Wednesday, 29 June 2016

The Masters of Art | RCA Exhibition

If you do one thing with your days off this weekend, make sure it's a trip to the RCA graduate show. A multitude of design solutions await and let's not forget that the V&A, Serpentine and glorious Royal Albert Hall are all just a stones throw away. 

With a housemate now enrolled at the famous institution, I was curious to see the space that I'd heard so much about and of course seen written about by Patrick on my very own blogSurprisingly enough, it was actually my first visit but thankfully I'm happy to say it won't be my last. The array of talent was clear on arrival and after a day of being fearful about the referendum situation (hence the lack of posts this week) it was a relief to see the unity amongst students and the clear passion to change the world, be it with a humanitarian project or simply an artistic piece to bring a little joy to what seems to be a bit of a dark country at this moment in time.

My favourite project has to be that of Ailsa Sinclair (pictured above). You may have seen me post her piece on Instagram, along with a rather momentous caption about how we should be fighting with positive change - but that really is what design should be about isn't it? Why should we sit back and stay quiet when we can express ourselves through creative means and actually perhaps have more of an impact on those who can't comprehend more traditional ways of communication. 

Sinclair explores the positive attributes that often come with mental illness. Rather than a scale of cold words from a doctor, she has made her own set of terms and is challenging perception. By celebrating the positive attributes such as creativity, humour and divergent thinking, she's de-stigmatising mental illness while providing us with some pretty kick ass neon signs to drool over. Needless to say everyone wanted a photo of this, so I hope the message also came across, although I'm sure with Ailsa's eloquent description, it most certainly did. 

Ive included a little series of my favourites below but I challenge you to go an see them for yourselves, talk to the students and get inspired - who knows where the inspiration may lead to eh?


Monday, 20 June 2016

The Sprinkles of Italy | Write Sketch &

While I'm still rambling on about Milan, I think it's time to introduce to you my favourite discovery of design week - Write Sketch & - a vibrant and playful stationery brand that I'm pretty sure actually cried out to me from the street, I just knew there was a treasure to be found. 

Established by Angela Tomasoni and Matteo Carrubba, Write Sketch & is made in Italy and fuelled by a passion for pattern and a love for printed graphics. The design duo originally founded Officemilano, an agency specialising in art direction and branding, over ten years ago. After so many years of immersing themselves in the fashion and design industry, a natural progression allowed them to launch their own design brand, resulting in the birth of their Super Collection in 2014. 

I think anyone reading this is probably a stationery fanatic, right? Hands up if you have a draw filled with blank notebooks (ahem). I've had to become a bit of a stationery snob due in the past few years. Not even I have enough to-do lists to write to fill the empty pages that adorn my desk drawers and these days I have to find something very special to convince me that one of these little objects is needed in my life. 

The Super Collection ticks all of the boxes for me. Geometric, bright and full of pattern, there are four notebooks in total but all come with a double design so really you have eight options to choose from. This also means that the notebook doesn't have to be used a specific way round - my perfect solution to when you actually like the back more than the front!

Quality is at the heart of the brand. The notebooks are made from fellow Italian brand, Fedrigoni™paper which has been bound using thread stitching, allowing each page to open 180 degrees. Using Pantone™ inks, each page contains a border filled with the sprinkles pattern and to top it all off the lovely logo has been embellished on both sides in gold leaf.

The thought behind each design really makes them stand out from the crowd and granted, these are now a permanent fixture in my flat lays, along with the gift wrap that came along with them. The notebook pictured is now always by my side, so much so, that you may also want to keep an eye out on the FEATHR blog. Absolute motif perfection.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

The Free Range Star | Summer du Plessis

The graduate shows are back in town and boy am I excited. For me there's nothing more rewarding than meeting budding designers who have finally had the weight lifted off their shoulders after a year of damn hard work - I like to catch them later on in the evening when they're all a wee bit tipsy and less nervous about presenting, that's when you get the real gossip!

As of Thursday, design week at Free Range opened it's doors and you still have tomorrow and Thursday to get down to The Old Truman Brewery to check out work from students of Middlesex, Goldsmiths and UCA. In the second show of the upcoming weeks, design week is always my favourite and this time I was particularly on the hunt for one person to fire some questions at about their work, the event and what the future might hold for the graduates of today.

