Hello Wonderful! An Interview With Nicole Wong

Have you noticed the new photos up on my website and Instagram lately? The genius visual storyteller who provided the art direction and shot them is Nicole Wong! We were connected by our mutual pal and previous Hello Wonderful interview subject Christina Luo founder of Fox and Flourish. It is such a pleasure to work with Nicole and I think you will enjoy getting to know her more about her in the interview below. Also how about these photos?!

Credit Donnel Barroso

Credit Donnel Barroso

Who are you, what do you do and where in the world are you?: Hi there! My name is Nicole and I'm a visual storyteller in Metro Vancouver. By day, I'm a social media professional and by night, I consider myself a dabbler. I dabble in a handful of things — from photography to art direction to writing. The term "dabbler" is something I gravitated towards after attending a conference in Portland last year, and I feel that it's wholly representative of my desire to try my hand at things I've always wanted to do.

What do you believe in? : Love, kindness, and passion.

When do you feel your most wonderful?: When I'm travelling. When I've just woken up and I'm basking in the feeling of warmth that surrounds my body. When I'm listening to (and belting out) a song I love and I can't help but dance along. When I'm with people whom I trust and love, and I don't feel the need to be "on". These are but a few of the plenitude of moments I've experienced over the course of my life.

What is something wonderful that has happened that would have never have happened if you hadn't made a mistake or a wrong turn somewhere?: I think mistakes and wrong turns can often be seen in a different light, as lessons learned and actions that allow us to grow and better ourselves. These "mistakes" and "wrong turns" help shape our desires and mould us into the person we are meant to be. For me, landing my current job is something wonderful that came out of my foray into being an editor. While this is something I would never consider as a mistake, being an editor was more of an experience that allowed me to discover and truly dial into what I wanted to do career-wise. After discovering where my passions lay, I learned that I was more of a content creator, a visual storyteller, if you will. If I hadn't given editing a chance, I probably wouldn't have had the impetus to look within myself and thoughtfully consider what I wanted to do.

What is the earliest time in your life that you can remember experiencing wonder?: I'm not sure if I can truly recall the very first time I experienced wonder. But one moment that I will always treasure is playing in the freshly fallen snow in the driveway when I was quite young. The feeling of excitement as I jumped into what seemed like a mountain of cold, but soft, powder is something I'll never forget.

Who are three wonderful people you think we need to know about?

Flory Huang — Flory is one of the most genuine people I've had the fortune of meeting within the past year. She's an amazing person and a very talented one at that. I feel very lucky to call her a friend.

Amy Chen — Amy and I are Instagram pals, and what initially drew me to her account was her colourful and fun imagery. In this day and age where the minimalist aesthetic is omnipresent, her love of colour is a breath of fresh air. Another thing I love about Amy is her Snapchat game. She might just be my favourite person to follow on that app.

Satsuki Shibuya — Gentle and thoughtful, Satsuki is a painter and artist whose work I love. She has a fantastic way with words that never fails to calm me.

Credit Donnel Barroso

Credit Donnel Barroso

Thank you so much Nicole! You can view Nicole's website here and follow her journey on Instagram and Twitter too.  

Have a wonderful day!

Hello Wonderful! An Interview With Meaghan Cook

Just look at those delicious cakes up there. Drool! I have never tasted one of Meaghan Cook's cakes before but if they taste even half as good they look I know I would be in heaven! Those colours! Those flowers! Oh my. Meaghan doesn't just make some of the loveliest looking cakes around she is a multitalented creative person and is also a photographer-journalist-teacher-embroider. I'm such a fan of her creative work and also appreciate that her honesty, friendliness and warmth shines through in her online presence. I always enjoy people who add to the kindness in the world both online and off.  Hope you like this fun interview below with the wonderful Meaghan! 

Who are you, what do you do and where in the world are you?

