learned a lot from this experience and it feels right to include what happened, here.

In short, I went to a festival with a friend, a girl. Someone with whom I’d always had a strong affinity with. By the third or fourth day in each other’s company, I decided that the intuited calls to be intimate with her were both honest and loving. I felt, too, that my affections had adopted a new limitlessness: I saw that every moment of connection, physical intimacy or emotional, was nothing but the release of some inexhaustible intuitive energy, like a solar flare reaching out from the sun. I realised that connection is never something that we choose, rather only something we become aware of — a thought, a feeling, a rush — rising to the surface of our consciousness. A voice calling out from somewhere within our being that says hey, there’s joy here.

And so what is the difference, then, really, between resisting the urge to breathe and fighting an opportunity to feel?

Although our relationship could not exist as it had, the love and appreciation for my girlfriend and her ways remained completely. I told the older sister of my girlfriend, who I also went to the festival with, and her boyfriend how I felt. At this point, the girl and I had kissed twice and I told them this too. The boyfriend became angry; I was told I could not come home with them, and the girl, the friend, walked away from the group crying. I took my things and followed her into the crowd. It was the last day of the festival, neither of us had any battery on our phones nor any idea what to do. I said I would get a train with her back to London. We spent the rest of the day together and slept with each other that evening.

I told my girlfriend, who was away at the time, the next day. After that, separated, we met with each other three times following the festival. During these meetings there were many moments where all pain that had flared up, like the burning redness that surrounds a wound, was extinguished. When we held each other or looked into each other's eyes, the inferred reasons for why I had done what I did disappeared. Once the focus on the meaning behind my actions had shifted, only the causeless, indiscriminate joy of being in each other’s presence remained. The same natural inclination to be intimate, to laugh, to be close arose in exactly the same way as it had with the girl from the festival.

During our last meeting, and after speaking for a while together, the topic moved back to the girl who I had slept with. I had stayed with her in London and had plans to see her again. Somehow, through the conversation that preceded, I spoke of the amazing resonance that the girl and I shared. At that, the stitches holding together our relationship, still barely breathing, were pulled out, and the tide of hurt and distrust that we had managed so far to navigate drowned out the joy of our togetherness, and we no longer speak.

A leaf that falls from the tree gains a new perspective from the ground.

Photo from Stephen Ellis

In light of what happened, I now believe that how we interact with each other should not be confined by the arbitrary definitions we place on relationships. And any attempt to do so, to cordon love off, only invites pain to grow between the cracks.

Of course, I can understand how sleeping with a girl whilst committed to another can and will be seen as both a betrayal of trust and a sign of disrespect. But as it is, must it be so? Were my sentiments and intentions responsible for the entirety of the pain — or are the rules by which we play the game setting us up to fail?

When kindness is free, what good does it bring to conserve it for the people we’re close to? Laughter is not reserved for friends, so why must sex be reserved for lovers?

The Choice

Ultimately, I think people either believe that love is an internal element within oneself or something that must be acquired from other people.

Whilst it’s true we cannot experience many aspects of ourselves without others to provide a canvas for those aspects to be exhibited, the root of all joy is nonetheless contained within our being. The ability for us to experience love is a permanent and unconditional trait. We love other people because they encourage us to feel and think in certain ways, but the sensation of love can only ever be present when something or someone resonates with our natural character — our joy. You cannot find a joke funny without a sense of humour, just as you cannot love without love.

Really, we do not receive love, we create it.

If someone is giving, for example, the love you feel for their actions is really derived by the appreciation you have for your own charity. Their actions are like a reminder of the virtues of generosity itself, stored within you. On the other hand, if you are inherently Scrooge-like, other people’s philanthropy may arouse feelings such as resentment and anger within your consciousness because they remind you of parts of yourself that you do not love. If someone is malicious, it is your disdain for cruelty as a whole that causes you to dislike them.

The splendour of love is contained within the moment that love is created. Love resides only within the present moment because it is something that we feel — and feeling only exists in the now. By recollecting fond memories we are able to feel love at that moment, so how could love ever be given from someone else?

I believe that the people who understand love’s eternal yet momentary nature are like those who marvel unreservedly at the fleeting pirouettes and explosions of a firework display. They understand that love does not require a purpose; love is beyond reason, existing only to wonder at its own existence, its own complexity. Where those who try to savour and direct love are the people in the crowd taking photos.

To acknowledge love only when you see it in someone else is like enjoying the harvest without any appreciation for the sun: If looking only at the fruit in our basket, we lose sight of the power and greatness of nature; the turning seasons, the perfection and the beauty. Love is no different — we can watch the waves or we can have the ocean. For the moment you decide that you are the source of your joy, never again will you be poor in love.


The Business of Love

In the current paradigm, many do believe that love comes from other people. They seek to possess and protect it, like the assets of a business.

The business of love points all participants in the direction of loss and pain, and revolves around one key principle:

Love is a bit like money.

Firstly, people believe that, like a business, your emotional wealth is determined by what you posses. And so the extent to which you feel loved depends on your relationships — your assets.

Embodying this primary assumption, people then behave in a certain way in order to attract and acquire love. They create an idea of who they are, their strengths, their attractive qualities, like an investment portfolio.

All going well, they will attract an investment: friend, spouse or other. This person will induce certain sentiments that make the person feel good. The individual feels hightened, wealthier.

People then seek to protect their new relationships because they believe that once achieved, love, like money, can be lost. They enter into contractual agreements — boyfriends, girlfriend’s, spouses, friendship groups — in order to ensure their love. Literally to insure it. Each agreement entailing different expectations and obligations, from wedding vows all the way down to agreeing not to flirt with so-and-so.

Then the enterprise changes: someone in the relationship no longer reflects their original portfolio, or they start failing to honour the terms of the contract. They become interested in different things, wish to become more intimate with other people, offer less time and energy to their partners, and so on. In short, they no longer perform how they’re expected to. “They aren’t the person I married,” is an expression often used at this stage.

Like the shares of a stock exchange, the value of the relationship starts to fluctuate when the worth of the partner is reviewed and questioned. People begin to feel poorer because they have grown to expect the same emotional income from their partners.

Rather than allowing the relationship to mature, expand, change hands — to become enriched — the coupling suffers as it remains bound to the initial ideals and expectations laid out first-off, like a business that refuses to diversify.

If the change in the partnership is deemed as a loss, the investment may proove no longer sound and unworthy of maintaining. If so, like a company declaring bankruptcy, the relationship ends.

Then, akin to the bursting of a financial bubble, the love that has been “lost” creates a great psychological void. The love is quite simply gone because we believe it left along with our partners.

In the end, there is confusion, outrage and heartbreak because people feel less valuable. They invested a huge amount of their belonging into one body, and no longer feel as desired, loved, accepted, appreciated or enjoyed without it. This absense creates pain.

To recap,

  • We all have natural tendencies that when experienced bring us joy.
  • When our natural tendencies are denied we experience the resistance in the form of unease or pain.
  • When we experience our joy with other people we call this love and intimacy.
  • These experiences are the result of our ability to create love.
  • Sadly, many people believe that these feelings come from other people — not the realisation of their own loving essence.
  • This belief leads to the formation of committed relationships, in order that love and intimacy are assured. The ability to explore joy, namely intimacy, is then confined to the terms of the relationship.
  • The relationship becomes a symbol of an individual’s emotional wealth — and pivotal for continued access to their joy.
  • Then, when one of the participants within the relationship does or becomes something beyond the expectations of the relationship, the relationship fails.
  • This creates a psychological “void” (pain) because we believe this love has been “lost”. Or, in order to save the relationship someone’s natural tendencies are resisted and denied.
  • Either way, in an effort to guarantee our joy we give life to the only thing that kills it — confinement.


How can we reconcile the idea that committed relationships lead to the pain with things like raising children or purchasing a house?


Society reflects the way we think and the way we behave. We have all bought into the idea of individualism and small family units, and so the structure of our countries continues to embody those ideals. Still, as we grow ever more estranged from our neighbours, we understandably hope to raise children within the most secure framework available to us: a committed relationship with one individual.

However, to recognise that any attempt to define or secure love does not work is a sign that a shift is taking place within our belief system. We are beginning to realise that current relationship conventions are not conducive to expanding the expression of our inherent joy. For one, polyamory (having many consensual sexual partners) is becoming far more common. And so, as we move ever close to what feels natural, we will also hopefully begin reconnecting with people on a deeper, more intimate level. And so, providing an environment of interconnected but unbound individuals in which we can raise children without the need for static relationships.

But what about now — how do I conduct myself within relationships in such a way that honours love’s illimitable nature?

There is nothing you need to do other than respect your true character. Through the people we meet and the experiences we have we are constantly changing, evolving. As we change so will the people that we resonate and spend time with. So the cycle repeats. We are all in a constant state of flux, so to commit oneself to any expectation only reduces the space in which we can continue our journey of self-exploration.

The trees that produce the most fruit will not be found in pots.

The only promise you should make is to discard all other promises. Whichever relationship you find yourself a part of — raising children, a fling, and everything in between. The only guarantee you should ever make is to honour your own evolution, whichever road that may take you. If it feels right to propose and marry somebody as an expression of your joy, then by all means do it. Go forth and be merry! All the while paying mind to the ungovernable nature of that which brought you together in the first place — Feeling.

Does feeling need a reason?


No one chooses who they are drawn to. Lover, friend — whomever. There is no explanation for the affection that is awakened within. It just happens. So why not permit these notions to proceed as they are alwaysin all ways — to be enjoyed in whichever form they adopt on the surface?