Just like last year Middlesex impressed me with the breadth of their work, the sheer effort they made with their curation and the variety of talent they have on their courses. A personal highlight for me was the work of Summer Du Plessis, a printmaker, writer and illustrator originally from Namibia, whose penchant for striking colours and artistic references had me at hello. When you're referencing Hotel Chelsea in your work, I'm sure to be intrigued and I just adore the psychedelic colour variations and freedom I feel when looking at her pieces. Vivacious and organic, the style is unique and captivating,  I hope to see much more of it in the future, hopefully with even more of a bohemian nature. Wonderfully, Summer quite kindly agreed to let me be nosy, so read on for a little bit of chit chat with the lady who stole the show...

Can you describe your work for me in three words?

Colourful, unsettlingly so.

Where do you seek inspiration and do you have any key people who influence your work?

I am inspired by things that are colourful on the outside but sinister or melancholy on the inside. Things that are not what they appear, bright yet broken, like the life of Frida Kahlo, the disintegration of the hippie movement, theatre and carnival. My influences change so frequently that it hard to pin any down, suffice to say that I try to look at everything from comics to photography, fine art to film, literature as well as illustration.

How are you finding Free Range so far? Any other students we should be looking out for?

So enjoyable! If a little bit exhausting. I managed to see most of the Middlesex show yesterday, and I might be a little biased but I do think Illustration really stands out. We're a small, tight course but incredibly diverse, and our tutors are all about nurturing the individual. I was also really impressed by Middlesex Jewellery. This is the last year they're running the Jewellery course at Middlesex and they've based their show around this 'the last jewellers' identity. Well worth a visit!

What are you most looking forward to now University is all over?

Lying in bed for an entire day and reading a book! Just generally catching up on all the culture I've missed out on while I've been so focused these last few months. Going to the cinema, going to exhibitions; I particularly want to see the one on Russian Children's books at the House of Illustration. I'm going to Valencia for a week in September and I can't wait to lie on the beach and draw!

Where would you like to be in a years time?

That is probably the most difficult question at this point. All I can say is that if in a year's time I am still managing to draw almost every day, regardless of what I'm doing for a living, then I'll be happy. I am very lucky to be part of a great collective, Drawn Chorus, so we've got a couple things on the cards, including an exhibition in brick lane next summer. In the long term I love to get into small press publishing, so if I was a little bit closer to making that a reality that would be great!

I'm thinking there won't be any problems for Summer in the future and I can't wait to keep updated with her progress with Drawn Chorus. What do you think of Summer's designs? Give her a follow on Instagram and Twitter and be sure to go and say hello in person too. Thank you so much to Summer for answering my questions. 

INFO: Free Range, The Old Truman Brewery. Ely's Yard, 15 Hanbury Street, London, E1 6QR

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

The Mini Culture Guide | Milan

That gorgeous architecture. Those hidden courtyards. The streets of chic ladies and their matching dogs. Three things that make Milan special, a city full of love, good cheesy food and plenty of sunshine. Back in April I spent five days exploring the city for Milan Design Week, discovering beautiful buildings while sipping espresso and eating far too much dairy. 

The purpose of my trip was for Milan Design Week so don't expect a full review of the city but in typical blogger style I had to share a few spots where we managed to whisk away some mornings and fill ourselves with wine in the evening. Keep reading lovers...

To Stay: Elisa's Place

If you're looking for somewhere simplistic yet stylish Elisa's bright and airy apartment is the pad for you. Based in Sarpi, the chinese area of Milan, there's plenty of culture all around and it's just a ten minute walk to Garibaldi and the Brera district, which is all bloody thriving. With room for a maximum of five in total, the apartment is spacious and full of charm (those chairs and that floor!), although I would say you need to consider it carefully depending on the politics of your group as the difference in rooms is quite substantial. There's a large double room, a twin room which is suitable for adults but is normally home to children and a very comfortable sofa in the lounge - all in all great for friends but perhaps not for a group of couples. Elisa is a dream host and I'm sure we'll stay again next year, as long as there's plenty of croissants waiting for us!

