Monday, 30 November 2009

designer & printer richard mcadam








I'm completely obsessed with grey right now and so instantly fell in love with these beautiful tea towels from Puddin Head. The label is the work of Richard McAdam, who obviously has a beautiful eye for detail. Not only are the linen tea towels luxurious to touch but the packaging is divine - frame-worthy even, as are the tea towels. A good gift to remember for friends this year.


Which five words best describe you? Passionate; jaunty; lucid, pragmatic, driven.
What was your first job and what path have you taken since then? My first paid job was a portrait commission for family friend when I was 16, that led me to wonder whether I could make a career out of it
What's your proudest career achievement? Launching Puddin Head; my current body of work; seeing my work appear for the first time in a magazine
What's been your best decision? To quit the day job and embrace the unknown of being a practising artist.
Who inspires you? Mexican wrestlers, Oskar Kokoschka, Wes Anderson, Banksy, Saul Bass, Rosalie Gascoigne, Peter Sellers, Tim Burton, David Byrne.
What are you passionate about? Creating beautiful things; finding the perfect line to complete a design; observing people and their eccentricities.
What's the best lesson you've learnt? Measure twice, cut once.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I am constantly curating, in my head, the perfect dinner party guest list. Current favourites include: Groucho Marx, Hunter S. Thompson, both the Francis Bacons, Stephen Fry, Beck, Dorothy Parker & Christopher Walken.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? To open a Puddin Head emporium filled with my products and pinatas.
What are you reading? Juxtapoze magazine; The Jungle Book; Design Icons of the 20th Century.


images puddin head

Monday, 23 November 2009

shop owner allison jones, lark handmade








The December 09 issue of real living goes on sale today and we've featured the shop Lark Handmade. I interviewed Allison Jones about her shop for the magazine but was curious to learn more about the woman behind what's possibly the cutest shop in the world. Here's what she had to say:


Which five words best describe you? Positive, hardworking, excitable, shy, hopeful.
What was your first job and what path have you taken since then? My first job was delivering newspapers when I was 12. I progressed to babysitting and gardening, and I have been working ever since, except for two brief periods of maternity leave (during which I was planning my current business). I worked in book publishing in Melbourne, London and Cambridge throughout my twenties and early thirties, then I launched Lark after my second son was born.
What’s your proudest career achievement? Setting up fair trade production for Lark's popular knitted toy range. Over the past four years we have made a significant contribution to the 13 villages we support in rural Bangladesh, building schools and midwife centres, and helping small communities to be more self-sufficient. The relationship has enabled us to make beautiful hand-knitted toys that have had amazing feedback from customers.
What’s been your best decision? Making the decision to finally stop working for other people and start my own craft business, which is something I'd always wanted to do. It was pretty scary. My husband was finishing a PhD in art history at the time, and we had two young children, so it was a big financial risk but I knew that I had a good business plan and an idea that I was really passionate about.
Who inspires you? I'm really inspired by the CWA and the older generation of crafters. They are incredibly skilled ladies and can whip up a perfect crochet blanket, patchwork quilt or plate of lamingtons at the drop of a hat. And they are most often crafting for a cause and in a very social way. I think the new generation of crafters like myself have a slightly different agenda as we often need to generate an income from our craft, but there is still a lot we can learn from these women.
What are you passionate about? I am really passionate about a number of issues including fair trade, equality, and childhood development. It is really important to me that my children understand how privileged they are, and that they are aware of advertising and marketing so that they can make the best choices that they can as they grow. Creatively, I am really passionate about working with emerging designers, small handmade businesses and independent retailers to promote diverse, thoughtful and local products as an alternative to mass-production.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt? Recently I've been let down by someone who I opened up my business and family to. I've learnt to be a bit more cautious, and to listen to my concerns and confront them straight away in future, although I still believe that it's important to be open and generous with people.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? My dad. He died five years ago, just after my second son was born. My dad was the person who taught me that I could do anything I wanted to if I worked hard and believed in myself, and I would love for him to see me now with my two lovely boys and running a successful business. There are quite a few things I'd like to get his advice on, too.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? I don't have a big dream or a grand plan for Lark, it has always developed organically, through chance meetings and middle-of-the-night ideas. I'm quite happy with how it is right now, and the reception it has had. For myself and my family, I would like to find time to travel more, to discover new places together.
What are you reading? I am in a book club that meets monthly and I should really be starting on the December book, but I am enjoying a huge pile of magazines instead. I am a magazine junkie, and the start of each month, when the new mags come out, is my favourite time! I also have a list of favourite blogs that I read every day.


