I do not have a personal best.

Something popped up on my Twitter feed the other day where someone had a link to their Instagram post saying they were really pleased their new spectacles matched the aesthetic of their home.

When my husband and I started our business it was a way of making things and sharing our ideas. We have very similar interests and designing together works well as well as developing our own interests.
We have always enjoyed looking at how things are made and been excited by art, reading, cinema etc.
However despite working in interiors we are not inspired by lifestyle blogs. These are very much like the clean eating/food fad blogs that are saturating our visual world. I am mistrustful of people that encourage missing food groups out of our diets. Many of these are based on alternative therapies and self diagnosis that certain foods cause un-wellness and so a whole trend (don’t get me started on those) has emerged that is celebrating our selves for our ability to limit our food groups. Food creates memories and fun- staying up late with friends eating and drinking, breakfasts in bed, tea and cake, eggy bread when you’re poorly. Biscuits dunked in tea, picnics with cheese sandwiches. Food is fun.
Lifestyle blogs also perpetuate a myth of unrealistic expectation, when did it become popular to look at pictures of rooms with nothing in them, all one hue? Why is this considered exciting? Is it because we think we should like it? Is it some self flagellation that we will never be able to be as good as this person we see on Instagram who lives off avocados and sits in grey room looking at pictures of geometric shapes?
Our aspirations have shifted to people who wear Lycra and ride a bike all weekend while their family sit at home and wonder when they will come home or the person who makes courgettes into weird shapes and tells us its like pasta. Or the cook who makes a recipe with no sugar, fat or dairy and calls it ‘cake.’
Why would I be excited at looking at a grey cushion or your really expensive lip balm in minimal packaging that you spent far too much time artfully placing next to vase of flowers? What are you trying to tell me?
I wonder if Joseph Cornell, Jean Rhys or Nick Drake would have done what they did if they had sat in a room carefully arranging their scented candles. Our ideas of inspiration have shifted to ones that can’t inspire.
So yes we design and make things but no we do not live in grey box, we have pets who throw up sometimes, a child who sticks stickers on cupboards, we have pictures of things we like, loads of books (oh they get sooo dusty), we ‘rescue’ stuff from charity shops, we eat loads of cheese, drink wine and have sex.
None of us are that tidy and clean because we are humans and we think lots of things and do lots of stuff and I think trying to aspire to that clean and perfect life will drive you mad or sad. We are contradictory and ridiculous and this is not bad these insights are what make people write interesting books and paint complex art and we are richer for it.

As my mum said after a party at a particularly minimal abode ‘I always wonder what you would do if you got locked in one of those places.’

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Charity Shops..

I am a regular visitor of charity shops.. Not just for all the brilliant things I have found over the years- The old silk Prada shirt with a tennis ball print, the 70s Celine top with bell sleeves, the lovely art books, Snoopy biscuit jar, Scandinavian folk art plates as well as the excellent toys and books- Playmobil pirate ship, rare out of print children’s books.. These have all bought joy and we still treasure them today. We also ‘rescue’ things that we think no one will buy- wonky pet portraits, appalling but appealing figurines and souvenirs most of the ‘bad art’ has its own wall and the trinkets have a display cabinet that my daughter and I spend a lot of time reminiscing on the situation surrounding how we found it to each other. I like that the objects we see in the shops are often an insight into people.. The carefully painted Alsatian portrait, the whole collection of Dutch souvenirs, the knitted dog jackets are all hints and at what was in someones life. They are also really good places to overhear conversations and some of my best nuggets have been overheard in charity shops.. “what are you going to call it then?” “something beginning with B, I like that letter best”.

Amongst the charity shops we visit is a jewellers that specialises in watches, its run by an elderly father and son and has never been updated. It is still the place to go in the neighbourhood if you need a watch battery, I’m not sure they sell much though as its prices exceed Argos but it is excellent to visit.

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Charity Shops..

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Charity shops..