To Visit: Fondazione Prada

There's a bloody gold building here. What more can I say? Although admittedly we didn't have much of a chance to explore the inside of Fondazione Prada, we did have a good nosy around the courtyard and through the glass walls. Everything here is presented oh so well and with an ever-changing programme of exhibitions and projects who knows what you might find on your visit. The whole concept of Fondazione is to promote the sharing of ideas so you're bound to be spurred on by the creativity and inspirational aesthetics regardless. While you're there you must stop for a drink at Bar Luce which just happens to be my next recommendation...

To Chill: Bar Luce

Oh Wes Anderson, can you do no wrong? When the bloke isn't making awesome movies he's apparently designing Milanese cafes perfect for filming in, or whittling away an afternoon writing scripts, as Wes imagines it. Bar Luce is a must-have destination for anyone visiting Milan and as it's based in Fondazione Prada you can kill two birds with one stone, filling your day with culture and pretty pastel patterns fit for any Anderson film. 

Now I'm a lady that has to have an Aperol Spritz on a sunny afternoon and Bar Luce had me covered, providing a sweet little set-up of nuts and mini-pastries to accompany my orange fizz. Set against the speckled hues of the tray table, I didn't want to disturb my perfect Instagram arrangement but alas, the pinball machines were calling and after watching two slightly older men suss out the game, I felt for sure that we were watching the scenes of a movie unfold. Prepare to people watch for hours while visiting this local hotspot, it's a hub of interesting people and those fashionable Milanese I talked about earlier. But don't worry, the bar is prepared for the influx of social media influencers, with usb portals almost everywhere and not a bad surface in sight to mess up the closest you may ever get to starring in a Wes film yourself. 

To Eat, Drink & Shop: 10 Corso Como

10 Corso Como is the ultimate meet-up point in Milan. Hidden behind big double doors lies a courtyard full of plants and hanging flowers, it's a sight to behold and the scenery alone makes it worth a visit. In what seems like the most perfect Venetian setting you can eat brunch, lunch and dinner, simply pop by for a coffee or visit the shop for a range of lifestyle products. Exhibitions also run throughout the year so you can enjoy a glass of fizz on the roof terrace after a cultural hit, all while peering out over the new and old architecture of Milan. We visited Corso Como for both breakfast and dinner, both of which I can recommend for being fairly reasonably priced for the atmosphere and delicious menu - just make sure you try the cheese board which we swooned over all evening and be sure to snap the galactic tables if you visit in daylight!

Ventura Lambrate was my favourite area for discovering new design over Milan Design Week and not just because of the designers exhibiting. The surrounding buildings were absolutely stunning and I found myself looking up for most of our visit. I'm told that there isn't much going on in the area for the rest of the year but I wanted to whack it in here anyway as if you're simply just looking for a walk or a fan of good architecture, this is the spot for you! On a sunny day there's definitely a Miami vibe so grab your sunnies, put on your best pink attire and head down there for some linear inspiration and a reflective paradise. If you do happen to be around during design week, this is the one place I'd whole heartedly recommend you take the time to visit, it would actually be interesting to see the area go from dead to bustling in a matter of days.

To Visit: Duomo Cathedral

I'm not sure any trip to Milan would be complete without a trip to see the Cathedral - if it's your first visit it's got to be done. I for one am always in awe when I see such complex buildings, filled with careful detailing from the smallest of fixtures to the grandest focal areas. It's something we seem to have lost in this day and age so I always take the time to consider the people who worked on it, perhaps for all of their life, to the many people that now visit it to admire it's beauty and soak up the amazing atmosphere that surrounds it. I think we've established I like to stare at people now, but you simply can't beat tucking into a gelato while watching the crowds of different cultures all come together in the square, to take photos and enjoy this magnificent building. 

Are you a frequent visitor to Milan? I'm hoping to go back next year so if you have any recommendations please do send them my way. I hope you're enjoying the slight travel element going on with the blog at the moment too - I'm hoping to post more so please do give me feedback if there's anything particular you'd like to see or know about! 

Sunday, 12 June 2016

The Reading List | On my Bookshelf

Can someone please give me a house with a library? The publication world is popping out so many beautiful magazines and independent books, I don't have enough room or money but each month I can't resist adding more to the collection. Not that I'm really complaining but why oh why are these things so damn hard to throw away? I've compiled my current reading list below, just to supply any other addicts out there with some new reading material - yes, I'm so nice like that, no need to thank me.

