Posts Categorised: Interviews

INSPIRE ME – with TV & Film Composer – Simon Lacey

Simon Lacey is a Composer for TV and Film. Some of his recent credits include The Railway Children, Long Lost Family, LapLand and Above Suspicion. 

He is working on his own very exciting new project called ” A Quarter of a Million Miles ” inspired by Command Module Pilot on Apollo 11, Michael Collins.

Part 1 ” The Thought of Floating in Space ” can be viewed on the new website, so once you’ve had a nice dose of musical inspiration here courtesy of Simon – do pop over and have a watch and listen. Details at the end of this interview …

You compose music for TV and Film  – how did you first get involved in the media world ?

Well, I’d been in various bands, done a bit of songwriting and had scrabbled together a little studio with an Akai sampler and a Mac which would both be in a museum now. Around that time I met the founders of RDF television, which was just starting up at that point and they asked me if I wanted to write the score for their first documentary commission. I did the job for the price of a bag of chips, but I instantly loved writing to picture, the documentary seemed to go well and I became a bit of an in – house composer for them for a while. That gave me a lot of very useful experience and after a few years I managed to get my first drama job.

Originally, you were a front man in a band – how does it compare to with writing for others ?

I think front man is putting it kindly. I was so not suited to that job, much happier hiding behind banks of keyboards and writing stuff.  Writing for others’ projects requires a certain lack of ego, whereas I’d suggest being a good front person is all about ego, confidence and projection. When you write the score for a drama, it is not your baby, you are one of many elements in the production and sometimes your view of what is good will differ from the director’s.  In the end of course they make the decisions and sometimes a favourite piece can end up on the cutting room floor or you find that a cue you’ve written has been cut around and edited without you knowing.  It’s no good being too precious about all that as no one wants to hear the composer whining at the back of the dubbing theatre and, to be fair, most directors I’ve worked with are very charming and reasonable people ( in case they’re reading this… )

What inspired your latest work – A Quarter of a Million Miles ?

I’ve always been interested in space and astronomy and I was inspired to write the music having read the book ” Carrying The Fire ” by Michael Collins.  He was the Command Module pilot on the Apollo 11 mission who orbited the moon while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin went down to the lunar surface. He was said to have known loneliness like no other human before as he went out of radio contact on the far side of the moon, circling on his own. I’ve always thought that music and space were a great combination and the lyricism of his book triggered a lot of music from me.

Who else is involved in this project ?

The violinist Jack Liebeck is playing solos on some of the pieces. He is an amazing player who has recorded a stunning version of Dvorak”s violin concerto and has featured on Dario Marianelli’s scores to Jane Eyre and Anna Karenina. Natasha Marsh has released 2 very successful solo albums and sings the soprano parts. Her voice works so well on the pieces so I was thrilled that she was interested in the project.  There are a couple of other collaborators I have my eye on for the remaining pieces still to be recorded – let’s hope I manage to reel them in.

I should also mention Charlie Phillips (editor of Sherlock) who did a brilliant job editing the films from the NASA footage.

Having listened to the first piece ( which I found really enchanting ) how long did it take you to develop from an idea into the finished piece ?

Thank you. I wrote the piece on piano, as I often do, and as far as I remember it was relatively quick.  A couple of concentrated sessions. To get to the finished piece, I did a demo version, tinkered around with arrangements and orchestrations and then did all the notation for the actual recording session with strings, harp and me on piano.

There is a “Quarter of a Million Miles” album on the way soon – will there also be more film ?

Yes, there are 3 films all finished and ready to go. The next one is a piece called ” Galaxies ” featuring Natasha Marsh singing. The footage this time is quite different – grainy 16mm film from the Apollo missions. I love the quality of it and it’s a must for space nuts – you can play spot the astronaut. It will be on the website soon – as soon as I have an exact date I will announce it on our Twitter and Facebook pages. As far as the album goes, I need to raise the rest of the money to finish the recording so the purpose of the website and films is to introduce people to the music and hope that they like it enough to want to hear more. I’m talking to some very interesting potential partners at the moment, but I may well also try and finance it through crowdfunding, so am really hoping for people’s help in spreading the word and recommending to friends.

Can you offer a little bit of advice for someone wanting to become a professional composer ?

The best thing I can think of is try and find a unique ( or at least unusual ) aspect to your work that will set you apart from the crowd … and make friends with directors.

Thanks so much, Simon. 

To see Part 1 and find out more – the website is Do spread the word too.

You can also follow on twitter @AQOMM or become a facebook fan to hear their latest news.

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INSPIRE ME – with Zoe McConnell

As someone who uses the point and shoot technique when it comes to taking photo’s  – I grabbed the opportunity recently to ask celebrity and fashion photographer, Zoe McConnell some advice… and then I sneaked in some questions about her recent work…. ;)

How did you get into photography?

My venture into photography was an unexpected one – I was a model for quite a few years and had always been intrigued by the other side of the lens. I was on a modelling assignment in Majorca and the client asked me if I would be interested in shooting for them. I jumped at the chance – straight away I was calling up model friends and inviting myself to their houses to do shoots with them, learning as I went, building up my portfolio and developing my style. It felt right. I started out in the mens lifestyle market and had a very clear idea of how I thought the girls should be portrayed – I wanted to bring out their personality as well as making them look sexy. I was lucky as my style seemed to hit a cord and I was very soon published and things moved on from there!

You work with lots of high profile singers, actors and models – Did this come about quite early on in your career or did it take time to get so many good gigs ?

