INSPIRE ME – with Tatty Devine

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

Do you have a current best seller ?

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


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

We’d love to work with Grayson Perry.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

What are your career highlights to date ?

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All images copyright Tatty Devine 2012.

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INSPIRE ME – with Chie Mihara

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How many seasons ahead are you with your designing ? 

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

Are all of your shoes handmade ? 

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

Which era’s do you draw inspiration from ?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I take work on weekends and thats relaxing for me !

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

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

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

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

tomillo-tanasha-tamaia1

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

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

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

All images copyright Chie Mihara 2012.

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INSPIRE ME – with 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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My home made 50s wedding dress…

Wedding 2As I may have mentioned *ahem*.. a few moths ago, Andy and I got married.

I’m not sure what possessed me at the time to want to make my own dress in only a few months, but I’m glad I did. It was a really great experience and I learnt so much about dressmaking.

I was lucky to have some help from Sarah Belinda who knows loads about wedding dresses – it was invaluable, let me tell you !

My hair flower was from Rose Garden Accessories and the heels –  Rachel Simpson.

Our wedding photographer was Laura Babb she was really great to have around. Have a peek at her site..

Wedding1Of course there was the little issue of needing to make three little bridesmaid dresses too….

One night whilst sitting at my sewing machine, literally covered in silk dupion threads I did question my sanity…. but got there in the end !

Andy wore a Paul Smith suit – he looked very handsome and rather retro :)

Wedding 6We got married at The Theatre Royal Bury in St Edmunds and it was an amazing day. The crew were so helpful. We chose this venue partly because it felt right as both of us come from an entertainment background *jazz hands* although it was quite low key and easy going really.

The wedding was inspired by the 50s, my love of kitsch and of course the theatre itself… Dahhhling :)

Our light up letters hired from the super lovely company Vowed and Amazed..

The main thing for us was that everyone felt at ease and that we avoided doing anything that was alien to us. It’s sometimes hard when you’re in the thick of it but it’s important to be yourselves… in my opinion.

Weddign 3How clever is my friend Juliet ? The cake she made for us was just so amazing. The stage looked really effective once the curtains were back with the pom poms and disco balls hovering above us all whilst we ate curry and then some theatre ice creams…. :)Miserable Man sang at the ceremony and he was brilliant. So chilled. I really recommend our band later in the evening too – Ready Steady Go.

Wedding7Hope you like these pics ? :)

If you’re thinking of making your own dress and want some tips – get in touch..

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 All Photography Copyright Laura Babb 2012.

INSPIRE ME – with Bombus.

Today my ‘Inspire Me’ feature is focused on Amelia Coward, owner of unique découpage gift company Bombus.

Mixing vintage style with modern design, the Bombus ethos is “making something out of nothing” – producing pieces such as bespoke map art, Up-cycled stamp art chairs, cards and jewellery to name but a few….

Amelia, what is your early design background ?

People often ask how I got into découpage and I realise that this was something my mother had introduced me to at a very young age. She would give me scissors and an old magazine and I would cut out small images and organise them in piles. She then taught me how to glue the pictures onto large pebbles and varnish them for door stops.

and your formal design background ?

 I studied textiles and weave at Central St Martins; followed by postgraduate study at The Royal College of Art. After several years working in the commercial textiles and furniture industry I was keen to get back to doing something handmade.

The Bombus story ?

It started in 2003, when I découpaged vintage cowboys and Indian comic strips to a 1950s coffee table. I used it for a shop window display as a prop and it sold within hours. This technique was applied onto chairs and a range of home-ware products. Customers were keen to commission special pieces using their own choice of comics and vintage papers. The light-bulb moment came when I stumbled across a box of old maps. The concept of applying maps to the products, took my designs to a whole new world of eager customers. I now had a waiting list of people wanting their own choice of map location applied to the products.

Nine years later…

We are now a team of seven and working out of our dedicated studio space in a converted stable block on a farm in Kent.

Do you have a Signature product ?

The Bespoke Map Heart. Everyone loves maps and certain places hold special memories. The beauty of our bespoke map collection is that the customer can choose their own map location. You can be as detailed as a street name, as broad as a whole country or anywhere in between.

What was your inspiration ?

In 2007, when my partner and I moved house, I made a Valentines card using a vintage map of the area we were moving to. It was a simple idea but I realised that it could potentially be a good commercial product.

Any advice for a designer thinking of setting up in business ?