Printed Pages: 

A biannual publication created by the It's Nice That team, Printed Pages is one hell of a visual feast, showcasing the best of the talent that has featured on the online magazine throughout the year. With the SS16 edition only released about a month ago, it's already sold out from Company of Parrots, but there are plenty of stockists to choose from where you can pick it up in person. This issue is not to be missed due to it's vivacious covers featuring the stars of Don't Hug Me I'm Scared and my personal favourite editorial section featuring the graduates to watch for 2016. Whack it in your bathroom to provide a spark of inspiration to any visitors and yourself of course!

Suitcase Magazine:

This is a dangerous one. If you're constantly lusting over new places to travel, you're likely to have a love hate relationship with Suitcase, although I can guarantee you'll pick it up every month regardless. Issue 15 features stories from Barcelona, Belize, Costa Rica, Kerala, The Maldives and Tuscany - all looking absolutely glorious and all now on my ever-growing list of places to go. The editorial team make everything look & sound beautiful making it hard to put this magazine down. I normally start with a case of the travel blues but the fashion narratives soon pick me up, making this a firm quarterly and very cheap favourite. 

Skull & Heart Hear Me Roar Art Book: 

I posted an interview with Skull & Heart founder Skye Kelly-Barrett when the Hear Me Roar book was going through the Kickstarter process and now it's the real deal, sitting proudly on my shelf, reminding me of the accomplishments that just one person can achieve when they put their mind to it.  This colourful 218 page paperback book features the work of all of the artists involved in the all-female exhibition as well as interviews with each and every one of them. The epitome of girl power, this book shows how many sassy ladies there are currently in the illustration world and with only 100 copies made, you better get your hands on one now!

Hoxton Mini Press Mini Mini Series: 

Yet another Kickstarter that I've backed and has thankfully come to life, the Hoxton Mini Press series is a pop of pastel colours perfect for the coffee table and sure to provide guests with a little bit of a laugh - life as a hand job model anyone? The playful series showcases the best in tongue-in-cheek photography right now, with Ronni Campana, Emily Stein, Oli Kellett and Alex Holder the artists behind the photo series. I can't wait to see what will be added to collection next as of course I'll be adding them straight to my basket too. 

Failed It!

After popping to the book launch at KK Outlet a few weeks ago, Failed It! by Erik Kessels is probably one of my favourite and unexpected discoveries in recent times. The book celebrates mistakes and I wholeheartedly back everything Kessels says throughout the book. I just bloody love mistakes! Including some interesting case studies and top notch advice, this is a must have purchase for any students or precious creatives - turn your screw ups into successful works of art now, lets get experimenting and more importantly failing. 

Do you have any recommendations for other new books or independently published magazines? Please do let me know, I'm a woman on a mission to create a wall mural of stacked goodies. 

Thursday, 9 June 2016

The Happy Go Lucky Shop | Marby & Elm Letterpress

Tucked away on the corner of Clerkenwell Road lies Marby & Elm, a quaint little letterpress shop for the curious and the creative, a mecca for those with a penchant for typographical and playful stationery. 

When we held the We Blog Design tour at Clerkenwell Design Week last month, this was on the walking path and I can't even tell you how hard it was to get a group of 15 bloggers past the colourful window display filled with an abundance of cute greeting cards and other pretty little charms, including pins and a whole army of lollipop coloured gnomes - 'Gnome Tweet Gnome' being the shops feature presentation as part of the fun-filled three day design event. 

Motivational messaging has taken over the shop but not in a cheesy way - a firm favourite of mine is the 'Fuck Yeah' slogan which appears on pins (fuck yeah!) and other items in the store. The printed gift bags are also a hit with me although I don't think I'd actually want to give them away, instead frame them as they have been in store.

Eleanor Tattersfield is the charming lady behind the shop but ultimately it's a family affair with inspiration provided from her father, who was a lettering artist in the 1960's and 70's (the dream) and a brother and sister to provide shop management and photography. Eleanor’s background is in Art History and the History of London, but after running private art tours in the art world, Eleanor decided a change was in order and she bought her first Adana, setting it up in her garden shed to start life as a letterpress printer.  

