Thursday, 27 August 2015

The Recommendation | 'Heartbeat' by Charles Pétillon, Covent Garden

We all know the sky has been filled with clouds this week – the big dark grey kind that we pretty much all associate with summer now. Not to worry though, if you fancy more of the white fluffy variety of our cottony friends, take a trip to Covent Garden Piazza before the 27th September to catch a glimpse of ‘Heartbeat’ by Charles Pétillon.

One hundred thousand balloons are filling up the South Hall of the buzzing market place, spanning 54 metres in length and 12 metres in width, bringing people to the heart of Covent Garden and providing London’s high-end buskers with an ethereal canopy of white. A pulsating light runs through the cluster of balloons to symbolise the energy of a beating heart and again embrace the vibrancy and effervescence of the historical market.

Alongside the installation, there is a pop-up gallery on the Piazza at Unit 5, Royal Opera House Arcade, showcasing Pétillon's series of Invasions photographs which focus on Pétillon's previous balloon escapades. This is his first venture outside of France and he follows in the footsteps of Jeff Koons and Alex Chinneck who have previously exhibited in the space. Not to mention it’s one of the first tasters of London Design Festival – get down there quick for some extremely social media friendly shots.







Saturday, 22 August 2015

The Up and Coming | Interview | Yunroo Tan

Yunroo caught my eye at Free Range this year, exhibiting along with the rest of Middlesex University – I was impressed by her playful designs and diverse portfolio. From informative design to quirky patches Yunroo considers all of her work very carefully and although she comes across as a modest lady I think she’s got something quite special going on. I really like some of the tips Yunroo has given below so have a little read and take her advice on board.

Firstly, can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your degree background?

I grew up in a small dreamy town in Malaysia, which surprisingly is the same size as London although it never felt that way. I received my first proper training in art when I went to Singapore after high school and that’s where I did a diploma in Visual Communication. Three years later, I'm here in London to pursue my passion in Illustration. 

I'm sure you find plenty of inspiration living in London but what do you find inspires your work the most?
There are so many things that are interesting and inspiring when you live in London; the people, the busy streets, the bustle of life, and the history. However, the most inspiring thing in my opinion is the fact that you’re actually living in London and you’re part of the ever-growing art scene. For me, it feels very empowering to know that you’re part of this strong knitted community that’s growing and evolving - you can see yourself in other’s footsteps and everyone is always willing to help one another. I think that inspires me to make more work and to always challenge myself to be better. 

Illustration is a competitive field right now, what makes you different?
I don’t think I can really answer this because I have never thought of myself of being different; neither do I want to be different. It’s a funny thing to say, but I really think that one is giving themselves too much pressure when actively trying to be different. I also believe that a person’s work is an extension of themselves - so just stick to yourself and you’ll slowly become different in your own way. 

I've said before that I'm a big fan of your quirky patches, how did they come about and any plans for further production?
I came across some patches in a flea market and thought that it would be fun to create some silly patches for clubs that should exist but currently don’t. Club patches have always been boring and they all have a standard aesthetic so I was looking to revamp the typical club patch. As for the production, I'm in the midst of liaising with some embroidery companies so hopefully they should be ready for sale soon.

Middlesex University exhibited during Design Week at Free Range - How did you find that experience? 

I think it was great! It was something new to me as I have never exhibited in such a massive place, but I'm very happy with the response I received. The footfall was great; so many people attended and I think we gained more audience by being part of Free Range. I think it is important to meet people and get feedback from the public because at the end of the day art should be relatable to everyone – also it’s always nice when someone tells you that they like your work! 

Can you give any advice for anyone thinking about going into a creative degree?
First of all, I would say that there’s definitely a lot of hard work involved. Some people have a false impression that creative degrees are easy because they think all we do is sit and paint whatever we want all day. Or they think that the design industry is all about being stylish and glamorous. This is not the case. Of course, if you've already made up your mind and braced yourself, I would like to share this quote by Ira Glass to whoever may be stepping into the creative world. 

