Friday, February 27, 2009

Interview - Becky Bolton of 'Good Wives and Warriors'

You know when you meet someone for the first time... and you start chatting away, and before you know it you're getting along so well that it's like you've known them forever? This was my experience when I met Becky Bolton of artistic duo Good Wives and Warriors recently.

I don't always get to meet all my interviewees in the flesh - lots of times it all happens by email... But the lovely Ms Bolton made the trek out to Brunswick recently to meet me... and I'm so grateful that she did! Because on top of being a super-talented illustrator and artist, Becky is a such a gorgeous, warm, open and friendly person... meeting her was like catching up with a long lost friend!

Things to love about Becky Bolton -

1) She's got a fringe. And it really suits her. (Also when we met she was sporting a high-ponytail... super cute).
2) She's got a mish-mash Scottish/UK/Aussie accent. So chatting to her kind of makes you feel like you're on holiday. Yes. She had me hanging onto every word :)
3) She's ridiculously talented - I cannot get enough of the large scale paintings and illustrations she creates with partner in crime Louise Chappell.... they're AMAZING.
4) She's going places - Good Wives and Warriors have exhibited work across the globe, their recent clients have included Swatch watches and MTV, and last year the pair were nominated for the YIA (Young Illustrators Award) in Zurich...

That's all. Now read the interview!

Oh, and if you love her work as much as I so, I think we should all petition Jacky Winter to sign her up! (I've already started.) But seriously, was self-respecting illustration agent wouldn't jump at the chance? Come on now.

Bed headboard illustration for Bloom Hotel in Belgium, by Becky Bolton and Louise Chappell (aka Good Wives and Warriors).

Details from the BLOOM hotel room

Tell me a little about your background – what path led you to what you’re doing now?

We met in the first week of art school and have been doing things together ever since. We first began directly collaborating in 2nd year when we set up a little fashion label, making and selling accessories. We continued this project through art school and when we graduated, set up as a proper business. It was fun but we quickly realised that we were far happier when creating painted installations for our designs in shops or drawing pictures for fabric than we were making/ selling products. This was a real turning point for us and Good Wives and Warriors was born. That was in Jan '07 and since then we have worked on illustration and design commissions, curated exhibitions and made lots of wall paintings.

Illustrations for I Love Fake online magazine.

You’re part of a creative partnership which specialises in large scale wall paintings and illustration… How did this ongoing collaboration come about? What challenges have you faced in setting up and running this unique creative partnership?

Our creative partnership has been going for about 6 years now. I don’t remember ever actually deciding that we were going to work together, it just sort of happened as it was more fun doing things together. The challenge has been keeping it going when we haven’t been in the same city. I think we both thought this would be more difficult than it actually has been. With our illustrations, we will usually come up with an idea together and work on our own versions, then add bits to each others. We have a joint style now, so we know how we’ll both go about it. Communication is important. I feel like Louise must wake up sometimes and have 20 emails from me with constant updates of my day! Skype has really helped as we can hold up drawings and see what the other person is doing, and talk for hours for free.

You’ve exhibited internationally and have been commissioned to take part in many exciting international design projects such as the BLOOM hotel in Brussels. How have these international collaborations come about? Has it been difficult to accommodate such a wide range of projects?

Most have come about by just applying or contacting the gallery, putting proposals in, or being invited, but usually we have to put the groundwork in. Some of the South American paintings were a little more off-the-cuff. In Cusco, Peru, we wanted to do a wall painting somewhere, but our terrible Spanish and the Inca walls made it a bit of a challenge! Finally we found a crazy man who let us loose on his wall and gave us a key-ring each and some Inca-cola for our trouble!

Wall painting in Cusco, Peru

You’ve recently made the move to Melbourne. What brought you all the way over here?! What challenges have you faced in relocating here and finding new outlets for your work?

Romance that has brought me to Melbourne! I suppose I’ve faced the usual relocation challenges. It is hard finding new contacts and starting again, but with any illustration work, it doesn’t really matter for us where we are, as long as we have a pack of fine liners, a scanner and a computer. With the wall paintings, it’s important we do them together, so I need to find lots of possible places in Australia for when Louise arrives!

Where do you turn for inspiration – books, magazines or the web? Do you pay attention to trends in the broader design world like fashion, film, etc?