I have to put out my admiration to those who mix up their life like this, it's one of the first things I ask to any niche shops I find and I love listening to all of the little stories behind how they came about. What would you guys think to a little post on this very subject? I'd love to put together something about opening your own store, although I'm pretty sure it just involves a lot of love and bloody hard work! 

Find Marby & Elm on: 33 Clerkenwell Road London EC1M 5RN
Opening Times: Monday-Friday 10am-6pm and Saturdays (by appointment).

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

The Secret Designer | MADE Emerging Talent Award 2016

There's nothing I like more than talking about potential opportunities for budding designers and in all honesty this post has been kind of in the making since the MADE Outdoor event back in February (sorry guys, I was sworn to secrecy for a while). MADE have just recently announced their Emerging Talent Award and this one is certainly for you students or graduates, the budding youth of the design world, looking for any potential opportunities to get out in the industry and solve a design problem. So what's the deal you ask? Surely there is a catch? Well actually no, just a great chance for you to get your designs out there and benefit from exposure, production and yes, royalties. Previous winners include MADE favourite Josie Morris who created the classic Range tables, Ying Chang who created the fantastic Grid desk (as shown below) and Gina Design Studio who won last year with their Overlap series which is due on the site very soon. You'll be in super good company if you win! Read on to find out how to make that a possibility with a little more about the brief and what I'm loving out of the entries so far.

The Brief:

"We need more designs for urban communities. Over 54% of the world's population currently live in urban areas - that's over half the planet, potentially needing products that save space, multitask, and help create a tranquil home setting. We want you to design something that answers some of these needs - be it through functionality, practicality or style. And the more innovative the design, the better."

Sounds pretty good, right and as you're likely to be a recent student, space spacing should be your forte! You can read the full brief here

Top Picks so far:
Atlas by Emilios Fattington-Arnas 

I'm a bit or a hoarder when it comes to objects  and pretty publications so of course I like them to be seen wherever possible. This multi-functional table provides exactly that opportunity with compartmental storage as well as hidden areas to stash away the things you don't want everyone to see. Each section lifts up on it's own so there's also no need to take off everything on the table if you're on the lookout for something - a nice minimal design with a playful streak going on too.  

This product is something I want to add to my own home right now. I love a magazine holder and although it seems to be a hot trend right now, along with pegboards and decorative ladders, nobody seems to have come up with such a simplistic modern design as Díaz Hernández has. I love the fact that in my world, this could be used for anything from magazines to zines to clipping on postcards and photos - it's literally my dream. I fear it may be a touch too simplistic for the brief in hand but I see Alvaro does already have a shop so here's hoping Add is added very soon. 
Everyone loves a good light, right? There's just something about this one by Paul Makareth that caught my eye with it's simplicity yet subtle beauty. It's unique, elegant and not to mention it has a brass base, perfect for my metallic obsession. I love to see a good bare bulb too, lampshades are just not for me and this makes it the perfect space-saving element to add to your desk. 

All in all, there are some fabulous entries so far - you can see the full list of entires and further images here. I totally appreciate the work that MADE puts in to working with young designers and it's encouraging to see the products that have rocketed to bestsellers through them. Sometimes you may think that companies like this are just talking the talk through competitions such as this one, but actually they are always on the lookout for the freshest talent in the design world. I actually know someone who was picked up by MADE at New Designers last year.  It's not a myth, so prepare yourself for the possibilities if you are showing this year and if you aren't just enter the competition instead, you have until June 30th,.

What do you think? Will you be entering? If you are, good luck and send me a link to your uploaded entry. 

Saturday, 4 June 2016

The Flat Lay | Five Tips from Paperchase & I

A couple of weeks ago I was invited down to a workshop with the lovely ladies at Paperchase in aid of National Stationery Week. As with most creative bloggers, I'm a little bit of a stationery addict so the chance to go down to the Tottenham Court Road flagship and meet some other notebook fanatics wasn't something I was going to say no to. 

The aim of the game was to put our flat lay skills to test with some of the new products in the Paperchase range so I buddied up with blogging pal Natasha and fellow tall lady Jaye to put into action our Insta knowledge. With a basket full of tropical goodies (not my normal aesthetic choice, but I'm a true pro) I was adamant we go for a bright yellow backdrop - may as well go completely over the top, right? We then decided more was more and went all out with starting to style our props. Louise from The What Now Blog was on hand to offer us some tips and quite frankly I really like the final result, goofy pineapple stickers and all. 