images courtesy of lark handmade

Thursday, 19 November 2009

uk illustrator mandy sutcliffe, belle & boo








Today I'm off to Magnolia Square, which is back in Sydney after its successful premiere earlier in the year. A drawcard is an illustrator from the UK by the name of Mandy Sutcliffe - although you might be more familiar with the name of the prints she creates: Belle & Boo. She's talking and signing prints on Saturday between 11am and 1pm. For those of you in the rest of the country, you'll have to content yourself with buying Mandy's artworks via Lark & Friends.


Which five words best describe you? Loved, nostalgic, perfectionist, determined, loyal.
What was your first career job and what path have you taken since then? After finishing my illustration degree I taught for a short while at my old art foundation college. Then I moved to London and worked part time in a local art shop whilst pursuing my career in children's books. My first book was published 3 years later and I went on to have another 2 books published; one I wrote as well as illustrated. I had all sorts of other part time jobs along the way, my favourite was having a weekend market stall at Camden Market where I sold my own handmade books and albums. I was introduced to Etsy 3 years ago and I opened my first shop millmollymandy (which I changed to Belle & Boo 6 months later). It was only meant to be a hobby something to do it the evenings, but I sold my first print within minutes and I haven't looked back. I was joined a year later by my good friend Kate, who's background is in design management and we now employ 2 part time staff, it's a very exciting time.
What's your proudest career achievement? I think it was taking part in this year's trade show called Top Drawer, at Olympia London. We attended the year before and that was the first time we had left the comfort of the internet to present Belle & Boo to wholesalers from around the world. The reception we had last year was hugely welcoming, but I felt so proud of all our hard work at this year's show when we realised just how many people now knew who Belle & Boo were and came specifically to see us. Just last week I also felt very proud when I popped into the local book store here in Leichhardt Sydney and saw they sell Belle & Boo cards.
What's been your best decision? That's simple... joining Etsy.
Who inspires you? I always look back to my favourite childhood story books, milly-molly-mandy, Pooh bear, the flower fairies, but there are so many contemporaries also that I love, Jen Coarce is a HUGE favourite of mine.
What are you passionate about? Good drawing, chunky abstract oil paintings, sculptures of children, all chocolate, red wine, walking & talking with Russ, traveling, my family and here in Australia BANANA BREAD!
What's the best lesson you've learnt? Don't be scared of a blank piece of paper, my dad taught me that (easier said than done!).
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Maurice Sendack
What dream do you still want to fulfil? Contentment.
What are you reading? I am too embarrassed to say, it is such a trashy holiday read I am blushing just thinking about it, but perversely I am drawn to finish it.


images belle & boo

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

perth artist david spencer









Sometimes an artwork makes you stop. This is what happened when I recently saw these sculptures by Western Australian artist David Spencer. He has been heralded as a rising young star and has held many successful exhibitions in the past decade. His work is available through United Galleries.


Which five words best describe you? I always find this question difficult, so I sought help from my girlfriend and together we came up with: creative, emotional, naughty, charismatic and usually grumpy on Monday's.
What was your first job and what path have you taken since then? I was at Perth Zoo when I was in my tweens and no, not behind the cage, working in the cafe and I was pretty hopeless at it. Various job since have lead to becoming an operations manager. This has offered security and supported me financially to pursue an art career. Dealing with annoying people and computers most of the day gives me every reason to express myself with painting.
What was the starting point for your most recent exhibition? It was at the Prada building in Tokyo. I took a photo of the external landscape and the composition immediately attracted me thinking, "I'd love to recreate this as a painting."
What's your proudest achievement? There have been many, but getting organised to have my first solo show was a great personal achievement.
What's been your best decision? Asking a girl I approached out for dinner - she later become my girlfriend.
Who inspires you? People that love what they do and finding little objects on the ground.
What are you passionate about? There are many things I suppose, but trying to be nice, listening to others, creating music, art, of course, and letting others know they're great.
What's the best lesson you'v learnt? Try to remain humble.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Really would like to see my Grandfather more.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? Owning a house with an open, sun-drenched studio, living in Cuba and learning a language.
What are you reading? I've tried for three years to read Shantaram so now on the bedside table is Singing for freedom by Ani Choying Drolma.


images david spencer


Tuesday, 17 November 2009

sydney writer emily maguire







I'm always inspired by writers. And Emily Maguire is one of them. I've read her columns for The Sydney Morning Herald, heard her talk at the Sydney Writers' Festival and recently read her new release novel Smoke In The Room. She is a true talent. It's no wonder her first work of fiction, Taming the Beast, was a finalist for the Dylan Thomas Prize and the Kathleen Mitchell Award.