It took a few years to build up to celebrity work – At the beginning I was shooting friends and models, shooting a lot for myself and exploring my style and establishing relationships with clients. It takes time to build up trust and get yourself known. I was fortunate to have a two day shoot with Rihanna recently, which was a real pleasure as her energy and vibe are right up my street.

What kind of qualities are important to have if you want to be a successful photographer ?

Before doing photography professionally myself, I thought it was as simple as pressing a button and being creative – as it turns out that is a very basic part of it !

Patience, energy, the ability to problem solve, people skills – it’s important to be able to lift people’s spirits and keep your team motivated. On a shoot, as well as being photographer, I am a clown – I’m not sure that makes me successful, but it helps the day and it gets the models laughing !

What do you love most about your job ?

Being able to express myself creatively and more often than not, getting paid to do so! I love to make people look good, making them feel good about themselves.

After a good shoot you get a rush of adrenalin and want to do it all again, much like a performer leaving the stage – that feeling is addictive and motivates you on to the next one. Travel. There isn’t much I don’t like really – that in itself is a great and rare thing.

Where do you find most of your inspiration for your work ?

Inspiration comes from all around – clothing and how clothes can be used in a sexy way is a big one for me.

I search the internet and magazines for visual references on a daily basis, it’s important to know what other people are doing and inspire new ideas, but overall the inspiration comes from the people I shoot. For my personal work, I style a lot of my own shoots as I love to tailor the looks to the subject and my idea of how they should be seen for that particular shoot.

Two ends of the spectrum … What’s the most lavish photo shoot you have found yourself on and the… erm, most challenging… ?

My most challenging photo-shoot was an advertising shoot with a famous face. I will avoid naming names, but there wasn’t much about the shoot that wasn’t a stress. We had travelled to an old vintage location in the middle of no-where to do the shoot and even though it provided some cool backdrops it was freezing cold – add to this a very grouchy, unwilling model, we were never going to be in for a good day !

I’m not sure if lavish is the correct term for any of my shoots, I tend to find myself in East end studios that are lit like airports or waiting around for celebrities – but I love it and the outcome is lavish to the viewer and that is what matters ! It’s all smoke and mirrors and very bright lights !

Your photo’s always looks beautifully lit – is this an important factor in your work ?

Thankyou! : ) I’m all about immediacy and high impact, so high powered flash is the way I go – it’s also incredibly flattering in most cases which never gets complaints. I like my lighting to be very bright and punchy, with the odd exception. I like to keep it simple, raw, but polished.

What kind of first camera would you recommend to someone wanting to become a fashion or portrait photographer ?

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it professionally, but the Canon Powershot series are great little cameras and come in at an affordable price – I have a g12 that I use regularly and it’s great in both manual and auto modes. Also, never cut out the possibility of using film – play around with lomography and vintage cameras to work out the look that is right for you and sees out your vision.

I started out with a Canon 1DS Markii – it was a fab camera and really allowed me to work how I wanted to. I still work with Canon (now a 1DS Markiii) and also a Hasselblad which are truly beautiful cameras – perfect for crisp portraits with lots of detail and integrity, but rather pricey – so something to build up to !

Can you offer some advice on how to have a long career in the media industry ?

Work hard, keep learning and moving on in what you do – don’t stand still as no -one will wait for you. Meeting people and self promotion are really important – although the latter is the one thing I really struggle with !

Is this year going to be a busy one for you ? What’s coming up ?  

This year is looking positive so far – I’m looking forward to a couple of trips to Ibiza this month ( one for a fashion campaign and the other a celebrity cover shoot ) – it’s always great to explore new locations, get out of the studio and get some sunshine !

There are few more cover shoots on the horizon and this year I am keen to shoot a great deal more for myself – expanding the portfolio. Things tend to come up last minute, so you never know what could be round the corner…

Thanks so much, Zoe. So nice to learn more about someone with such passion for their work. Her energy is very inspiring.

I recently went for a Canon Powershot too – glad it was a good choice … just got to learn how to use it well now !

If you’d like to see more of Zoe’s photography, she has a website or follow her on Twitter – @ZOEMCCONNELL

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All images copyright of Zoe McConnell.

INSPIRE ME – With Olivia Rubin







When leaving Central St Martins, five years ago, Olivia Rubin was picked for the prestigious Press Show and gained much attention with a “standout collection”.

I remember very clearly the first time I saw Olivia’s famous brick print pieces – this was because I immediately fell in love with them. Her prints are always distinctive with beautiful colours – and she creates “fashionable yet timeless” which I really admire in a Designer.

Five years on she has seven fabulous seasons under her belt, cool collaborations with ASOS, Dorothy Perkins, and a huge amount of fans including Fearne Cotton, Tess Daly and Una Healy.

So, it is a real pleasure to share this ‘Inspire Me’ interview with you…









Your brand won notoriety immediately on leaving Central St Martins  – how did this come about and were you ready for all the attention ?

It was very competitive to get into the press show at CSM so out of hundreds of students I was obviously super chuffed just to make it that far. My final collection was based on art deco lesbians and teddy boys so it had a very significant hand writing. I think this drew in attention particularly to my ‘naked lady’ prints and that’s when I started to grow my name and portfolio.









Is your home full of bold colours and graphic prints?

Definitely not at the moment. My husband and I are in the process of moving but as soon as we get settled into a new home I have big interior design plans. I am envisioning bold colour and possibly some brick print wall paper !

Was it always your vision to become a fashion designer ?

As clichéd as it sounds it always was. I inherited my grandpa’s artistic flair at a very young age and was constantly painting and sketching. I even used to set up a little stall outside my parents house and sold some of my paintings, so I think the combination of creativity and business nous was present in my early teen years.