You can see a few of the setups below along with some handy tips for creating your own flat lays, watch out person who does this as a job at Paperchase!

Choose a theme.

Selecting a theme is key to any flat lay, whether that be type of products used, colour or even pattern. If something doesn't fit with the rest of the products, it will stick out like a sore thumb and could unfortunately be the downfall of your photograph. Take your theme and push it. If you're using stationery like we were, there are a few routes you could go down. Militant, straight and arranged for a sleek look or more natural looking by taking some candid shots of the planner open and the pens and other accessories in use. Paperchase & Present & Correct are both great sites to spend a few hours on if you're after inspiration.

Use natural light.

When it comes to a flat lay natural light from above is always best to avoid pesky shadows and a yellow tint. Unfortunately we were in a retail space on the night but god damn did we work hard to get our flat lay in the best possible light. Ideally set up your composition in the morning by a window or even move outside if you really want to avoid unnecessary shadows. If you have no choice but to work inside, set up directly underneath a light and try to put any bulkier items in corners to avoid them casting darkness onto your other products.

Straighten those edges. 

Although you can of course get messy with your flat lay if you wish to, making it work compositionally is absolutely essential. This normally involves making sure your lines are straight and your angles work together. I personally like everything to line up so the border is equal and I'm a fan of everything being the same way. Come on now, get your ruler out and become a little pathetic about it, it will pay off. 

Get up high.

Being tall is an advantage when it comes to photographing a flat lay. The higher you can get, the better as you can always crop at a later stage. It really helps if you can see your screen and keep your camera flat so getting on a stool or using a low table / a flat surface on the floor can always be beneficial, just watch out for the other people trying to take a photo of you looking a tad ridiculous. 

Don't be afraid to edit.

Editing photos is all part of the business but you don't need to be a photoshop wizard to get a good result, although if you do have those skills, use 'em. There are plenty of apps to help you out but in my own opinion steer clear of Instagram's own presets. VSCO is a quick and easy way to edit photos and get them Instagram ready with a variety of pre-made filters and the option to create your own customisations - go for sharpen to up the quality a little, contrast to add a little more va-va-voom and tint to change around the colouring to your own preference. 

Helpful? Let me know by commenting below or telling me your own top tricks. Thanks to Paperchase for inviting me along and introducing me to some other top creative lasses, let's do it again soon. 

Thursday, 2 June 2016

The Craft Queen | Lizzie Lees' Collage Carnival

Realistically I probably don't really see myself as the crafty type of gal and I'm sure others probably don't expect me to be cracking out a colouring book any time soon either, unless it's my own doodle creation of course. In all honesty I don't have the time to sit down and make things any more. As frustrating as it is with work, the blog and my various other writing commitments, I barely step away from my laptop. Occasionally I do manage to make the time though and suddenly out of nowhere I surprise myself by creating a burst of new things that fill up my Instagram feed for a few weeks. 

About a month ago I was invited to the Lizzie Lees' Collage Carnival book launch and I have to say I pondered over whether I'd get much from it - I mean would I ever have time to collage?! Nevertheless, after taking a look at Lizzie's website I was intrigued to meet her and find out how she brought this new concept to life. With the colouring craze a little oversubscribed, I was interested to see how the market was progressing and what was next in the land of creative publishing. 

It's a decision I'm glad I made. Not only was Lizzie delightful and modest, you could clearly see the effort and energy she had put into making the book a success. Her whole personality conveys exactly what this book is about and just from the few conversations I heard at the launch I knew I was going to be collaging an evening away and leaving my phone on silent. The book is full of cute illustrations and amazing patterns that you can pull out and complete little tasks with. I have to be honest in the fact that I haven't stuck to the rules when it comes to following the instructions - perhaps a little too basic for someone who studied Illustration and wants their own creative control. However, it is certainly something I'll be bringing in my suitcase when I visit my little sister (FYI she's eleven), I know she'll love following the guidelines and creating her own interpretation, while putting the stickers everywhere. It's very therapeutic too, so maybe I have just found my digital detoxing activity for one of this lazy Sunday mornings.

