Posts Categorised: Interviews

INSPIRE ME – with ZPM.. and WIN a Weekender wash bag ! CLOSED

Today is ‘Inspire Me’ day, all about Zoe Phayre – Mudge, the creator and designer behind the wonderfully stylish, fun and eye catching ZPM British branded bags, amongst lots of other pieces. Made from a huge selection of cool oil print fabric prints …. and the great thing about ZPM is that you can find something to suit anyone in your life if you visit their online shop !

Having been a fan of Zoe’s ZPM brand for rather a long time now, I first spotted some gorgeously kitsch floral printed ZPM bath accessories in a shop, my eyes instantly lit up with delight – and I have to say, years on, the pieces I bought then still look as good as ever and have travelled far and wide with me !

You may well also, be aware of the Trolley – Dolly.. an innovative design, created by ZPM, where you can shop plastic bag free – with 21 bags compacted into just one outer bag – and not just eco friendly but good looking too ;)………

To add even more fun to the proceedings ( and celebrate me reaching 10,000 followers on Twitter this week ) – you are in with a chance of winning this cute as a button ‘Weekender’ bag in Songbird fabric ( below ) from the ZPM range – I can highly recommend it as I have one myself and you can fit soooo much in it !

Find out what you need to do to enter the Giveaway at the end of this interview…

Who and what inspired you to become a designer ?

Just something in you I think – growing up you are either into computers or into dogs or love fireworks or something.. I just loved making things but more than that I  loved doing “running a business” . My mum and dad ran a fruit and veg business and they gave me old stuff when they moved office once and I got 3 old phones and lots of stationery.. I loved all those paper clips and folders and I loved making things…  I basically don’t think anything has changed !!!!!!!!   The washbags happended as I found an amazing fabric that just inspired the product range but funnily enough I still have a set of washbags I made at my primary school when I was about nine. Amusingly the fabric is tiny white dots on a pale blue background and that was 1979 !!! so I think it might have been going to do this from birth !

How did ZPM come about? What were your first products ?

I was living between two houses pretending that I was not moving into my soon to be husband’s flat……and pretending to go home each day to the flat I shared with my brother. I was not enjoying working for the company I was with at the time… felt like  change and new beginnings. I started to develop an idea for a bag that would “sort your life” and solve a problem… I messed about with lots of things – loads of false starts… one factory gave me the best bit of advice ever which was on presenting my idea he said ” I can’t make that for what you want to sell it for!”  It’s been crucial and is crucial that you know what you are trying to do and if the market can take it !

Do you spend a lot of time developing each of your ideas and designs ?

With ZPM we act more like a fashion house that does not design all of its own prints… we buy in a lot but picking the right one is key. I spent ages initially on our shapes but I have alot which I designed a long time ago now. When you get something right people actually like to come back to the same thing – it works and they have stood the test of time  – The Weekender bag has been ripped off endlessly since its first inception, but people still come back to ours as its British made and lasts and the copies generally miss something !

How do you choose your fabrics ?

Instinct. and the buzz as I call it.. sometimes when I look at a print you just “know” its going to work. I have to be wary of being in a “sweetshop” sometimes and getting carried away… I am not great at this as you can see on our site… we have over 50 different prints at any one time !

Your products are really well made, is this something that is important to you ?

It’s crucial. I would be a lot richer if they were not.!!! but we have been making all the washbag range in the UK since we started in 1994 and someone turned up with one the other day over 15 years old.  We even mend where we can ! The prints are so lovely and around for such a short time that sometimes people just don’t want to let go of a bag. Especially if it has some real significance in your life, maybe it was the bag you went round the world with your boyfriend with or your honeymoon bag or the 40th Birthday present from your best friend… that sort of stuff makes an object something other than just an object… and if it falls apart instantly there is no benefit to anyone.

    

Is it fair to say you seem very hands on with your company ? 

Probably too hands on at the moment. We have shrunk a bit in size since we moved to Dorset. My stepdad has alzheimers, so my mum who had been working with me and my biggest help for 11 years needed to retire, I have 3 kids and they needed a new school and the whole thing worked as a move.  Since then I have been a lot more hands on.  I think growing a business is letting go of the minutiae of control and letting the people around you take things on. Its not always going to be done “your way” but it also may not be the wrong way.

    

What is the recipe to running a successful business ?

My favourite expression that our manchester factory owner gave me when I first started working with him was

“Turnover is Vanity, Profit is Sanity, Cashflow is Reality”

Success means a lot of different things to different people… there are the big bucks boys – its all about the money money…. I think they are only half right.

The money is crucial.. you don’t do it for fun, if you had a private income you would surely be in a job that was more charity orientated ?!  but the success can come in different packages !

I have a couple of Trolley-Dolly testimonials that I keep on my desk – I have a note which says “read daily” stuck on them… If your thing is to set out to make something that solves a problem and makes people happy to boot and they buy one and come back to you and say “wow, that really did all of that for me and I love it !” then that’s a successful business.

Describe a day in the life at work for you….

It’s a bit of a mixed bag every day. Almost impossible to do a typical one.. but I thought you might like today…Sorting of my gang of small people ie the 3 kids takes up a bit of time first thing most days….. then I am in the office by about 8.35 am, my commute is 30 seconds to a barn in a field and I am accompanied often by Cedric the cat !

Emails, sorting any post or urgent issues.

Today I had a long skype call to one of the factories we use to make Trolley-Dolly. I had some new sampling in to check through.  Meanwhile I have had a load of Microscooter products to sort out. I design for a number of other people, basically I like to design things and if a company wants a bag that fits on a scooter then so be it. We have had a really positive relationship with this firm.. they make THE best scooters for kids and adults…and we make a lot of their accessories for them. I design the prints for these and the product – it’s a top to toe design service we offer and I have to say I love it !  Sometimes working to a brief however loose can be really invigorating for a company, gives new perspective and indirectly allows you to reach another audience.

What have been the biggest milestones for ZPM ?

Oh supplying people like harvey nichols and Liberty… Day 1 of my first ever trade show my mum and I were sititng in the dark as I didn’t realise you needed lights at these things and Liberty buyer walked on and ordered it. I took the order to the shop in a cab myself !

