Posts Categorised: Interviews

My new Podcast Series – Live Your Own Way

Podcast logo graphic design

Hope this weeks is a good one for you. I’m updating briefly because I’ve recorded the first in my new Podcast series called Live Your Own Way. Something that has been on the cards for some time and having a little more time over the last few months at home has encouraged me to start.

Horace Panter Art Japanesing vending machine colourful

Each week, I’m chatting to interesting and inspiring people in the field of design and interiors about their careers, lives and their own homes. Feel really chuffed that guest number one is the lovely Horace Panter, contemporary artist and founder of Two Tone and Ska Band The Specials. I’ve been a fan of his work for a long time after attending one of his Exhibitions in London. His work is right up my street – colourful iconography in style, with a definite music theme running throughout – like his mix tape screen prints, which we have a few of here at home.

He’s had a fascinating career so far, I could’ve asked him a million questions but managed to whittle it down to just quite a few :)

The artwork above is from his Japanese Vending Machines Collection. Some of my favourites, we chatted about his travels and how he chose his colour palette.

American Beach Hut Horace Panter ArtDiner USA colourful Horace Panter art

Horace also creates Cassette Tape pieces. We have some here at home – If you like me, grew up in the era of recording ‘ off ‘ the radio and making up mix tapes then you’ll enjoy the selection of songs he selected as his ultimate 30 minute play list.

If you’d like to have a listen to Horace and I having a chat then here’s the link above.
I hope you enjoy it and if you do – subscribe for more by clicking on my apple podcast link in the right hand column. Next week is another really interesting one too.

Also I must add that my clever tech husband who does this kinda thing for a living usually in music, produced the Podcast. Thanks Andy :)

Really want to say a HUGE thank you to Karina Mansfield who produced the cover for my Podcast (at the top ). Karina is another artist that I love  – and she kindly offered to create the artwork for me. Please check her website out. She does the most brilliant bespoke commissions of people and of pets. She also has a lovely vivid instagram page full of cool pictures. Do have a look !

Interview – Little Greene’s Marketing Director Ruth Mottershead

So, here we are in 2020. Hope you had a good break ? I thought I would start off the year with an inspiring interview I did recently with Little Greene’s Marketing Director  – Ruth Mottershead all about her job role and how this family run company work together to produce their new colours and prints each year. 

As an interior designer I tend to seek out brands that are consistently reliable for both work and home. I’m a huge fan of Little Greene’s environmentally friendly ethos, twinned with their incredible paint and wallpaper palettes, having used them many times.

There were many questions I wanted to ask and hope I’ve covered anything you might like to know too …

Little Greene

Ruth, can you tell me a bit about Little Greene’s history and how the company was founded ?

Little Greene has historical roots dating back to the early 1700s when the Little Greene Dye Works, based on the outskirts of Manchester made paints and dye solutions for the cotton industry. The original home of Little Greene is one of England’s most ancient industrial sites for making paints and Little Greene as we know it today was founded by my father David Mottershead. Colour has always been a huge part of our family life, David trained as a chemist at university and worked in the paint industry for many years before founding Little Greene. My father’s creativity and love for art combined with his technical knowledge inspired him to create beautiful colours and high-quality paints. Little Greene was certainly something that evolved around our home and one of our first colour cards was actually produced around the kitchen table. My brother and I joined my father nine years ago and my role today is at the front end of the business as Marketing Director. My role has been taught both through experience, within the industry environment as well as marketing training – I have a masters in Digital Marketing to assist in the ever changing way our consumers wish to choose colour.

My career started in London as a Landscape Architect, designing outdoor public spaces including urban and green spaces as well as heritage sites. The job was certainly inspired by my love for design and outdoors – a fabulous chance to be creative in the outdoor environment. When the opportunity arose to join my father and brother at Little Greene, it felt like a natural transition particularly as there is a close relationship between exterior/spatial design and interior design. I have been working in the business for nine years and have experienced much change within the business within this time. It has been fantastic to be part of. We have recently moved to a new headquarters located a little further down the road than the original site but standing proudly in the heart of an area with a rich and envied manufacturing pedigree…

 What is your day to day work life like as Marketing Director – is it very different each week ?

 My role is diverse, which is great as every day is different ! My job sees me creating concepts and ideas for upcoming paint and wallpaper collections, choosing colours for new cards and browsing archives at the National Trust for new wallpaper collections. I write content for our marketing material, manage photoshoots and communicate with our customers. I spend a lot of time travelling, visiting our showrooms, journalists, exhibitions, managing our PR strategy and undertaking colour workshops. My job as Marketing Director is to communicate and this means making lots of talks and presentations. I undertake talks with end consumers, interior designers, architects, journalists and internal staff too. Topics tend to be colour related, based on new or existing collections and how to use colours in combination.