You use silk in lots of your garments – is it your favourite fabric to work with ?

Silk lends itself to bright colours and prints so it was the obvious fabric of choice to start with. It is also a very luxurious fabric that can be manipulated in a variety of ways so it is definitely one of my favourite fabrics to use and a garment in silk lasts forever !









Your prints are so eye catching. Do you use manual screen printing methods or Photoshop – and why ?

At CSM we were always encouraged to hand draw elements to start off with to give prints a unique hand writing. That method has stuck with me and I normally start off with some drawing or painting and then develop the patterns on Photoshop to give them a more intense dimension. It also completely depends on the print/look I’m trying to achieve-some of my prints are bold and graphic which lends itself to computer lead work, whereas others have a more organic feel so I try and limit the work on Photoshop so they retain a hand drawn feel.

I love your signature print and have several of the dresses !  Might you ever produce a homeware brick print range ?

Definitely ! I have been really keen to explore where my prints could go outside of the fashion realms so I am in talks with different areas and licensors to discuss potential opportunities. I think it’s a natural progression I have reached in my career.









You have worked with ASOS,,  Dorothy Perkins to name a few – Who else would you love to collaborate with ?

There’s a lot of other potential retailers I would love to collaborate with. I don’t want to stretch my brand too thinly though so I think for the moment I am focusing on exploring potential ranges outside of fashion, which could work with my prints.

Please can you offer some inspiring words for new designers ?

Take your time and stay focused on your goal. Work experience is key as it really gives you an insight into what area of fashion you really want to focus on. After interning at John Galliano I knew my strength and passion was print so I started to concentrate more on that side of my work. Then when the timing was right and the perfect opportunity came along to showcase my collection I went for it and have grown my brand since then.









Five years on – what would you say have been the highlights so far ?.. and where do you see your brand in another five years ?    

So many highlights; showing at LFW, dressing Cheryl Cole, getting my first exclusive in Vogue, setting up my South Molton street showroom, working with some great companies and brands, meeting some life long friends, travelling, producing some key pieces….

The first 5 years was so focused on the fashion industry that I hope the next five I can take my prints and grow my brand into other areas and make my prints iconic while still retaining my presence within fashion.









Big thanks to Olivia for sharing some advice and her time.

I cannot wait for the homeware :) Do you have a favourite Olivia Rubin design ? 

Check out all of the S/S 2013 range here. You can also follow her on Twitter @OliviaRubin and become a fan on facebook :)

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All images copyright Olivia Rubin 2013

INSPIRE ME – with Horace Panter

Today, ‘Inspire Me’ is with Artist Horace Panter – whom you may well also know as Sir Horace Gentleman, bass player with Iconic Ska band The Specials.

Horace already had a Fine Art degree under his belt when he joined The band in 1977 and so it was just a matter of music, tours and an interesting teaching role, before he would produce his own icon inspired artwork. The first public exhibition of many took place in November 2011 with great response and there are plenty more to come.

News of a 2013 tour with The Specials is out, so all in all, next year is sounding good too.

I could’ve asked many questions to someone with such an interesting and varied life to date – but I managed to narrow them down and hope you enjoy …

You studied art before even joining the Specials – you had your first exhibition at the Strand in London only last year – what has the reaction to your work been so far ?

I think it has surprised people. There have been a lot of positive responses and Iʼve been taken a lot more seriously than I was expecting, you know, the ʻsemi – retired rock star with too much time on his handsʼ reaction, but itʼs been more like ʻwow, this guy can actually paint !ʼ

Do you think it’s important to study your craft at college or university, be it fine art or whatever you choose in life ?
If youʼre going to be a doctor or an architect, then yes ! I suppose it depends on what sort of artist/musician you would like to be. Francis Bacon, for example, never went to art school. It has helped me, I know that, by giving me a credibility I would not otherwise have had. Also, a grounding in Modern Art History has helped but you donʼt need to go to university to study that.

Has working as a musician developed you as an artist – and vice versa ?

Only in as much as it has enabled me to travel and visit art galleries and find inspiration from around the world. No, thatʼs not all, if I wasnʼt a professional musician with lots of ʻdown timeʼ I wouldnʼt have the excess of free time to paint. When Iʼm rehearsing in the studio or doing a gig, I have to fit into a team and concentrate on what works best for the group; when Iʼm painting, Iʼm solo, making all the decisions.

When you are painting do you like to surround yourself with solitude or paintings and music ?

Preparing boards and preliminary stuff I can listen to music, but I canʼt multitask very well; I could never do my homework in front of the TV so, when Iʼm painting, I like solitude.

Did you design The Specials logo ?

Not entirely. Jerry did the two-tone man and I did the 2 -Tone Records bit.

You were Head of Art at a school for autistic children for ten years – how did this come about and did any of the students work inspire you ?

I went into the special needs school as support for one specific pupil. As he settled back into the school, I was ʻabsorbedʼ into the staff and once it was discovered that I had an art degree  (the art teacher was really a PE teacher who took the job because no-one else wanted it … yes, school is like that! ), I was offered the job so a bit ʻunder the radarʼ really. It was a fantastic experience, especially dealing with children on the autistic spectrum. It made me change the way I viewed art – to make it more immediate.

Who and what are your biggest influences ? Is this ever evolving ?