On another note, publishing a book is something I hear a lot of illustration students mention as a dream of theirs, so never one to shy away from the nosy questions I thought I'd ask Lizzie how it all started for her. Read on to find out a little more about the book and it's background. 

First off I just want to say how much I admire all of the colour and vibrance in Collage Carnival, it's really refreshing to see something so different and creative in the book world. Where do you gather inspiration from? 

Oh gosh – thanks so much Emma! I think Ive always had a natural pull towards colour and pattern. I'm trying to calm down my house as I get older to make it less cluttered and pattern crazy as a result! I get my inspiration from everywhere – Pinterest is a fantastic tool to collect images on the web. I love magazines like Flow and Amelia's Magazine – they are packed with quirky illustrations and designs. I live in East London and find the vibrancy of the people and the ever changing world of fashion and individuality very inspiring – I love people who travel their own path. 

When did the opportunity arise for you to get Collage Carnival published and just how easy did you find it?

I am very blessed to have contacts within the publishing world. I was told they were looking for illustrators and was encouraged to show my portfolio. I am extremely lucky that they liked my work and together we came up with the idea of doing an interactive collage book. At first I found the whole concept of designing a book quite overwhelming – where do you begin when you have 124 pages to come up with?! But I gradually got into the flow of it and worked out my own method of putting it together. It involved a lot of printing, cutting and sticking! 

Can you tell me a little about the process from the idea to what we have on the shelf today? Has the concept changed at all? 

My editor Lucy Smith at Pavilion Books and I did some brainstorming at the beginning before we landed on the final theme of collage. Pavilion really wanted to do a new kind of interactive craft book after the success of the colouring books they published with Millie Marotta. I was thinking along the lines of a travel journal initially but eventually we landed with collage as a lot of my illustration work is collage based. It seemed like the perfect direction and move on from the colouring book trend. I was given a lot of freedom with the book which has been fantastic for me as I really feel like Ive had the chance to express myself and my silly sense of fun. 

What is your top piece of advice for those with bold ideas but a lack of knowledge on how to bring their concept to life?

Have faith in yourself and your creativity. Ive learnt throughout my time in the industry, that not everyone can like your designs but it doesn’t matter because for every person that doesn’t, another one loves it! You can’t appeal to everyone. Be confident, keep your toes in the world of trends so your work is relevant to todays market place, be yourself and have fun! 

You talk about using Collage Carnival for a digital detox. What does your perfect day without social media look like? 

Digital detoxing in todays busy world is so important to me. Our brains are overloaded with so much information I personally feel it is essential to slow down and get back down to earth by doing things with our hands. So with that in mind, my perfect day would be start off cooking breakfast with my boyfriend using herbs picked from our garden. Then I would go for a swim in Hampstead Heath ladies pond, followed by a picnic with my female friends and some prosecco! Followed by a big collage, glitter, sequin carnival with all my friends of course! 

What is your own favourite collaging activity from the book? (Top tips for those who've just bought it!) 

One of my favourites is the hilarious Cockatoo! They are such amusing and funny looking birds. You can really add personality to your creations using extra papers from the back of the book, adding your own details with pens, pom-poms and sequins. The speech bubble stickers in the book are great fun for adding in a message for a friend or a silly message. It's all about just letting go for your creative fears and just being ridiculous! I think everyone should be ridiculous more often! 

Lastly, is there anything else you are involved in that you'd like us to know about? What is next for Lizzie Lees? 

Pavilion and I have got plans for the next book on the way, but this is top secret at the moment so you will just have to wait and see in regards to that. I am also a founding member of a creative platform – The Exhibition Collective, which gives artists a chance to exhibit their work on a yearly basis at a very cost effective rate with a support network of creatives doing the same thing! We are a great bunch so far and always welcoming new members. Our next exhibition is planned for November time this year so watch this space! 

Thanks so much to Lizzie for answering all of my burning questions, I hope it helps brings some ideas to life for anyone out there looking to dive into the literary world. Please do take a peek at Lizzie's site and keep up to date with all of her collaging ventures. Obviously get your hands on the book too.

Disclaimer: Collage Carnival was provided for free in a goodie bag to me at the launch event. All curiosity to find out more my own.
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