Get your pricing right. We time each part of the making process against a stopwatch, so we know the exact cost of labour. There are the obvious costs of materials of course but it’s also critical to remember stuff like VAT and the commission percentage if you are selling via a third party. Keep checking your price against your competitors and contemporaries. We always try to aim for a profit margin of at least 45%. You can’t be sentimental about a product that isn’t going to make you any money.

What does 2012 hold for your brand ?

We’ve had a great year so far. We exhibited at a trade fair in January and now sell via more than 30 independent retailers across the country, including Liberty of London who stock some of our greetings cards. We sell via our own website of course and have two storefronts on Notonthehighstreet.com We are exhibiting at another trade fair, Pulse London in June, where we will be launching new collections and developments of our current range. We’re in early stages of developing a textile collection, which we’re very excited about. And following frequent customer enquiries we’re also currently designing a wedding stationery collection. We’re hoping to ‘soft launch’ the wedding stationery in autumn this year with a full launch in the spring of 2013. We just wish there were more hours in the day!

A big thanks to Amelia and her company – I have much admiration for her. 

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INSPIRE ME – with Beauvamp.

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 15.00.19I’ve made no secret of the fact that I really like this brilliant company. My Beauvamp lampshade gets more attention than me, which is fine :) because it’s a real feature and I love it.

Alice, owner of Beauvamp specialises in making one off and limited edition pieces and everyone is unique because they are handmade. Her designs have featured on BBC2 and she has been working on some other really interesting projects recently too… I find her work very inspirational. p00pk9cp

Alice, I think you have a great eye for colour, is this something you’ve always had?

Well, I’ve always loved colour and as much of it as possible. I like a real mish mash and don’t shy away from a good clash! Big splashes of colour can brighten up your day and are great to have dotted around the home. I tend to keep my walls and furniture in pale colours such as white, greys and creams, this helps to really make your colours jump out from the crowd.

Did you study textiles or design?

Not straight away. I used to work in the events industry putting proposals forward for corporate client events, such as set and stage design, team building activities and theming ideas, which was fun but only ideas on paper. I actually decided that I wanted to design and make for myself and see the finished product. I have been interested in interiors since before I can remember and was forever changing my bedroom furniture around as a kid and decorating my walls with all sorts of nik naks. Design was always my favourite subject at school but then ventured off into marketing and events later realising I was destined to come full circle. I eventually set off on a furniture renovation course learning all the tricks of the trade and two years later, BeauVamp was born in 2007. It’s been great to be able to set up my own business working from my home in Derbyshire whilst having enough time to also spend with my 2 boys. I have 2 workshops and a fab sun room in the house from which to create my designs.

Where do you get the inspiration for your wonderful pattern and colour combinations?

All sorts of places. Travelling through India and across South East Asia was a real eye opener with amazing fabric patterns and colour combinations in the local markets. Catwalk fashion from the 40’s right through to the present day along with interior and craft magazines are another great source for seeing what’s evolving and new out there and then creating your own take on things.

How long does it take to create each lampshade?

It really depends on the design, but I usually spend over 2 days preparing and making a standard lampshade with just one fabric and trim. Lampshades with more fabrics and fringing can take longer.

Working in a patchwork method I mainly apply a range of fabrics over the top of a sound base fabric, this allows all sorts of light weight fabrics to cover the shade that would not normally be suitable if using the old and traditional method of stretching. Working in this way means I can really play around with the fabric patterns for example when working with stripes, each panel can be cut to a different angle, i.e. horizontally, diagonally, vertically and so on. Or a number of different patterned fabrics can be applied to just one shade. There are an abundance of fringing options available from hand sewing my own ruffle trim in fabric to applying glass beading, tassels, feathers, pom poms, the choice is never ending, a real wonderland mix! BV2
BV1

I’d love to know more about the vintage lampstands that you revamp?

Yeah, I have been working on these more recently and have attached a few pictures for you to see. I salvage original vintage stands and recondition them. I have them professionally re-wired if needed and then prepare them for paints and fabrics. Paints used are usually from the Farrow & Ball or Little Greene collections and then the fabrics are applied again in a patchwork manner using a fabric adhesive. The fabric is then coated in a special matt sealant that makes the fabric hardwearing.

Do you have lots of interesting commissions coming up?