No conditions. No expectations. No resistance.

I am not talking about sex. I am talking about intimacy, laughter, love. The stuff we feel for other people that in one-way-or-another screams: I enjoy you!

Do you ever need more reason than that?



Is Film Photography.....

When setting about writing a feature, it’s always best to research the subject you’re writing about… obviously. Sure, I’m a photographer and I know a fair amount about film photography. But not as much as Google. 

I begin punching the search term in: is film photography … Google being the handy bugger it is spits out a bunch of suggestions:

is film photography

Interesting results… Is film photography vegan? Umm, no idea. But is film photography dying/dead, making a comeback/coming back? Yes, but also no. It’s a tricky one. Let’s look at the facts and then you can make up your own mind. 



The film photography debate is rooted in hipster culture. Those of us wearing black skinny jeans ten years ago (***quietly raises hand***) are probably now wearing pants baggier than an airport windsock. We’re the same overalled folk slinging op-shop bought, leather-strapped point and shoots around town. But trends come and go and often, there’s no sense in what’s cool and what’s not. It takes one person or an influencer to make a trend — like the topknot or manbun, a historically prevalent haircut of Samurai and other cultures. Further to my point, do a quick Google search for famous people with cameras. The only digital camera I can see on the results page was Barack Obama with a Canon 5D. Funnily enough, this was the only colour photo on the results page, too. Then in black and white there’s Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, Kate Moss, you name it, all holding medium format film cameras they probably don’t know how to use. Famous people, have in part, romanticised the idea of shooting on vintage looking cameras. 

So, the question’s raised: is film photography just a trend? Yes, but also no. Fair warning, you’ll probably get that answer a bit in this feature. There are photographers in this world whose genetic composition is comprised of as much grain as T-Max 3200 and regardless of what’s cool, these photographers choose to shoot film for technical reasons, not aesthetic ones. More on this later. To these photographers, film photography is not a trend.

The trend of film photography however, is heavily imbued in aesthetics, which can easily be replicated digitally. This aesthetic has been adopted by hipsters. Hipsters like to harness the counterculture narrative and at times, claim they’re bringing something back, like single fin surfboards. We’re seeing more and more hipsters championing film in digital spaces like Instagram which has perhaps led to the assumption that film photography is experiencing a resurgence. (This is great, don’t get me wrong. We need every hipster out there buying film if Kodak and Fujifilm are to survive). But maybe the only true testament to this alleged resurgence is cold hard facts, not the rhetoric I’m tossing around.


Here are just some of the defining moments and incredible fluctuations seen in the film market in the last 10 years:

  • Frontier stops manufacturing scanners (2004… I think)
  • Kodachrome was gradually discontinued (2009)
  • Kodak discontinues Ektachrome (2012)
  • Kodak emerges from bankruptcy (2013)
  • Kodak reintroduces Ektachrome (2018)
  • Noritsu stops manufacturing scanners (2018)
  • Fujifilm announces return of NEOPAN 100 ACROS II (2019)
  • Fujifilm announces minimum 30% increase in film cost and photographic paper (2019)


Olivier Laurent wrote in a TIME article that, “... in the last three years, companies like Kodak, Fujifilm and Harman Technology, which manufactures the popular Ilford Photo black-and-white films, have been experiencing a comeback.”

Great. That’s awesome. All our favourite film stock is being produced (bar Kodachrome) and on paper, it’s evident that film is undergoing some kind of resurgence. But sales are a far cry from its peak in 2003 with 960 million rolls of film purchased globally. This is in actual fact the first time in ten years that film sales are on the up. But much to the displeasure of committed film shooters, Kodak and Fujifilm have whacked an additional 30% on their price tags. 

Manufacturing film in a digital world is no easy game so the price hike was inevitable. Doesn’t make it any easier on the avid film community to keep shooting. Film is getting more expensive, and all the bits and bobs surrounding this medium are out of production, like Noritsu and Frontier scanners, or on their way out of production. It’s a very strange space.

Another fact worth mentioning is how film processing labs are dropping like flies. I came back from a trip last year with a bag of rolls and my local lab had closed its doors in the time I was away. But when one door closes, another one opens.

Shibui Film is the Gold Coast’s home of film photography. Its owners, Josh and Brooke are experts. And with an engineering background, I’ve seen Josh do some pretty tech and innovative stuff in the lab. You’ve got to have a certain mind to work strictly with aged software and machinery, without manuals. I’m also pretty sure Josh has some kind of weird film fetish and spends his nights by the cold blue light of the computer monitor trawling online forums for additional processing equipment.

Straight from the horse’s mouth… Josh, mate, as a film lab owner and operator, what do you reckon about film photography? Trend? Coming? Going?

“It's an opinion that varies depending on who you ask,” Josh says. “There is 100% a resurgence in film photography and there’s no questioning that. Fad? I don't think so. Otherwise I wouldn't have started this business. I think it's become so popular with the younger crowd simply because it's diving into something they might have missed out on as a kid. Where technology has taken over their life and everything is at their fingertips with the swipe of a thumb or the press of a key. Shooting and expressing yourself on film is a much more intimate and personal experience. There's so many hands-on variables affecting the outcome. People appreciate the unexpected.”

Amen. So, let’s say film photography is experiencing a resurgence. How do we ensure it sticks around for good? 

“As long as there are companies who are willing to update and get onboard with this resurgence then film photography is a safe art. And of course, the passion for creativity among photographers is needed.”


Another idea of film’s resurgence perhaps stems from the advent of the cultural tether that is smartphone technology. These palm-sized, omniscient overlords are most likely the cause of digital camera sales declining every year since 2007. I wrote a piece about our addiction to handheld devices in Issue 1, and some of the sentiments I expressed have never been truer. I’ve also run film photography workshops in the past and without fail, they turn into a smartphone photography workshop. There’s nothing stranger the presence of 30 smartphones at a film photography workshop. Because if it wasn’t captured on the phone, it didn’t happen, right?

But, in all fairness, the smartphone is pretty smart. When shooting medium or large format, and when needed, I’ll use a light meter and reciprocity failure calculator app on my phone. There’s an app for everything! The HUAWEI sports a Leica lens, arguably the best glass in the industry. Again, I just did a quick Google search and found out that the HUAWEI P30 has a “combination of a SuperZoom Lens and 20 MP Ultra Wide Angle Lens, a 40 MP Super Sensing Camera and a unique HUAWEI TOF Camera (Time-of-flight camera).” The fuck? 40 MP? 

iPhone cameras are pretty good, too. So why do we need digital cameras at all if our phones can do the trick? Truth is, we don’t, depending on what you need it for. It seems most are happy to wheel a 35mm film camera and keep a smartphone in their pocket for those moments that are nice to hoard in the Cloud, but not nice enough or worthy enough to waste on an expensive negative. 

In a digital versus film conversation, it’s a wonder anyone shoots film at all. There’s an unnerving amount of film emulation presets out there, like VSCO, who do a bang-up job cut and pasting favourite colour negative, reversal and black and white films. Most Fujfilm digitals now incorporate film filters so fluctuation between Velvia, Provia, or Acros is all at the flick of a button. Getting Velvia jpegs straight out of camera is pretty neat.

With all the technology and ease of achieving film aesthetic available, why would anyone in their right mind spend $10+ on a roll (nearly $20 for a roll of Kodak Ektachrome), and then $10-20 on development and scanning? As you probably know, the answer is in creative control and process. When I shoot medium format, I’m looking at around $3 a shot after purchase of film, development and scanning. Seems expensive. But it’s the price I pay for one photo because (most of the time) it’s just one photo. I’ve given that one photo some serious thought. It’s an artistic and intimate process that often directs your eye towards what you feel, not what you see.


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The thing is… film photography was perfect before the invention of digital cameras, which still can’t match the quality of 4x5s and 8x10s. Yeah, the process is slow, but that’s the beautiful part — making considered images with intent and feeling as opposed to the trigger happy jpegs coded with metadata. I’d like to know how many film photographs are taken daily, versus the 95+ million images uploaded to Instagram every day. That’s a disgusting amount of noise. We don’t have to see the images to know who’d win the point of quality.

Film photography creates moments of permanence. Even though the digital element is and always will be apparent, overall, film photography offers a brief respite from the digital juggernaut and desire for instant gratification that governs our lives.

In answer to one of the many questions Google set forth at the start of this article, yes… film photography is expensive. But it’s worth it. Is film photography coming back? Yes, it is, and hopefully it’s here to stay. 

is film photography … film photography just is. 


Words and Photos by Aaron Chapman. Feaure illustration by

Slow Space - The rise of the Slow Space Movement in Architectural Design

Slow Space

The rise of the Slow Space Movement in Architectural Design

by Bridgette Ford


The world is fast. Acceleration, in terms of speed and growth, is the conduct of our modern age, and success has come to be synonymous with speed. Speed implies progress, so in turn, slow holds the implication of stagnation and unproductively. We live in a time where designs are accelerated and architecture no longer stands still. Poor quality, made with cheap materials, bloated with fillers and chemicals, depressing to be in, built fast and without a thoughtful design. (Aamodt/Plumb. 2018.) - This could well define the current circumstances of contemporary architecture and construction practices. Wooed by the charm of increasing speed, we overlook the inherent slowness required for design and craft. Constantly hurried, we lack the intellectual space for reflection and perspective and the temporal space for experience and skillbuilding. This fast-paced tendency is mirrored by modern society in general, with faced paced lifestyles and the search for quick gratification, not allowing for meaningful connections to be built, to deepen experiences.