“What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me . . . is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. 

But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn't have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. 

It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I've ever met. It’s gonna take a while. It’s normal to take a while. You've just gotta fight your way through.” 

Long story short, do heaps of good work, and be brave. 

What's next on the agenda for you? Internships, freelance or perhaps a well-deserved rest?
I'm working on a children’s book at the moment, which will hopefully be published next year. I'm also creating a window display for Lakes International Comic Art Festival in October. I've always liked the idea of having my illustrations on different medium and as you can see that there’s a range of different works in my portfolio so I'm currently trying my luck on getting some mural commissions. If anyone’s interested - let’s have a chat!

Finally, any other illustrators that have influenced you or you would recommend people checking out? 

My all-time favourite would be Taiwanese illustrator Jimmy Liao. I started following his work when I was twelve and I would say that he was the person who opened the door of illustration to me. His works are highly- imaginative, sometimes melancholic, and I like the fact that he pays extra attention to detail. Other than that, Jean Jullien and Andy Rementer are some of my more recent favourites. 

Check out more of Yunroo’s work via her website:
Her social media channels are constanly being updated with creative content so give her a follow or send her a message for collaborations and commissions. (Get creating and be bold!) 

Instagram | Twitter | @yunroo_tan

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

The Exhibition | Royal Academy Summer Show

It’s pretty obvious I'm an avid lover of anything visually psychedelic or eclectic so it’s quite a surprise that it took me until the closing weekend to visit the prestigious RA Summer Show. The exhibition was co-ordinated by Michael Craig-Martin RA – a leading artist of his generation and the teacher who nurtured the talents of Damien Hirst – make sure you check him out. He picked a vibrant mix of paintings, prints and sculptures  to embrace summer and brighten up even the most dullest of days. Jim Lambie’s wonderful kaleidoscopic stairs led up to it all (cue Instagram overload). The main highlight for me was Tom Phillips A Humument which finished the show. Since 1966, Phillips has illustrated over every page of a Victorian book and the result is a collection of intricately drawn, painted or collaged pages. It’s a shame that it’s all over now but here are a few images that hopefully capture those colourful vibes.


Sunday, 16 August 2015

The Up and Coming | Interview | Katie Alderson of Ideology Workshop

Having spotted Katie Alderson’s striking creations at New Designers this year I was pretty keen to talk to her a bit more about the brand she has been developing throughout her studies. Already equipped with a brilliant website, concept and some rather well-developed products it’s no wonder Katie went down a storm at the prestigious event and I for one am certainly going to be keeping a very close eye on this very motivated lady. This is certainly proof of what you can do with your time whilst at university, so aspiring students take note and crack on. Here’s a little bit of background on the designs themselves leading into a lovely little chat with the gal behind it all…

The Individuality Vessels are spirited creations which emphasize the individual traits of each of the star signs. Katie's curiosity stems from Greek mythology and its significance within the world around her. Cleverly researched narratives and modern stereotypes allow her to playfully design artefacts which each tell a significant story. She carefully considers the materials she uses for each sign and the end result is a piece that has both a concept and the potential to be a shelf show stopper in any home.

Earth, Air, Water and Fire form the inspiration behind the Element Lamps and each one embraces the element behind it with a secondary function. Catering to modern lifestyles the lamps can also be used as candle holders, vases or purely as a decorative vessel making them super functional and allowing you to change your interior from time to time to shake things up as you wish. Again with a strong focus on materials and craftsmanship, characteristics of the designs include knitted bands, wood turned lamp bases, silver, granite, ceramic and slate. The quality and workmanship that goes into Ideology Workshop is really what compelled me to find out more about Katie and I hope her wise words spur a few more of you on in your own practises…

Firstly, can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
I’m a recent Decorative Arts graduate from Nottingham Trent University, hoping to set up as a sole trader within the contemporary design industry. I'm currently working part time in a music venue and bar, so I get to see a lot of live music. Before moving to Nottingham I worked as a dance teacher in Leeds. I enjoy eating out, the arts and my dog, Benji.