Musically, most stuff on Tamla/Motown and Stax/Atlantic, Chicago Blues and Dub Reggae. Artwise, the list is longer – Henri Rousseau, (Sir) Peter Blake, Wayne Thiebaud, Mark Rothko, Kenneth Noland, Robyn Denny, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichenstein, James Rosenquist – mainly American 1960s artists, but they, the 60sʼ, were my formative years. Lately, I think Iʼm like the Borg out of Star Trek inasmuch as I accumulate everything and it becomes a source for work. I like the phrase ʻappropriation and subversionʼ!!

As a bass player and teacher you are in a supporting role – how does it feel to be the front man ?

The art career is my ʻsolo albumʼ. It is a different kind of creativity.

Are there certain galleries that you look forward to visiting when you’re on tour ?

Oh yes ! There is a probability we will be in New York towards the end of summer. I have never been to the new MOMART. The year before last, we were in Europe and the Ludwig Museum in Cologne was fantastic, as was The Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin.

Is you work influenced by pop art ?  What do you love about it ?
To my way of thinking, Pop Art was to Art History what Punk Rock was to Rock and Roll. You had Abstract Expressionism, which was very elitist and metaphysical ( I love Rothko by the way ) and then along comes a guy with a soup can ! My work is heavily influences by traditional iconography and the word ʻmundaneʼ is used a lot in iconography as it is in Pop Art. ʻElevating the Mundaneʼ is one of the tropes of Pop Art and a lot of my work looks like Pop Art. Peter Blakeʼs technique and his use of colour are also big influences.

I love your cassette paintings, they really remind me of my treasured mix tapes  – if you were making up your ultimate mix tape of 30 minutes / 10 songs.. what would they be and why ?

1. Road Runner, Junior Walker and the All Stars

2. All Down the Line, Rolling Stones ( off Exile on Main Street ) !

3. Too Much Alcohol, J.B. Hutto and the Hawks

4. A Little Bit of Love, Free

5. Outta Space, Billy Preston

6. Dub Tree, Joe Gibbs ( from African Dub Chapter 3 )

7. Trampolene, The Spencer Davies Group ( worldʼs greatest B-Side )

8. PCH, ZZ Top ( great driving music )

9. China Girl, David Bowie ( with Stevie Ray Vaughan channelling Albert King )

10. Pour Me One More Drink, Robert Ward ( the Blues – for real )

What inspired you to write your book  – Ska’d for life ?

I had these two diaries from our US and Japanese tours and my parents had collected 11 scrap books full of Specials and Two-Tone related press. I was always the one that people were being directed to: ʻAsk Horace, he remembers stuff like thatʼ. There had been a couple of ʻfan-relatedʼ attempts at writing about the band but I thought they were far from accurate and no-one in the band had done it … so I did. Also, I twisted my ankle during the summer holidays and had fuck all else to do !!

Could you offer some words of advice for any aspiring artists and musicians reading this on how to fulfill their dreams ?

Self belief and persistence. Oh, and a good manager. Thatʼs A GOOD MANAGER!!

Do you have any exhibitions coming up ? .. and will The Specials be touring next year ? I will look forward to both..

By the time you publish this, The Specials May 2013 UK Tour Dates will have been announced. In 2012 I had 14 exhibitions – great fun but too much! In 2013 I am discussing exhibition dates in Liverpool and Glasgow in the early months and have one pencilled in for Number 9 Gallery in Birmingham for the summer. As soon as I have confirmation of any exhibitions the dates are published on Twitter and Facebook and also in the ʻHoracePanterArtʼ quarterly newsletter … all the logistics are handled by Clare, the woman I love !

A massive thanks to Horace ( and Clare ! ) …it is an honour to interview someone whom I have grown up listening to and loving their music, and now am very inspired by Horace’s artwork too.

You can see more of Horace’s work on his website – Follow him on Twitter @horacepanterart and you can become a fan facebook for info on upcoming exhibitions and shows.

All images copyright Horace Panter 2012.

Leave me a comment here to say hi or tweet me – @lucylovesyablog I’d love to hear from you :)

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INSPIRE ME – with Zakee Shariff

Zakee-portrait-by-AL-Newman-copyThere’s nothing like artwork that makes you feel happy.

Having luckily discovered the artist and designer Zakee Shariff a little while ago during her collaboration with fashion website ASOS – I fell in love with her work. Vibrant art, cool designs – and always with a positive message.

With her cult following – Zakee’s clothing collections have sold globally and she has worked with many fashion brands including People Tree and Urban Outfitters.

She has had a versatile career so far having also worked as a stylist, in publishing, as an art director and interior design – amongst other avenues.

I am ever so slightly in awe and hope you enjoy Inspire Me today with Zakee Shariff !…. a-to-zHighRes

You started out with your own clothing label as well as doing your art work – How did you get into fashion design ?

I had never thought of starting a clothing label and a dear friend who is one of the owners of a mens and women’s clothing label called YMC You Must Create, convinced me to start my own label and very kindly introduced me to various contacts to enable me to make it happen. It all just kinda unfolded.

I always knew I wanted to work both as an artist and a designer. My training was in printed textiles but it was very much rooted in painting and drawing and abstracting from that into design.  So it was a great way to explore that process, and learn about the business side too. Youth_0510

You’ve worked with textiles, fine art, illustration, styling, interior and product design.. and you’ve also been an art director – has this worked out as a natural progression ?

Definitely. One led to another and another and back again, like a creative dance.


Is there one particular field of design that you enjoy the most ?

I enjoy all the different design projects I have been blessed with doingI love designing textiles. Peace-heart-cushion-small


There are very positive messages within your designs – is this something that is important to you ?