Well, I’ve just finished some exciting projects, one of them being the new Zizzi restaurant in Victoria, London, where I got to work with B3 Designers on providing the lighting ( pictures attached). I’ve been told they are submitting the restaurant into the Restaurant and Bar Design Awards, so that’s all very exciting and I wish them the best of luck. http://www.restaurantandbardesignawards.com/

I’ve also been busy producing lampshades for the recently featured Ann Robinson Show on BB2, My Life In Books. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01czf06

I also have a few more potential projects in the pipeline for a pub chain and hope to be launching my new online shop shortly www.beauvamp.com …… watch this space! Please note in the mean time all my current stock can be viewed on the following link www.notonthehighstreet.com/beauvamp

If anyone has any question or ideas they would like to discuss just drop me line at alice@beauvamp.com and I will be glad to assist.

Thanks Alice. A very clever woman ! :)

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INSPIRE ME – with Artist Kitty Finegan

Kitty-HiveThere are times in life when you come across an artist that literally blows you away. Well, that’s what happened to me when I discovered Kitty Finegan.

Brighton based Kitty produces art that is timeless, infused with colour and with “a dusting of razzle dazzle”. Kitty has also teamed up with Helen Rochfort to create a fabulous range of handbags which have been featured on ITV’s This Morning programme.

I am SO pleased that Kitty has agreed to feature in my ‘Inspire Me’ post for this week…. Kitty-Paulo-Nuttini

 WIN a fabulous Kitty Finegan Limited Edition ‘Muddy Water’ print below

( Details of how to enter at the end )

Did you always want to be an artist?

I think I’ve probably been an Artist most of my life really, I was blessed with an artistic ability at a very early age, and am very fortunate to have an amazing Mother who encouraged every talent my brother and I had as children. (she still does now we are in our 40’s)

For most of my childhood, our home surroundings contradicted the physical setting in which we lived. Our Dad used to run Working Men’s Clubs, (like tv’s ‘Phoenix Nights’) often situated in rough and ready areas in the North East of England. We lived in accommodation above the Clubs and used to relocate every 3-5 years to a new town. Our homes were always filled with beautiful artwork, books and antiques and we were very fortunate to have the financial wealth that allowed us to travel, and realize the world outside of where we actually lived.

Our Mam was a Primary School Teacher, amongst other things, who specialized in Art & Craft. She worked with Gypsy Children and those who had been excluded from school. Many of these children ended up working at our kitchen table, as their own home surroundings were too crowded and busy to allow artistic expression. Her creativity and vision gave lots of children in her care, the ability to use everyday items to make something artistic and visually pleasing. Her beautiful nature gave them the confidence to be proud of what they had created and how it had been achieved.

In retrospect, I now totally believe the concept of Art being a form of escapism, where new worlds can be created to bring joy and happiness to the viewer or participant. I was very happy to live amongst people who were probably escaping their day to day existence by frequenting the Working Men’s Clubs; taking part in fabulous escapism rituals like Bingo, Raffles, Meat Draws and Saturday Night Bands & Performers.

There have been periods of my life when I didn’t really bother much with drawing though. I suppose my artistic leanings have showed themselves in decorating the many places I’ve called home, and the clothes and hairstyles I’ve had over the past few decades.

I’ve only recently started to call myself an Artist. Grace Coddlington, Creative Director at USA Vogue Magazine, says that art and creations become more relevant when you’ve got an audience. After hearing this I am now very proud to call myself an Artist and am very, very grateful to the people who go to see and buy my work. Groove-is-in-the-heart-

Who inspired you and why?

Early Inspiration:

Comic Illustrators & Artists from the 1970’s. It should come as no surprise that comics were my first love, particularly The Beano & The Dandy. I used to sit in my bedroom as a child and recreate my favorite comic characters, firstly using pencil, then, adding colour with felt tip pens. I loved the way that colour changed the whole drawing and brought each subject to life. Also, I adored the black lines around each part of the drawing, which I often use today. Comics taught me about injecting personality into drawings and bringing pictures to life using facial expressions, speech bubbles, and motion lines & phrases.

My Cousin Dave Robbo

My cousin Dave to this day remains one of my all time heroes. He is a fantastic Photographer and Musician and Artist. I remember seeing one of his sketchbooks for the first time when I was about 7 years old. It was an explosion of black and white line drawings of monsters with eyes popping out of their heads, robots, faces, all sorts of motion happening on a white piece of paper. It was like seeing a mad action film in simple black & white 2d form. He was in a punk band, who were featured in Smash Hits in the late 70’s in an article about the Teesside Punk Movement. I remember going to his flat in Middlesbrough when I was about 9 years old; where all of the white walls had been decorated with artistic graffiti and mad drawings that covered every inch of the walls and ceilings. I was completely amazed at the visual sight of all the drawings and so very impressed with the rebellion of drawing all over the walls of his home. Dave inspired me to always be individual and bang my own drum.