The web would certainly be our major source of inspiration - constant ‘google search’ and we still look at books for ideas. Travelling is also a huge source of inspiration, especially if we are doing a wall painting in a different country, we can’t help but be influenced by where we are, generally in an obscure way. We also have shared obsessions that often generate ideas, for example we did a lot of work based on funny SPAM emails we were receiving. I don’t feel like we’re conscious of paying much attention to trends in the broader design world, but I’m sure it must seep into us a bit.

Which designers, artists or creative people are you inspired by?

I think we’re always been inspired by other creative duos, in fashion, design and illustration. For example, Basso & Brooke, Timorous Beasties, Jojo and Malou, Pandarosa and Tin & Ed.

What does a typical day at work involve for you?

We’ve both had a year of running around the place so it has only been fairly recently that we’ve settled into a ‘work’ routine. I spent a few months in San Francisco, and Louise was in London and although we were working on other projects, we still did quite a few jobs together. We organized a show in San Francisco, so Louise came over for that, and then we went off to South America and did a few wall paintings around the place. Now I sit in my studio in Melbourne, moaning about the heat, and Louise sits in her’s in Glasgow and moans about the cold! We both write extensive ‘to do’ lists and co-ordinate Skype calling to discuss our ‘to-do’ lists and somewhere in between we both try to get on with what ever we are doing at the time- illustration jobs, applications for shows, planning paintings, drawing, research, trying to promote ourselves, anything really, the usual I suppose!

What are you most proud of professionally?

I think being selected for the YIA (Young Illustrators Award) in Zurich in October this year was a pretty big achievement for us. It meant I could go back to Europe for the exhibition and we could create a new wall painting together. I think quite a few good things have come about through that too like recently being asked to do the advertising illustrations for a new range of Swatch watches coming out in April, and MTV are animating our drawings for an advert.

What would be your dream project?

I think we would like to go REALLY big with our wall paintings. Like the side of a huge building or something monumental.

What are you looking forward to??

We have a show at West Space in Melbourne in August, which I’m really looking forward to, as Louise is coming here for it, and we have a show in Copenhagen towards the end of next year, which is exciting.

Melbourne Questions –

Best gallery to discover interesting new artwork/illustration in Melbourne?

I really like some of the illustrators that Jacky Winter represents, so I would have to say Lamington Drive gallery.

What/where was the last great meal you ate in Melbourne?

The Burmese Kitchen in Northcote. I would eat there every night if I could.

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

Probably bumbling around the house and garden, maybe making breakfast and going out for a coffee.

Melbourne’s best kept secret?

It’s not a secret but I love the Moonlight cinema in the Botanical gardens. I think being from the UK, I can’t get over how exciting it is to be able to go to an outdoor cinema and sit with a picnic and watch the bats flying around…

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Japan-love in blog-land

Custom parasol by Iida Umbrella Shop

Hey friends.
A few new fun finds for you today.

1) Ii-Ne-Kore

A new Melbourne-based blog with a Japanese focus, by self-confessed nipponophile Bree Claffey, who speaks/reads Japanese, studies Japanese, and posts about her favourite Japanese designers, products, food etc. Bree intends to post more on translated japanese recipes and book/magazine features, as well as Melbourne-based designy places that bring japan a little closer to home.... recent posts have focussed on some of my fave Japanese designers including Mina Perhonen and SANAA Architects...

Found this magical shot on the Mina Perhonen website... do visit their website for the full length version. LOVE the handrawn stars and blotchy yellow backdrop.... stunning.

and via Ms Claffey's special little blog I found -

2) the Iida Umbrella Shop

More umbrella-love from the Iida Umbrella Shop

A unique Japanese business, founded by young textile designer Yoshihisa Iida, who makes unique umbrellas and parasols for styling, film and stage props, or private sale. She collaborates with various brands and artists, and also hold exhibitions of her original design works.

I love that there is a little shop out there somewhere in Japan which makes nothing other than perfect umbrellas...! Gorgeousness.

3) Ee-tee's Flickr (also via Bree's blog)

...featuring tiny, stunning hand-cut rubber stamps, amongst other lovely, pretty things....

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

March/April magazine round-up

Vogue Living's feature on a Sydney harbour-front apartment designed by Blainey North. Photos - Anson Smart.

Have you guys seen Vogue Living this month? It is amazing. Inside Out is also pretty great.