You can think of contemporary architectural development as being like fast food - designed fast and built even faster, to satisfy our need for immediate gratification, feeding into our fantasies of a glamorously modern life, not one that's necessarily easy to live in or easy on the environment. - (Aamodt/Plumb. 2018.)

The Slow Movement is a quiet resistance to the fast-paced pressures of modern life, a cultural shift to slow down life’s pace and revive the sensual pleasures of a sustainable and healthy existence. When applied to architectural design, the slow movement has shifted to the Slow Space Movement, a concept that fundamentally, promotes the highest quality buildings, made with clean healthy materials and built with fair labour, experienced craftsmanship and has a holistically healthy design approach.

Slow Space is for the built environment, what slow food has done to the food industry; what slow sex has done to sexual stigma; and how slow living is adjusting our contemporary lifestyle.

The following examples will uncover the immense potential in utilising the slow space movement principles into architectural designs, and the implications that the slow space movement has on the present and future of all facets of human-orientated design.

The Modern Texas Prefab home by Aamodt/Plumb Architects is situated in Texas, USA. The design concept for the prefab home come from the Aamodt/Plumb’s notion of creating rich, beautiful spaces through simple forms, materials, and procedures. The design is authentic and straightforward, letting the form be inspired by the nature of the site and the functionality be designed for user happiness and enjoyment.

“The Modern Texas Prefab home is based around the idea of slowness, to create a space that elevates the modern problems of stress and overwhelm, for a positive human experience within.” - Aamodt/Plumb

The rich materiality of the project is visible in the aesthetic qualities of the build, with minimal, quality materials showcased authentically, giving a timeless, minimalistic feel to the design. Spatial intrigue appears in the interplay between volumes and the use of simple, warm materials. The design incorporates the eco-conscious traditional, Japanese technique of burning (Shou-Sugi-Ban) to char the surface of the external timber cladding.

Internally, the home incorporates locally sourced, sustainable and chemical-free materials, finishes and furnishings, from the bones of the sustainable sourced building frame, right down to the ornamentation of repurposed woven floor rugs and vintage furniture. The use of sustainably sourced, natural and repurposed elements of the design not only physically showcase the slow space movement, but the architecture begins to take on a harmonious spirituality and more human-like qualities.

The building, like a body, has bones, skin and systems. Interior decoration is clothing; it is fashionable and mutable. The space inside is the soul. It is the intangible feeling that is difficult to describe and impossible to photograph.’ - Aamodt/Plumb

What has been achieved through a holistically slow design process, is a home which encompasses the qualities of good, clean and fair, into a design that challenges the stigmas of slow-paced construction practices, while not costing the earth.

Dreamt up by Australian designer George Gorrow (founder of Ksubi) and model/creator Cisco Tschurtschenthaler, The Slow is a immersive experience of island-luxe design, slow culture and artistic celebration. George & Cisco’s creative and holistic lifestyle backgrounds are woven into the tapestry of The Slow, which weaves itself into the Canggu, Bali community.

The pair collaborated with GFAB Architects to create an interpretation best described as ‘tropical brutalism’. The Slow was intended to be more than just somewhere to rest your head, instead, it’s an all-immersive experience. Serving the community through common, semi-public spaces, as well as and private accommodation, the slows doubles as a retreat style resort and community hub, embracing a new wave of living slow.

‘(It is) a place to rest your bones, stir your senses and expand your mind’ - George Gorrow

The communal spaces are where The Slow’s concept thrives, from the gallery spaces, a slow fashion and sustainability concept store, and Eat & Drink, and an all-day dining venue inspired by the slow food movement. Simple, usable public spaces allow retreat guests and locals alike to congregate, switch off or be inspired. The spaces are multifaceted, allowing each user to respond differently. The striking repetition of the native Bangkirai hardwood screen facade envelopes the individual spaces into a whole, while repelling the tropical climate.

“It’s somewhere you can go, disconnect and reconnect …get here fast and take it slow” - George Gorrow

The eclectic interiors are created through the balance of rigid, exposed, concrete and stone structure of the building, and the softness and warmth of native and sustainably sourced timbers, and textiles. The emphasis on locally sourced materials is further reflected in the local sand mixed wall renders and tiles, complemented by the polished concrete and exposed block-work. Locally produced homewares and fixtures, alongside the designers’ personal art collection, finding an aesthetic and cultural harmony between the site location and the personal aesthetic of the designers.

The slow is the antithesis of the fastness of the modern world. It subtly pulls the user into a stage of rest, unwind and peace.

Palace Electric’s Hopper Street Apartment renovation in Wellington New Zealand is an ideal example of taking the movement of slow space, and implementing it on a small scale. When it comes to the success of such a major shift to slowness in the design and construction industry, operating at an intimate scale can have a major impact over time, as small, successful projects gain recognition and respect from the architectural community.

Somewhat of a protest to the current development norms, Ben Daly, the architect and founder of Palace Electric, created an apartment with emphasis on quality, involvement and intimacy. The aim was to create a home that others would feel drawn to and appreciate for its bespoke, handcrafted style and intimate feeling that a building only obtains through a thoughtful design and construction process. Daly sees such a process as a sustainable version of development, what he considers to be the foremost principle of slow architecture.

“Everyone’s into trying to do something where you have more involvement with the process. For me you should do that in every way now, not just what you eat, what you drink, what you wear, but where you live, and how you live.” - Ben Daly

‘Slow’ is a movement, that when considered in a holistic sense, begins to embody one’s ethics, outlook and routines, which in turn redefines how one lives in and engages with the spaces they design. Daly’s attitude towards human orientated design is mirrored in the apartment, with the thoughtfully detailed interior spaces being created with such understanding and empathy for the human relationship within minimal space.

All new building work is seen as a rich palette of locally sourced timbers, while existing walls were paired back and painted white, to exhibit contrast between the old and new. The repetition in the ply timbers and sawn pine boards, give a harmonious, calm and quaint feeling throughout. Any additional materials needed for the project were either collected from local producers, local merchants or found secondhand. The attention to sustainable detailing and specifying of not only the materials but the finishes is a testament to the design’s dedication to sustainability, with paint finishes being low VOC (low-chemical), floors sealed in a natural oil and terracotta tiling. Furthermore, much of the building work was performed using hand tools, with limited used of electric devices, limiting the embodied energy in the materials and construction.

The three projects showcased are prime examples of how when the principles of the slow space movement are used unanimously and are ingrained in all elements of a design, the architecture takes on a richness, that can only be achieved through utilising the contemporary sustainable technologies of the present, and the rich fundamental knowledge of the past.

“Fast and Slow do more than just describe a rate of change, they are shorthand for ways of being, or philosophies of life.” (Carl Honoré, In praise of slowness, 2010)

Photography Credits:

Modern Texax Prefab: Casey Dunn , The Slow All Images : Tommas Oriva  &, Hopper Street : Sam Hartnett 

Unlearning by Bike Cycling solo from Thailand to Spain Words by Nicole Heker & Photos by Jeremy John

Unlearning by Bike - Cycling solo from Thailand to Spain

Unlearning by Bike 

Cycling solo from Thailand to Spain

Words by Nicole Heker & Photos by Jeremy John


It’s remarkable to hear the stories and wisdom from someone with a mere quarter century of birthdays under their belt. When many twenty-somethings are just becoming their own person, falling into the capitalism cog and finding joy in the form of baggies and beers. Nicole is outside, exploring, learning, unlearning and making a difference to those she cares about. And cycling from Thailand to Spain. 

Nicole Heker has been living and travelling through Asia for the past 3 years.  Managing the Happy Kids Centre in Bhaktapur, Nepal since she was 23. Now she is on her biggest adventure, cycling solo from Thailand to Spain. An unassisted bike trip to raise money for the Happy Kids Centre. Her goal is to raise $12,000 - enough to cover an entire years worth of costs for the centre.

We caught up with Nicole to chat about the best and worst parts of the trip so far and we dive into her philosophy on life. 

Unlearning by Bike Cycling solo from Thailand to Spain Words by Nicole Heker & Photos by Jeremy John

Unlearning by Bike Cycling solo from Thailand to Spain Words by Nicole Heker & Photos by Jeremy John


Why and when did you decide to do this trip? 

I was working as a deck-hand on a sailboat that would circumnavigate the world. The captain of Mr. Percival is an Australian man who decided to leave Australia for the first time and see the world. I was fortunate enough to get a gig working on his boat for a short period of time, crossing the North Java Sea in Indonesia. At this point, I had been traveling for almost two years throughout Asia and had thought that I had a good grasp of what it meant to be an independent traveler. Then, I met Tiphaine and Marco, two cycle tourers who had cycled all the way to Indonesia from France for over 3 years. They rocked up to the boat with two bicycles and all of their gear. They looked tanned and rough and adventure-worn. Over the next three weeks on the boat, they shared their stories, showed me photos and videos and explained the sense of freedom and autonomy. Their stories beguiled me but it was how they carried themselves that sold me. They were so comfortable in their skin, so confident and strong within themselves. They were resourceful, and independent and were quick to fix things that were broken or take on any new task on the boat that needed handling.

It was their inner-state that captured me and brought this trip to the forefront of my brain. But it had to wait. I had 0 funds left and had already signed a contract to work in Korea for one year as an English teacher. Over that year, I saved almost every penny I could. I did the research, followed all the blogs and Instagram accounts I could find and moved toward this goal–riding my bike from somewhere, to somewhere else, far away. I didn’t know where, but I knew what I wanted out of it. Cycling every day gives one a sense of purpose as it is, but I wanted to have a driving intention behind what I was doing, and I wanted to use whatever platform would form from this trip to make a positive impact.

