Most of us have done some odd jobs along the way that have led us to where we are now. Sometimes it's the things we learn, contemplate on and the people we meet while we pick fruit, door knock and wash dishes that leads us to where we are now. In this series, we talk to Aotearoa's makers, workers and artists of all kinds about their oddest jobs and how they work, now.
Mark Antonia Ltd is the combination of two creative studios, Antonia de Veres’ Dried Floral Studio and her husband Mark Seeneys’ Furniture and interiors Studio. Antonia and I first met waiting for a ferry to Waiheke on a go-see to a project we were both contributing too. As a pioneer in the dried floral revival Antonia has created a body of work spanning from the delicately restrained, sculptural, fully hand trimmed and assembled Ikebana inspired pieces, to super contemporary coloured pieces.
Antonia, what was your favourite or most memorable odd job?
My most memorable odd job was probably when I was still studying, and the Dalai Lama was in Auckland. I had to make floral arrangements for his bathroom at the venue he was speaking at. He probably didn’t even notice them. Never mind I know that I made something for him!
My favourite odd job was making cat crowns for Taylor Swifts cats when she was performing in Auckland, unfortunately she decided not to take gifts this time but oh I enjoyed it regardless.
What did you want to be when you grew up? How has this changed?
When I was young, I was always creative and lost in crafts of every form. I knew I wanted to do something creative when I was big. I taught myself how to sew and would sell the clothes or repurposed second-hand clothing to a small 'vintage and all of sorts' store when I was in high school. I naturally thought I would do something in fashion so studied that, and a lot of other creative courses.
I worked in a designer fashion store and did a bit of buying for it but I knew in my heart I had to do something creative as a job. So, I quit and chose a floral design course - and whilst I do nothing that I learnt in that course, I did learn a lot and all my creative education melded into what I do today. It all makes sense now!
I add a lucky coin to every Matt Nash Uniform bag and garment as I love the old tale that it brings luck to its bearer. What item brings you luck??
I have many lucky charms, one is my husband, the lion, heart ,ankh, and the rose charms I wear everyday around my neck. I also have an ancient roman coin of Antonia Minor, which I plan on turning into a ring, I love it because it has my name all around the edge and connects with my obsession with anything ancient and especially Egypt. Antonia minor was the daughter of Mark Antony and his first wife Fulvia, before he ran off with Cleopatra.
What's the most delicious thing you've eaten lately?
I could lie here and make up something cool but no I’m not going to do that so….. As a vegetarian and not a chickpea and lentil obsessed vegetarian (no, a Portobello mushroom is absolutely not a substitute for a patty in a burger), and with my truth in mind... it’s a Burger King, chicken rebel burger lol. Its amazing. I eat in in the van with Mark, sooooooo glamourous. We get so excited for our favourite ‘road food.', my best friend even travelled quite far on my birthday to buy me one to have on my birthday, that girl is my star.
I find music really gets me in the zone for working and getting creative. What's your three top songs that you play to get you into work mode?
Normally I listen to books as I work from Audible, a way to learn and work at the same time…. But the three songs I listen to at the moment to help me get in the mode of work are…. 'Let’s Go Crazy' by Prince, 'Best I Ever Dad' by Laurel, and 'That’s How You Feel' by Drake (amongst other songs), my taste is eclectic and tend to pick songs based on my mood, good or bad.
What are you working on right now?
I’ve just finished writing my book about myself and my flowers so I’m working on the marketing of that with my book team. It's perfect timing because we have just moved house and studio, but in the garage studio we have only just got electricity. We need to do a bit of work on creating the perfect MarkAntonia studio, so, we are working on that presently and I have just released my latest ready-made florals on our website. So not much making and more organising right now.
Do you have a personal uniform or a uniform you wear for working?
I love clothes, I have too many apparently (my husband thinks I have a psychological problem but I don’t, I just love clothing). I mostly wear white dresses and have been described as looking like a Victorian child ghost. I wear a lot of denim and a lot of pink. When I am doing something messy like pouring candles I whip on my M.N custom apron, its perfect and my favourite colour PINK!
What excites you about the future?
I’m excited about the unknown, the possibilities that may or may not open up in this new covid world. Covid has definitely made us reassess our business future and rule out what wasn’t working and having the confidence to say no to the things, in the past we would have said yes too, knowing now that certain things just didn’t make business sense. I’m looking forward to making my best work in my new studio and making my studio exactly how I want.
And I’m also looking forward to buying more clothes and winding my beautiful husband up. I look forward to our future adventures, hand in hand.
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