Mind you... whilst the pictures are nothing short of stunning.... don't go reading the copy too closely - unless you're seriously immune to lifestyle jealously. If you can handle the charmed life and incredible new home of Sydney stylist/fund manager(?) Shannon Fricke (Inside Out).... then I challenge you to read Vogue's article on the home of 28-year old UK interior designer Fiona Barratt without raising an eyebrow. Her impeccable apartment in London's joozchy South Kensington was renovated in just 11 weeks - Ms Barratt living out of the third bedroom all the while, as she 'had nowhere else to stay!" Ouch.

Vogue pulls together a really interesting round-up of surface patterns and textures which appear eroded, faded or aged... LOVE this! So original.

Vogue rounds up playful, colourful splattered patterns and homewares. I spy the work of Miss Bizys!

The aforementioned home of UK interior designer Fiona Barratt. Painfully perfect. Photos - Ditte Isager.

LOVE these painted metal sculptures by Melbourne artist Robert Owen, on the exterior wall of a Victorian terrace house in Sydney. (Vogue Living, photos - Marcel Aucar).

Vogue Living shares the eclectic NYC rooftop of NZ artist Mark Welsh. Photos - Ditte Isager.

Gorgeous contemporary kitchen in Inside Out. Photos - Richard Powers.

Also loving this patterned wall panel - it's Florence Broadhurst's Ink Blue-on-Flat White from Signature Prints. Inside Out again.

Love this classic, sleek contemporary fit-out of a Victorian terrace in Melbourne... Inside Out, photos - Sharyn Cairns.

Inside Out. Love the classic LC3 chairs by Le Corbusier in white on white.

The eclectic home of designer and artist Tigger Hall in Melbourne. Inside Out, photos - Sharyn Cairns.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Society Inc - Tradewinds

Invitation to opening of 'Tradewinds' - The Society Inc's latest theme.
All photos by Nicola - Concrete and Honey

Remember my interview with Sydney stylist Sibella Court last year...? Sibella spent 9 years living and working in New York, before returning to Sydney last year to open The Society Inc - a unique store filled with all kinds of eclectic finds inspired by Sibella's many years overseas.

The Society Inc's stock and carefully styled interior revolves around different themes, which change four times a year. The shop recently changed themes again - this time it's 'Tradewinds'.

Sydney-based blogger Nicola, of Concrete and Honey, tipped me off about the most recent theme last week, and was kind enough to share these gorgeous photos she took of the store's current stock. I love the concept of an ever-changing theme - so you never know what's around the corner... but man, it seems like an awful lot of work for Sibella to maintain!

Wish I could visit Sydney more often! Thanks so much Nicola :)

Assorted ribbons and ceramics in stunning shades of nautical blue and creamy yellow.

Top left are Nicola's purchases from her visit... a tiny sea urchin, a porcelain feather, and a tiny blue fan...

Porcelain feathers, and purchases all wrapped up.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Painted lace floor

This gorgeous painted floor has been doing the blog-rounds in the last week or so... but I just couldn't resist sharing it too!

The stunning painted lace pattern was created for a guesthouse in Marrakesh, using a custom-designed stencil by Royal Design Studio.... More info here and here.

Ps - your can buy the stencil yourself here!

via. Design*Sponge

Friday, February 20, 2009

Interview - Louisa Bailey

All photos by Louisa Bailey

Louisa Bailey is one name to watch. Do I say that all the time? It's always true!

Louisa is a young Melbourne-based photographer... she studied at RMIT, and cut her teeth assisting some seriously big name photographers in New York for 2 years, before returning to Melbourne last year. Clearly, she's supremely talented, and she's amassed a incredible body of work in only a few years since graduating. I also have a lot of respect for her immense bravery in packing up and heading to NYC as soon as she finished uni! I imagine you'd need a pretty thick skin starting out as a young photographer in New York...

Louisa's passion is photographing people - whether it be fashion models, bands, musicians, comedians or friends. I especially love her fashion shots above! Somehow Louisa's models always look polished and stunning - but she also gives them real a sense of character and likeability too. I know who to ask next time I need a headshot!

It's also really interesting to learn about the ups and downs of working as an emerging photographer... I can sympathise a lot with Louisa's comments about the unreliability of freelance work - but I also share her enthusiasm for the variety and flexibility of working in a crazy creative field, where every job is new and different.