The cause was easy, I have been working as the Director of Development for a Nepali NGO for three years now, we’re a small organization, but our impact has been huge over the past three years, but like any organization, we needed more funding. This is the impact behind my trip.  The intention came a little bit more slowly until I started messaging with an old sociology professor from Penn State University. That’s when I remembered his words on the final day of class. He challenged us to “unlearn everything” and so, Unlearning By Bike was born. I was going to pay attention to the stories around me, the stories that I carried within me, all of the judgments that I harbored and I was going to try, to see as clearly as I could, the truths of the world and of myself. 

Unlearning by Bike Cycling solo from Thailand to Spain Words by Nicole Heker & Photos by Jeremy John


What does, 'its the inner journey that I’m after', mean? 

In short, it means growth. We live in our self-made cages of perceived limitations, fears and redundant stories that for the most part do not serve us. On the bike, I try to observe what's happening, what kind of thought patterns have become habits, and what fears dictate my actions. So often, people travel in search of themselves. While traveling can be a great catalyst for growth, everything–every journey we need to take, every facet of ourselves is already inside of us.

I guess my version of the inner journey is outgrowing my cage by taking responsibility, wandering into the unfamiliar, conquering my fears, and integrating new skills and tools. We are ruled by so many things from our genes to our environment, but, I don’t believe that they have the final word. We have space for growth, improvement, and change. Not just through reading books, or making a Pinterest board of inspirational quotes, but by putting some serious work into breaking down what those limits, fears, and stories are and taking ownership over them. 


What has been the most uncomfortable/scary experience of the trip so far?

Mongolia is a place of extremes. I would easily say that it's one of my favorite countries that I’ve cycled in but it was also scary and uncomfortable at times. One time, in particular, was in a very small town called Ulziit. It was exactly what I imagined the old Wild West to be like–dusty, lawless, streets were strewn with horses, drunk men, and shattered glass. The buildings were short, square and colorful. My three cycling companions at the time, Claudia, Oliver and Jerry, and I rode in on a fair day. The fair happens once a month there and nomads come from all over the region to raffle for a motorbike or some sheep. Everyone was wasted and rowdy, barking at us as we rode in, intimidating us by riding their motorcycles straight for us and then turning at the last second, making sexual gestures towards Claudia and me. We were supposed to be there briefly, just to restock on food and water for the road and then we heard it, “crunch.” It was Oliver’s rim. It was broken. This was a catastrophe. We were stuck in a town where everyone seemed like they wanted to rob us or harm us in some way.

It felt anything but safe, but we were stuck. Jerry and I found a hotel and barred the door with some chairs and Claudia and Oliver got a ride back to Ulaan Baatur where they would buy another rim and meet us back in Ulziit. It took two days. Jerry and I only left that room to pee in the ditch outside, one at a time, while the other stood guard at the window to make sure nothing happened. When we were leaving the hotel owner begged for money and started trying to grab at all of our things laying around the room until finally, my face made its point and she left. Sufficit to say, we did not enjoy our stay in Ulziit. 

What has been the most memorable/enjoyable experience of the trip so far? 

Before this trip, I had never really heard of Tajikistan let alone knew where it was. This small country, surrounded by Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and China, exceeded all my expectations. The landscapes were surreal, epic mountains were the backdrop to this incredible stretch of bike riding. Being very unpopulated, I felt like I had the world to myself. All of my camp spots became home, the roads were mostly paved but led us up, up, up incredible passes that gave me a daily sense of accomplishment. We were dirty and rugged and resourceful. We built campfires and bathed in rivers and when something broke we had to fend for ourselves, getting creative as we patched up tires or adjusted chains. Every evening, it was just us, me and the couple other cyclists I met on the road and the stars.

When we did come across the occasional nomad or mountain family they treated us like family, inviting us into their homes and showering us with hospitality, usually in the form of many cups of tea and a place to sleep. There are countless moments, in every country that has touched me in some way, but Tajikistan as a whole was just a wild and adventurous time that tempted my imagination and left me a different person as I exited out the other side. 

Unlearning by Bike Cycling solo from Thailand to Spain Words by Nicole Heker & Photos by Jeremy John
Unlearning by Bike Cycling solo from Thailand to Spain Words by Nicole Heker & Photos by Jeremy John

What do you mean by "designer of my fate"?

Being the designer of my fate is about living with intention. Without awareness and intention, it is easy to get swept up into the crowd and end up living a life where you never question what you want or what makes your heart dance but just follow the herd. It also has to do with circumstance. For example, the night can be dark, and storms can rage, but by taking responsibility as the “master of my fate” and captain of my soul” I’m giving putting my confidence in myself to change the direction of things. My philosophy on living life is ever-changing haha! But at the base of it all is “Follow your heart/bliss/curiosity” whatever that may mean for you and LOOK INSIDE. See what drives you and ask yourself “Is it fear or is it love?” When I’m 70 years old I would be proud to say that I lived–that I tasted and tried and wondered and that I left this world a little better than when I found it.  

What books are you currently reading and what is your favourite book? 

I am currently reading Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut. I really love his works, particularly his short stories from Armaggedon in Retrospect. It’s so difficult to choose a favorite book but Siddhartha by Herman Hesse is a short read that I keep coming back to before starting any journey. It demonstrates the non-linear path of a Siddharta’s journey to enlightenment. I keep going back to that book because every time I read it, no matter how different my life circumstance has become, it sings true and teaches me new lessons. 

Unlearning by Bike Cycling solo from Thailand to Spain Words by Nicole Heker & Photos by Jeremy John
Unlearning by Bike Cycling solo from Thailand to Spain Words by Nicole Heker & Photos by Jeremy John

When you were a child and at college, what did you want to do with your life? 

I have always been someone who felt drawn to the margins. When all my friends were checking out the flowers, I was turning over the rocks, looking for something else. I was always pushing the rules and sometimes, I took them way too far, but I had this insatiable curiosity and thirst for experience-based knowing. I wouldn’t say that I thought I was unique in any way, but I knew that I questioned everything and that I had little regard for doing what was expected of me. I’ve never really had a clear image of what I wanted to do with my life.

I’ve always had an idea of the person I wanted to be though. I remember being around 10 years old and going over to my friend Caylin’s house. It was different from any other house I’d seen. It was a Victorian style and painted yellow. Her kitchen was colorful, with orange floors and yellow walls and they had their own garden outside growing strawberries and cherry tomatoes and giant sunflowers. Caylin’s mom had a tattoo, she skinny-dipped in the pool outback under the moonlight, and she went deep water swimming, encouraging me to do the same, something that my parents usually forbade. Her job was in construction and on Caylin’s birthday one year, she put a hammer in all of our hands and taught us how to build. She was different and I knew that when I grew up, I wanted to be radical and draw my own lines as she did.

As I grew up, I tried to fit myself back into the mold. I went to university, still not knowing what to do with my life, and thought what office job I would get when I graduated. After studying abroad, something reawakened. I decided to trust myself and just follow my curiosities. That brought me to Thailand after graduation, where I started to really ask myself questions about who I was and what I was interested in. Now, I plan on having many careers! I want to write a kids book and be a yoga teacher or start an eco-cafe somewhere. I want to live in a treehouse and a van for a while and get good at using my hands by practicing ceramics, wood carving, and leather-work. But I find its best not to plan too much. I’ll just keep following my curiosities for now. 



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And check out more of Jeremy's work and @jeremyj0hn

Words On The Road: The Ambivalence of Travelling and Writing

Words On The Road:

The Ambivalence of Travelling and Writing


Few job titles exude such a romantic, dreamlike aura as “travel writer”. A faded passport, piles of eared Moleskine notebooks, reliable credit cards, an everlasting smile on the face, and the phone number of an editor willing to catapult you from a pseudo-paradise to another are some of the associations that bubble up when thinking about this, well, line of work. As someone who has these very two words signed on every email I send, I would argue that the aforementioned require time, back and neck exercises and heaps of muscling in, and will likely remain a dream, a romanticizing, for most of those who choose to take the red pill. Still, although my notebooks are eared but not Moleskine, my credit card (singular) Master but not reliable, my smile erratic, and I haven’t yet met an editor with catapulting powers, I wouldn’t want to sign my emails any other way. As they say, it’s not about the destination.


It all started with fortuity and stochastic processes

I spent the first two years of my legal age working, surfing, and partying at a hostel in Jeffreys Bay, South Africa. Among all ilks, I met from all over was Mat – a 20-something teacher cum surf instructor from Cornwall, England. We bonded over our common appreciation of beer, desideratum for surfing, and later, photography. We kept in touch on and off over the powers of Facebook. Until the beginning of 2015.

I had just sailed across the Pacific Ocean with a friend I’d made surfing in Panama and found myself at a small archipelago in the south of French Polynesia, roughly eight days cruise from Tahiti. I had been keeping a journal for the past few years and had written daily entries over the course of our voyage. So when, during one of our “dinghy survey missions”, we found an epic wave pealing off the corner of an islet inhabited by a lone 50-odd year old American, I wrote about it.

With what I would soon find out to be a first draft in my hands, I recalled that Mat had been working as a freelance journalist and was involved with surf publications. A “might as well” thought enticed me to send him the piece and ask whether he knew of anyone who’d be keen to publish it. He got back to me with an edit of my draft, which was published on Surf Simply Magazine weeks later.

Fast-forward a few months, I’m in New Zealand preparing for a road trip with my brother after a season of fruit-picking when Mat forwards me a proposal to do a paid trial run on writing articles for Surf Simply. I agree, write four pieces, they approve, we discuss the brass tacks of potential long-term collaboration, and I begin to produce material on an increasingly regular basis, establishing what would be my first “client”.