Which five words best describe you? Excitable, obsessive, conflicted, lucky, happy.
What was your first job and what path have you taken since then? My first full-time job was at McDonald's. I was there two years, then spent another seven years working in retail, waitressing and answering phones before I managed to get my first novel published in 2004. Since then I've combined writing, studying and teaching and found that the three feed into each other nicely.
What’s your proudest achievement? Finishing each of my books has felt good.
What’s been your best decision? To trade financial security for the writing life.
Who inspires you? All kinds of people in all kinds of ways. Writers, artists and activists, but also friends, relatives, people on the bus or in the supermarket line or at the pub.
What are you passionate about? I'm promiscuous with my passion - it depends on what I'm reading, what I'm writing, who I've been talking or listening to, where I've been travelling.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt? Kindness is not a weakness.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Virginia Woolf.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? There are dozens. Top of the list right now: move to Vietnam, visit the Orangutan rehabilitation centre in Borneo, write the next novel and the one after that.
What are you reading? The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.


images courtesy of emily maguire

Monday, 16 November 2009

inchmark journal's brooke reynolds





Brooke Reynolds is such a good art director with the craft projects she features on her blog Inchmark that she even makes someone like me think I can whip up a calico bag, bake a customised cake or get quilting. It's all because she has such a beautiful, pared back aesthetic. It's not surprising Brooke was a senior art director at Martha Stewart Kids and Martha Stewart Living. Also, I really respect the way she never shows her children's faces. In a time of over-exposure, it seems so dignified. Not only that, her projects aren't based on money but good taste and thoughtfulness, such as the library-borrowed children's books she features.


Which five words best describe you? Creative, loyal, busy (mom of two little ones), loved, happy.
What was your first job and what path have you taken since then? When I was 14 I starting working Saturdays at the party store, blowing up millions of helium balloons each week. Since then I've been a waitress, a museum gift shop worker, a Christmas elf at the mall, a graphic designer, an art director and a mom.
What's your proudest achievement? Professionally I was most proud when Martha Stewart Kids won Magazine of the Year from the Society of Publication Designers.
What's been your best decision? Choosing graphic design as a major in college. When I was young I wanted to be a lawyer, in college I started out in the film program but my dad wanted me to go into marketing. Once I discovered the design program I knew I was in the right place. I love everything about it: inspiration, the design process, picking out papers, choosing a colour palette, solving problems, typography... everything. That, and marrying my husband.
Who inspires you? Paul Rand, Jonathan Hoefler, my mother, Louise Fili, Heather Ross, Tina Turner, Stephanie Nielson, Anna Williams, Elisabeth Dunker, Joelle Hoverson, Amy Butler, June and Johnny Cash, Denyse Schmidt.
What are you passionate about? My kids. My husband. My family. Good design.
What's the best lesson you've learnt? To try and slow down, to appreciate the little moments, to not be in such a rush for the next thing. Kids make life busier, but they also force you to slow down and watch a stick floating in the water or a kite in the sky.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? My great grandmother. She once convinced my dad he could lay an egg.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? Building a home with my husband.
What are you reading? Howards End by E.M. Forster (I've read it before but it's worthy of another read).


images courtesy of brooke reynolds

Friday, 13 November 2009

interior designer & shop owner abigail ahern







Have you noticed that Abigail Ahern has become the poster girl for interiors. While she has been working in the industry for some years her phenomenally successful book, A Girl's Guide To Decorating, has seen her climb to the top of the ladder, so to speak. Abigail picks up where Domino magazine left off, making interiors fun and fabulous. I absolutely adore her colour palette. Check out her London shop and blog too.


