Kara Nothnagel
Simple Authentic Living


Simple. Authentic. Grace.


fearless explorer - designer - artisan soul


Anne and I first met 2011 when she returned to Jeffreys Bay, South Africa and I was a student in VGY. Although we met then our worlds were quite different. It wasn't until one memorable and tearful evening that we decided we were going to be friends. What we didn't know was that we wouldn't just be friends, but sisters, creative collaborators and pretty much each others biggest fans.

I have chosen to feature Anne first in this series because quite simply, without her, I wouldn't have started this little blogventure. In fact, she even designed my branding!

So, let me tell you about why Anne is brave. There are many reasons! But one of them is that she chooses to believe in fallen, flawed people and in doing so, she unlocks the gold in them. In all the time I have known her, she has also embraced challenge, chosen to stand up when life has knocked her down and layed down many a personal dream in response to the sovereign call on her life - the latter being why not only has she captured my heart, but commands my respect.

And although it is cheesy, she really does leave a little sparkle wherever she goes.

So ladies and gentlemen, I give you, Anne.


1) What is your definition of bravery? How have you seen this embodied or tested in your life?

"She who is brave is free”

Being brave is not about the absence of fear. It's about facing those fears head on. It’s about going through change with nothing but the process as reward.

I have been thinking and overthinking this interview for a long time because I didn't feel like I was brave. I believed that because I still have some fears in my life that I did not qualify to be called brave. But then I realised, the bravest thing I’ve ever done and will continue to do in my life is to follow the voice of God. Because as with most things in life, what will be the best for you will require the greatest courage.

For me bravery means stepping onto a plane and flying across the world, leaving family, friends and security behind. It is about facing breakdowns and breakups and wrestling with God about the state of my soul. Bravery is about hearing His voice and stepping up to the challenge. And sometimes, as hard as it is, it is about letting go of the comforts of destructive mindsets and emotional habits.

Habakkuk 3:19 The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army

Bravery for me is not about the outcome or the reward but about the process in which God has and is taking me on.

2) Growing up, what woman/women did you aspire to be like?

Women with a kind heart, fierce mind, brave spirit. Growing up I was always attracted to the women who got out there to change the world, the greats, like Mother Teresa and Mary Angelou. My major graduation project for school was a research paper on “Women in Politics”.

I guess i’ve always wanted to be a woman that can change the world, or at at least my little part of the world.

3) What or who has been a source of courage and inspiration to you?

I draw inspiration from my family. My mother is one of my heros, she’s is one of the most kind and funny people but I also know what she has gone through in her life. She also left her country to start a new life in a new place with a young family. My grandmother was one of the first female students studying marine biology in China, I cannot imagine the amount of courage she needed to face staunch cultural traditions.

4) What has been the most significant shift that has taken place in your life in the last 18 months?

I think this quote sums up my last 18 months:

Having courage does not mean that we are unafraid. Having courage and showing courage mean we face our fears. We are able to say, "I have fallen but I will get up.” - Mary Angelou

There hasn’t been one thing that has been significant in the last 18 months. There has been 3 events that have caused my life to change. I have changed jobs, faced an intruder in a break-in and a relationship breakup. In changing jobs I had to face my financial vulnerability, in facing the intruder I had to face my physical vulnerability and in facing a break up I faced one of my biggest battles, my emotional vulnerability. The most significant shift was realising that I have to get up, let go once again of my fears and keep going, learning to trust again that God will be my strength, my personal bravery.

5) Tell me a little about your journey as an artist?

I loved art and design from a young age. The best way to shut me up was with a colouring book and pencils. Growing up I always had the cliched dream of becoming that poor starving artist living in Paris… thank goodness I snapped out of that one. There is nothing cool about starving in Paris, especially not with macaroons and croissants begging to be devoured.

Having courage does not mean that we are unafraid.

Having courage and showing courage mean we face our fears.

We are able to say, “I have fallen but I will get up.”
— Mary Angelou

I received my bachelors of Design Degree at COFA, University of NSW in Australia. It was here that I had the privilege to not only paint, draw and travel but I also realised my love of type, layout and communication.

I battled for years with my identity as a artist/designer, I use to feel so anxious everytime I had to present idea or concepts to clients. There was one event that changed all that. In 2009 I was in Zambia on outreach with VGY and was asked to design a couple of pull up banners for the church in Zimba. When we presented the banners to church, the whole congregation broke out in song and dance. I still remember that feeling of joy and humblesness that overwhelmed me. So now whatever I design, I just think of the beautiful little church in Zimba that celebrated the little effort I had contributed to communicating their story.

One of my biggest joys so far is being able to establish a creative community atVictory Church. Along with Erwin, our worship pastor and Kara, we have brought to reality this dream of Creative Collective. It is here that my love for the arts and people have collided. I believe in giving artists a place to belong and a place to be challenged to think beyond the surface.

6) How do your beliefs shape you as an artist?

God is our Creator therefore we are made to create. I love that verse in Ecclesiastics that says “there is is nothing new under the sun” but then in another verse it says “His mercies are new every morning”. I believe that there is nothing new that we can create but through God and being inspired by Him, we will find our ultimate Source for creativity.

“Newness” comes from God.

One thing that I cannot handle is the cheesiness of a lot of Christian art. Painting God is not necessarily about painting a cross or a dove (even though there will be times for that), but about reflecting the beauty in what He has created, flaws and all.

I believe that being an artist that love Jesus should mean that we are at the forefront of innovation and that we need to bring the arts back to it’s original purpose of reflecting the Creator.

7) Who would you nominate to be listed among the beautiful brave?

Kim Groenestyn -- she will think it’s ridiculous that I’ve nominated her, but she is amongst the few people in my life that have impacted me the most.

You can check out more of Anne's photographs Anne's Insta!.

You can keep up with Creative Collective Creative Collective.

Photo credits: Anne Huang

Beautiful Brave Design: Kara Nothnagel