Once the door was open and the first step was taken, I began to wonder how to extend that opportunity into a full-time, sustainable practice. In hindsight, it is clear how the dots connected; yet back then, every unfolding event had a hue of happenstance. Nothing felt like it would amount to any thing at all or in particular. It seemed like the only way to go.

A day in the life

One of the most gratifying perks of freelancing is embedded in the word itself – the freedom to move suddenly and quickly, which to me equates to having more control over how to spend my days, to shake the concept of routine altogether. In fact, this ability to dictate, to some extent, when I work, exercise, have a cup of tea, nap, gaze out the window or hit the pub, is one of – if not the – the main reasons why I pursue such a volatile occupation in the first place.

I have spent a silly number of hours reading how-to guides on productivity and other so-called life-hacks that flood our feeds, and from that, I have realised two things. First, this is definitely not the kind of writing I aspire to output. Second, although they seem dynamic – at times even enlightening – on the surface, I probably have a better chance of unearthing something meaningful to me if I adopt an empirical attitude – grab life by the balls, so to speak.

At present, I aim for a balance of discipline and spur-of-the-moment living by splitting my day in quarters and wiggle-waggling my way around it, pliably and joyfully. This home-made system is designed according to my latitude and season, and is espoused by a series of notes/exceptions which allow me to say fuck it and still land on my feet without losing momentum. Or so I hope.

Clock-wise, the first quarter on my Day Diagram is assigned to either SLEEP or WRITE, from 7am until 1pm. That means that if I’m not sleeping at that time, I’m working. And by “working” I mostly mean bread and butter work – the stuff that I get paid for. I love indulging in brainstorming and heartfelt writing just like the next person, but I’m a big believer of Maslow’s pyramid of necessities and, through personal experience, have found that if I don’t have a shelter over my head and food (plus wine) in my belly, I can’t function, let alone disgorge that which I believe to be significant, unavoidable.

The second quarter of my day, due to my struggle to get the gears going after a meal, is mostly dedicated to a mixture of passive-learning and physical exercise. Depending on the day and what events are on in town, from 1pm till 7pm I’ll be napping, taking online courses, trail running, practising yoga, gardening, or simply [trying to] think of nothing without having to call it meditation. I have been on a one-track-mind the entire morning, so this is a way to make both my mind and body pulse, mixing and matching activities that don’t require much energy but nonetheless stimulate me. It is also a time to stretch my back.

As I currently live with other people and far away from the city centre buzz, I chose to set a daily “social time” between 7pm and 11pm. This is when I really let my hair down; I fill up a glass of wine, cook and chat with my housemates and remind myself what the world is like outside my laptop screen.

The fourth and last quarter is once again scribbled with the words WRITE or SLEEP, the difference being that there are two schedule suggestions: 11pm to 7am or 11pm to 3am. I understand that I’m only human and that the bottle of wine I opened at dinnertime can – and often will – refill my glass more than once. But I also know – after experimenting with my sleep patterns, not reading a scientific paper – that my organism needs roughly eight hours of sleep per day. Hence, I worked out a semi-flexible system where, should I feel like finishing that bottle of wine into the night, I let myself write until 3am, then I sleep until midday and start the day with a brunch at 1pm; or I unwillingly refrain from the god-like fermented grape beverage and hit the sack at 11pm, giving me a sound, eight-hour night of sleep until seven o’clock the next morning.

Being an advocate of living on the edge as much as of getting shit done, I take this framework with a grain of salt – a stone of salt, actually. This is a blueprint to what I think could be a balanced, creative day; a means to match my wishes with my needs in a conscious, rather idealistic way. My only strict rule is never to go to the toilet without something to jot notes on.


Choosing my words, carefully

There’s this assumption that every writer writes about what they want to write about, but I soon found that not to be the case necessarily. At least not in the beginning, and not when you try to make a living on writing alone and have neither a pay-check nor savings or rich parents to fall back on. Considering that my curiosities are ever-increasing and inexhaustible, that word-typing is my sole income, and that nowadays there is a solid market for “content writing” (though I’m still trying to figure out what the fuck that actually entails), I could say that I write about whatever I have to write about – first to keep afloat, then to keep alive. If to put it romantically: I don’t choose the stories, the stories choose me.

Currently, I craft two surf-related pieces per month for Surf Simply Magazine, pitch different ideas to various publications (either revolving around the topic of marine environment or travel – or both), and take short-term “content writing” gigs here and there – such as this series of 10 twenty-thousand-words articles on New Zealand’s upcoming electronic travel authorisation system I just finished – rarely having a say on what I cover, but covering rent nonetheless.

When it comes to journalism, I follow a tip I read somewhere from a journalist whose name I don’t remember, and tend to “recycle” my stories. The idea here is that revisiting a subject matter allows one not only to monetise on potential new angles by pitching it to distinct publications but also boost one’s know-how on that particular subject, which, if you are genuinely interested in, works as a double-plus.

Soul-selling and bread-winning aside, my mantra is to “write about what I think I should think about”. Regardless of getting paid or getting published, every thing that I write is some thing that I have thought or would like to think about, some thing that, for better or worse, nags the heck out of me. The ultimate goal is to make this writing about these things my sustenance, to be able to pursue only the topics and stories that tickle my fancy. But while that doesn’t happen, I keep personal ramblings as my daily bite of sanity (or insanity?), my ethereal footmarks on the cosmos.


From page to paycheck

Like anyone freelancing in a creative field without a consistent paycheque, a commission or an assistant, getting something published/sold is probably the toughest, most boring part. (Or maybe it’s the boring trait that makes it tough?). I’m still unaware of how the pieces fall, but what I am sure of is that it takes some bruising of the knuckles (or should I say numbing of the fingertips?) from knocking on a lot of doors before someone welcomes you in. One has to tango with frustration.

When it comes to content writing, my modus operandi is rather dynamic: I use, or used to use, freelancing platforms such as Upwork to find projects and contact clients, keeping an eye out for potential long-term collaborations. As for freelance journalism and selling finished pieces, the road is more winding. Due to a combination of the current metamorphosis in news media and the stupid amount of content floating in the digital stratosphere, few publications are willing to drop money on a .doc file; and the ones that do remunerate either do so sparingly or are tough to get through. But again, I do reckon it comes down to fraying the knuckles until breaching in.

That being said, I only approach a publication if something beyond the prospect of payment draws me to it. And speaking of payment, my experience has shown me that if/when they happen, they do so in schizophrenic fashion. In the case of content writing, some clients ask about a per-word rate, others offer flat rates according to the project, and a few still work on the clock. These depend more on the client’s budget than your personal rate: they will hardly pay more than they can afford, even if you do a neat job.

In the journalistic strata, I have found flat rates to be the most common scenario. The lowest commission I got was U$100 for a 1000-word piece, the highest was €350 for the same number of words. When selling a ready piece, flat rates (sometimes irrespective of word count) are invariably the way to go. Here, I never expect to be paid more than U$100 for a long-form essay, and have found many publications whose budget sits around U$50. I prepare myself for all circumstances. Haggling is not unheard of.

Over time and headbutts, I began to brick up a multidimensional framework that would, hopefully, optimise the chances of writing for my bread and butter without relying on an answer from someone who has an overflowing inbox and only 24 hours in a day. I structured three spreadsheets – List of Essays, List of Publications, and List of Pitches – so as to organise, direct, and keep track of my ideas. With that, everything that is not content writing for clients falls either into “essays” or “pitches”, both cross-referred to “publications” in order to determine who to nudge about the topic/story at hand. Regardless of what I’m going for – selling a finished piece or asking a commission to produce one – I do a thorough online search for the editor’s contact details of the given publication, craft a straightforward, honest email, send it, and move on to the next idea.

Where the “ambivalence” lies

Although I have spent the last decade bouncing around the globe, I don’t recall ever being impelled by wanderlust. It has always been about the mundaneness of it; the fact that I could catch a plane across the world and still see that people smile and cry and hate and love and that the sea breeze sticks to my skin and that ridiculous, enraging, inexplicable, and beautiful things happen everywhere. The place-hopping and sight-seeing never felt like travel per se: it wasn’t a momentary experience with an entrance and an exit but a long road upon which to keep on treading.

If anything, this process of moving from one place to another has been a metaphysical journey. It’s an empirical reflex to my all my scepticisms. It’s a dive into my personal contradictions. I only trust in what punctures my viscera, so it made sense to aim (even if utterly unconsciously at times) for a modus vivendi that would stab me as frequently as possible – and that is where movement/travelling comes in.

Likewise, I never dreamt or even considered the idea of writing for a living. They both (writing and travelling) were and are elements, steps, responses, to what life threw at me at a given time. They were and, to some extent still are, an inevitable piece of my existential puzzle. I believe it’s the constructive trait of these “practices” what represents so much to me and what led me to allow them to be such a ubiquitous part of my life.

My lifestyle is filled with starts and restarts. From a practical perspective, this means looking for new places to live on a regular basis and restructuring my routine and mindset to befit my new home. It means putting down rent deposits, purchasing SIM cards, figuring out time differences. It also requires me to keep track and abide by immigration policies, exchange rates, and steer away from long-term thinking. None of it works if I have too big a backpack.

Internally, I’m in a constant rush. Events and emotions are processed during layovers or bus journeys; I land on the get-go. I often struggle to crack the surface of relationships. I yearn for deeper bonds. I lose my bearings. I wonder when, where, and whether to stop. But despite frustrations and hardship – which I know to be found in any lifestyle, whether you choose it or not – I enjoy the way this framework reminds me of how supple I can be, teaching me to live with what I need, not what I think I need.