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Clowder of Cats exhibition at The Ruthin Craft Centre

We were asked to exhibit our Cat designs as part of the Ruthin Craft Centres Clowder of Cats exhibition.. Alongside other excellent designers-
Lesley Barnes & Ross McAuley, Abigail Brown, Laura Carlin, Alice Dansey-Wright, Susan R. Evans, Jimbobart, Juliette Hamilton, Nick Hubbard, Vicky Lindo, Agalis Manessi, Helen Musselwhite, Deirdre Nelson, Susan O’Byrne, Jenny Southam, Emily Sutton, Melanie Tomlinson, Victoria Govan & Richard Warner, Sarah Young, Jan Zalud

Something for every cat lover: from intricate cat jewellery, cats made from paper and cats that move, to satisfyingly clever ceramic cats. The exhibition is on until February.

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Life Drawing..

I went to a life drawing class this week and it is still one of my favourite things to do. I love just drawing, there is no concern as to who it is for or why you are doing it, much like the feeling of drawing as a child when you just scrawled things all the time. My dad taught me to draw, we used to sketch together and the first real drawing I did was from a Walker Evans photograph of Allie Mae Burroughs, from his series of the American depression. I studied her face so hard and learnt how to readjust my brain from seeing a preprogrammed nose and mouth and to just draw what I saw. I finally got it and have always loved drawing faces since. At art college the life room was my favourite place and I was always wary of those that couldn’t draw but were really good at talking loudly and confidently about their conceptual work. Wasn’t this like writing your life story at twenty? Shouldn’t you learn the basics first before developing other work..? I was ‘taught’ to draw and I would love art courses to be structured with the same values as a plumbing or computer course.. You learn step by step the basics. Maybe then schools would give art the time it deserves. To draw is also a quiet and reflective time and helps to formulate ideas and teaches discipline and structure but then I’ve always preferred the quiet person with a book who can be on their own than the loud mouth.

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New Prints..

My new dog prints will be launching this month.. Hopefully I have managed to include most breeds but feel free to email me if there is a specific dog breed/colour way/ design you would like. More details to follow soon. We are also launching our new website in the next few weeks which will have all the bespoke projects we have been working on as well other new work..

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RIBA exhibtion..

We caught the end of an excellent exhibition at the RIBA institute on Designing the House for Tomorrow. They asked different architects to look at traditional housing models and reconsider how these ideas could work today. It was an informative study of how housing has been envisioned in the past and how we can look forward. What is very apparent is how unaffordable most housing is for people beginning to look at their adult lives alongside the destruction of long term, stable council housing.

We have just spent a few weeks in New York where property prices are huge however there still remains individual shops and cafes unlike every time we visit London where I am staggered by the number of huge empty glass boxes being built for overseas investors- in turn encouraging a faceless homogenization far greater than other cities I’ve visited. When I lived in London as a child I would spend weekends with my nan in her council flat off the Kings Road in Chelsea where she had resided as a long term resident. It is sad to imagine this becoming rarer as the cities workers are forced further out of towns. It is difficult to see a way back now as our government has embraced this cold commodity of spectral inhabitants in million pound apartments and neglected the people who need to work in the city to keep it running efficiently. My nan cleaned rich peoples houses in Chelsea but it seems incredibly shortsighted to forget that they will still need these people to empty their bins and change their beds.

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Stationary range for TeNeues Publishing..

I am pleased to announce my first stationary range for TeNeues publishing.. They include my Cat and Dog designs and will be part of their Fall collection..

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My talk- information updated.

Please note the venue change for my talk. It will now be at the Cartoon Museum, Russell Street. London.

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Hastings and St Leonards..

I went to Hastings and St Leonards with some friends last week.. We found a shop that sold frozen dinners out of chest freezers as well as jewellery and a coffee shop that was also an opticians.
We purchased some nice nicknacks and saw some good signs..

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Bob and Roberta Smith..

We visited Ditchling Museum last weekend where they had some work by Bob and Roberta Smith on show. I have liked his work for some time.. He is passionate about encouraging creativity in people- specifically children as well as avoiding the elitism of the art world. The lettering is imperfect but distinctive and is it encouraging to see this in a world dominated by perfect computer graphics and illustration. It is also exciting to see someone who is passionate in a current climate of blandness.

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Fabric Finds..