Standing next to someone actually buying a bag once was a big moment.. when you box it  up and send things to stores you don’t get that personal reaction. Its why I love the web and now facebook for testimonials and thoughts people have. The buyers know there store and the look they want… but there are less of them than the public and all their thoughts… you get so much more through that about what people want…

Having someone you are sitting next to at a wedding go.. so what do you do…. and you go “Oh I have this little bag company… which they have never heard of… and then they go off to the loo and come back and go…..oh oh god you are those great printed bags !!!!” those are nice milestones !

Getting your first staff to help…

    

What is your current best selling product ?

 We have three so I can’t pick between them…

The flower shower caps.. are mad, gorgeous and really work so they tick a lot of zpm boxes….

The weekenders. These just really do the job, and they come in so many lovely prints and they will last and last……

The Trolley-dolly.. newest in but wow is she movin !!! How to do green in a stylish way….. and this bag works and works and works ! its no wonder she is in the top three.

    

Tell me about your Trolley – Dolly – I love the look of it ! What inspired this ?

Ooooh I love this …   I could wax on for a while about this but a video might be simpler – list attached for you to choose from !!!!

Basically I was unpacking one night and that inspirational woman who made Modbury ‘Go Bag Free’ had been in the news… I was chucking all the placky bags on the floor as I unpacked. When I turned around there was a huge pile.  I looked at them and thought , I make bags for god’s sake I must be able to do something that solves this.  Other people were doing single bags and I just thought  – how am I going to get my shopping home with some logo’d jute number ? .  It took a year to get to the right size and the right number of bags for a realistic family sized shop. I have 3 kids and an au pair so it’s a fairly large shop each week.   I wanted something compact, washable, that looked nice and on a really efficient day I could take by itself rather than taking the bags and a handbag….. In terms of “look” I have tried to achieve  a wink to the 50s housewife style handbag  in shape and some wearable patterns that are either fun or something you would not be embarrassed to be seen with !!!.  We tend to go for spots and things which you will notice sitting in the kitchen…. and remember to take with you……….the shopping list window is the BEST part, you cannot go without  the list… keep your list in the front and between that and the token we provide with each bag it should help you remember the bags 9/10 times !

    

Can you offer a few words of advice for someone starting a new venture ?

PERSEVERE !!! PERSEVERE ! PERSEVERE……… Oh did I mention you really have to stick at it and keep at it day in, day out…

I have a fridge magnet saying by Winston Churchill which says never, never, never, never give up !

What’s in the pipeline for ZPM ?

More telly ! We sell via QVC and we are heading overseas with this.. Australia next month and then Germany.  I love doing it, we sell out in minutes but it’s great being able to talk to lots of people at the same time !  Loads more new styles of Trolley-Dolly will be on our site from September – there is even a Cheetah one coming !

Lovely new range of prints for This Winter. A new bag that solves travelling, camping and sorting your baby…… Something for festivals next year….

    

Big thanks and thumbs up to Zoe ! A very clever woman and lovely with it :). I literally can’t wait for the Cheetah print Trolley – Dolly ! 

Sign up to the ZPM newsletter to hear about competitions and new goodies. You can also find them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter – go on.. you won’t regret it :)

Now, all you have to do to enter this Super Giveaway to win the ZPM Songbird Weekender in white worth £36, is Tweet this post ( button below ) stating:

I have just entered the @lucylovesyablog Giveaway to win a @TROLLEYDOLLYZPM weekender wash bag !

Please, also leave me a comment below this post to let me know that you have done this ( don’t want to miss any entries ! ) – and so that a winner can be picked by randow draw on Tuesday 2nd September at 7pm.

T’s and C’s:

This Giveaway is open to entrants internationally.

The winner will be picked by random draw and announced on Tuesday 4th September 2012 at 7pm.

No purchase necessary.

Please share the love by clicking on the links below xx

All images copyright ZPM 2012.

INSPIRE ME – with This is Rude

Todays ‘Inspire Me’ is all about the brilliant London based cult product design duo – Rupert Meats and Abi Williams, aka – This is Rude.

This is Rude started out thirteen years ago as a t-shirt label using hand drawn illustrations incorporating their passion for screen printing. Before long they expanded into a street brand selling their clothing as far as the United States and Japan.

Since then, This is Rude have collaborated with a huge amount of high profile clients such as Sony, Vogue, The Guardian, Tate Gallery, The National Theatre, Boden.. to name just a few with their easily recognisable illustration and animation product design.

With the amazing Olympic fever going on right now here in london, it seems a perfect time to chat with Rupert as This is Rude have also just designed the t-shirt for Samsungs Warm and Win Hope Relay Competition. I wear mine with pride :)….

  

How did you and Abi meet ?

Abi and I met at a design company in west London almost 15 years ago. We’re now married with 2 x kids, so we work together and run a family together. It seems to work.

  

 What inspired you to create ‘This is Rude’ ? 

After I left the design company (I was only there for a year) I wanted to do something on my own which was creative, a reaction against the corporate work which we were made to do. Around that time no one was doing illustration onto T-shirts or product.

  

I first bought one of your t-shirts around twelve years ago  – Did you know at this point that you would evolve into such a diverse company ? 

I knew that our road would not be straight forward and in any creative business there are lots of twists and turns. As long as the work we do is creative thats all that matters to me.

Do you do all of your illustration by hand or ever use computer graphics ? which do you prefer to use ?

I try and do a mix, so I will draw stuff out, some of it looks great as it is and some of it need sorting out in photoshop and then adding to in illustrator.

  

 How long have you been doing animation too ? 

Abi was asked about 5 years ago to create a pop video for cult band ‘Cornershop’ since then she has been involved in quite a few animation projects and last year we were involved in a project for the Manchester International Festival where we worked with school kids who drew the characters and we animated them and Cornerhop worked on a track (with the kids) to go with it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XyRsiU9dc_Q

Are you a music fan and if so – what do you like to listen to for inspiration when you’re working ?