Which five words best describe you? Passionate, fun, maximalist, eclectic, control freak!
What was your first job and what path have you taken since then? Working on the picture desk for Sir Terence Conran’s publishing house Conran Octopus. I got the job because of the coat I was wearing was so long and over the top I couldn’t get through the door. There my love of interiors intensified; I worked on all the interior books sourcing images and commissioning photographers. Whilst there my husband got offered a job in America so we relocated and I took the opportunity to embrace interior design full heartily. I studied by night and got a job as a designer for an architectural company. The rest as they say is history.
What's your proudest career achievement? Having the confidence to open a store – I had been shooting a campaign in the Middle East for a month and totally admired the attitude of the Israeli people I was working with. They totally believed in themselves and their ability to turn their hand to anything they wanted. That small team of art directors, photographers and models lit a fire in me to follow my dreams no matter how tough!
What's the best decision you've made? It was a tough one and I spent much time agonising about it – but about 18 months ago we had a fabulous opportunity to open a flagship store in NY. We declined the offer and as much as I hate to admit it, it’s the best decision we made. Many businesses, particularly in the retail sector, in the US have gone under. Our NY expansion programme could have taken the business down and everything I worked for as it has sadly done for a number of colleagues.
Who inspires you? Designers. I absolutely adore Jonathan Adler, Kelly Wearstler and Ilsa Crawford. Their interiors are unique and individual. They mix styles with panache (trad with modern, classic with whimsy) and follow no rules just their hearts.
What are you passionate about? Design - obsessed about it – think, dream, eat, sleep and drive everyone crazy with my latest thoughts, schemes and projects.
What's the best lesson you've learnt? Don’t run before you can walk – I hate the phrase but by goodness it’s proved itself right time and time again.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Jonathan Adler for creating such a strong business of gorgeousness products that meld happiness with chic-ness. He is going to take over the world you know!
What are you reading? A Wild Sheep’s Chase by Haruki Murakami. Love anything by this author.

images courtesy of abigail ahern

Thursday, 12 November 2009

illustrator sarah dyer







I came across the cute and quirky illustrations of Sarah Dyer via Antonia Pesenti (who I interviewed here) on her blog Maisonette. Sarah has already achieved so much since graduating from university in 2001. Her first book Five Little Friends won the Bronze Smarties Prize and the United Kingdom Reading Award award. It has gone on to be translated into eight languages. She has since written and illustrated four more books: including The Girl With the Bird's Nest Hair (published July 2009) and A Monster Day At Work (due out February 2010). In her spare time, Sarah teaches at Kingston University.


Which five words best describe you? Busy, smiley, gregarious, competitive & forgetful.
What was your first job and what path have you taken since then? My Dad is a printer and so when I was younger my brother and I used to tie string to tags or collate huge piles of paper swatches for pocket money. The noise and smell of a printing factory brings back memories for me and I can't help sniffing a freshly printed book or magazine! I had of course various Saturday jobs in as well, and then I went on to Kingston University to study illustration. I graduated in 2001 and was very lucky to have my first children's book published in time for my degree show.
What's your proudest achievement? Dedicating my first book to my family and seeing it in bookshops, especially as it went on to win the bronze Nestle Smarties Book Prize the year I graduated. What's been your best decision? Several good decisions... getting a fantastic agent in the form of Sophie Hicks from Ed Victor Ltd, she is hugely supportive of me and deals with all the nitty gritty stuff like contracts and meetings which a forgetful illustrator like me is not very good at handling. It can be very difficult asking for lots of money for something you feel very lucky to be doing... saying 'yes' to my now husband when he was down on one knee on a random bridge in the middle of Venice... sharing a studio in London with someone I didn't know who is now my lovely talented friend Helen Murray who is amazing and who I miss very much now I've moved to Brighton... and deciding to do an MA in sequential design & illustration at Brighton University... but maybe not in that order!
Who inspires you? Many different artists & illustrators - Charley Harper, Saul Steinberg, Kveta Pacovska, Jeff Fisher, Bruce Ingman, George Hardie, Marc Boutavant, friends and family too, but in a different way. Students I teach at Kingston University, their curiosity and ambition is inspiring!
What are you passionate about? Children's books, going to literature festivals to see, read and draw for children that actually love my books, it's good to remember who I'm doing this for. Living by the sea again after being in London for almost 10 years.
What's the best lesson you've learnt? Doing my tax return by myself!
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? My grandfather - my Mum's Dad. I have met him, but I was very young when he died and I would like another chance. Neither of my parents are particularly creative but I have vague memories of him drawing things for me to colour in as a child. I would love to just sit and ask him questions.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? At the moment it is completing my MA to the absolute best of my ability.
What are you reading? London by Edward Rutherfurd which my Mum bought for me, and It's Nice That 2 which is a publication to go alongside the fantastic blog itsnicethat.com