My work on a day to day basis focuses on managing our design and marketing team to ensure we complete our campaigns for the year ahead.

Little Greene Little Greene Paint Factory

I’d love to know about the process of making your paints and wallpapers ?

All of our paints are made in our paint factory nestled in the foothills of Mount Snowdon in North Wales. We’re not the biggest manufacturer but we are obsessed with quality, innovation and an enduring commitment to be the best. Our technical team are briefed to make the best paint they possibly can ! Making paint is a complex process. The first stage is about colour and opacity – the dispersion of pigment into water. The pigment particles must be dispersed as finely and evenly as possible to achieve the maximum opacity and whiteness possible. This is very important as this provides the ability to make a full range of colours that cover in the minimum number of coats. The second stage is where we add the binder – this is the ingredient that holds the paint together and makes it stay on the wall. Our quality binders create quality products with properties such as stain and water resistance, prevention of marking and cleanability – all required for busy households ! After this the final ingredients are added to ensure the feel of the paint and the thickness are appropriate to ensure the best result on application of the paint.

Our paints are made using premium quality bases and highly pigmented formulations meaning our products are high in opacity and have fantastic coverage making them practical, beautiful and economical. We continue to make interior and exterior paints in water-based and oil-based finishes and we are the only British paint maker still producing a complete range of traditional and modern finishes.

Our wallpaper is made in Lancashire at my husband’s wallpaper factory ( another family business ) and one that is also steeped in great history. The machines they use to make our wallpapers date back to the 1830s – yes they are still using the same machines today ! Our main method of wallpaper printing is Surface Printing – this creates a beautiful painterly look that combines perfectly with our paint colours.

Our historic wallpaper designs and paint colours are sourced from historic archives. At the start of January 2018 we began a collaboration with the National Trust. With access to their properties, we conducted an extensive research project to uncover original colours and to tell the stories of the people who first enjoyed them. We uncovered over 200 shades from which we created a shortlist of 31 beautiful greens, these formed the ‘ Green’ colour card which has been a great success.

In January, we will launch ‘ National Trust Papers ’ an eclectic collection of contemporary wallpapers based on original designs from the National Trust’s properties. The beauty of working with the National Trust is that many of the designs are still on the walls of properties and can be seen today.

When creating a wallpaper collection, we will rework the historic patterns to make them more suited to the contemporary home, this may mean removing elements of the pattern or making design amends. We will then begin to look at creating different colourways using Little Greene paint colours and selecting 3 complementary paint shades for each design. We try to help our customers to create coordinating schemes in their homes to combine colours and wallpapers with ease.

Little Greene Factory Process Little Greene Grey Paint Bedroom

Do you tend to have ongoing popular colours and shades or does it evolve with trends ?

We certainly do – Grey has been the colour of the last decade ! Grey was a collection we launched in 2013 and was seen as an ideal neutral replacement for magnolia. The trend for grey will continue, although we are experiencing a shift to warmer greys rather than cooler shades ( those with a little blue in them ).

Many factors influence interior design trends, we look to fashion, architecture, market shifts ad well as our surrounding environment. We see trends that last as little as six months or a year and then we experience trends that last much longer.

Prior to launching our ‘ Green ’ collection in 2018, we could see Green being used regularly as a fashion choice. Green has been popular but it is still only just hitting the consumer market. Navy Blues have been a hugely popular choice over the last few years.

It is often the case that the most popular colours are also the oldest. For example, ‘ Celestial Blue ’ was originally discovered on a colourcard from 1807 and can be used in a really contemporary way.

Little Greene Blue

How long does it take to produce each new collection ?

It takes about 12 months from start to finish. Sometimes the ideas for new collections start years in advance ! In September we launch paint collections in London and wallpaper collections are launched in Paris in January. We start choosing and thinking about the colours we want to include in a new collection first then we pass the colours over to our technical team to formulate. There is a lot of toing and froing at this stage as we ensure the colours are as we see them in our minds and on paper! Once the colours have been finalised we start on the colour cards, the photography, the content etc.

The same process is the case for the wallpaper – we start with a concept then begin by scouring the archives for designs we believe fit our brief. We then work with the team to ensure the designs are complete before beginning the colour work.

Little Greene White Paint

Are more people turning to eco friendly paints ?  

People are definitely becoming more conscious of the products that they use and the impact that they have on the environment. Not only are people considering what they eat but also what they put in their environment. The home is an important environment for all of us and we are pleased to be able to make environmentally friendly products that also stand the test of time ! We insist on using only the finest natural, organic and safe synthetic pigments, giving superb depth of colour, high covering power and the long life expected from modern paints. Our water-based paints far exceed all legislation on VOCs with a VOC content of virtually zero. This means you don’t need to worry about solvent contributions to the atmosphere or any respiratory issues, or the smell; they are virtually odourless. Our oil-based formulations contain vegetable oils as a replacement for any harmful solvents. Greater coverage of course means fewer resources used and all of our packaging including our metal cans can be recycled.