(http://www.retro-records.com/discharge.htm)

Syd Brak, South African Illustrator was the Artist who first inspired me to start drawing the female form. He created a range of best-selling posters of highly glamorous women for Athena in the 1980’s. I fell in love with the tiny details of his subjects’ facial features, particularly their eyes and lips, again, a technique I often use in my work today. At this time I was given a book on how to draw faces and used his pictures, and my fab little book, to create pencil drawings, mainly of women’s faces.

(http://www.sydbrak.co.uk/www.sydbrak.co.uk/AIRBRUSH.html)

Later/Current Inspiration

Maria Rivans: Brighton Artist and one of my pals, creates an alternative world within each handmade collage she makes.  She uses hundreds of vintage style printed papers and cut outs to build up visions of alternative reality where, for example, a landscape city scene has life-sized exotic birds walking next to 1950’s style families, and giant red & white polka dot mushrooms grow alongside tropical flora & fauna. Her work is beautifully hand crafted and technically brilliant. She has found her own style of working and puts so much love and effort into her creations. I love the colour, generosity, humor and darn right quirkiness of her work.

(http://www.mariarivans.com)

Jordi Labanda: South American Illustrator & Designer is well known for creating cartoon like characters; frequently set in a visual scene of 1950’s & 60’s decadence. He depicts women as highly glamorous and beautiful creatures at any age of their existence. I particularly love the fact that he paints older ladies and celebrates their elegance and glamour, which isn’t always recognized or represented in Contemporary Art. We are both of similar age and share a love of 1970’s Euro-Panache.

(http://www.jordilabanda.com)

Jo Malone

On a business level, I’m blessed with inspiration from Jo Malone, a perfumer who took a simple idea and created her own brand, and line of products that are now in the high-end luxury goods market. I love the way she operates and how she has come from humble beginnings to be an award-wining businesswoman who never actually had a business plan. When I have an idea for a new product or range of work, I mentally run some of my ideas past her and imagine what she would say about it all. I find sometimes that I can bombard people with my own ideas and thoughts about projects I am working on. Having a fantasy mentor like Jo Malone allows me to organize my thoughts for when I do present my ideas to people I know; and whose opinion matters to me.

I don’t know Jo personally, but hope to one day.

(http://www.joloves.com)

Precious Murphy

A constant source of inspiration comes from my brother, Precious Murphy who’s also an Artist. I always ask his opinion on everything I design, whether that is a business card, a fine art print, or a poster for a jumble sale that Our Mam is running at the Retirement Home where she lives. He has really good taste and can always see the vision I have for the design because he knows me so well. He always picks out the prints that become best sellers. His work is totally amazing, inspired by architectural drawings, floor plans, sci-fi movies and a vision of the future.

(http://www.preciousmurphy.com)

Talk me through the design and production process…

Once I have a firm idea, for example, the collection of vintage style travel posters I have, I sketch out the design and decide what sort of size the pictures will be. I then take the design into a computer program and decide on a colour scheme. I also use the program to smooth out all of the lines and smarten up the sketch ready for printing. I create 2 types of prints: giclee & silkscreen print. The two methods are very different. Giclee prints are printed in a similar fashion to photographs, in that, they are printed on a large industrial sized machines in a Fine Art & Photography Lab. Silkscreen prints are made by hand and involve printing each colour of the design individually. This method takes much longer and is a very accomplished discipline. This is the main reason for silkscreen prints being more expensive than giclee prints.

If you could live in a certain era, which would you choose?

I’d have to say the early to mid 1960’s. This era produced the music, fashion and design I totally adore. Motown, my favorite music was made and produced in the 60’s and although I’ve been fortunate enough to see some of the Motown Artists in concert, I would have loved to be around to see them in their youth, and at their finest. I love the 60’s look created by the likes of Mary Quant and hairstylist Vidal Sassoon, along with the Italian influences on British fashion in this era.

The 1960’s was also a time of social change, when relaxation of many social taboos relating to sexism & racism occurred. Thankfully we now live in a corner of the world where people can express themselves freely. I’d have liked to have been part of the various movements who helped make these amazing changes. Saltdean-Lido

I adore your Saltdean Lido print, here at home – do you have a personal favourite?