Yes it is, I hope my work can give people joy and maybe help them to think more about the world from a different perspective.


Your collaboration with People Tree is going really well – how did this originally come about ?

 A lovely friend if mine Vickie Snow from Snow PR introduced me, as she thought we were a match, and we all just clicked. They are lovely to work with and very inspiring in the the way they are able to create everything they do ethically correct.

Safia the owner tends to sit with me and we go through old prints of mine and we brainstorm and I then recreate the prints and make some new ones and then her team and i work together to get them right. I don’t get involved in the garment shapes and styling….its purely a focused and joyous experience of drawing, making patterns and colouring them. And  I create the prints and we work on colours together.


Having worked with ASOS, Urban Outfitters, Japanese store MAYZ, Roxy Heart.. to name just a few – what do you enjoy the most about collaborations ?

I have such a love of collaborating. I thrive when I work with another creative or a team of people and make a vision come alive. That is very fulfilling and inspiring to me.


Describe a perfect working day for you ?

Drawing, painting or screen printing listening to some great music in my studio – loud ! main_8bd11_MOVEMENTANDCHANGEOFTHEj


What kind of music do you listen to ?

I love listening to all different types of music when I work,  it depends on the mood I’m in.
I’d say when I’m printing however,  I like to listen to loud Hip Hop, Soul, R n B, Dancehall and reggae.. a bit of a soul girl then, eh ?
                                                                                                                                                        Can you offer some inspirational advice on how to get into fashion design and textiles ? 
Be honest to your creative vision, ask questions, ask for support there are amazing beings out there that do want to help. Work hard, research and give your self permission to have fun and make mistakes. Do choose to do work experience, it’s the best way to learn. Knock on doors, as you find your path and follow your instinct. Have a clear vision of what you would like to achieve, even if its a really basic feeling and the rest is unsure, get in touch with the ultimate desire. That sets you on your way for sure. main_758bc_PEACE2j

What are you working on at the moment and when will we get to see it ? :)


I’ve just created a few prints for a great new kids collection called Ruff and Huddle. The collaboration is for AW13. I love making prints for kids.

I’m creating a new print for my lovely friend Nick who has a beautiful womenswear brand. Studio Nicholson. It’s a very chic minimal collection.

I’m working on two personal projects. One is product based and the other is a group of new fine art screen prints.

The rest is pending research that I am doing.
Thanks Zakee :) Full of talent – and what a lovely person ! If you’d like to see more of her work online – go to, become a fan on Facebook for updates and/or follow her on Twitter !

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INSPIRE ME – with Tatty Devine

Rosie_Harriet_TattyDevieToday is a good day. A really good day and I’m a little bit excited… because I am sharing my recent interview with the creators of a brand that I LOVE more than all the tea in China…

Rosie Wolfenden and Harriet Vine have made a big name for themselves over the last thirteen years as Co Founders and designers of cult jewellery brand Tatty Devine, creating the most unique, fun and clever pieces made from often from perspex, but also wood, veneer, leather and enamel.

Their designs are featured around the clock in magazines such as Vogue, Grazia, Elle, Cosmopolitan… and stand firm as one of United Kingdoms most original and exciting brands.

As it’s coming up to Christmas, I thought I might also mention their fab  “How to make jewellery with Tatty Devine” book – a really good idea for any crafty, jewellery loving people in your life. It’s 125 pages of creative inspiration and shows you how to transform any object into a new accessory and, what you will need to get started. At £12.99 I think it’s a very good price ! It’s on my list ! You will also find on their website that they sell stitching patterns and run jewellery making workshops too.

When you met at College, did you hit it off straight away ?

At Chelsea the year was split into 4 groups over 2 floors, Harriet and I were in different groups on different floors, so it look a while for us to become friends. In the second year the roof fell in on where I was living, I’d heard that Harriet had a spare room so I rang her up. Once I’d moved in we hit it of straight away.






You opened your first boutique on Brick Lane, thirteen years ago – did you know even then how loved and popular your brand would become ?

We had no idea ! We were just having so much fun and our criteria was to have a good time, make original things ( we just didn’t want to look like everyone else ) and not get ‘proper jobs’. We’ve stuck to all these things, although it could be argued that we now have proper jobs !

I can spot a ‘Tatty Devine’ piece a mile off.. what would you say makes your jewellery so unique and distinctive ?

I think its a few things, the first being that our techniques are unique to us as we have created and developed them, that we never want to go for the obvious – so I think there is always an unusualness to our jewellery and we like to think our jewellery is of the highest quality – which makes it stand out.

Do you have a current best seller ?

Other than the perennial name necklace we have been selling out of fox brooches and the Arrgh Necklace has been doing very well.

You have collaborated with lots of creative people so far, who would you love to work with next ? 

We’d love to work with Grayson Perry.


Where do you get your inspiration for new designs and how far ahead do you work on new seasonal pieces ?

We’re currently finishing off AW13, so for the non seasonal collections we tend to work3-6 months ahead.

Are you music fans ? If so, what do you like to listen to when designing ?

We love music, it’s always been central to what we do. When we’re designing we listen to whatever we are currently into, although there are always old favourites like Belle and Sebastian, Electrelane or ESG.

As well as making your products, you also run jewellery making workshops and sell a “How to make jewellery” book – what inspired this ?

We’ve always done events to celebrate Tatty Devine and get involved with the customer. Our customers just love anything experiential and at heart we are all about DIY so we thought it would be fantastic to do a book with making ideas and to support this with workshops to give people the chance to make some of the pieces with the Tatty team.