Little Greene Paints interiors colour inspiration for home

What do you think is the secret to your company’s longevity ? 

Running a family business is extremely enjoyable and also a challenge, being part of the family means we are in control of our own destiny and can make the decisions that we feel are best for our company in the long term. We have always strived to create beautiful colours and quality products, to the best of our knowledge and ability. We will continue to work hard to adapt to our business needs in all areas of the company in order to create a product we hope our customers will enjoy and love as much as we do.

Little Greene Paint

Is there any advice you can offer to someone not knowing where to start with an entirely new home palette ?

I would always start by looking for inspiration in magazines or online. Create a mood board or Pinterest page to discover the schemes that you like and what you might like to incorporate into your own home. Follow brands that you like on Instagram and make sure you really think about the kind of environment you are looking to create. The next step would be to order a Little Greene colour card. Browse the colours and don’t be afraid to try testers ! The great thing about the colour cards is that they are produced using chips of real paint so you can see exactly how the colour will appear. We would always advise ordering a tester pot and painting large swatches onto different walls so you can see how the varying light affects the colour throughout the day – this is really important. A colour that you see in an image may look very different in your own home, depending on light, shape and proportion of the room, existing colours etc.

If you are struggling with combining colour, our Colour Scales families provide four strengths of the same pigment which can be used in combination for a really coordinated finish- you can find these on the Little Greene Colours of England card. If you need more help then visit one of our stockists, showrooms or our website to get more information and helpful tips on combining colour and how to choose. If you are really stuck, then a colour consultation could certainly help.

Little Greene Paint Green Home Walls

Which colours are going to be big for Little Greene in 2020 ?

 Green is still popular and is certainly taking off in a big way in the consumer market. Dark Green such as ‘ Puck ’ is being used on woodwork and kitchen cabinets in combination with brass and golds. Earthy, muted tones such as ‘ Boringdon Green ‘ and ‘ Ambleside ‘ are perfect for creating calm in the bedroom whilst the bold brightness of ‘ Sage & Onions ‘ creates energy and vibrancy in a lively kitchen.

We predict the use of warmer neutrals and a slight shift away from the cooler grey tones to take place. Natural warm colours such as ‘ Portland Stone,’ ‘ Clay ’ and ‘ Bath Stone ’ are expected to be popular. Warm neutrals are perfect for creating restful living spaces that bring comfort to the home.

Little Greene Green Paint in Bedroom

A huge thanks to Ruth for sharing her time and knowledge. Hope you enjoyed this interview ?

If you want to check out Little Greene’s amazing paints and wallpapers you can do so here.

You can check out some of my past interviews here.

Also please do sign up to my newsletter for updates – just on the right hand side of my blog.

All images © Little Greene 2020.

Interview with BBC 1’s The Instant Gardener Presenter Danny Clarke

If you’ve watched BBC1’s The Instant Gardener, you’ll have seen some amazing transformations made by Danny Clarke and the team. Bringing unloved outdoor spaces back to life and making the owners really happy. I love it. So, who better to interview with some gardening questions at this important time of year than Danny himself ?

Instant Gardener BBC1 Danny Clarke

How did you get in to gardening and then television presenting ?

Although I had a passion for gardening, my career in horticulture started by accident. Unfortunately a sales company I ran for many years hit upon hard times. A friend of mine had a landlady who was looking for a gardener to help in her plot one day a week and asked if I was interested in working for her. After meeting Jo I was bowled over by her larger than life character and took on the job while still being involved with my sales business. Jo who had a passion for gardens and gardening had extensive knowledge. She was a great teacher and I absorbed as much as I could. What Jo didn’t know about plants could be put on the back of a postage stamp.

Over a period of time I got approached by people to maintain their gardens and soon I made the decision to concentrate on horticulture and kicked the sales business permanently into the long grass. It was a no brainer really as now I was doing something I truly loved.

I have always had an interest in design whether it be gardens, interiors, fashion or architecture. So I enrolled at Hadlow Horticultural College and did a one year garden design course. This gave me the confidence to design and build gardens along with maintaining them.
The television gig came about as a result of my trading title which is The Black Gardener. I received a random email form 12Yard Productions who wanted a black gardener to present a gardening show ( The Instant Gardener ) which had already been commissioned by the BBC. Someone in their development department googled the name and hey presto my website appeared. I did the screen test which was successful and it all went from there.

Garden redesign Danny Clarke Instant Gardener BBC1

Which have been your favourite projects so far on The Instant Gardener ?