A Decorative Arts course is quite a specific degree, how did you end up choosing to study it?
I was very interested in interior design and spent a lot of time doing crafty things. The course explored such a range of specialisms and I just wanted to come and explore all my options.

The Individuality Vessels are such a brilliant idea, can you tell me more about how they came about?
Thank you! I started looking into the star sign theme in my second year for a jewellery project. I research and decide on stereotypical discrepancies for each star sign, and I like to think they each do have an individual personality- which makes for a great theme. I then use different materials to tell the story such as fish scales for Pisces or walnut for the Earth signs.

What's your favourite vessel?
My favourite vessel is maybe Cancer.

"Romantic, mysterious and moody, Cancer’s emotional nature reflects the changing properties of the moon. They want to feel secure, and can be contradictory in their emotions."
As it’s a water sign, I use opal glass and porcelain. I then used the contradictory rock materials to show ‘lunar-like’ crescents. The cotton represents being ‘tied down’ in a relationship.

Where do you find inspiration for your products from and do you have any method for collating imagery or materials ? 
My inspiration comes from information i have collated about zodiac signs. I compile a written file for each sign, along with material swatches. These give a physical aesthetic and help when I’m deciding how to put materials together. In terms of imagery, I enjoy mark making to get an unforced and honest result for the starsign. This would mean; bold brash lines for a Leo or small, orderly neat lines for a Virgo. I collage this together with colour to create individual mood boards.

With lots of students now starting to consider potential graduate exhibitions for next year can you give some insight into how you found New Designers and would you recommend it?
New Designers was such a fantastic opportunity! It is an exposure on a large scale and puts you in front of the correct audience. I met many industry people who have given great feedback and opportunities. It’s nice to hear what other people think of your work.

Do you have any advice for anyone entering their last year in September?
Make the most of it. Be the first one in and the last one out. Try everything. I think it is important to have a reason for why you are making what you are making; it makes your work more interesting and will give you lots to talk about.

What’s next for you? Any exciting plans?
I’m doing an internship for a designer in September so will get to go to LDF. I’m also starting a 2 year programme with Yorkshire Artspace in Sheffield so will have mentoring and studio space to help with the development of my collection. I’m lucky enough to be exhibiting at Mission Gallery, Coombe Gallery, Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair and Lustre.

Finally, any other upcoming designers you love?
I met a lot of inspiring designers at ND in London. I adored Scott Pirie’s glass chandeliers and Joanna Witcher’s jewellery, alongside established designers such as Hend Krichen, Lily Kamper, Pia Wussenburg and Curiousa&Curiousa.

Keep up to date with Katie’s progress and find out more about her Element Lamps and Individuality Vessels via her website:


Thursday, 13 August 2015

The Recommendation | Pop Brixton

Looking for something to do this weekend and not sure where to head? Nestled in the heart of Brixton, just behind the station, lies a new addition to the foodie neighbourhood in the form of a vibrant community hub - Pop Brixton. With its up-cycled shipping containers it would be easy to compare it to the likes of Shoreditch’s BOXPARK but this social enterprise start-up really does have the locals in mind and the people behind it are doing everything in their power to put a spotlight on their inhabitants. Commissioned by Lambeth Council, the project is a joint collaboration between The Collective and Carl Turner Architects and it aims to support local businesses from Lambeth whilst offering workshops, events and programmes that give back to the community - now thats my kind of initiative

Pop provides a space where clothing, food, drinks, art and events all sit under one non-existent roof like a mini inner-city and it’s certainly a lively environment. Theres even a local radio station broadcasting live on all the action. The environmentally friendly shipping containers are adorned with Eley Kishimoto prints (which had me at hello) and the rest of the walls feature street art by local artists. Perfect for a grittier, urban, rough around the edges style of inspiration.  