With your jewellery stocking in over 300 stores worldwide as well as your own, how do you make it all happen ?

We’ve got a team of 30 people that make it all happen. Harriet and I design and oversee everything, but then we have people making, packing, doing the admin, working in the shop and workshops, doing the press and marketing, the accounts, the customer care and someone to look after our wholesale customers and attend trade shows.

What do you love most about  being designers and having your own business ?

The freedom to do what we want to do and the joy of making people happy with our jewellery.


What are your career highlights to date ?

Opening our shop in Covent Garden, the pop up in Selfridges and working with people like Rob Ryan, Gilbert and George and Tate.


Can you offer advice to anyone reading this who has a unique brand idea but doesn’t know where to start ?

Start small, let it develop organically and put all your energy and enthusiasm into it. Most importantly have faith in your idea and in yourself.

What can we expect next from Tatty Devine? Personally, I can’t wait…. :)

So much, 2013 is going to be a very exciting year.

Highly inspirational stuff and thanks so much to them both for taking the time out for a little chat. Here’s hoping for a Grayson Perry collaboration soon !

Do you have a favourite Tatty Devine design ? Please do leave me a comment below and spill the beans… ? :)

Follow Tatty Devine on Twitter, Become a fan on Facebook and you can see an abundance of cool jewellery, learn more about their workshops.. oh, and check out the brill book on their website.

All images copyright Tatty Devine 2012.

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INSPIRE ME – with Chie Mihara

91There are certain shoe designers who radiate individuality within their work. To be able to do this – and mix it up with beauty and vintage inspiration is my idea of heaven !

Chie Mihara started out in 2002 and now ten years on, stocks her shoes, boots and sandals with over one thousand clients worldwide, including Selfridges in the United Kingdom and Neiman Marcus in the United States. She even has a really pretty and distinctive bridal range.

I have been a bit of a fan of Chie Mihara for some time, so am pleased to be sharing some of her inspirations with you today…

How did you originally get into shoe design ? Was it always a dream of yours ?

I was always into fashion. For me, shoes was a big unhappy story because I could never find a shoe that I liked for my 40 feet… but never thought I would be a shoe designer !!

Being into fashion takes you to all it’s areas.

Can you tell me the process from design to actual fruition ?

The longest process is the searching. I go to the shoe museum and look for images from different decades, also look for my fashion and accessories book archive I hold in my studio, do trips to Paris, Milan and look around what´s cooking…shops, movies, music, everything is feeding your mind with information.

Later I start defining last shapes, heel shapes, soles, platforms…go to leather fairs in Milan and Paris to see and buy from the tanneries. Once you get all these information you can start drawing…that can take three to four weeks…

Then you pass the catalogue finished with all details to the factory, once the patterns are made. The factory makes the samples and now we are ready to show to our customers from all around the world. we do fifteen to eighteen fairs per season and from the selling season we go to production time, that could take another three to four months until the stores would receive the goods to sell.. shoes

How many seasons ahead are you with your designing ? 

I finished summer 2013 a few months ago.  Right now for example, I am working on the fall 2013 /14 wich will be shown in fairs of early december through march and the shops will have it delivered by July / August.

Are all of your shoes handmade ? 

Yes. All shoes are hand made. even in China ! but of course the process we use here in Europe is more hands on and little details are watched carefully.

Which era’s do you draw inspiration from ?

I love the 30´s and 40´s because it was a very down to earth times and fashion was very utilitarian. Also enjoy the late 70´s and early 80´s for the fun and funky of disco and the explosion of youth. MG_06092

What would you say sets your style aside from other shoe brands ?

Comfort and the very personal style. I never look to what other brands are doing, I dont care. I only look and work for my never ending joy of  creating ! can´t allow myself being too comfortable or relaxed, I have to be hungry at all times !

Do you like to listen to music when working and if so what inspires you ?

Always ! music carries you to another state of mind…sometimes when I´m creating, I repeat the same cd over and over again…

With your shoes stocking in over a thousand stores worldwide now, this must keep you super busy! How do you relax when you get the time ?

I have three children (15, 13 and 11) and my husband, we do lots of things together. I have a very balanced life. I don´t live in a big city, we are sorrounded by mountains and the beach …we are in the mediterranean, its really nice.

But, I´m a very active person, I don´t know what´s relaxing and watching tv…never do that.

I take work on weekends and thats relaxing for me !

How long have you been designing wedding shoes as well ? They are stunning :)

Thanks ! I started wedding shoes four or five years ago…it was an easy choice, because my shoes are already romantic. Some clients would do the white combination and i decided to do it myself.

Could you give a bit of advice to new designers out there ?

You have to work hard on exploring your creativity. Develop techniques to get more original ideas and concepts. Don´t copy other designers! keep your personal integrity ! be original !


Good looking shoes designed by a very inspiring woman ! Thanks so much, Chie.

I love the fact that Chie focuses on her own idea’s and remains unique !   

You can follow Chie Mihara on Twitter – @ChieMiharaStore, become a fan on Facebook and see more designs right here.

All images copyright Chie Mihara 2012.

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INSPIRE ME – with welovekaoru








I’m a firm believer that a cup of tea tastes so much nicer in a cup and saucer – and perfect if it’s vintage inspired, beautiful, fine bone china. Like all of these pretty welovekaoru pieces, right before your eyes :)

Kaoru Parry established welovekaoru after graduating from Central St Martins College in London. She owns Shoreditch collective boutique  Luna and Curious “offering a cornucopia of finely rendered objects and clothing” as well as stocking her own full collection of tableware.