I'm currently sitting in my living room which overlooks my jungle backyard, with some embroidery work on my lap and a cup of tea in my hand. I live not far from the ocean in a small town in Australia. 
I'm a photographer-journalist-teacher-cakemaker-embroider. It's a mouthful, but it's the muddle of a life I've made for myself. Each hyphen is as important as the next.

What do you believe in?

I believe in compassion. The hardest times in my life have always been made easier when I've been compassionate. It's not always easy, especially if you are hurting, but compassion paves the way to something better.

When do you feel your most wonderful?

Usually in the 2.3 seconds between sleep and waking up fully.

What is something wonderful that has happened that would have never have happened if you hadn't made a mistake or a wrong turn somewhere?

I've been mulling over this question because I find it really hard to pinpoint moments in life in this way. It's more all rolling and swirling and moving along for me, I'm perhaps not wise enough to draw the dots between moments. 
What I would say though, is that I've done things which seemed like a terrible idea at the time (dropped out of university, quit my newspaper job, cut my fringe) which turned out completely wonderful (I was able to revive after my uni burn out, I dumped journalism and took up photography, I rocked that new hair cut like no one's business).

What is the earliest time in your life that you can remember experiencing wonder?

Childhood pretty mush is 214/7 wonder, right? I wonder when dinner will be ready. I wonder if Scott Morrison likes me. I wonder when I'll grow boobs.

Who are three wonderful people you think we need to know about?

These are people who do wonderful things and enrich my life. No, I've never met them, I just love them from afar. 

Claudia Wu and Kerry Diamond who started Cherry Bombe magazine. Their podcast about women in food is my favourite thing to listen too while I'm working on whatever it is I'm working on. 

Katherine Ryan the Canadian stand up comedian living in the U.K. Killing the stand up scene and blazing a hilarious trail for female comics. 

Miranda July. Because, well, she's Miranda July.

Thank you so much Meaghan! You can visit Meaghan's website here and also find her on Instagram.

Have a wonderful day!

Hello Wonderful! An interview with the wonderful McKenzie Elizabeth Ditter!

Hello Wonderful! 

Today is McKenzie Elizabeth Ditter Day on the Hello Wonderful blog! Yayyy! McKenzie has disco balls in her kitchen and I think that already qualifies her as a wonderful person; perfect for this interview series. Of course McKenzie is so much more than just a disco ball owner and even though we haven't met in real life she's a bit of a hero to me. 

Before you get to know McKenzie below I'd like to share about Gallery 788 Presents: SILENT AUCTION TO BENEFIT BALTIMORE'S YOUTH a community event she is helping to organize in the city she lives in. 

In light of the protests around the city this April, Baltimore artists are donating 100% of the proceeds from the sales of their work to support Youth Empowered Society (YES), a drop-in center for homeless youth in Baltimore that experienced a fire on Monday night. The director, Lara Law, was quoted in the Baltimore Sun saying:

“I don’t condone the violence and the destruction, the tearing down of what we need in our community, but the young people out on the streets are some of the same young people we’re serving – filled with trauma and violence and a lack of opportunity their whole lives,” Law said. “It’s understandable. We have to fix our way of doing things so they feel included and that there are opportunities for them.”

Please visit the Facebook event page for all the details on the event, including how to contribute.

Baltimore Black Lives Matter

Who are you, what do you do and where in the world are you?

Hello! I'm McKenzie Elizabeth Ditter and I'm an illustrator and lifestyle photographer living in Baltimore City. Instead of attending college, I spent the first half of my twenties as a homesteader and raised sheep and other creatures in the countryside. It was there I developed my style preferences and learned a whole lot about living frugally. I'm 26 now and live on the top floor of a really old row house in the city. It's really different from farm life but I have time and energy to dedicate towards art. I'm currently working on merging my illustration business (primarily drawing storybook portraits for families and new babies) and my photography business (documenting families in their element, relaxed weddings, and unposed newborn-hood). 

What do you believe in?