My favourite project on The Instant Gardener was for Shirley who lives in Manchester. She is a gamester who is mad for the Doctor Who tv series. It seemed pretty natural to design a themed garden based on the time lord. I cut three concentric rings into the lawn. We put slate chippings in the centre and middle strip which were contained with aluminium lawn edging to denote the universe. Random planting of round topiarised standard privet balls and small conical shaped yew trees into the area represented planets and rockets.

A wonky five sided arch made from fence posts constructed by AJ  the shows handyman was securely placed in the centre. This was the time portal that would cause Shirley to disappear into another dimension if ever she walked through it. Her shed was painted blue to mimic the Tardis. A narrow strip of the same colour was repeated on the decking by the rear patio doors which became the landing pad if ever the doctor should choose to visit. It was great to get the opportunity to show that gardens too can have humour.

At this time of year, what would you recommend we start preparing in the garden ?

The best time of year to prepare your garden for the coming year is in the winter. It’s a great time to take advantage of the dormancy. This is the season to repair fences, cut back plants that have finished, enrich your soil, prune perennials, weed, divide and plant bulbs. For me it’s the opportunity that shouldn’t be missed otherwise you may spend the spring playing catch up to get your space ship shape.

The Instant Gardener BBC1 Danny Clarke Interrview

What tips would you give to someone with a small garden to give the impression of space ?

When giving a small garden the illusion of space it’s important to think big. By this I mean try and put the largest plants and objects such as pots into the area. This way the boundaries will be blurred and your eyes will be concentrated on whats happening within the plot rather than taken to the edges. Buying one large plant can prove to be more cost effective than several smaller ones. And the same principle applies to pots.

Instant Gardener BBC1 Images Pond Redesign

Equally, how do you make a larger garden aesthetically pleasing ? 

My pet hate is to see narrow borders. Your garden as far as I’m concerned is about the plants. They shouldn’t be lining up like soldiers on duty along the border. They will look and grow at their best placed in the ground further into the garden. This will give your space a more aesthetically pleasing look and will free them from competition posed by a fence, wall or hedge which they will definitely thank you for.

If someone is looking to extend there living space through to the garden, how can they achieve this ?

A simple way to extend the living space into a garden is to repeat or mimic whatever is in your home to the outside. For example the flooring by the indoors can be of similar material to the patio. Repeat colours in your interior walls to a fence or shed. This will give your property a bit of joined up writing by extending the eye line and give the whole property the illusion of seeming larger than it really is. Another good idea is to place the same plants with identical pots in the home and garden.

Which plants and flowers do you recommend  for this time of year to add lots of colour ? 

March is such an optimistic time of year with the promise of what’s to come. A fab way to release those winter blues is to make sure you have plenty of colour in your garden at this time of year. Hellebores, Chaenomeles ( Quince ), Magnolia under planted with Primulas, Ophiopogon ( black grass ), Pulmonaria ( lungwort ) and Heuchera are particular favourites of mine.

For novice gardeners such as myself – which are low maintenance plants ? 

Most shrubs and ornamental grasses are low maintenance. However there are three in particular that will give you stunning season long colour that I would recommend. They are jasmine plants where you have winter and summer options. These only need the odd drink of water in dry spells.

Lavender will withstand the sunniest of areas and poor soil. The only maintenance needed here is a trim after flowering and a spot with good drainage as they don’t like their feet languishing in water.

I’m a massive fan of grasses and Stipa arundinacea is a particular fav of mine. As an evergreen it gives all year round colour turning from green in summer to a yellow and orange with red streaking in the winter months. In August it produces sprays of feathery flowers. If you’re in any doubt what to put next a plant a grass will often do as they provide great contrast to its neighbour.

Danny Clarke BBC1 Instant Gardener

What projects are you currently working on ? 

I am currently working on a garden design and build project near Croydon. It’s been very enjoyable and provided me with work over the winter months. They wanted me to take my cue from their neighbours outside space which has been done to a good standard. So you might say it’s next doors plot that gave me inspiration for the build. The hardlandscaping is almost complete and the plan is to undertake the planting at the end of April. I’m also going to be involved in some more telly very soon for the This Morning show where I makeover a garden for an unsuspecting mum for Mothers Day.

Can you offer advice for anyone wanting to go down the horticulture route ? 

Horticulture for me isn’t a job but a way of life. I love it with a passion. And my advice to anyone coming into it is to make sure you have a real joy for the industry. Particularly as it’s unlikely to make you a millionaire. But then again who knows and cares.

A big thanks to Danny for answering my questions and offering up some great garden inspiration. You can find out more about Danny on his website.

Do you have any extra Spring gardening tips ? Leave me a comment below. Always good to hear from you.