We have quite an eclectic music taste, we go to Glastonbury every year a top up on new stuff. I’ve just resurrected my turn table in the studio so I’m playing lots of old vinyl at the moment. When we had out shop 10 years ago we had it in there and would buy £1.00 records from Spitalfields market on a Thursday. Old Elton John records, things like that.

  

Your style is very distinctive and yet clearly appeals to a wide audience – how have you managed this ? :) 

We love colour which I think helps, also if you stay true to your style over time it will become your signature.

 What has been your biggest achievement to date with This is Rude ?

Not giving up on it! About 9 years agowhen Billy cam along it would have been easier to go out and get a job, I’m so glad we persisted, as it’s paid off.

For anyone reading this, wanting to start their own brand/business – what advice would you offer them ? 

Just do it, don’t wait, the younger the better as you can make all your mistakes when your young and then learn from them when your a bit older !

  

You’ve worked with various clients including The Guardian, Vogue, The National Theatre, Sony Playstation, Mini Boden, No Added Sugar, Joseph Joseph, Capital Radio … is collaborating a big part of what you do ? 

Yeah, you know who your going to work with next, interesting collaborations as so important for modern creative businesses.

      

What’s happening for ‘This is Rude’ in the near future? Any new projects in the pipeline ?

We’ve got some very exciting things happening this Autumn, watch this space…I can’t say anymore than that !

  

A big thanks to Rupert for sharing a nice little slice of his time and inspirations. Always good to put a face to a great company.

Have a look at their website – www.thisisrude.com you will find a whole lot more information on Rupert and Abi’s work and their online shop –  brimming with mouth watering screen prints, bags .. and even Melamine sets ! :) You can also become a fan on Facebook.

All images copyright of This is Rude 2012.

 Please share the love by clicking on the links below xx 

INSPIRE ME – With Romero Bryan

It’s hard not to be in awe of Romero Bryan. As a teenanger, he was already well on the way to success as a fashion designer and stylist having had his creations worn by Usher, Beyonce Knowles, Cameron Diaz and Kelly Rowland to name but a few.

After graduating from London College of Fashion in 2005 with continued global notoriety, Romero has released consecutive seasons of stunning, cutting edge pieces – most recently worn by Supermodel Alex Wek and admired by Michelle Obama. Romero is listed on the Bank of Scotland Rich list 2020 with a predicted estimated fortune exceeding £30 million.

It seems very fitting to be interviewing Romero Bryan today for ‘Inspire Me’ as having known him for some time now – he has done just this with his talent, focus and supportive positivity. But, also as a fan of Romero’s work and his intrinsic talent for style.

Romero, how did your career start out ?

My mother was a Fashion Buyer throughout my childhood years, so I was always around new collections before it hit shop floors. My grand parents were both Tailors and seamstresses too, so it was only natural for me to gain an interest in fashion at such a young age.

By the age of 12, just entering secondary school – I had already learnt how to make a shirt and trouser.

Who and what inspired you ?

I have been inspired by many people and many things in my life.

The people that inspired me firstly were my family members already in the fashion trade ie my mother and grandparents.

Watching fashion related programmes on television – featuring designers like John Galliano, Westwood & McQueen, such as FASHION TV growing up was always a treat. So you can just imagine the joy it brought once I had my very own work showcased on fashion TV seen by millions worldwide.

 What’s the best thing about being a fashion designer ?

I love dressing women in CONFIDENCE. Nothing is more rewarding than giving a woman confidence through dressing her in your work.

Besides being financially rewarding eventually LOL, the feeling of making a lady feel great about herself gives me chills.

Infact, everytime a client sends me pictures of themselves wearing purchases from the brand, along with how nice they felt, I get all excited like a child in a sweet shop. LOL.

How does each season work ? How far ahead do you have to be with each collection ?

Considering its only July 2012, Im already working on producing the collection for SS collection for 2013, like most other designers.

We’re two seasons ahead of whats being sold in stores.

Infact, sometimes I get ahead of myself and design even further into the future, as Im always bursting with ideas, that my team have to stop me at times hehe.

So the SS’12 collection as worn by Alek Wek and adored by 1st Lady Michelle Obama being sold RIGHT NOW, was actually designed even as far back as January 2011 and show-cased in New York September 2011. So that should give the readers some idea as to how far ahead we work ahead of whats being sold in stores.

Do you have particular fabrics that you like to work with and why ?

Anyone who knows ROMERO BRYAN will know that SILK CHIFFON is my absolute favourite fabric to work with.

Its so feminine and floaty, almost dream like. I love seeing a woman wearng silk chiffon with the natural air hitting it, creating shapes moulded by the air.

Im turning myself on here, Lucy maybe I should stop hehehe.

But yep, Silk Chiffons is a must in every ROMERO BRYAN collection ;)

With your designs being world renowned, you must travel alot for all of your shows.. how do you manage everything ?

Actually that’s a real good question hun. LOL.

Well first and foremost id like to thank my beautiful team especially my right hand lady – my PA ‘Sophia Borovick’ and fabric sponsors ‘Borovick Fabrics Ltd’ in London.

Sophia as I refer to her, is the brain behind helping to manage the brand’s affairs.

Don’t tell her this, but as well as a real good friend – she’s like a ‘proud mother’- always reminding me to do things both in my personal life ( ie. vitamin tablets & to rest up well ) as well as brand related issues.

She remembers everything I forget hehe ;)

My head of PR Sarah Goods is of great help too.

My mother helps with the sewing of odd jobs in between her own busy life. My sister helps with the odd jobs here and there, but now has started her own life lol. And my dad as my mum calls him ‘ROMERO BRYANS BANK of DADDY’ hehe

So you see it isnt just ‘me’ in team work.

It’s a group of us that help make everything happen.

Your designs have been seen on many celebrities including Beyonce Knowles, Cameron Diaz and Kelly Rowland – who would you like to see next in a Romero Bryan piece ?

Well I’m quite fond of 1st Lady Michelle Obama, as I think she is gorgeous.

Ooooooo and I LOVE ADELE.

I thought I’d let the hype surrounding Adele die down a bit, as I didn’t want to be influenced by the press when she first released her album, but OMG her talent is off the CHAIN!