And then there’s tomorrow

As I write this, I undergo a process of transition which is both personal and professional – or rather the first mirroring onto the latter. It seems that the fundamental elements I've long cherished about writing are once again springing to the surface, forcing me to reassess what the fuck I'm doing. I feel in my guts that I have reached a fork in the road. As a person, it means that I'm growing, cycling. As someone who writes for a living, it seems like I need to reinvent my words. Both processes go hand in hand: I see more clearly how I want to spend my days and thus am provoking a shift in the way I work.

I have identified a curiosity for interview/profile pieces which I’m keen to dive deeper into. Subject-matter-wise, I’m keen to stray from what I’ve written so far, explore new grounds, trying to write more about what I don’t know than what I know. Ideally, I’d like to find at least one more publication to collaborate with long-term, so as to have a bit more control over my finances and thus be able to construct a more directed body of work whilst developing a stronger tie with a collective initiative.

Also, for a while now, I’ve been keen to expand the scope of my writing and have been toying with the idea of merging the written word with other mediums. Together with an Aussie friend of mine, we’ve been taking the first steps on a feature documentary/narrative film. Last October, I spent a month at an art residency in Finland and now have got a bunch of essays to finalise and organise into something a bit more polished – a book, perhaps?

The act of writing as well as travelling continue to be fundamental elements of my carving an existence in time and space, the only difference is that I am (or at least feel) more aware. I’m more aware of my approach to both, their repercussions in my being and my relationships with people and places. I manipulate them with more dexterity, even though I haven’t a clue what shape I’m moulding.

All this, consequently, brings me closer to realising what makes me tick, which in turn optimizes the chances of living up to my near-full potential, and that is what I believe every human strives for, instinctively. Momentary frustrations, anxieties, doubts, struggles, non-Moleskine notebooks, lamentable lines of credit, and catapult-less editors aside, if both writing and travelling keep shaking me up as they have, I know I’ll have spent my time well.

jaislamer desert camel camping opium tea hash

On the edge of the Thar desert, sippin on opium tea

On the edge of the Thar desert

sippin on opium tea  


It’s mid afternoon when I arrive in the Golden City, Jaisalmer. The dry, sandy breeze intensifies my hangover. I jump in a rickshaw and head to my Hostel. The fort acts like a huge roundabout, so big that it blocks the afternoon sun on the drive over. When I arrive at the hostel, the owner is sitting out front, smoking a cigarette in his cream dhoti. His name is Raul, he’s a nice guy, probably in his mid 30’s. We chat for a little bit before he offers to take me up to a lookout to watch the sunset over the fort. We jump in his rickshaw and head over the lookout. We arrive and walk up the stairs, I sit down and marvel at the sun setting over a 860 year old castle. Creams turn to yellows and then into orange and then into gold. It’s beautiful. 

jaislamer desert camel camping opium tea hash fort


We head back to the hostel and bypass the infamous bhang lassi shop that Anthony Bourdain visited. I order a super sexy strong Mango lassi. The rest of the night is spent on the rooftop in a stoned blur, looking at the stairs, smoking biddies and playing an Indian board game - a mix between checkers and billiards. 

I wake early the following morning in the comfort of a king sized bed in my private room, all for the price of $3 a night. I drink chai with Raul and I ask him where I can find someone to take me into the desert to camp for a few nights. He tells me he has a cousin that runs a camel tour. This is always the case. It’s the motto in India, Everything is possible.  And everyone knows someone who can get what you want. And it’s generally a brother or a cousin, whether they are actually related is another question. I spend the rest of the day exploring the sandstone alleyways and then buy some hash from the cook at the hostel. A beautiful cube of resin, perfect for a desert trip. 

The following morning I wake early, again. It’s hard to sleep in the heat. I pack a small backpack with some things for the next 3 days in the desert and leave my rucksack at the hostel. Raul's so-called cousin is picking me up just around the corner. I walk over, admiring the stalls along the way. It feels like im in the setting from the book, The Little Prince. I’m greeted by a driver, a thin man with a dazzling moustache, wide brim hat and a long sleeve cotton shirt, he looks like a worn-out Indiana Jones. There are 4 other people coming on the Camel desert trip, a strange asian couple that are decked out the in latest Yeezys, a German girl and an Israeli. We pile into the back of an old jeep and head into the desert. 


jaislamer desert camel camping opium tea hash

We stop along the way to meet some of the children from a local gypsy village.  As soon as we stop, the kids run out of their huts, yelling and cheering with their hands waving high. They run up to the car and hold their hands out, begging for sweets. The driver pulls out a bag of lollies and starts throwing them out the window. We watch on as the kids scurry round, picking up the lollies from the ground and begging for more. We drive off and leave them in a dust cloud soon after. It’s disheartening. I knew that that was something that tourists have created. A chance to ‘meet real Indian gypsy children and visit their village’. We carry on, driving deeper into the desert. 

jaislamer desert camel camping opium tea hash

jaislamer desert camel camping opium tea hash

We arrive at a small village, comprised of 5 huts or so, surrounded by a knee high rock wall. A man squats in between a heard of camels. A father, named Arjun, and his two sons greet us. I light a cigarette and offer Arjun one, his eyes light up, he takes two. Not long after arriving and we are off again, this time, by camel. 

We ride for a few hours, along single tracks and over dunes. Wild horses and goats run beside us. It’s quiet. The only sound I can hear are the dings from the camels bell and the sound of sand blowing through dry shrubs. We stop behind a large dune to set up camp. The sun begins to set. I help the two boys collect wood and we start a fire to make chai. By this point in my trip I have become seriously dependant on the sweet, sweet nectar of chai. It’s crack. It still blows me away how amazing it is.

jaislamer desert camel camping opium tea hash

jaislamer desert camel camping opium tea hash

jaislamer desert camel camping opium tea hash

I roll a spliff with the hash from the hostel and walk up to the top of the dune. The heat haze blocks the intense light of the sun, creating a perfect silhouetted circle above the horizon. I light the spliff and pass it round. The asian couple are on another dune, the girl is throwing sand in the air and the guy is running around with a camera, trying to get the perfect shot. The rest of us sit in silence. Just being present, enjoying the moment. A boy from a nearby village rides his camel up beside us and sits down to enjoy the sunset with us. It’s so cliche. Like, is this really happening? I’m almost convinced it's a setup. I guess I’ll never know. We all just sit there, enjoying the sunset. 

jaislamer desert camel camping opium tea hash

jaislamer desert camel camping opium tea hash

I walk back down the dune and help Arjun set up the swags and prepare for dinner. An ominous cloud lurks above the horizon.  I ask him how often it rains in the desert, he says it only rains once or twice a year. I look back at the cloud, thunder belows and a gust of wind blows sand in my face. Maybe this is that time of year. 

The dark cloud becomes a black cloud. The wind continues to increase, blowing sand everywhere. Our fire blows out, our bags are quickly submerging into the dunes. I feel a droplet. I fuking droplet of rain. I create a makeship balaclava using my jacket. It’s storming in the Thar desert. I turn to Arjun and the boys, they’re running around trying to make sure we don’t lose all of our shit and still have food for dinner that isn't completely covered in sand. I couldn’t help but enjoy the moment. Maybe it was the hashish, but it was beautiful. A freak storm in the Thar desert. What are the fukin chances? I guess, 365 to 1. I was completely defenseless and I embraced it. If it were to rain, we are pretty screwed. No tent, no cover and a 2 hour camle ride back to Arjuns village. 

storm rain in desert jaislamer desert camel camping opium tea hash

storm in desert jaislamer desert camel camping opium tea hash

After an hour or so of panic. The storm calms down, the wind dies off and the clouds roll away. The asian couple peer out of their jacket cocoon and gesture something towards Arjun. He ignores it and continues to rebuild the fire. I chuckle. The boys and Arjun prepare a meal for us as the night slowly appears and the stars come out. A curry with rice and naan. It’s delicious. I eat it with my hands and enjoy every mouthful. We all sit around the fire and marvel at the stars, they are so bright I wonder how I will be able to sleep without covering my face. One of the boys plays the drums using the rice pot. The yeezy couple next to me inspects every mouthful with their iphone torch. We chat briefly around the campfire, the boys speak engligh pretty well, much better than Arjun. We scrub our plates clean with the sand and put on a pot of chai.

Arjun holds my shoulder with one hand and holds out a small bag with the other, “opium tea?” he asks. I nod and grin, without looking too desperate. I’ve always wanted to try opium tea. I knew it was popular in Jaisalmer. We are less than 100km from Pakistan, which is flooded with opium. So it’s no surprise that it’s readily available. I ask him how strong it is and spin my head around in some type of communication charades. "Strong wine," he says. The boys divide the chai between everyone, including Arjun and I. Arjun uses a stick to scoop out some opium from his bag and then mixes it into his chai, he then does the same with mine. I’m a little hesitant as to what the feeling will be. Some friends of mine had opium tea a few nights prior and they said it was quite mellow. I take it slow, taking small sips. The rest of the group head to bed. Arjun and I sit around the fire in silence. Shifting our gaze from the crackles of the fire to the glowing sky above. It’s beautiful. The opium cuddles me and I melt slowly into the dunes. 