Interview: TV Production Designer Richard Drew

Tv Production Designer Richard Drew
Have you ever wondered how a TV set is designed and the production behind it  ? Why are certain colours used in a character’s home and who develops all of this and how ? Well, I have some answers here for you courtesy of my interivew with TV Production Designer Richard Drew who has worked on many shows in his extremely established career including The Inbetweeners, Smell of Reeves & Mortimer, Man Down, Alan Partridge, Ratburger, Walliams and Friends, Sick Note, Stath Lets Flats …the cv is wayyy too long to mention everything.

It seems like the perfect time to chat with Richard and discover some tricks of the trade as he is just about to celebrate his 30th year in the industry …

How did you train to become a Production Designer ?

I studied at Barking College of Technology as a 6th form student doing a Media Course in 84 / 85 – pretty progressive for the mid 80’s in East London. I did O’levels in film, television and theatre design. Then I got accepted onto a West Sussex College of Design course 85 / 86 doing a theatre design diploma, a 2 year course completed in 1. Then finally film school 86 / 88 in Newport South Wales, an HND course in film and tv practice.

I went from school right the way through without a year out and finished my education in June 1988. My first day at work for the BBC in Wales was the 8 / 8 / 88 – it’s my 30th Anniversary next month. 
But it goes further back than just the education, as a 12 year old I stood on a professional stage for the first time as an amateur performer and was totally transfixed. Not so much with the audience and lights but was intrigued and captivated by the mechanics of theatre and how it worked behind the scenes – and I loved the smell of backstage. – I still do. 

 It was my Drama Teacher at school who told my Father when I was maybe 14, that I should consider persuing a career backstage rather than trying to be an actor ( something I thought I wanted to do ) as I clearly loved the theatre and was ‘ good at art ’ but not ‘ good at acting ’ – the single best advice anyone ever gave me. I painted the boards rather than tread them.

Billionaire Boy TV Show

Is there a process when you start work on a new project and how do you decide what the characters’ homes will be like inside ?

It all starts with a script. Reading it over and over, followed by a meeting or two with a writer / director. Then finding a location which will dictate a hell of a lot. I love the back story to a character. Why are they here ? What they do for a living etc. I think about colour themes, age of the charcter… where they shop, I love giving my characters collections of things… maybe a bit of me there ?

If building a set interior I try and go for sets with depth; sexy transitions from room to room, sets wide enough that you don’t need to move walls or furniture to shoot in. It’s a lot easier to make a room feel smaller on camera than make a room look bigger. Lighting is vital, windows are useful and building a room means you can make an alcove just the right size to fit a particular piece of furniture. 

 

Comic Relief ImageDavid Walliams Lady image

Where do you go to find inspiration for the production ?

The art world more than anything I’d say – for a designer of spaces and interiors maybe more than the architecture world, which I guess you’d expect – installation artists like Esther Stocker I really love. The Comic Relief set of 2016 was inspired by her work … a collage piece by Sharon Elphick inspired the Comic Relief set of 2013.

Street Art – I love the trend for doing art with fluorescent tape. Furniture design both good and bad. Shop window displays in general are great sources of ideas. Wallpaper patterns, shadows on the floor, the colour of the sea, fashion. Pretty much wherever you look if you’re switched on that way I think you find it.

 I think a Google image search is a thing of beauty as it opens up so many possibilities that endless library searches may never find. Graphic art is a huge influence – record covers. I’ve spent a lot of money on records in the past based soley on the cover art. I’m a bit of a culture sponge, a hoarder and have the capacity to remember and reference things not really knowing how or why it’s there other than certain things just stick. Something as varied as the typography and layout of a Live Aid poster, the colour of Tom Hanks bed in the film Big or a Tom Ford suit worn by Colin Firth at the Oscars. I don’t know whether that’s a designer thing – or a thing that I just possess – but I’ve always been very visually aware and a bit of a visual magpie ( sorry that’s a very lazy way of putting it )

Sick Note TV Programme

I’d love to know which colours you enjoy working with the most ?

I adore colour – certainly when designing the light entertainment shows I’ve done in the past ( Friday Night with Jonathan Ross – the BBC version , Your Face or Mine, Comic Relief – I’ve always gone for a set with colour – the truth is people in light entertainment particularly are quite scared of colour as there is no get out of jail card. If you have a green set, you’re stuck with a green set but if you paint the set grey and light it green, you can change it to any colour you want, which I think is a cop – out. In designing for scripted stuff I love using colour throughout –  limited colour palletes, certain colours for certain characters etc.

If you watch season one and two of Sick Note ( Sky One Season 2 starts this week ) there is no yellow on the set apart from one character who wears it and has yellow props and a yellow car. It was a decision based purely on the fact that we thought it would make that character stand out – although she’s not a main character she acts as a linchpin to a lot of the story. I once did a kids show years ago which was like a Japanese Anime and the only colours I used on the set were the colours of the Tokyo Subway lines. Just because. I love the meaning of colours and the way they make you feel. I love playing with colour tones also.