Her album is now on constant replay. Lots of tears shed to the album since purchasing it months after every one else, but she is a true talent, and I’d love nothing more than to dress her one day.

Are there any designers or brands that you would love to collaborate with at some point ? 

Incase anyone in the fashion industry reads this, I won’t comment there. but lets just say I have been approached by a few companies in the past that I have turned down due to not feeling ready for such a commitment.

But I have grown since then, and have learnt not to answer questions like this in case I shoot myself in the foot, mentioning an opposing company that has interest in wanting to work with the ROMERO BRYAN brand.

Is there any advice you can offer to someone just starting out in the world of design ?

There’ll be times that all you’ll ever hear is the word ‘NO’ but please learn not to take things so personal.

My first lover told me whenever I am told ‘NO’ in my career to take it as ‘NOT YET’ and keep knocking on those doors.

xx

What kind of attributes would you say are needed to be a successful fashion designer?

CREATIVE PASSION, DETERMINATION, BUSINESS MIND ( or at least a good business partner lol )

How do you see the next five years panning out for you ?

Within the next 5 years, the brand ROMERO BRYAN should be in boutiques worldwide alongside the top luxury brands. In terms of shows, I am thinking up new cost effective ways of promoting the brand and who knows by then, they’ll be new more advanced innovative ways of having your work showcased.

But overall, within the next 5 years, I would like the brand to be a self sustained profit-making company.

Lastly ( but definitely not least ) … what are your proudest career moments to date ?

Meeting my childhood idol – Grammy Award winning singer & actress BRANDY. Having her purchase garments from my collection was a dream come true. Infact anytime I become drained and unsure about making it in this fashion industry, I close my eyes and remember that feeling I got when she made my dreams come true.

Showcasing my work in the V&A (Kulture 2 Couture) and having Naomi Campbell in the front row – shouting out my name whilst I walked the finale. WOW…. I get chills still thinking about it now lol.

Showcasing my work in my homeland Jamaica was another great feeling.

Dressing Alek Wek in my gown, having been a big fan of her.

Being told by White House Staff that Michelle Obama is very proud of my work ethics and adores my collections as worn by Alek Wek.

A very special thanks to Romero Bryan for sharing his wisdom and inspirations. You can find his website at www.romerobryan.co.uk, become a fan on his Facebook page or follow on Twitter.

Creative team Credits:

Photos 2,3 & 4 Romero Bryan S/S 12 range. Photograper: Nathan Small. Creative Director/Stylist: Sarah – Adiana Butler. Hair: Sarah Tucholska.

Photo 5. Alex Wek wears Romero Bryan S/S 12.

Photo 6  Romero Bryan S/S 12 range. Photogrpaher: Adam Bennett. Styling and Creative Direction: Tess Daly. MUA and Hair: Zaiba Khan.

Photo 7 Romero Bryan S/S 12 range. Couture Latin Fashion Week. New York.

Photo 8 Romero Bryan A/W 12 range.Photgrapher: Luke Woodford. Hair and Make up: Rosie Lee.

Photo 9 Romero Bryan S/S 11. Photographer: Ryan Lue-Clarke. Make up: Loni L Jones. Hair: Kenya Henry.

Photo 10 Romero Bryan. Photographer: Karl Bryan. Stylist: Tess Daly. MUA and Hair: Natasha Horton.

INSPIRE ME – with Irregular Choice

I think I ‘may’ have *cough* mentioned before… once or twice ;) that I am a HUGE Irregular Choice fan. As in, not able to pass a shoe store without popping in and checking out their latest designs… trying on…… and then purchasing them…. :)

For a while now, I have wondered about the innovative creator and designer behind this now world renowned label – Dan Sullivan.. how he puts his lines together each season and what makes him tick. Not only do Irregular Choice design mouth watering footwear ( that I have recently also seen cool brides adourning ), clothing, bags and accessories – they even now make very pleasing on the eye homeware !

So, my friends.. today is a really special day. It’s ‘Inspire Me’ .. all about Dan, his design inspirations for Irregular Choice and his directional, extremely exclusive new collection – Dan Sullivan . A collection for “die hard fans” – and I can assure you, he has not held back – they really are incredible as you are about to see…

    

Dan, how did you get into shoe design ? Had it always been your plan ?

My parents had a line of shoe stores called Transit in the UK during the 70’s punk Camden London era, so from an early age I grew up around footwear, design and how to retail that to the consumer. I then learned about production by traveling to the factories jn the far east. I didn’t go to fashion or design school.

  

What I love about Irregular Choice, is that your shoes, clothing and accessories are totally unique – where do you get your inspiration ?

Thank you, that’s definitely our brand ethos. Everything I’ve done has been self- taught and influenced by travels- experiencing a huge variety in world cultures, people, fashions and food. I have to say Japan is probably my most influential place.

          

Do you have a strong vision of each piece before you start the designing process, or does it evolve as you work?.. and do you name the shoe style before or after ? :)

I have a clear vision of the direction I want to take, design wise, in order to push the boundaries from the collection before. I then use a huge library of colors, textures, trims and fabrics to make that happen. I make sure that each collection has meaning and is well- rounded, so although the shoes are very different and strong , there really is a shoe for everybody. The naming of the shoe comes afterward, once we see how the shoe has turned out in person as opposed to drawing.

        

You have a huge fan base, worldwide – is this something that happened very quickly ?

I’m very thankful to the Irregular Choice fans, the fan base has evolved greatly over the past 12 years which is great. I think that the opening of the London England store in 2009 really saw the brand catapult here in the UK as it was a place for fans to come and really understand what we are about as a whole lifestyle.

           

As well as stocking internationally, you have your own Irregular Choice stores in Brighton, London, Hong Kong, Virginia in the USA and currently a ‘pop up’ shop in Paris, Does this mean you spend alot of time travelling and how do you combine it with the designing side of things ?