There is a street market in our town every Saturday and recently I have been going there most weekends. The stalls are a variety of second hand books, bric a brac and fabric. This weekend I found these fabrics on rolls.. They are fairly narrow so could have been used to edge things or as samples so are a bit tricky to use but they are have a lovely hand made quality to them. The stall holder found them in a town where Sonia Delauney worked and they are similar in style to her work. I have pinned them up on our studio wall so I can look at them lots..

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My Graphic Novel..

I have finally finished my graphic novel Just Getting Old.

The comic is about my mum who was mentally ill for a number of years which we later discovered was a brain tumour. During her illness her life changed considerably. She has since made a full recovery and is slowly putting her life back together.
I have written it for her as she remembers very little of the five or so years she was ill and also to help my family clarify what happened.
It is about a medical condition as well as families and breakdowns of families. I hope it will touch people who have been affected by long term illness as well anyone who has been embroiled in an emotional issue with loved ones.

It was a long slog to do but it’s done and I have lots more ideas for comics in the future.

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Photo shoot with 1 9 3 4..

We were very fortunate to work with Abel Sloane and Ruby Woodhouse from 1 9 3 4. . They source 20th century furniture and design related items, for private buyers, props buyers, set designers, interior designers, stylists and fashion photographers. More recently they have been combining their skills to photograph and style sets for other people.
All these images here are photographed on 35mm film and we like them very much.

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Photo shoot with 1 9 3 4..

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Photo shoot with 1 9 3 4..

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New Year and New Work..

My new collages and screen prints are now available from our website.
We have new products launching this year as well as being busy with lots of interesting interior projects.
Please join our mailing list on our website to receive updates on all our work.
Thank you.

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If in doubt read a book.. Why we do what we do..

When I met Steve he was planning to leave a job in the city that he had been in since he left school. I was doing part-time cash in hand jobs. Steve had commuted for 19 years, leaving the house at dawn and coming home after dinner. We both knew what our interests were and eventually this led to us starting up our business together.
We did this so that we could work doing something we loved. We always said if we could do what we wanted to do and make enough money to live off we would be happy.
As I have said in the past we have made considered decisions- we live in a small flat in central Brighton with one child and several pets. We are not attracted to having a large mortgage or fancy car. If we have any extra money we like to go see cities in other countries. We buy lots of books but mainly from charity shops.

The madness of Black Friday has made me want to write this as I want to clear up and clarify the difference between what we do and what the retailer does.
As a designer we do not make much money. Retailers/stylists and other people associated with designers make money out of designers but we know that and we are doing this for other reasons.

-We wanted to make things that reflect our ideas not to create a ‘lifestyle.’

-We do not advocate lifestyle blogs- these can make people feel inadequate about their lives and encourage a sterile and unrealistic expectation of what a home and living should be. Its okay to leave phone chargers out and have cat hair and crumbs because that shows you are alive and have other priorities.

-Our prices are what they are because all our work is made to order by our hands in our workshop.

-Most of what we earn goes back in business but we don’t mind because we like our job.

-We make things that we hope you will keep forever.

-We think buying things should be considered.

-A lot of retail is detached from what we do as their aim is to sell as many things as they can and this often means encouraging you to buy what you don’t need.

-We do have own some worthless nonsense but we tend to buy these are from charity shops. (such as souvenirs of places we haven’t been. My daughter and I play a game called Saving Things- the sad rubbish ornament no one wants anymore)

-Spending money is a modern justification of why we are living. It has become the main leisure activity.

-Reading books or seeing things is enriching.

-We don’t like trends or fashion as this gives a lifespan to objects.

-We don’t like ‘themes’ for your home- just buy what you like it doesn’t have to match the colour of your cat.

-Our work is about longevity and craftsmanship- trends devalue this ethos.

So work less, spend less; spend time with good people who get what you do. Cook nice food and listen to records and get drunk. Because we are only here for 5 minutes and you don’t want to spend it worrying about what the neighbours think of you.

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People of Print Xmas Print Fayre at KK Outlet..

I am pleased to be taking part in the People of Print Xmas Print Fayre at KK Outlet- Hoxton Square for the whole of December. As well as a selection of prints available to purchase there will also be talks and workshops to get involved in.
More details here.. http://www.peopleofprint.com/workshop/christmas-print-fayre-at-kk-outlet/

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