How would you describe your own home style ?

Ecclectric ( is that even a word ?) – colourful and spacious.

I’ve got the ubiquitous Tolix Chairs and the G plan Sideboard but its mixed with a bit of 70’s, 30’s ,50’s stuff.. a sprinkling of kitsch thrown in. A solid Ikea Bookcase and Lack Bed have been with me forever to address the balance. I’ve an Eames Lounger and Sofa that was in a famous film ( I really can’t tell you which one, no really I can’t ) and there is fair amount of film posters going on and random signage from various travels or film shoots. Christ it sounds like a hipster wet dream. Car boot finds and skip grabbed pieces fill the gaps  – a £12 1960’s coffee table sits happily on a moroccan rug.

I’ve avoided the trend for house plants as I know I’ll kill them but still have an empty Macrame basket hanging from my ceiling. I’ve got Airfix planes in my kitchen and a 1980’s ceramic Buddha in my hallway. But I love it. Of course it’s a little bit art directed. 

Billionaire Boy - Production Designer - Richard Drew

There must be some pros and cons of working as freelance designer in television production ?

I’ll start with the negatives.

The hours can be brutally long Sometimes in the Art Dept it’s not uncommon to do a 14 hour day – it takes a certain person to want to commit to that. Plus as a freelancer even when back home the phone can ring at all hours – script changes at 10pm or schedule changes. I’ve often thought there should be an acceptable cut off time but when you’re knee deep on a project – it just all consumes you and you live and breathe it. It becomes normal and although we all know that it isn’t healthy we still do it.
I also don’t think that’s unique to the Art Dept. Make-Up, Costume, Lighting, Locations etc etc – we all do silly hours.
It’s often a more physically demanding job that you’d maybe expect, certainly the filming part of it.
I walked 9.5 miles in a studio fairly recenly – a studio maybe a bit bigger than a tennis court. how is that possible I didn’t go anywhere.
I was on my feet dressing a set, back and forth all day but going nowhere. 
Dressing sets / solving problems / construction managing a project takes it’s toll whether you think it does or otherwise – punch drunk in decision making. I don’t suffer fools I’m afraid so working with ‘ chancers ’ or new kids on the block who think they know everything can be very tiresome – I would say I don’t think that’s unique to television though.

Oh and you never know when the phone may ring, that can be both good and bad. I still havent got used to it either way.

The pros thankfully outweigh the cons. I’ve met a lot of truly wonderful people in my career so far. Film shoots on the whole are great environments to spend your day and although hard work, are also fun. A shoot allows you to work in amazing locations and world famous studios – my current project has me putting a set or two onto the stages at Pinewood Studios. I can’t tell you what a thrill that is to say, working at the BBC was also always a real thrill for me too.

I’ve travelled a little bit too – Rio, Tokyo, Warsaw and Beijing – to see those parts of the world from a work perspective rather than just a holiday perspective is authentic and how cities should be seen I think. I’ve worked with some immense talent and spent time with huge stars. I have to stress that this is not why I do the job but sometimes you do have to pinch yourself – ” yes that is Stevie Wonder and yes he is rehersing not 12 feet from me “.  ” Yes I’m standing on stage with David Bowie ” – ” yes I will catch Daniel Craig in my arms on this small stunt fall “…
More importantly in light of equal pay and the ‘ Me Too ‘ movement I’m incredibly proud to say that the Art Dept is a fantastic example of where male and female doesn’t matter. 

Buyers, Set Decorators, Art Directors, Prop Makers, SFX Designers, Prop Masters, Standby Props and Production Designers are just as likely to be female as male – and equally paid too. Its based on ability and nothing more.

Sick Note T V Show

Is there a particular production project over the last 30 years that stands out the most as your favourite ? Why ?

That’s like trying to choose a favourite child !

I’m incredibly proud of the 5 comic reliefs and 4 Sport Reliefs I’ve designed for the BBC. I’m part of that wonderful tv family and the history of that show. Always honoured to be asked. It’s where I’ve got to flex my showbiz muscles and every once in a while it’s a good thing to brush off the glitter and mirrored floors.

The 11 O’Clock Show put me on the map as a Production Designer and was the point I stopped being an Art Director so I’ll always have a soft spot for that show. The Inbetweeners for seeing how a show nobody had heard of suddenly become a show that everyone knew  – and it’s always a nice revelation to tell younger members of a crew that I worked on it. Their eyes generally light up.