The ethos of welovekaoru is to preserve the traditional values of real craftsmanship and work closely with small independent family run potteries to produce their pieces exclusively in the United Kingdom.

I had a little chat with Kaoru recently….






                                                                                                                   What did you study at Central St Martins and would you recommend college if you want to become a designer ?

I studied BA Ceramic Design at Central St Martins. The course has great contacts with the industry and puts a lot of energy into preparing you for the real world. It also houses a great team of technicians and facilities to assist in the practical aspects of design and manufacture. Now that you have to pay so much for further education, I would make sure that the course is definitely right for you. Even look to other European countries as their fees are often lower.





                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Where do you get your inspiration from for your designs ?

Anything old inspire my designs. I like the way beautifully crafted objects were often made to an industrial scale yet each one by hand and by highly skilled artisans.






                                                                                                                   I first spotted your teacups in Liberty London – did it take long before you were asked to stock in lots of prestigious stores ?

I was discovered by Liberty at my first trade show in 2009. They have been stocking my designs since.






                                                                                                                     Would you say your work is influenced by Japan ….. having been born there ? 

Sometimes. The Take range ( green bamboo design ) was a direct influence from a beautiful antique kimono. But it’s probably more our company philosophy that’s been influenced most by Japan. Our values of excellent craftsmanship and quality.






                                                                                                                      Can you talk me through your process from your initial ideas to production ?

Lots of research and development followed by sketches and maquettes. I have great relationships with the small family run potteries in Stoke where we develop new products together. It may take years to finally get a new product into the market.






                                                                                                                       Do you have a signature design ?

Not really but my ABC tea cups and mugs continue to be one of my best sellers.






                                                                                                                     Can you offer some advice for anyone reading this wanting to start a new brand ?

Work hard, do your research, understand business especially pricing, production and marketing.






                                                                                                                            What are your welovekaoru’s plans for 2013 and beyond ?

I’m really excited about 2013 as I’m going to launch a new range of products that are not strictly tableware. I’m also looking forward to interesting collaborations and projects.






                                                                                                                         Thanks Kaoru ! Really elegant pieces, don’t you think ?..You can follow Kaoru’s store Luna and Curious on Twitter – @lunaandcurious or become a fan on Facebook.

Don’t forget to enter my giveaway.. win a Janome Mega Tote Bag – it’s perfect for all of your sewing accessories !

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INSPIRE ME – with Jennie Maizels

Today I have an ‘Inspire Me’ interview for you with a very talented woman.

Jennie Maizels is a well established illustrator who has had sixteen children’s books published to date. You’d think this would have her kept fully occupied considering each book can take a year to complete, yet, Jennie also has a line of furnishing fabrics with Linwood, stationery ranges and also a great collection of embroidered iron on fabric plasters ( I can personally vouch for these as a really big hit with the kids ! :) )

Did you come from an artistic background ?

Yes I did, my parents met at Chelsea school of art, my mother is an illustrator and photographer and my father is a fine artist. Together they run the art magazine ‘Raw Vision‘ an international journal about Outsider Art.

I was bought up without a TV and my parents spent alot of time drawing and painting with me, it was a very creative childhood !

What did you study at St Martin’s College ? 

My degree was in Graphic design but you were given options after the first year and I chose to specialise in Illustration.

I think St Martins has changed alot, I was there nearly 20 years ago and as far as I can remember there really wasn’t much teaching. We were left pretty much to our own devices. Although at the time frustrating, I think as an illustrator being left to ‘fend for oneself’ and not be too influenced or guided makes it is easier to develop your own personal style and in a very unselfconscious way.

Who and what inspired you to become an illustrator ?

As I was growing up I never thought I would be anything else to be honest. It may well have been ‘Hobson’s choice’ as I wasn’t particularly academic and there were no other subjects at school I felt so passionately about.

I loved watching my mother draw with her coloured pencils. I was fascinated by their colours and how pointy she kept them.

My Grandparents lived in Geneva and always gave me tins of perfect Caran D’ache pencils which I would literally wear out.

For my 16th birthday my parents gave me a beautiful huge box of Prismacolor pencils. Over 200 colours. I opened it on Christmas morning and after staring at them for over an hour, I started copying a William Morris design and didn’t stop until Boxing Day night.

I can honestly say that my obsession with coloured pencils lead me ( no pun intended ! ) to become an illustrator. I knew they had to become the tools of my trade.

As far as inspirations from other artists, apart from my parents, I have always adored Fornasetti, I love how he covers literally everything with his illustrations, from plates and fabrics to furniture. I found this incredibly inspirational, it made me think that the work of illustrators shouldn’t be confined to flat surfaces and could be used on all manner of objects which are usually just adorned with print and pattern.

You have worked on sixteen children’s 3D ( pop up ) books over your career so far. The illustrations are really detailed – how long does each page take ?

A particularly complicated page of a pop-up book can take me up to 3 months. The final spread of The Global Garden Book comprises of a big bunch of symbolic or ‘useful’ flowers and is stupidly detailed. My studio was full of glorious bunches of extraordinary blooms, however, 6 weeks into the artwork and the flowers were all droopy and revolting, my children wouldn’t enter the room on account of the horrid smell !

In my recent Pop-Up London book, there is a small flap ( which many may miss ) revealing a cross section of Piccadilly underground section. It took me a whole weekend to draw and the image in the book is the same size as the artwork ( really really small )

Some single pages can total as much as 20 pages of artwork as there may be wheels, layers, flaps and big pop ups with the reverse artwork for the 3-D pieces too. A book will take on average a whole year to complete.