I eventually find my way into my indian swag - a thick yoga mat and a blanket. The sand is still warm from the sun. The air is cool. I don't think I have ever been this comfortable before.  It’s not long before I find a couple of desert beetles crawling their way under my leg and into the warm blanket in an attempt to cuddle with me. I spend the next 15 minutes trying to locate the beetles in my bed, throwing them as hard as I can over the dune as soon as I grab one. I can hear the Asain couple still awake, shining their Iphone torch around in their bed. Their probably looking for desert beetles too. 

I don’t remember falling asleep. But I remember waking up. Arjun taps me on the shoulder and gestures with two fingers towards his mouth. “Cigarette?” he asks. I can’t believe this prick. Waking me up to steal some darts, the audacity. But I was in too good of a mood to care. I point towards my bag and tell him to get them himself. He grabs the pack and heads over to the fire where he is cooking a pot of chai. I roll out of bed and walk to take a piss. It’s so calm. So quiet. I’ve never been in the desert before, except for Stockton beach when I nearly died of dehydration with a mate of mine, but that doesn’t really count. This is my first, ‘real’ desert. 

jaislamer desert camel camping opium tea hash

I finish my business and walk back towards my swag. A dog is sniffing around the campsite. I ask one of the boys whose dog it is, he tells me it’s a desert dog… A fuking desert dog? What kind of an answer is that. That’s not really answering the ownership of the dog. If I found a rabbit in a shop and someone asked, ‘Whose rabbit is that?’, I couldn’t just say “shop Rabbit”. Or maybe I could. Maybe some animals don’t have owners and they are just ‘animals of the environment’. Whatever. The dog is nice and it chills with us around the campsite. We drink our chai and packed up the camels again for the ride back to the village. 

jaislamer desert camel camping opium tea hash

The ride is nice. The temperature is warm - the day hasn’t progressed enough to become hot. We arrive back at Arjun’s village. The jeep is waiting for us on the road. I shake Arjun and the two boys’ hands before searching through my backpack to look for some parting gifts. I give Arjun my remaining cigarettes, my torch to one of the boys and a pack of playing cards to the other. They seemed to be pretty chiffed. We pile back into the car and drive off through the desert. 

I ask the driver if he saw the storm last night. He looks at me with his eyes stretched wide open, gesturing with his hands above his head to indicate that his ‘mind was blown’. I laugh. He laughs. The weird Asian couple in the back look tired and fragile, I don’t think they enjoyed the trip that much. We drive through the desert with the windows down, listenting to strange indian gypsy music.  We make it back to the golden city by dawn. 


Fast Fashion No More

By Tyla Els

It’s no lie that many of us are addicted to buying new clothes, even more so if it’s cheap and easy. But too many people are failing to recognise the importance of buying and supporting sustainable and ethically-made clothing from brands that are doing their best to help our environment. 

With a constantly increasing customer demand and more people looking further into the process behind the clothes they wear, many Australian brands, both giants and smaller independent companies are following the trend of sustainability in manufacturing, packaging and creative processes. 

Recent statistics show that on average, each Australian buys more than 27 kilograms of textiles annually with approximately 23 kilos of this landing up in the landfill, some taking up to 50 years to break down due to synthetic fibres and petroleum that is in most ‘fast fashion’ ( This has huge environmental consequences, including increasing amounts of greenhouse gasses, energy, and water.  




The Social Outfit


We spoke to Camilla Schippa CEO of sustainable Sydney brand, The Social Outfit’, about what she calls her “social enterprise celebrating multiculturalism and creativity and a fashion label with a difference”. 

What was the inspiration for creating a sustainable & ethical brand?

For us, ethical fashion is a vehicle for social change. Our key aim was and continues to be, to support people from new migrant and refugees communities, especially women, by providing them with training and employment. We knew that refugees often come with incredible sewing skills, along with creativity and motivation. As such, we set out to build on their existing skills so not everything has to be new for them. We expose them to Australian workplace standards and practices, ensure they improve on their English skills and build their confidence thereby increasing their future employability. 

How is your brand sustainable? 

At The Social Outfit, we work hard to contribute to sustainability in as many ways as we can. 

Because we manufacture on-site, we can let customer response guide our production, meaning less wasted materials, and very small amounts of excess stock. Our clothes are of high quality, made to be loved and worn for a long time.

We are lucky to have partnered with Australian fashion greats like Romance Was Born, Carla Zampatti, Bianca Spender, Linda Jackson, Easton Pearson, and many more. Our industry supporters donate end of roll fabrics and leftover trims, which we then incorporate into our garment production and sewing school. This enables us to make really special, limited edition pieces while helping the environment. So far, we have been able to save over 4.5 tonnes of textile waste from landfill!

Another large part of our work is creating exclusive print collaborations with the refugee and new migrant community. This involves printing onto new materials, so we work with Ethical Clothing Australia accredited suppliers to do so. Next State Print provides our organic cotton and Think Positive Prints provides our silk crepe de chine (printed just a few suburbs away from us in Sydney!) Of course, our own work is accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia, too.

We prioritise recyclable and compostable packaging both in store and for our online sales. 

Last but not least, our own store features a floor made of marble and exotic stones off-cuts. They were left over from residential jobs in the industry, which would otherwise have been destined for landfill. And our display pods and sales counter are made out of converted cardboard fabric rolls. 

Are there any concerns or challenges with a sustainable brand?

The demand is growing but the challenge is pricing. Consumers need to learn that by spending more for an item of sustainable clothing they are ultimately saving because we all pay a high price for the low cost of fast fashion. The food industry is slowly leading the way, fashion is next in line.

Organic Crew


Mel Lechte, founder of sustainable brand, Organic Crew, spoke to us about the importance of educating others about ethical clothing and the consequences that fast fashion come with. 

Mel and Organic Crew co-founder, Bannie Williams
Mel and Organic Crew co-founder, Bannie Williams. Photo: Estliving


What was the inspiration for creating a sustainable & ethical brand?

I directly saw the impact of fast fashion. I visited factories and saw the impact on the people. The impact on the environment is devastating. We cannot continue to consume the way we are and expect the planet to go on .. something has to give. Education is my biggest motivation in starting this brand, to make a small difference in creating change. 

Is your brand sustainable / environmentally friendly? 

Most of it.. we are 95% organic - besides some linen (which is a sustainable fabric) and certified GOTS. We are certified by Ethical Clothing Australia. I can trace the clothing from seed to store.. I have visited the farms in India that grow our cotton, I see the people who sew our garments and we value transparency. Many people don’t realise that organic cotton only uses rain water.. not irrigation. It is very environmentally friendly, chemically free and natural. Zero plastic!

Just how important do you believe it is that the fashion industry thinks about sustainability?

Critical - we cannot continue to dump into landfill in third world countries. We need to be mindful consumers not mindless, wasteful polluters! The fashion industry must lead the way by creating more sustainable, natural products as it’s harmful to us and the environment- we are all consuming plastic in water, in our food and in our clothing!! 


As we hopefully begin to bid farewell to fast fashion it is important to know the difference that can be made by shopping sustainably. Not only is the environment being saved from toxic waste and pesticides. Your carbon footprint will also be reduced,  your clothes will be unique and of only the best quality fabrics. 

The Power of Film

Words and Photos by Alex Lostak

In 2013, Ben Stiller released his second film as a director, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. What to many was a feel-good movie for the 2013 holidays, for me, ended up being a demonstration of the catalyst film can be for action, and changed my life forever. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a story about Walter Mitty, a film asset manager at Life Magazine, who spends his days daydreaming fantastical scenarios around him, as he muddles through mundane everyday tasks, but the daydreaming began to fade as Walter is sent off on an unexpected adventure, that brings the excitement right in front of him.


As Walter is sent off on an adventure around the globe, chasing down a missing photograph from a roll of film sent into Life by renowned photographer Sean O’Connell, the daydreams stop as Walter begins to experience adventures of his own. He fights off a shark, gets caught in a volcanic eruption, and pays off warlords on his hike through the Himalayas. At its core, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a story about growth, about taking what life puts in front of you and creating your own adventure. Walter spends his life up until this point creating adventure in his head, but when the time comes, he seizes the opportunity and lives out his adventure in the real world.


Watching this film as a teenager lit a fire inside of me. It was something I could relate to more than any film I had seen before. Walter constantly imagining being in another world, doing incredible things and living a lot of his life in his imagination, is something that I did a lot of my adolescent life. I spent a lot of my childhood imagining being in other worlds, in every way from writing to daydreaming. I longed for adventure, to set off on an epic like Frodo or hunt down long lost civilizations like Nathan Drake.

When the opportunity presents itself Walter doesn’t hesitate to venture out for himself, and take on this big adventure, and that struck a cord with me, it lit a fire to go on my own adventure. Sure I wouldn’t be tracking down a world renowned photographer, chasing one image across the globe, but I wanted that adventure. I wanted to stop dreaming about the crazy places and scenarios I would be in, but to go and live them myself.

In addition to the story, the setting of the film was almost as inspiring to me as Ben Stiller’s character. The mountains along the ocean, the waterfalls, the open fields, the volcanoes, it all seemed so surreal. It was astounding to me that these settings were on our planet, but what truly shocked me was they were all in one country: Iceland. I knew that I had to get to Iceland. I knew this was the adventure I had to take. The problem was that getting from Houston, Texas to Reykjavik, Iceland for an incredible adventure wasn’t the easiest thing to pull off as a high schooler. Thus, my dream of venturing to Iceland had to wait to be fulfilled, but all that did was continue to fuel the fire.

In the spring of 2018, five years later, I graduated from college with a little over a month until I started my first job. In that short gap appeared the opportunity to make that adventure a reality. Two and a half weeks split between Northern and Southern Iceland with my girlfriend and longtime friends: that would be my adventure.