Yes, our retail has expanded which is really where I want to see the growth of the brand in the future. It means I can present Irregular Choice in an environment so unique and memorable that people keep coming back. Although I do travel a lot, particularly to the Far East and to the factories to check on production and sampling, I set aside specific time to design the season’s collection. I plan it into my schedule and close the door from outside distractions. Thats the only way I can really get the point of the brand across in design and keep each collection consistently unique.

          

Do you get time to switch off? What is an ideal day of chilling for you ?  

Sometimes ! Spending time at home with my family is the best day.

   

Recently, you launched an exclusive collection under your own name – Dan Sullivan. Will you be doing this every season and what can we expect ?

I went back to the roots of what makes IC unique and desirable and timesed it by 1000. The Dan Sullivan Collection is really a thank you to the fans, and I havn’t held back in creating one- of a kind shoes. These I think are some of my favorite designs as it’s truly different. I also wanted to keep them unique by making only a dozen or so of each style, so each customer really feels special. At the moment they are available on www.dansullivan.eu and each month I will be launching new styles between now and Feb 2013.

           

For anyone reading this interview who wants a career in design, what advice would you offer them ?

I never went to design school, so I can’t say that works for everybody. But I would say to emerse yourself in whatever inspires you and whatever motivates you to design and makes you happy.

        

A large cap doffing thanks to Irregular Choice and of course, Dan himself.
You can keep up date with Irregular Choice on Twitter, Facebook and also on their website and blog www.irregularchoice.com

 

Please share the love by clicking on the links below  xx

All images copyright of Irregular Choice 2012.

INSPIRE ME – with Paris – Coldplay’s Artist in residence.

A few weeks ago, I talked about my evening at the Coldplay concert at Emirates stadium on the leg of their Mylo Xyloto UK tour.

As my husband is currently working with them, myself and a few friends went to their show and our first impressions of the huge stage area were all literally “WOW”.

We were completely blown away by the graffiti artwork, the enormity of it all and how totally captivating it was. A massive beautiful work of art !

This week for ‘Inspire Me’, I feel very lucky indeed to be interviewing the artist who has created all of this – Paris, and to find out more about his artwork, inspirations and plans for the future as well as what it is like to be collaborating with Coldplay, one of the biggest bands on our globe…

Firstly, Paris, what an amazing gig to get ! Please tell me how your collaboration with Coldplay came about ? 

I’ve been so lucky to land what I reckon is one of the best jobs in the world !….

The band already had an interest in graffiti , but they wanted to meet a real graffiti artist… I was recommended through a friend of a friend.

I met the band, we had fun spraying in their studio, and before you knew it we were painting the Album cover for Mylo Xyloto and getting jetted around the world to paint all kinds of things for their shows !…

 How does it feel having 50,000 people a night at the Coldplay shows looking at your graffiti work ?

It’s an amazing feeling, I got to see quite a few of the Stadium gigs last month in Europe, and the other week in Manchester was one of the best yet… the whole show, the whole production is incredible ,so just to be a part of that is great…when I think how many people see it in just two days its staggering…and our artwork is hard to miss, it’s all over the stage, instruments, screens & stadium !

My husband, Andy, is blown away by your speed ! You turn Chris Martin’s piano and Will Champion’s drum kit into pieces of art so quickly. Do you pre plan what you are going to create and do you always work at a fast pace ?

I think working fast keeps you on your toes, and it gives your artwork an added vitality.

This is what first attracted me to graffiti as a kid, when it’s done well it has a lot of visual power.., and a lot of this comes from painting at night, the thrill and the energy comes through in the work.

For the Coldplay artwork I’m creating a look that is playful and loose, and this can be a lot harder to create in a studio than it looks…one way of getting the right effect is to do it fast, get loads of paint & pens and just go at it !

At what age did you start graffiti-ing and what inspired you ?

I was about 7 or 8 when I first saw graffiti, in about 1981, at that time it was just Punk graffiti, stuff like the Anarchy symbol & “The Jam” & “Sis loves Saz” written on walls near my house, even then I remember it fascinated me, to think who did this ? and when did they do it ?..

By about 1984 there was a lot more breakdance style graffiti around Hull, and this was more colourful, that stuff I loved.

In the middle of a housing estate you’d see “Egyptian Lover” in 6ft high letters in reds, oranges yellows blues & greens…I’d see this from the school bus every day….I just thought “I want to try that” it looked like so much fun.

Did you study art at college?

Yeah, I had a really good tutor at Hull College called Connie Littlefield, she taught a whole bunch of us Hull kids about the Great Masters & the great art movements..The Cubists, The Impressionists,  Art Deco.. all that.. and took us to London & Paris ( this is where I chose the name….in 1992 )..she really opened my mind to what was out there, really really inspired me…, after that I studied in Bolton for 2 years, then in Bristol for 2 more specialising in Printed Textiles for Fashion.

This was definitely the best course for me, so much looser than Graphics, and Fine Art was a bit too snooty…

I came out with a First Class honours so that was okay, but I had to build my business myself, and that took years !

 

Where did you used to do your graffiti art and do you know if any of it has survived the test of time ?… 

I used to live near a big park as a kid and like everywhere in Hull back then there where a lot of abandoned buildings.

There was an old boat house that we called the “Acid Hut” and this is where I did some of my early pieces with my mate Xenz and later we teamed up with an older lad called Eko. We painted an old swimming pool in the park too, the Lido, and the basket ball courts, it was good fun in there, not bothering anyone, and if you painted when Home & Away and Neighbours where on it was so quiet you had the place to your self and all the time in the world to spray. Sometimes the Park-keepers would chase us off but it was all good fun.

Most of those places have been re-developed or knocked down now, the handball court is still there but that gets re-painted every month or so…..it’s a legal graffiti wall now…haha.

I guess its the nature of graffiti to be temporal, even if it survives the test of time the weather will one day wash it away, there might be few bits & pieces around, maybe in someone’s back garden!

Your girlfriend, Milk, is also an artist, do you ever collaborate ?

Yes, Milk has helped me out a lot with some of the bigger Coldplay jobs, and we often get the chance to paint together at Festivals and on walls around the city. We met through painting, and our styles compliment each other well, I think it’s a match made in heaven ! X.

