This article was submitted by Amber Sauni, NUPSA’s Equity Representative and a PhD student in the School of Architecture.


I’m creative. It’s not up for debate; it’s a large part of the way I define myself and how I’m known to others. I’m a professional designer, too, so I’m like, demonstrably and verifiably creative. (I love being able to write that. It’s the best).

Aside from work-related, ‘paid creativity’, I do creative things just for the love of it. I upcycle things that would go to landfill, which is great for the environment, and has the added bonus of creating special and unique gifts. Like the 80s-era pine TV unit which I turned into a double-sided shop and puppet theatre for my kids, and the knock-off Queen Anne-style bedside table that I turned into a tiny dressing table for my little girl.


Before and after: Amber turns an old TV unit into a play shop and puppet theatre.


I like to flex my creative muscles by crafting gifts for ‘grown-up’ friends and family, too. Like subversive cross-stitch artworks that reference the receiver’s favourite pop-culture quotes, to hand-printed wrapping paper made from hand-cut potato stamps that my kids and I made together one festive season. I sew, sketch, knit, crochet, restore furniture, make models, write, cook, etc., etc., etc. It’s like having a beast inside of me that’s just itching to get out and MAKE STUFF.

Sometimes my creative side is especially beastly – like Popeye’s bicep when he’s just chugged a can of spinach. It’s all bursting to get out and do something crazy and his sleeve just can’t handle it anymore and then, BAM! It’s too late, his sleeve is torn, and – oh look – my ‘creative streak’ has just filled my supervisor’s office with a life-sized cardboard castle that I made from a series of reclaimed fridge boxes that I pilfered from the loading bays at Homemaker’s Centre at Kotara… Or, alternatively, 100 black balloons that I got on clearance from Sparties at Spotlight. What can I say? I yam what I yam.


Before and after: a foot-stool and office chair, recovered and re-covered into funky fresh furniture.


It’s not always like that, though. My creativity is unpredictable and sometimes a wee bit sappy. Once, it was a close friend’s birthday, and I was trying to track down the first book written by my friend’s favourite author. Did I mention it was a limited edition self-published book that was never re-released after the author hit the big time? Oh, because it was.

Not to be deterred, I (Internet) searched high and low. And I did find a couple of copies of the book – both in Canada, and both well and truly out of my price range. Oh, but what else did I find in my (Internet-based) travels? Only the author’s direct personal email address! My creative thinking kicked in and I flicked an email to the author outlining what an exemplary human being my friend is (not to mention a truly dedicated fan), and throwing it out there that maybe, if anyone had a spare copy of the author’s first self-published book, it would be the author themselves?

BINGO! We exchanged a few lovely (seriously, the author was a class act) emails and a package arrived in the mail a few weeks later with a brand new, signed copy of the book with a personal inscription to my friend. Best. Author. Ever.


Creativity you can eat! A selection of Amber’s amazing culinary creations.


Anecdotes aside, allowing myself the space to be creative lets me be who I am. When I went through my (truly awful) awkward teen phase (which, incidentally, lasted well into my 20s), being a ‘creative type’ allowed me some freedom to experiment with fashion and ideas and really try to figure out who I was. I can’t say I’ve completely got that figured out just yet, but I can say that thinking outside the box certainly makes for a more enjoyable and entertaining way to muddle my way through life!


Assorted cross-stitch and charcoal sketches. Seriously, she’s amazing.

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