Stath Lets Flats TV Show Channel 4 designer Richard DrewCreatively. I’d say most of what I’ve done in the past 2 years on the whole has been some of the best stuff I’ve ever done. Ratburger the David Walliams book for Sky last Christmas was a dream job. I had total creative freedom thanks to trust from Production, Matt the Director and David himself – I was like a child in a candy shop on that one. A Ratburger machine that was part Heath Robinson and part Mousetrap board game. Recently Sick Note for Sky, Stath Lets Flats on Channel 4 , the new series of Alan Partridge due to air on the BBC in January and my current project ‘ After – Life ’ have all been immensly challenging but very rewarding. Building sets and dressing sets is the best for me. Creating something that doesn’t exist is still such a buzz. 

I’m fortunate to still enjoy the job as much as I do.

records vinyl collection

I couldn’t miss the opportunity to ask you about your huge vinyl collection. Where do you like to go record hunting and who are you loving listening to at the moment ?

I’ve been buying records almost as long as I can remember. Whats the Abba line ? ” Mamma said I was a dancer before I could walk, she said I began to sing long before I could talk ” well that’s me I think, I’m basically Agneta from abba.

 The collection is close to 4000 now and has no desire to stop growing… 
If designing is my love then music is my passion. I’m not someone who buys for value, I buy to complete a set or because I love a partiular track or I just like the cover. There can be a million reasons I buy but ‘ its resale value ’ isn’t one of them. Because of this, my taste is wildly eclectic.
For example last week at a charity shop in one swoop I bought a Hazel Dean hi – energy 12” , a UB40 12”, a Todd Rundgren album a Nat King Cole album and a 70’s album by a French band called Space. Magic Fly is the song you would know – trust me.
Sure I have genres I prefer – disco, dance, electronic, synthwave, soundtracks, brit funk, and indie but that doesn’t stop the Rouge Country Albums and Jazz albums creeping in or a bit of folk. Anything goes to be honest, I’m unashamedly first and foremaost a pop fan. I go to at least a dozen gigs a year, recenly Gary Numan, MGMT and Orbital so of course I’ve been out and bought some of those albums to join some dots. I’ve recenly being listening a lot of Imagination, Tiger and Woods, Roosevelt, Hall and Oates and Faithless.

Could you offer some advice to anyone wanting to get in to your industry ?

No matter what anyone tells you getting a foot in the door is all about timing. Yes you can study at some amazing courses – particular shout out to Lucy who runs the BA Hons in theatre at Wimbledon and David who runs the tv production course at the National Film School but those courses not so much arm you with the tools but put you in the right place to be noticed. Talent sometimes doesn’t come into it.

 I found out fairly recently that the criteria for me getting on my film school course ( over 1500 applicants for 14 places )  wasn’t whether I was any good but whether I was employable – I’ve often wondered what they saw in me and now I know it was simply that I was marketable.. 
So when I say timing I can only say that the last 3 incredibly brilliant Art Directors I have employed have called me just as I was looking for someone – it was only after they contacted me did I check a cv and get references – it was just down luck sometimes
Don’t be  disapointed if you send out 200 cv’s and nobody replies. Send 200 more. Do low budget jobs, do no – budget jobs – put yourself out there. The more people you meet the more opportunities you create. One day it will work in your favour.
 It happened to me – I did a low budget 2nd world war film at film school in my final year. I hired some costumes and got chatting to the Costume Assistant who got me a meeting with a Senior Costume Designer who got me an interview with the Senior Production Designer who got me a 4 month contract fresh out of Film School.

 The film school put me in the position to visit the costume store but the rest was just good timing and luck.

What are your upcoming production projects for the rest of 2018 ?

The shortest answer I’m going to give.

I’m doing a big theatre stand-up show for Jimmy Carr in Dublin in September – a Netflix Special and October will always include work on the annual Halloween party for Mr Jonathan Ross. Which is where I get to flex my dark side. But in terms of scripted stuff nothing as yet. There are a few things bubbling away so for the time being I’m okay. I’ve done a small amount of lectures at Wimbledon Art College and been a mentor at the National Film School – maybe its time to get the mortar board and gown from the loft again ? It’s also a good time to do galleries and exhibitions.

 I try and make the theatre design degree show every year and also the film school degree show, I jokingly tell people I’m only there to steal ideas but I love talking to design students, you know when you’ve met a really good one.

A massive thank you to Richard Drew for such an insightful view in to his work background within production. Wishing him a very happy 30th year in television. 

Hope you’ve enjoyed reading about behind the scenes production on a TV set ? Do stop by and leave me a comment if you’d like to. Always love to hear from you.

Lucy x

If you’d like some more colour inspiration then head on over to my Pinterest page.

All production images copyright Richard Drew 2018: 1. Richard Drew, 2. Billionaire Boy, 3 & 4. Sport Relief, 5. Sick Note, 6. Billionaire Boy, 7. Walliams and Friends, 8. Stath Lets Flats, 6. Richard Drew’s vinyl collection.