I’ve discovered French street artist Koralie and Swoon, from the States.. Are there alot of female graffiti artists in the UK ? 

I think there are a lot more female graffiti artists in general these days, though even in the beginning in 1970s New York there was Barbara 62 & Eva 62 and in the 80’s there was Lady Pink who still paints now.

I think it can be daunting for girls who want to paint, as graffiti can be a bit of a boys club, but the female influence is vital, I think it really freshens it all up. That’s how I met Milk, I saw her work and it was a hundred times more original than most blokes graffiti out there, with really beautiful colour combinations too.

Milk’s done a few pieces with my sister K184, and they also did a show called “Great Birds of the British Isles” with Amour and Dora who are also female artists.

How do you get inspiration nowadays ? 

Even if it’s just on the walk to my studio I’ve started noticing all these amazing marks on old walls and doors, and the effects corrosion can have on buildings. I find I’m looking at all of this around me with new eyes, I guess it’s just looking properly…, its always been there.

The Hockney show in April had a pretty profound effect on me..that was very inspiring, just the scale alone, it helped me see “the bigger picture”… a true master, and Jeremy Dellers recent show was also a real eye opener.

I find travel is one of the greatest sources of inspiration, wherever me & Milk go we’re always searching for the ‘down at heel’ bits of a city with Dusty shop fronts and old cafes.

We went all over Europe in 2010 and when we got back we just had hundreds of photos of old logos, shop fronts and bits of fabric !

 Are there any other artists/bands that you would really love to work with ?

I’d have loved to work with the Beastie Boys, as I admire everything they’ve ever done….

Jay Z would be cool to do something for, or I’d like to create something for a Detroit Label, I love that futuristic sound.

It would be pretty cool to create artwork for a sci-fi film …maybe just decor or graphics.

Your website www.paris1974.com showcases your paintings for sale – is this something you’re focusing on more now .. and what is happening for you in the near future ?

Yeah, now I’ve got a lot more time in the studio it’s really helped my painting to flourish.

This is something I really want to push, hopefully I can exhibit in London & further afield.

I find painting on canvas pretty scary, but you’ve just got to persist at it.  Doing a wall anywhere, in front of hundreds of people is nothing to me, but I really feel the pressure with a canvas. One way to get over this is not be too precise about it. I’ve got a big wall behind my studio and I nail a load of canvass to this and then just go off!, have fun then work back into each painting individually over time. The work’s selling really well and the prices are rising so hopefully this is something I can keep doing for years to come.

The Coldplay work has made all of this possible, and a lot of my new paintings have been inspired by this collaboration.

Do you have any advice for aspiring artists ?

Keep doing what you LOVE doing, theres a lot of distractions out there, but if you feel that art & creativity is your chosen path you’ve got to grab hold of it with both hands, Hockney’s work showed me that , he’s 70+ and all he’s been doing all his life is painting & drawing and being creative..and his work shows it, and its all totally possible, you’ve just got to believe in it, no-one will make it happen – but you.

Thanks so much to Paris, for giving me this interview and us all an insight into his life and inspirations. Really interesting, eh ?

If you would like to find out more about Paris’s artwork for sale, head on over to his website www.paris1974.com – that’s where I’m off to …. :)

All images are copyright of Paris 2012. Thanks Peeps

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INSPIRE ME – With Anna Lou of London

You may well have spotted Anna Lou of London’s jewellery and accessories on various celebrities such as Emma Watson, Lily Allen, Kate Moss, and Fearne Cotton or in one of many magazine features including Vogue, Tatler, Elle, Bazaar, Grazia.. the list goes on and on. Indeed, you may also already own an Anna Lou of London piece – lucky you !

Creator and designer, Anna Lou Trent has not only won a highly prestigious award so far in her career for her fabulous designs, she also stocks Anna Lou of London, internationally.

Her signature piece being the initial necklaces, you can also find bespoke name bracelets and necklaces, perfectly unique wedding jewellery, something a bit tongue in cheek.. and everything lovely in between at the Anna Lou of London website.

Today’s ‘Inspire Me’ reveals a little bit more about Anna, how she became a designer, having trained as an actress and I get to share some of her jewellery images with you :)

How did you make the transition from being a professional actress to becoming a jewellery and accessories designer?

 I  set up a market stall on Portobello Road  in  2004 where I sold my bracelets I had made. I never trained in Jewellery making so taught myself from scratch. I used to make for friends initially and often received commissions so I thought it would be worth selling them on a market stall would be a good way to subsidise my acting career. Mainly because most of the work I had in acting was unpaid!

Surprisingly the bracelets I’d made were hugely successful.  My stand was always busy and I loved meeting all the great people who were fellow traders as well as great customers.

A few months after having the stall I was approached by Harvey Nichols to meet them. They took in all the bracelets in all colours and they sold out so fast they asked me to come back with my ‘next collection’. Having no idea what that was going to be I off course agreed to meet them with the ‘next collection’. Then i frantically made a range of necklaces and earrings and luckily the jewellery again was bought by the store and soon after it was instore theysold out again. They continued to buy my collections for a few years and the business grew from strength to strength. I am now stocked in hundreds of stores internationally and have my own website www.annalouoflondon.com

    

Where do you find the inspiration for all of your beautiful designs?

Tokyo, Japanese art,  New York City mainly..

    

You stock in countries around the world – how do you fit all of this into your schedule? :)

I dont know! It’s a juggle having a 2 year old ( Wilbur) and 7month year old (Buzz). I have to make sure I work 6-8 hour day. Normally it’s from 5am – 7am. Then do the children’s breakfast and playgroup and then when they sleep at lunchtime I work from 12-2pm doing the web orders. And again I work from 7pm -9pm.  But it’ll all change again next month, no doubt.

I made the decision though that I really want to bring up my children myself and be with them as much as I can before they go to school. So it won’t be long and I’ll be back to the business 100% full time. My husband is very supportive as well so when I have shows etc he takes the kids. We make it work as a team!

    

Do you have a proudest career moment to date?

I was awarded the first prize in the Observer Magazine – Future 500. I won the Retail and Fashion category.

Any advice for budding designers?