I love your line of furnishing fabrics for Linwood – are the prints taken from your book images at all ?

The wonderful thing about my fabric deigns for Linwood was that I had completely free range. I came to them with ‘mood boards’ expecting to go away and rework and elaborate, but instead they just said “yup” to each design and I started artwork straight away.

The images themselves were a mix of my most successful Clothes Plasters designs and a completely fresh think about what I thought would make great kids fabric. The Keep Out, Control Freak and Dream Room designs were originally designed as wallpaper, which I really hope one day to be able to do for them. They were all completed with the same coloured pencils though…

Will you be producing more fabric prints in the future ?

I would love to. I would really like to design a range of slightly more ‘grown up’ fabrics, something I have discussed with Linwood, but it’s up to them, I have a sketchbook full of fabric ideas ready and waiting !

Can they be purchased on your website ?

Yes all the fabrics, cushions, Clothes Plasters and stationery can be bought from the shop on our website it’s free post and we even gift wrap them for you !

Your wonderful boys and girls fabric plasters make perfect stocking fillers – how did you come up with the idea for them ? 

I have two ( now not so ) little girls who are real Tomboys. I was always so upset when their pretty tights and dresses got holes in them. I am no sewer and even if the holes were darned the fabric hung oddly, especially their stripy tights ! So I tried to buy some small attractive motifs to cover the holes. I discovered there really wasn’t anything out there apart from nasty brands or plain patches.

It took us over a year to find a supplier who could replicate my artwork, we were so delighted when we saw how beautifully embroidered they were and what perfect colours they had chosen.

We now have themed sets as well as single patches and I am working on new designs as I speak.


JMWith your vast experience – could you offer any advice to illustrators/designers ?

Gosh ! What advice would I give ? Definitely never ever give up, if I had a pound for every ‘nearly life changing’, exciting project that fell through… So important to learn to pick yourself up and keep going. Be doggedly determined too, I remember doing massive mail-outs after graduating and spending hours making follow up calls and then traipsing round London for weeks with my portfolio.

Make your ‘voice’ heard above the rest, send out samples not just emails and target your publisher/art director thoroughly, researching the types of illustrations usually commissioned and make sure your style is compatible.

One sound piece of advice if you are keen to show your work to a children’s book publisher, do not think that you need a story. Editors have hundreds of writers waiting for suitable artists and they may think that you are wedded to the writer of the story or to your own text, let your illustration speak for itself….

2013 is on it’s way… what’s coming up for you ?

We are launching two new sets of Clothes Plasters, more stationery and even a range of mugs. I am also just about to start on another major pop-up book with Walker Books to be published in September 2014, so I’d better go and sharpen some more pencils…

Thanks so much to Jennie.  Some brilliant advice for new illustrators.

I am definitely keeping my fingers crossed for ‘grown up’ fabric prints with Linwood soon ! Do you love her designs too ?

You can find out more about Jennie at her website – Become a facebook fan or follow her on Twitter – @jenniemaizels.

All images copyright Jennie Maizels 2012.

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INSPIRE ME – with Celebrity Photographer – Steve Neaves

steve neaves photographerIt’s not everyday that you get to interview a long standing friend, but today I am, for ‘Inspire Me’.

Steve Neaves, a London based professional photographer, has worked with a truly diverse collection of people. Phenomenally talented ( rather modest ) and with an amazing eye for detail, his career in media spans two decades.

Recent well known clients include Ray Winstone, The Killers and Jonathan Ross.

I am really excited to be sharing some of Steve’s images with you today.

ray winstone image What inspired you to become a photographer ? 

Basically it was an accident, I was Art directing a magazine and we ran out of budget one month, so the editor suggested I shot a few features. People liked the work and I got commissioned to shoot a big campaign.

So I resigned – two days later the campaign was cancelled and I had no job !

the saturdays celebrities Have you always worked in the world of media ?

I started off as an engineer in my dads business – didn’t enjoy that so went into graphic design, which was exciting as Desktop publishing had just taken off.

keith lemon image

How did you develop your unique style ? 

It just evolved over time – I like unusual images, I always get asked to set fire to stuff, which is great as I like to set fire to stuff !

professor green imageYou have worked with lots of well known actors, musicians and models to date –  just recently, Ray Winstone, The Killers and Tinie Tempah. Are they ever involved in the creative process ?

Most of them just dont have the time, although you certainly find out when they dont like something, and its always on the shoot when its usually too late to do anything about it.

steve neaves images

From the initial photo shoot, how do you reach your finished image ?

I try to do most of it ‘in camera’ as opposed to photoshop – I love photoshop, but if you rely on it then things look very ‘photoshopped’. For instance my shot of Jonathan Ross with the car above his head we did for real.

We got it suspended from the ceiling on cables by two fearless professional rock climbers. It was insane !!

Your partner Zoe McConnell is also a photographer – do you ever get to work together on projects ?

We have often thought of it too as our styles are very different and would compliment each other – we just havent had the opportunity really.

What is the best thing about working as a freelancer ?

Not having to go to an office everyday….

…and the biggest challenge ?

Everyone says being self employed is great as you are the boss, well in my line of work every client is a boss, so you end up with lots and lots of bosses !!

steve neaves images

What is happening in the near future for you ?

I have a few things in the pipeline – which due to client confidentiality I cant talk about right now. But should be good.

I love Steve’s unique photography style and use of colour. Cool, huh ?

If you’d like to know more about his work or check out more images – here is the website and you can also follow on Twitter – @steveneaves72 :)

All images copyright of Steve Neaves photography 2012.

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