Oohh… that’s a hard question. I pour so much love and devotion to each picture I create, it’s like asking a mother which child is her favorite! There are a couple of significant pictures that I do possibly love a little bit more than the others, but please don’t tell any of my girls or there might be a catfight.

‘Muddy Waters’ was one of the first pictures I ever exhibited. I was very fortunate to be able to show this picture at Glasgow Art Fair in 2005. I sold 25 prints of this design in the 4 days we spent there. This, along with other sales of work, gave me the opportunity to establish myself as an Artist in my second favorite city in the U.K. I thank the good people of Glasgow enormously for their loyalty and support over the past 7 years. Muddy-Waters2

 

‘Laydown Sally’ has a special place in my heart too. I love her hairstyle, the vintage underwear she wears and her lovely little bum. There have been a couple of people who thought her to be too racy, but she was never created to offend or to make people feel uneasy. I think I love her a little bit more than most because she’s caused a tiny bit of controversy in this way. She could possibly be the little black sheep of the family, who I can’t help but adore.

‘My Lagan Love’ is a portrait of how I think my sister would have looked if she had survived childbirth. My darling Mother lost a child before I was born which was very distressing and caused massive heartbreak, as you can imagine. At this time, counseling and psychiatric help was very limited and the remedy at the time was to just get on with it. It took my mother many years to be able to speak openly about this traumatic experience, so I created ‘My Lagan Love’ to celebrate these emotional chains being broken. My-Lagan-Love1

What advice would you offer to an aspiring artist?

I’d say when you’re first starting out, draw, paint or create things you really like yourself. You may find that you keep a lot of your early work, so please don’t throw anything away. Find somewhere to keep your work, whether it is a portfolio, someone’s wall or in fact your own walls. Most Artists are very self critical, which is a good thing because it makes you work harder to achieve near enough perfection. It’s a question of balancing confidence and humility to know when you’ve created something great. Sales and opinions of course will help to establish whether or not something is successful or popular, but learn to recognize great work and pat yourself on the back when you can. Get used to giving at least 50% of the sale price away as soon as you can, as this will be something that happens a lot during your career as an Artist. Galleries usually take 50% commission, and are a great way of selling and showing your work. They have a living to make as well as Artists, so bless the 50% you give them and be very greatfull for your own cut. Galleries can make and break an Artist, so always try and get a good relationship with those who are interested in selling your work. I could go on all day, so lastly, most importantly, do it because you like it, don’t see it as a way of quitting your day job.

What’s in store for you over the rest of 2012?

My brother and I are currently viewing premises to open a Studio Gallery in Brighton this year. It’s in the early stages right now, so we are keeping everything crossed. We will be having solo and joint shows for our Artist mates as well as ourselves. There will be themed months where we show a selection of art, design, ceramics, and homewares that all come together for each theme. These include Steampunk, Burlesque, Diwali: the Indian Festival of Light, and we will be planning something great for the Brighton White Nights Festival. Watch this space.

Thanks to Lucy for giving me this opportunity to rave about myself, my life and my work, very much appreciated. Long Live The Blog, it’s a great way to share information and common interests.                                                                                                                                                           ——————————————–

Thanks so much to Kitty for sharing her inspirations, her work absolutely inspires me on a daily basis! Now for the Giveaway and what a generous prize it is !

Please go to my Comments page and tell me why you would like to win this Kitty Finegan Limited Edition ‘Muddy Waters’ print.

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED

TERMS AND CONDITIONS

I will select and announce the winning entry on Tuesday 3rd April at 2pm.
The prize may not be exchanged and no cash alternative offered.
Only one entry per email address.
No purchase necessary.

Fingers Crossed for ya xx

Another great artist to add to the kitsch mix…

funfair
I must have art on the brain today. Another great  website called EyeCandy by freelance Lisa Ashcroft is on my radar.

Lisa is a versatile artist and also works with tattoo artists by designing artwork for them.

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Do you ever get that tummy flip when you see a painting with all the colours that you love ? Her work does that to me.

Paintings that you can study for hours are my favourite.

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Lisa Ashcroft uses textiles and lots of hand stitching so it’s a blend of textures and wow, the colours are gorgeously bright and intense. Inspired by her own tattoo work and kitsch, street art..

What do you think of her work ?

Lucy x