Test your product on a market stall so you can actually watch peoples reaction. Don’t keep putting things off. Remain positive. Put yourself out there. Don’t worry about breaking the rules!

    

What is happening for your brand for the rest of the year?

I am currently developing a new bag and candle range. All will be launched for Christmas.

Thanks, Anna – very inspiring ! You can visit the Anna Lou of London online store to see more of her creations, and also find her on Twitter and Facebook.

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INSPIRE ME – with Melody Miller

If you love unique, vintage inspired, colourful fabric then this week’s ‘Inspire Me’ is right up your street :)

I have been a big fan of Melody Miller for a while now, a textile designer who has also created four lines so far, for Japanese fabric company Kokka. Her print collection’s are full of images of retro telephones, portraits, typewriters and vinyl records.

Ruby Star Wrapping –  Melody’s first book is out later this year…

How did your career start?

Well, I was trained as a fine artist and for several years after I had my daughter, I painted.  When that just didn’t pay the bills, I worked as a graphic designer at a real estate company, then after having my son, I decided to go out on my own with a line of curtains.  Those didn’t sell very well (okay, I sold one!) so one thing turned into another and I finally ended up shopping a portfolio around Quilt Market, which is how I began designing for Kokka.

Who and what inspires your work?

I have a background in industrial design, and am fascinated with the design of useful objects. For colour and pattern, I often reference vintage fashion and decor.  I’ve always loved to draw and paint faces, so those appear in my work as well.  I’m constantly inspired by artists, illustrators, crafters, designers, and sewists, and try to absorb as much as possible from the people around me.

  

What’s the best thing about your job?

I love that my job entails so many different creative endeavours. I go from the intensive designing process on my computer, to actually sewing samples with the fabrics. Then sometimes I have bursts of intense activity, like last summer when I was writing my book (it comes out this fall!), or next spring, when I was designing my booth for Quilt Market. In the meantime, I’m able to be here for my children and participate in my family. I feel very lucky to be able to do all of this :)

 For anyone wanting to break into the world of design – do you have any advice?

 Trust your own voice.  When you lean too far in the direction of someone you admire, you can lose yourself.  If your work scares you a little, that’s probably a good sign.

When will your next line of fabrics be available to buy and what can we expect?

My upcoming line was just released at Quilt Market in May, and will hit stores sometime in July.  There are 3 designs in 3 separate colorways on super-wide lightweight cotton/linen fabric (it’s over 60″ wide, and so breezy!  The fabric itself is a dream).  One print features 9 separate blocks that are each just shy of being fat eighths.  Another print features full-scale 7″ vinyl records (and a few of the labels were created by fellow fabric designers Thomas Knauer and Lucie Summers).  The last print was designed with skirts, aprons, and dresses in mind, and has decorative rows of silhouettes that had been featured in my previous fabric line, Ruby Star Shining.

Such amazing designs – truly inspiring ! A big thanks To Melody, I can’t wait for the vinyl records fabric :)

To find out more about Melody Miller and her work, visit her website or blog.

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INSPIRE ME – with Serendipity Studio.

The very talented woman that is featuring today on ‘Inspire Me’, actually inspired me for my first ever blog post. I made two retro style dresses.

Kay Whitt is the owner and designer for classic yet modern clothing and accessories sewing pattern company Serendipity Studio and author of successful craft books –  Sew Serendipity, Sew Serendipity Bags and soon to release her third….

  

What inspired you to start designing patterns?

I have sewn all of my life. Even as a teenager, my mother and I would manipulate commercial patterns to suit our tastes, so I think designing has always been in my blood. I spent the first several years of my career as an elementary school teacher, but I yearned to have a business that was centered around sewing.  It seemed like a natural progression to take what I had been doing for myself all these years and make it applicable for everyone. I design my own slopers with specialized software that helps me grade the sizes for my designs. I have been in business since 2001 and consider it the best decision I ever made for myself!

  

 Is there anything in particular that you enjoy designing the most?

That is a tough question to answer since I love all aspects of the design process! Every type of design presents with its own set of challenges. The most challenging types of designs are probably jackets, followed by dresses, then skirts as the easiest. For any design, my favorite part is after the pattern has been tweaked for the fit. This is when I get to play with the design, adding little details and coming up with the different variations. This is where I get all the fabrics out and mix them around to get the look I am after. So there probably isn’t a favorite type of garment for me, I love designing them all!

 Talk me through a day in the life of Kay Whitt….

I usually start my day checking email and attending to orders. Once that is done, I get on Facebook for a while and talk with fans and friends, then settle into whatever needs to be addressed for the day. Sometimes I will spend days at the computer working with designs and writing instructions (or writing blog posts), other days I spend in the studio getting samples created. The late afternoons and early evenings are reserved for working out and getting dinner together. I usually save my evenings for doing handwork on the sofa in front of the TV with baseball or basketball in the background. I have gotten really good at listening to games so I can keep my eyes on the work I am doing!

  

 Do you have a proudest career moment to date?

My proudest moment was when my first book, Sew Serendipity, came out in 2010. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of seeing a lot of work come together in a lovely package ready for others to enjoy! I enjoyed the process so much that I wrote a bag book, Sew Serendipity Bags, which came out in the fall of 2011. I am due to have a third book out this fall, so the book writing thing has been quite rewarding, even though it is a lot of planning and work.

  

 Any advice for someone wanting to start sewing but not sure where to start?

I suggest starting with a small project that can be finished in a short amount of time. Pillows and simple bags are a great way to learn the process of choosing fabrics and do some basic sewing without getting too involved. I think getting to see a project come together quickly is key so that you are inspired to try another in short order. Once you are on the path of honing your skills, a simple skirt is a great project and a wonderful way to break into garment sewing.

  

How is the rest of 2012 shaping up?

2012 has been flying by so far. I am amazed that we are already almost halfway through the year! I find myself wondering where the time went. I have a few appearances and speaking engagements over the summer, and of course I will be working on the fall collection of pattern designs before too long. I already have a long list of ideas to explore, so there should be some exciting stuff come October. Plus, my third book is scheduled for release in the fall as well! It’s busy and happy times here at the studio.