The shops themselves have been picked to complement one another and not compete, all whilst embracing the Brixton vibes and catering to what the neighbourhood might like to see there. With a few of the containers set aside for pop-ups it’s a great space to discover fresh talent whilst supporting independent brands and offering a helping hand to potentially start someone’s career. For anyone interested you can apply for space via Appear Here.     
 All in all, Pop Brixton provides a little something of everything with everyone in mind and the guys involved in it are really passionate about what they are doing. Most notably, it makes you feel part of something special and this is what will ensure both myself and a lot of others keep on returning for more. With a pop-up cinema showing a short film festival THIS Sunday and many more cultural events planned for the very near future, a couple of sunny hours spent checking this place out is surely a no-brainer.

For further info visit:


Monday, 3 August 2015

The Up and Coming | Exhibition | Camberwell MA Show 2015

I’m a little sad to see the back of degree show season. It’s been a lot of fun checking out the latest crop from various visual communication degrees and I wish it was something embraced a little more throughout the year. I mean, I want to see it all half-finished too! Here’s the last round-up featuring student s on the MA Illustration course At Camberwell – I seem to have gone for anything vibrant but there was a lot to choose from with every student being extremely talented and likely to work hard for what they want. I hope they inspire you too.

Jessie Herzfeld
This striking illustration is only a section of Jessie’s spectacularly vibrant prints. Jessie’s pieces are visual interpretations of poems by Arthur Rimbaud and the French verses appear throughout her series.  The above piece was based on Childhood II and a translated, hand-written version of the poem was placed underneath. I love the vivid use of contrasting colours in the textured landscape and the strange characters Jessie has created to envisage Rimbaud’s ‘Beasts of a fabulous elegance.’ A mixed media process has been used to create the digital collages and the finished article was a Giclée print on Hahnemuhle German etching paper making for that smooth, velvety, fine art finish.


Ewelina Skowronska |
These graphic screen prints had me at hello with their pulsating colours and thoughtful typography, not to mention the Alice in Wonderland references in the How Long is Forever piece. Ewelina has a stunning portfolio of work online which is vibrant throughout and shows both her printmaking and illustration skills. The layering tactics create a modern vibe which makes her ideal for all of the upcoming printed magazines (because print isn’t dead) and I’m sure we will be seeing more of her work plastered over these publications very soon. 

Weihao Chang 
I find Weihao’s work extremely visually pleasing so it took me by surprise when I investigated the prints closely that they were actually based on an alien – Pleiadians. However, Pleidians is actually an alien from an unknown star who has come to save people from their negative minds, what a great guy! This risograph series mixes pinks and blues patterns and characters creating an out of this world combination. The colour on black also works really well and showed something a little different with the pink and black working especially well…


Sadhna Prasad |
The Way Back is a picture book showing the journey of a girl while finding the missing parts of her doll and has been crafted by the very talented Sadhna.  With an objective of knowing more, learning more and travelling as much as possible I feel Sadhna is describing her own journey within the narrative making this a lovely, personal project. Bold colouring and playful illustrations fill this book and it doesn't stop there- Sadhna's website is full of colourful creations and some more graphical content too.

Maite Diez |
Maite’s work is very intriguing and a little different. As the only student I have picked out who isn't all about garish colour coordination I have been trying to figure out what it is I like so much about these pieces. Due to the mark-making and doodled characters the prints vaguely remind me of one of those scrapbooks, likely to have been created in an indie rom-com film, which hardly anyone could ever recreate. There are so many processes used to create the final result and I love the messy lines mixed with the rubbings creating those fantastic textures. There is also a lot of pattern involved and it’s fairly easy to see I am a fan of a pattern (sorry for going on about it!) I'm going to be keeping a beady eye on Maite as I am sure lots of interesting work is still to come.
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