For two and a half weeks we drove around exploring the multitude of awe-inspiring locations Iceland has to offer. Every day our schedule was pretty much the same. We would wake up early, draw back the blackout curtains that blocked out the ever-present Icelandic summer sun, then set off in our car to explore until midnight, coming back to crash from exhaustion and do it all over again.

There’s an untouched, natural beauty to Iceland that is getting harder and harder to find in our modern world. A single highway that will take you around the whole country, called the Ring Road, acts as a Sherpa to see everything from iceberg filled glacier lakes to enormous waterfalls. It’s a destination for photographers for a reason, traveling throughout the country you’d find it difficult to take a photo that couldn’t be described as epic.

But it’s not the beauty alone that gets you, it’s the uniqueness of the landscape. Iceland is an island who has been bent to the will of volcanoes, volcanic rock covers vast landscapes that makes it difficult for any sort of farming to occur. Valleys are filled with structures of cooled magma. The heat from the volcanoes powers much of the island and bleeds through the surface through geysers and steam. It’s obvious driving around why everything from Game of Thrones to Oblivion has been filmed here because it truly feels like you’re exploring another planet, a land of fire and ice. One year later, in the full swing of post grad life, that journey feels like it was long ago. But the fire that Walter Mitty lit inside of me six years ago, still burns brighter than ever. The ending of each adventure transitions into the planning of the next. Filmmaking and storytelling are incredible gifts, they transport us to different worlds, get us attached to incredible characters, but perhaps their most powerful ability, is the ability to inspire action in the real world. If I hadn’t seen Walter Mitty six years ago, I may have never taken my adventure. That journey will remain a testament to the power of film to catalyze action and bring moments on the big screen into reality.

Bud Heyser - 13 Knives - Knife maker - Photo by Laurence James

Bud The Knife Maker

I walk down an alleyway and into a fluorescent lit workshop. Behind an assortment of half-built motorcycles and benches is a man in an apron and gloves, pulling a piece of metal from a furnace with a pair of dramatic tongs. He looks like he’s in his element.

He sees me from the corner of his eye, removes his goggles and turns the furnace gas off. Reaching out to shake my hand with his scarred knuckles and a welcoming grin beneath his beard.

I ask him if I was interrupting his flow.

“No, not at all. I was just making a spork for my buddy upstairs.”

I admire a man who orders a custom feeding utensil usually reserved for toddlers.

His name is Bud. He’s a modest man. An adventurer at heart with a love for winding down roads on his motorcycle. He even went to architecture school but I certainly can’t imagine him in a collared shirt slouching over a desk. Now he forges custom knives with intricate handles made from wood and bone.

Bud spent his whole life in Kentucky before packing up and moving to Melbourne a fews years ago. He worked as a furniture maker when he first arrived but it didn’t last long.

“I couldn't handle the clients… it's so wanky haha. That's why I got away from it. I just wanted ideal clients - people who I could relate with. I was already making some knives on the side and everyone I made a knife for was cool. I met some of my best friends by making knives for them.”

Now he forges out of a workshop on Easey street in Collingwood - sandwiched between a bar (Paradise Alley) and a screen printing shop ( While You Sleep ), surrounded by vintage choppers (BITZER). A photo of his manager is mounted on the wall to make sure he stays in line and doesn’t duck next door for a cheeky midday pint.

All kinds of people walk through the door. Some are knife collectors, others are tradies or hunters. He even made a bunch of throwing knives for a guy in the circus.

Heating and hammering metal has always been in his blood.

“My Grandpa ran a forge and foundry called International Harvester and my dad was a machinist; he made some knives as well. I played around when I was younger but didn't really make any knives.”

“Grandpa would always give me a knife on my birthday. Actually, even if it wasn't my birthday. Whenever I went over to his place he’d be like, “do you want this” and hand me a knife… or a BB gun haha.”

Yet, Bud didn’t learn much from anyone else. No fancy knife making school and limiting his internet use as much as possible. Just some helpful pointers from his old man and an old book.

“My dad taught me a bit but I bought a book from 1906 called The Farm Blacksmiths Handbook. That’s it. I try stay away from the internet. People that know how to make good knives generally don't know how to make good youtube videos haha. So you see a lot of bullshit online. I like it this way. It keeps my head down, playing with what works and realising what doesn’t.”

Knife making wasn’t something he planned for as his career - it just fell into place.

“I just wanted it to be a hobby that paid for itself. I rented a space so I had to be doing something in it. So I built the forge and started making knives - I can’t believe it didn’t blow up haha. I still get scared sometimes when I start it.”

But his current workshop in Collingwood wasn’t his first. He got kicked out of his last workspace.

“I went to this knife symposium up in Tharwa Valley. I spent 3 days riding a motorcycle there, 3 days forging with some of the leading experts in knife making and then spent 5 days riding back. I had no cell phone service and no clue where I was going.

"Once I finally got service I checked my emails and one was from the owners of the studio saying that I had to move out because I was being too loud. It sucked haha. I came from such a high from the past week with so many great ideas. And now I had to find a new place to work.“

I guess it was a blessing in disguise. Otherwise, he might never have found Paradise Alley.

We looked through a bunch of his creations; knives the size or my arm, counterfeit coins, cutlery and vertebrae shaped knuckle dusters. With knowledge of metallurgy, alchemy, chemistry, woodwork, fabrication and everything in between, he can create almost anything he thinks of.

“I get obsessive over things and then never do it again. Recently I had this weird fascination with making counterfeit money.”

“I’ve been second guessing calling it 13 knives. Cause I'm also making silverware and jewelry. So I might have limited myself. Now I'm calling it ‘13k, Quality Goods’. So that's the transition. I just want to keep it open ended, making knives and whatever else I'm interested in.”

He hands me a couple of the knives from the cabinet and starts rattling off the different types of bone in the handles.

I was a little skeptical. Is this crazy knife-wielding bloke getting black market animal parts from African poachers?

He doesn’t. Relax.

“I get water buffalo horn, zebra bone, warthog tusk. There's an organisation in Africa that go around and pick up the bones from reservations when an animal dies. There not poachers. The money goes back to the reservation for conservation. Bone lasts for ages when it's treated properly. These knives will last a few hundred years, I hope.

“The handles are a lot of fun to make. But so is the blade... Actually, it's all fun haha.”

These knives aren't mass produced. It takes a lot of time and effort to make a single knife.

“A knife takes around 40 to 50 hours to make. I start with a block of steel, heat it, beat it into shape, harden it, treat it, temper it, and then start doing handle work. The handle work takes forever.”

“I go from one day, brutally bashing out steel to make the blade and then the next day making hidden pins for the handles. There are so many different skills involved in making a single knife. A lot of engineering is involved just to get it all to meet up and feel nice. “

I noticed that he still had 10 fingers.

Which is impressive with all of this hammering, grinding, melting, and fireballs around. I asked Bud if he’s had any accidents.

“Yeah, I ran my finger through the grinder last year. That was pretty bad. I went to the doctor and asked him if it was that bad. He was like ‘yeah, go to the hospital’. They wrapped it in gause really big and told me to take a month off work. I went back to the workshop that afternoon. It was hard though because every time I was grinding, it would shoot sparks straight onto the gause and set it on fire.


He then made a passing comment about getting metal fingertips to prevent it from happening again.

“Not like removing my real nails. Just like attachments. You could do anything with them. My nails are always getting hit on the grinder. That and an exoskeleton and I’d be set haha.  I’d be unstoppable, taking over the world making knives.”

I ask Bud what his next line of metal creations will be.

“I really want to make a steam engine haha. That’s my next thing.”

I could get around that. Petrol is way too expensive anyway, I’d much rather buy a bag of coal and a jug of water. Maybe we should start a new series called ‘What’s Bud Making this week’. I think it has legs.

Check out some of Bud's creations: @thirteen_knives /

Also, how epic are those photos? I know right. Insane. Make sure you check out their other work: Laurence James -@laurencejamesphotography and Alberto Zimmermann -@betozimmermann


Check out this interview with Bud by Jack Sprenger:


Lapping Contrast and Colours

When we think of snowboarding (or skiing) in Japan we think of gliding effortlessly through beautiful, soft, waist deep snow that curls over your head at every turn, leaving you visionless for a second or two. We think of sharing the memories from that all-time day over just one (ha-ha) beer with your good, new or foreign friends atop or below the mountains. Taking it all in as euphoria engulfs our bodies.

I experienced this for four of the days in the first week of my one-month trip in Japan over February, in Myoko Kogen. I only pulled my camera out for two of those days because  I just wanted to ride, enjoy the snow and not hold the crew up every time I wanted to shoot. Unfortunately, these days were the only ones that I scored powder in Japan but I can surely guarantee that it was worth it. Riding the day after a 75cm dump was so much fun, also dangerous, but lapping the same chair on untouched powder is something I will remember forever.

From Myoko I made my way to Hakuba for three weeks to meet up with some other friends. Rain, sun and ice (no snow for the whole time) kept me off the mountain a little bit more than I hoped… but hey, you get that on snow holidays. I never got to experience Hakuba to its full potential but the small town vibe of Myoko definitely appealed to me more.

Anyway, I let my photography drive the trips that I embark on which has primarily led me to the mountains wherever they may be. I like the beauty of cloud formations around peaks and feeling so vulnerable to mother natures giants. But most of all I enjoy capturing the light as it hits different peaks and ridges - creating dramatic settings of contrast and colours.

Here is a series of my favourite images from my time spent in the Japanese Alps - inclusive of three street shots in Tokyo.


Check out more of Tom's work on his Instagram - @tomhy_