Thanks very much to Kay for sharing her work and inspiration with us ! 

Pop on over to the Sew Serendipity site to have a look at more of Kay’s superb patterns and books. You can also find her patterns online throughout the UK.

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INSPIRE ME – with The Sleep Room

I am always inspired by someone who can create a really successful business from scratch and that is exactly what Charlie Marshall – owner of furniture and accessories brand – The Sleep Room ( soon to be renamed Loaf ) has achieved.

The Sleep Room is one of the fastest growing companies in the UK and it’s no surprise. They have the right mixture of stylish, lovely products, and good customer care.

So, I am really happy today to be featuring Charlie today on my ‘Inspire Me’ post….

How did you start The Sleep Room? Was it something you always wanted to do?

It wasn’t something that was part of the big life plan for me. I started off with a soup factory, something at the other end of the scale to beds. It was my first business which I set up in 1999 and sold in 2007. It was an incredibly tough learning curve but we eventually became the supplier of choice for clients such as Pret a Manger, Pizza Express, Caffe Nero, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Eurostar. It was possibly the best learning experience I could have hoped for and it made my objectives for starting The Sleep Room very clear. After selling Primal Soup, I bought a new house and went off to find a new bed. After a really stressful Saturday, traipsing around the usual suspects, I made the decision then and there to make bed buying hassle free and the process quick and simple. So two years, 187 mattress factories, four continents and some seriously comfy beds later, The Sleep Room was born in January 2009.

What inspired the name change? How did you come up with the name Loaf?

We wanted to move outside the bedroom to offer products for the whole home. And while we were planning the launch of our sofas I had the nagging feeling that we would have to start making excuses as to why The Sleep Room was offering sofas. This was only going to get worse as we launched kitchen tables etc! I then thought that if I could choose any name in the world it would be www.loaf.com as it fitted in with our whole ethos of relaxed elegance and four letter brand names are easy to remember. But I reckoned that there was no real chance of it being available. But by complete luck it turned out that the domain was available and so after a week of haggling with some nice dude in Florida the site became ours.

What do you consider to be your signature product?

Our best sellers are our French beds. We’ve had them since we started and they have remained consistently popular. I don’t really consider any of our products as being signature as we’ve carefully chosen and designed them to complement and work well when you put them together.

I love your vintage style furniture – have you always been a lover of retro?

I wouldn’t say I am a lover of retro per se although I do have quite a bit of mid-century furniture in my own home. What I have always loved is mixing pieces up from different eras: an old French bed with a 20th century Knoll side table and some fifties Danish lamps gets me going, for example!

What would you say is your main ethos?

Treat your customers as you would want to be treated yourself. I personally hate shopping as I don’t like being confronted with a large choice. So at The Sleep Room we only offer a select range of products I would be happy to have in my own home which are both great value and look nice.

Can you offer some advice for new online companies?

Think of your website as you would a bricks and mortar shop: invest in as good a website as you can and it will save you a fortune as you grow.

What’s in store for Loaf for the rest of this year and beyond?

We want to become a British institution known for amazing products and service. We’re already one of the fastest-growing companies in the UK, but we’re thinking much bigger. We’re planning on extending our offering to cover the whole house within the next 18 months (we have floor rugs, kitchen tables and chairs coming out at the start of next year). And after that we’ll be opening an enormous destination outlet complete with kids pool in summer, ice rink in winter and all sorts of other fun things to make it as fun an experience as possible.

I’m looking forward to that :) Thanks Charlie !

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INSPIRE ME – with 2d Scrumptious

Todays feature is focused on Steven Lenton – the talent behind fabulous character based print company 2d Scrumptious and children’s book illustrator.

Steven, is also an animator and illustrator who has Art directed BAFTA winning animations.


Where do you get the inspiration for your wonderful 2d Scrumptious prints?

My original inspiration was Crouch End where I live – this was a great starting point for the creation of a range of characters, dogs and beloved local landmarks. This lead to more dogs designs, then the Royal Wedding and Diamond Jubilee. My new work is going to feature a range of Zoo animals in tweed!


  

Can you tell me about your children’s books that will be available to buy soon?

My first release is a board book with Little Tiger Press called ‘Five Christmas Penguins’ This fun book has a very eye-catching, red shiny cover and will available exclusively at Sainsburys from September. I am currently working on the follow up to this featuring a family of very cute Snowmen.

My second is a picture book written by award-winning author Tracey Corderoy entitled ‘Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam’ all about two robber-dogs that discover the wonders of baking! This is with publisher Nosy Crow and is out next March.

Is this something you’ve always wanted to do?

Yes I have always wanted to make children’s books and create a brand/products. Anything that involves designing characters is something that I really enjoy so this is a great way of inventing new characters every day

How did you make the transition from animation to illustration?

When I had long animation contracts I would work on my own ideas and characters in the evenings and weekends – it took years to build my confidence to finally work on my first prints for the exhibition in Crouch End that I did with Mia Nilsson at The Haberdashery cafe. The exhibition went really well and these prints are still selling well today. From this I built a portfolio suitable to send to Children’s book agents and publishers and fortunately I was signed up.

You have a very long list of work credits – I’d love to know if you have any personal highlights so far?

My first job working at Ragdoll has a special place in my heart. Visiting the Teletubby set and working with the creators of this show and In The Night Garden was a great experience and I learned a lot about TV production. Holby City was also very different – I was starstruck on a daily basis, having lunch next to members of the Eastenders cast in the BBC canteen was truly surreal!


What is the best piece of advice you could give to someone wanting to start a career in your field?

Its such a cliché but keeping drawing really is the key. Using observational drawing as the basis for all your work is the best way to create original and refreshing design.

What does the rest of 2012 hold for you?

I’m working on a new brand idea involving a collection of very charming little characters. I will also be starting work on my second Nosy Crow book and preparing for the book launch of ‘Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam.’ I’m very excited about this as there will be lots of activities for little ones and fun products based on these two loveable dog characters!

You can find 2d Scrumptious prints, cards and other lovely goodies at notonthehighstreet.com Thanks to Steven – I am in awe !

 

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