images sarah dyer

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

tika designer hayley allen








Hayley Allen proves that once a creative, always a creative. A few years ago she had the phenomenally successful brand Skipping Girl. As part of that creative venture she had a shop on Oxford Street, Paddington, near where I was living at the time and I used to love checking out the window displays and what was inside. It truly was a destination in itself. Now Hayley has Tika, which is a venture with a woman in Peru. Money made on the project is invested back into poor local communities. Not surprisingly, the products have Hayley's signature colourful and quirky style (and are a favourite prop for stylists). She's also an incredibly cool, vivacious and energetic woman. It's not hard to see why Hayley has achieved so much.


Which five words best describe you? Creative, adventurous, energetic, impatient.
What was your first job and what path have you taken since then? McDonald's as this was the only place that would take young kids and I was keen to start work as soon as I could. This gave me a good work ethic. While at fashion college and after I always worked in fashion from retail to production to running my own businesses.
What’s your proudest achievement? Selling Skipping Girl to Barneys and Selfridges and being featured in UK Vogue.
What’s been your best decision? Having children.
Who inspires you? Quincy Jones, Whoopi Goldberg, Johnny Depp, Lisa Gorman.
What are you passionate about? Art, music, movies, friends.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt? Be honest and the harder you work the luckier you get.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Johnny Cash, Issey Miyake, Gauguin, Sharon Osbourne, Michael Parkinson, Frank Lloyd Wright.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? To learn how to fly a plane.
What are you reading? The law of attraction by Esther and Jerry Hicks.


images tika

Monday, 9 November 2009

etc by sibella court




There has been a copy of Sibella Court's beautiful book etc: creating beautiful interiors with the things you love at real living for some time, but today I finally got my own. Amazingly, it sold out at the book launch Sibella held last weekend at her shop The Society Inc in Paddington, Sydney.


I see a lot of books, and many with an interiors focus. And I have to say that I think this one is going to become a classic. It's timeless. And I've already got a stack of ideas for upcoming shoots and my place.


If you want to know more about Sibella, read her interview with Daily Imprint here.


images courtesy of sibella court, murdoch books and via strangetrader

stylist heather cameron







How fabulous is this? Heather Cameron is a successful Canadian stylist and producer who lives on an organic blueberry farm called Missing Goat. When she's not creating beautiful images, she makes jam. What a life!


Which five words best describe you? Goofy, a giggler, determined, creative... oh, my husband just added spunky!
What was your first job and what path have you taken since then? I was a shampoo girl at a hair salon for about a week. The silver-haired old lady with the herbal tea hair rinse was the end of that career. I was hired at a florist to serve customers, then became their top designer. From there I started my own floral company out of my home in Vancouver and did weddings for five years. We then bought an organic blueberry farm in the country and to promote my florals, I invited Victoria magazine to come for tea and pie. They did. It was my first magazine experience. They suggested I become a stylist to which I replied "What's that?". Ten years later, it's my full time gig.
What's your proudest achievement? Hmm. Well there are two. One having a fabulously funny daughter two years ago. Then for work, it would have to be when I was hired by O at Home magazine last year.
What's been your best decision? That I'd never work for O at Home magazine again.
Who inspires you? My Mom for her strength, and bloggers - it's all new to me. I've been blogging for a month now, and it's so amazing.
What are you passionate about? Organics, being as green as I can, and teaching my daughter the same. I'm also passionate about white and good pie crust. If you can't make good crust, then forget about the pie. Try a crumble perhaps.
What's the best lesson you've learnt? To force myself to do what scares me most.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? My husband said Oprah, but she would intimidate me into speechlessness. I'd have to say Audrey Hepburn. Beautiful in every way.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? I want to be a painter like my dad.
What are you reading? Being a full-blown dyslexic, reading is not fun for me. However, I am reading as many blogs as I can these days. I'm very addicted.


images via heather cameron
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