Tuesday, 18 March 2014

'Artist's Tools for the Tate'

I am very excited that the collection I have been tweeting and instagramming about in the last couple of weeks has now been launched by TATE!

Read on for a bit of background and some close-up shots of the range.

Photograph by Rita Platts

The overarching idea was to design a collection that would appeal to and create enthusiasm for the artistic process across the diverse community of the Tate visitors – the young and old, men and women, the professional creatives and the less artistically educated, who all have different tastes, but are united in their passion for art.

Photograph by Rita Platts
Colour, as we encounter it in its material form at the beginning of an artistic project, in paints, chalks, inks and pencils, was the starting point for 'Artist's Tools for the Tate'. To introduce a feeling of authenticity into the images, I explored my own creative process, photographing my personal artistic tools in my own studio (with my main creative tool, which is my camera, remaining backstage this time).

Photograph by Rita Platts

The material that carries an image and the printing technique that is used have a profound effect on the feel of an image. I wanted to highlight this aspect through the different production methods used across the product range of 'Artist's Tools for the Tate'. (The collection consists of notebooks, mugs, cushions, tea towels, a tray, a bag and a laptop case.) The tea towels, the bag (below) and the laptop cases, for instance, are screen printed, while the cushions like the one above are digitally printed.  

In contrast to the gritty texture of the screen printing on the tea towels or the bag in the image above, the print quality of the tray below is super real. The mugs are special because of their screen printed decals, made by a transfer company in Stoke on Trent (whom I consider to be absolute masters of their trade). I designed the decal to come right up to the edge of the cup and am so pleased that they came out as I intended.

Photograph by Rita Platts
The packaging for all the collection uses my signature cardboard
with a glossy sticker :-)

Overall, my aim was to create a playful, yet sophisticated collection that will enthuse others to pursue their own artistic ideas, perhaps make them go out and start 'that painting' or 'that collage' they have been dreaming about doing, after their visit to the Tate. 

You can now buy the collection in the Tate Gallery Shops and in the TATE Online Shop (they are still adding products as we speak). I hope you find a piece to suit you - as always we're happy to hear from you on our facebook page.

Here's to a creative spring everyone!

Ella x

Special thanks to Rita Platts who photographed me and the insitu products in my studio, and Louie Waller who helped style them, & the cut out product shots were kindly supplied by Tate.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

The Making of a Trade Show Stand - for Home Show 2014 in London

So we have returned from our first trade show of 2014, HOME London, and have been busy sorting out all our orders and new contacts from the show. The response to the new products has been beautiful and once again I got lots of compliments for my stand design. Since I always put a lot of thought into my stand, I feel like sharing a bit more about the process of making it ...

To begin with, we took polystyrene letters from polycraftsupplies and decorated them with newspaper and the best neon acrylic around, Daler Rowney number 544, so they would stand out from the back wall that we covered with black board paint. It's a wonderful mat black that makes every colour stand out against it. Below you can see the letters lined up, as we prepared to stick them onto the wall.

I have used the concept of vibrant colours on mat black background also in one of the designs of my Pop Art goes Design collection. It's called 'Pop Art Dots' and the original art work, which you can see below, is made up from hole punched magazine clippings. Thinking about the positioning of the products on the wall, I realised that I liked the randomness in the 'Pop Art Dots' a lot. So I decided to allow my gut feeling to guide me in distributing the products across my stand. But it wasn't supposed to look careless, so I wanted to hang everything with beautiful hooks, nails, zip ties and ribbons.

Below you can see what I found as I raided all my boxes ... and my friend Andrew Stafford who helped me with my stand planning and building gave me some crown silver light bulbs for the lampshades that added an extra special touch (you can see them in the picture of the whole stand at the bottom of this post)

Below, some of the products attached to the back wall. The cushion on the stool in front of the wall is a new addition to the range of Cameras designs of the 'Pop Art goes Design' collection. It's a digitally printed, 40x40cm linen cushion called Camera Play, and it's now available on our website. The design references Joe Tilson's photo collages of the 60s. If you're interested you can read more about my inspiration for 'Pop Art goes Design' in an earlier post I did on my blog. 

Below a close up - yes, I am rather pleased with how it turned out :-)

But to move on: I wanted to use a collection of chairs to offset all the different cushions and ranges, and to give the buyer a feel of how these products might sit in their stores, and indeed their customers' homes. The Thonet bentwood armchairs fabulously showed off my Bike wheel cushions ;-)
And who needs a carpet when you have gorgeous concrete to begin with?
Especially since the concrete made such an effective backdrop for my first 'Bicycle' rug, which you can now order from our website.

The chair to the left, above, is one of the pieces that Galapagos Designs have upholstered for us as part of our collaboration with them to illustrate to the buyer how my designs can be used on fabric for upholstery. And below I show you another one, of a different model, but with same fabric and neon accents. It's called 'Pop Art Circles Armchair'.

'Pop Art Circles' overall had a fantastic launch: I was very happy that KentLyons (the designers of the 3 shows Home, Top Drawer and Craft) asked to use my Pop Art Circles wallpaper to decorate the pillars at the entrance to the shows.

Here it is in close up: 

And we also make Pop Art Circles cushions, with extra special neon piping. They are available in 3 different shapes square, oblong and round.

Here with another Thonet chair accentuating all the circles..

And here is the full stand at the opening of the show - thanks for reading and I would love to have your comment if you can take the time - 

Ella x 

Friday, 3 January 2014

My Bicycle rugs in the making

I have just received these pictures from Paul Vowles of WovenGround. He has been at the factory in India where my first Bicycle rugs (from my Bikes of Hackney collection) are being made - in time for us to launch them to our trade buyers next week, at HOME London, Earls Court, 12-14th January.