Interview: Garden Expert Katie Rushworth

kite rushworh gardener presenter tv gardening tips advice

If you are a fan of ITV’s Love Your Garden like me ( many happy tears have been shed watching the transformations ) then I’m guessing you will be inspired by my chat with resident presenter and garden designer expert on the show – Katie Rushworth.

Wanting some advice on what to plant this Autumn or how to prepare for next year ?

Look no further …

Which are your own personal favourite colourful Summer flowers and plants ?

Oh gosh this is so hard, I love so many and all for different reasons. It’s like asking someone what their favourite song is. Today I am loving my Nepeta govaniana is has a lovely natural look and delicate lemon flowers. I’m also excited to see my Molinia ‘Transparent’ sending up its wonderful flower spikes, and I have a new love for the shrub Styrax japonicus – it is just so damn pretty !!

You’ve created some amazing spaces with the Love Your Garden team  – which has been the most challenging so far ?

They are all difficult in some way or another, every garden has its foibles – the thing that can make an easy or a tough build is really the weather. Trying to do any hard landscaping in the rain is almost impossible and the site turning into a mud bath isn’t helpful. Luckily we don’t have too many off these to overcome but when we do it’s a race to the finish line and we’re always exhausted.

Which flowers and plants combined would make the perfect British colourful Summer Garden ?

That’s a tough one too as it totally depends on your taste. You could have something harmonious with pale pinks, blues and purples – or something vibrant and dynamic using purple orange and red. I often encourage people to buy what they love and not forget the importance of attractive foliage, it’s around for much longer than the flowers of a plant. A good mix of shrubs, perennials and one or two colourful annuals should give you a diverse pretty border with form and a long period of interest.

What are the best plants to encourage bees and other wildlife in to your garden ?

Cotoneaster horizontalis and Ivy are excellent for pollinators as are Lavender, Monarda, Verbena bonariensis, Foxgloves, Echinops, Buddleja, Scabious, Crab apples and Eryngium.

mediterranean plants design garden

If someone wanted to create a Mediterranean or Moroccan look with our unpredictable UK weather  – could it work and which plants would you recommend ? 

Yes it could absolutely work – Things like Olives tress, Canna lillies, Astelias, Callistemon, Actinidia,  Passiflora caerulea and various palms would create just that look. In the north of the UK however some exotics will not like the cold so always check the label to see how frost hardy the variety is that you choose. Plants that won’t tolerate frost can be moved into a green house or conservatory over the Winter if you have one.

garden design flowers pretty

How would you describe your garden ? 

A bit of a hotchpotch if honest, I just stick stuff in when I have the time and it kind of has to look after itself. It’s full of plants and flowers and generally looks pretty but I don’t really have the time to dedicate to it at the moment – if I’m not away filming with work I’m at home being a mum as well as running my business so I’m pretty ruthless with it; if something doesn’t perform well it gets whipped out and replaced.

katie rushworth garden chairs pretty english

Is your home inspired by the outdoors?

Absolutely ! I love anything that has a link to the natural world. I think bringing the garden into your home and the home into the garden is a boundary that should be blurred – when the two are connected whether by plants, materials, patterns or colours it leads to a more cohesive, holistic and I find a more creative environment.

flowers plants advice pretty colours mediterranean

Where does a complete gardening novice begin? It seems overwhelming ! 

Find out what kind of soil you have and how much sun your garden gets; these two nuggets of information will save you time and effort when buying plants. For example, if you know you have lots of sun and free draining soil then Lavender will do brilliantly !

Could you offer a few crucial do’s and don’ts to keep the garden alive right through to Autumn ?

Autumn is a great time to plant new plants, and access the skeleton of your garden. Have a good tidy up, by cutting back, sweeping leaves and get rid of things that haven’t done so well. You can also divide herbaceous perennials at this time of year giving you lots of new plants for free. Lawns don’t enjoy being walked on a great deal in the cold and wet and any Spring flowering shrubs need to be left alone if you want them to flower the following year. ( if they need pruning do it immediately after they have flowered in the Spring ) And finally – plant tulips in pots LOTS of them ! When they are coming up in Spring move the pot so you can see it when you’re in the house – it will never fail to make you smile !

Katie rushworth gardening book advice tips gardening

You have written a book called ‘ Plants, Beds and Borders ’ how long did it take to put together ?

It took about between 9 and 12 months all together including photography and editing. It was hard work – but I’m really proud of it.

Thank you so much, Katie for the advice and tour around your own garden. I’m going to give the Autumnal tips a go this year.

You can find out more info on Katie’s book here.

I’d love to hear from my readers whether they are keen gardeners or novices like myself ? Leave me a comment with your thoughts under this post or just to say hi !

Lucy x

All images are copyright Katie Rushworth 2017.