Gosh, this is a broad question! I guess I believe in the corny stuff- being true to yourself, being kind, working really hard but also enjoying small things, staying curious... If I were trying to convince someone why my life was wonderful I'd probably tell them it's because I try not to take things too seriously. I try to stay positive because it's stupid to worry too much and hard on your heart to be anxious. It's hard at times because money (or inconsistency thereof) is scary for obvious reasons. But anytime I've EVER taken a leap and just trusted that it would have to work out I've gotten a commission or well paying photo session right away. My hippie-dippy side says the universe is speaking to me or something. My logical side tells me that people who might have boring jobs or less artistic confidence see someone living the dream and make a decision to be a part of that in whatever way they can. My interactions with clients almost always turn into friendships and for that I'm ridiculously thankful. 

When do you feel your most wonderful?

There are all sorts of definitions of wonderful- when the sun comes in the kitchen at a certain hour and the disco balls glimmer all over the walls and the houseplants are almost singing... or when I've just finished a really joyful family portrait illustration... or when I'm falling in love in Lightroom with a sincerely happy family that I photographed. These things all bring me a different type of joy. Three years ago I would have told you it was sitting in the field with lambs. Life is fluid and feelings evolve. 

McKenzie Elizabeth Ditter drawing on table.jpg

What is something wonderful that has happened that would have never have happened if you hadn't made a mistake or a wrong turn somewhere?

This is very personal and I still don't enjoy sharing but it's important for some women to hear- I was married and I really shouldn't have been. He was alcoholic and abusive and when I wasn't trying to help him "get better" or walking on eggshells, I was busy ignoring an ugly reality behind the lens of a camera in the garden. I don't consider this experience a mistake, it's just a hard thing that happened. Life was so beautiful in some ways and terrifying in others. When I decided to leave, I mourned the loss of my "identity" and was scared of the other side. I never lost my identity though, I found it after a long time of trying to get to its core. I moved to Baltimore which is a really great city,  increased the amount of art I made, met my amazing partner Matt, learned from him how to screenprint and play the kalimba, started working on my first picture book... the list is endless!

What is the earliest time in your life that you can remember experiencing wonder? 

When I was maybe four or five my grandma and I were driving and came upon a field of poppies. I remember walking through it with her under the warm summer sunlight, bees buzzing and flowers swaying so tall! I still think about that all the time and should probably ask her if it actually happened. It's such a perfect memory that I almost wonder if it's a dream. 

Matt built this water kalimba and McKenzie tuned it. You can see and hear it in action  here .

Matt built this water kalimba and McKenzie tuned it. You can see and hear it in action here.

Who are three wonderful people you think we need to know about. Why are they wonderful

I'll give you recommendations for three other female artists on instagram who have fewer than 1,000 followers-

@onelaneroad is Becky Dawson who does really great diy screenprinting similar to the way Matt taught me. Most colleges teach that you need fancy equipment to screenprint but it's just not true. Becky is doing an amazing job teaching kids to have the skill set to do it on their own while also making adorable illustrations of pickle jars and chickens!

@miya_tsunenaga lives in Japan and shares the most precious, brightly colored illustrations that never fail to inspire me. She has a great eye for color and pattern and I'm excited to watch her story unfold. 

@namooquilts is Insung Kim who makes beautiful weavings and quilts. Her photos are really soothing and while I can't seem to involve sophisticated neutral color palettes in my life, she certainly does. I love her choice in fabrics. 

Thank you so much McKenzie! You can view McKenzie's website here and also find her on InstagramFacebookPinterest, Etsy and Bandcamp

I appreciate every one of Mckenzie's answers to this interview and that she shone a light onto a difficult situation in her life too. I asked McKenzie if she had found anything especially helpful and she said that House of Ruth based in her area was a shining beacon of light for her. For those in need of help in the Vancouver area WAVAW, BWSS and Ending Violence BC might be able to help you. 

Have a wonderful day!