The above image is from the back of the cloth as the bicycle begins to take shape.
These pictures give you an idea of how they stretch the cloth over a frame, with the design printed on as a guide for the craftsmen. They then hand tuft the different colours of wool into the cloth, following the background template of colours. It's like painting in numbers, which I always loved doing as a child! 

This is what it looks like once they have finished tufting, but before the surface is trimmed off so that it is all even, and soft to touch. 

Voila! Now it can be removed from the frame and be backed and finished!

I have not yet visited the artisans myself, but I hope to do it this year, so I can learn and share even more about what is involved in making these beautiful products. Once HOME London has ended I'll post more pictures of the finished rugs. 

In the meantime, have a wonderful first week of January and remember to set your goals high and enjoy the ride wherever it takes you this year.


Friday, 20 December 2013

Wishing Tree for 2014

To all our customers, colleagues, and friends. Thank you for all your business, support and encouragement this year. We wish everyone of you a restful, loving and happy time this Christmas, and very much look forward to an exciting prosperous 2014 and sharing it with you.

With love and a little 'nudge' to make at least one magic wish for your new year!



Please note: the Studio will be closed for the festivities, and we will be back from the 3rd of January..... Happy Holidays!

Monday, 9 December 2013

A recent commission: an example of fusing art and design ...

I'm often asked about my way of working and so I thought I share the process around a private commission for a roller blind 'mural' (2.20m x 4.5m) I've just finished and feel very happy about with you here. 

Below is the final artwork that has gone off to the printers. As you will see, the creative process was a long and happy journey in close collaboration with my clients, an art and design loving family of five (two young boys and a teenage boy).

Their East London ground floor living room is open plan and faces a walled patio yard. The side of the room that faces the yard has floor to ceiling windows and includes a patio door. 

When we started talking about the commission the couple loved the idea of me creating a narrative across a 'wall' of roller blinds that would in effect be a functional artwork. They gave me a loose brief to be creative and playful around the idea of reversing the perspective of outside and inside so that the blinds would create the illusion of the viewer being outdoors. 

The backyard is at the moment a construction site, as the family is in the midst of building a wonderful (and quite elaborate) 'tree house' on one of the walls. It's very much an urban space and I took it as my starting point when I put together a series of images from my portfolio that were intended for the clients to give me some feedback on what they liked. 

In dividing the blinds I was guided by the thought that I wanted  to create a series of images that linked with each other, but also stood alone - should the family move, they could potentially take them with them and use them independently. We discussed a few options and finally settled on four blinds that match the structure of the facade - window sections and patio door. Three of the blinds are equally wide, the fourth, the patio door element, is a little narrower.

Above is my first sketch, which includes my large signature Femme flower, but we decided that was too overpowering in the context of the living room, despite the double exposure of the landscape behind.

Then I brought in a bicycle (with my love of bikes and theirs as a family) but that was too real and not what they wanted, as their bikes are actually sitting in the yard. The idea of a door in front of the patio door worked for all of us. But while my clients loved the look of the door, to me it felt too closed (a full stop); it needed a different personality that resonated with them as a family. 

Things started to come together with the image of the open door (below) that I had taken on one of my travels. The chicken that is hovering around the entrance and the ladder leading up into a tree as a playful reference to the family's affinity to tree houses resonated with the family's sense of humour. I liked the French window to the left of the door and my clients liked the idea of mixing some kind of wall with greenery - but they felt uncomfortable with the French window, which, they said, looked too stern for them. 

The cut out pot plant between door and ladder above was a suggestion, as I experimented with pot plants to connect the images, but this one lost its energy once it was meticulously cut out from its background. So I decided instead to include this wonderful money tree in all its splendour (below)... everyone needs one of these in their space right? But it wouldn't sit well right next to the door. I felt I needed to place it in the grass so that it became part of the image not just a photo-shopped add on!

Whilst I was visiting the client one summer day, as I was still looking for images that would take the emerging story to the left, I kept having my eye diverted a beautiful yellow wagtail that had made a nest in the backyard. I instantly knew we had to feature her as the family bird hidden in the shrubbery. On that day I didn't bring my camera so I asked my clients to catch the yellow wagtail for me and when they sent me the images I browsed my portfolio for sunny garden walls that fit the purpose and became the two left blinds. Below is a close up of the section where I have made her perch on some leaves keeping an eye out for the chicken near the doorway :-)

This kind of digital 'stitching' together of images can give great results if it is well done, but as my little story about the chicken in the doorway illustrates, it is actually a lot of work. So, take a look at the chicken below ...

 ... it's actually a rooster ... looking strong and healthy, wouldn't you say? 

But since I originally photographed him standing in a meadow, his feet were hidden, and so I went on a mission to get the right feet for him ... which was no easy task, as they had to look right and sit well on the floor too ... (we experimented with other chicken images but discarded all of them - no other chicken had quite the right 'expression') ... and of course, it needed a new shadow too that matched the lighting of the background and its size. Then, once the feet and the shadow were in place, I still felt something was not quite right: the belly was tinged slightly green as a reflection of the grass!

Finally, all that was to be done was to clean up the edges of the four images and to adjust the colours so the blinds would sit nicely together and each have a finished look to them. 

The artwork has now been printed and looks fabulous ...

... but it may take a while before the images are made into blinds and get up on the windows, as the couple doesn't want them to get damaged from the ins and outs of the construction work in their backyard. So I will post some images later, once the blinds are installed and the tree house is built ;-) 

In summary, the project was a lot of work but I have very much enjoyed it and thumbs up to my clients for their openness and enthusiasm!

Best wishes and have a lovely week!