A big thanks to Louisa for her time and for sharing so many gorgeous pics!

(ps - if you work at a magazine/ad agency/graphic design firm - bookmark Louisa's website and give her a job.... while you can still afford her!)

portrait of Demetri Martin

Tell me a little about your background - what did you study and what path led you to what you’re doing now?

When I finished high school I did an arts degree majoring in cinema studies. After that I worked on a children’s television program and realised I didn’t enjoy being part of such a large crew, so I went back to uni (RMIT) and did another BA, this time in photography. I was reluctant to do 3 more years of uni but the course at RMIT was, to me, the best on offer. I liked that it had a commercial focus, and gave students a good technical grounding. I think having all the technical skills gives you the freedom to create anything you can dream up. In 3rd year at RMIT, students are encouraged to find a mentor. Mine was Sydney fashion photographer Steven Chee, and I travelled regularly up to Sydney to assist him. He is a patient and generous person, and one of the best fashion photographers in Australia to boot. He still gives me advice, encouragement and support, which helps me stay motivated.

After completing your studies in photography here at RMIT, you headed straight to the Big Apple! What prompted this courageous move and how did NYC treat you as an emerging photographer?

I’ve had an obsession with New York since I first went there on holiday in 2001. I knew that one day I’d be living there. And it just so happens that New York is home to most of the best fashion photographers, and almost all the big campaigns and editorial jobs are shot there. While at uni I’d planned on assisting for a few years after I graduated so it seemed like the obvious place to go! I was inspired by a good friend from Melbourne who was over there assisting Craig McDean. I figured if he could do it, so could I, so I really wasn’t afraid of making the move. Once I got there however, I realised it can be hard! There are a lot of other people wanting to assist the top photographers. But I got to assist some amazing ones, including Craig McDean, on some amazing jobs. Once I assisted him, it was easier to get work with other good photographers too.

How has the transition been from NYC back to Melbourne? How does photographic work here compare with the work you were doing in the US?

The transition has been interesting. On the one hand, I’ve grown up in Melbourne so it’s been easy coming back, and I was ready to come back. Returning as a professional photographer, not an assistant or student, has been a learning experience. It’s a much smaller industry here, but I think the work is there, if you look for it.

Portrait of Australian band - The Hampdens

Working for yourself can be really difficult for creative people. What are the challenges you have faced working for yourself – do you struggle with the business side of things, for motivation to get started on a project, or networking etc? How do you tackle these parts of your job?

I’ve learned that being a commercial photographer is 10% shooting, 90% self-promotion! I think I do OK in the networking department. Social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace have helped a lot, because I’ll do a shoot for say, a band or comedian, and every other creative person they’re friends with will see the shots and maybe think of using me to do their next lot of photos. It tends to snowball.

Which photographers, artists or creative people are you inspired by?

My ultimate, favourite fashion/portrait photographer is still Craig McDean (even after working for him!). He makes it look so easy, but his shoots never look formulaic. I recently read Annie Leibovitz’s new book “At Work”, and though her portraits don’t move me immensely, I am inspired by her journey from being a young, na├»ve music photographer in the 1970s, to the being one of the world’s biggest portrait photographers today. I also have an obsession with comedy, especially the work of female writers/performers like Tina Fey…I don’t know why but funny women really inspire me. I think I have a secret dream of becoming a TV comedy writer.

portrait - comedian Dave Hughes

Where else do you find inspiration (books, particular magazines, the net, everyday life?)

Ooh, hard question. Music, video clips, magazines, TV, blogs! I get inspired by movies – at the moment I have a thing for late 1960s films like Rosemary’s Baby and The Graduate. My favourite fashion magazine is W – terrible articles about New York socialites, and too many diamond ads to flick through, but beautiful fashion stories by people like Steven Klein, Mert and Marcus and again, Craig McDean. I also love Another Magazine, Italian Vogue and French Vogue.

Portrait - Evermore

What does a typical day at work involve for you?

Everything I shoot involves people as the subject, so if I’m shooting, I don’t like to start too early. I figure people feel grumpy and look puffy in the morning (or at least I do!). If I’m not shooting I’m organising future shoots, or retouching previous jobs, so I try to stick to a routine and treat it like a job so I’m not working too late after hours. I find I get more done this way.

Portrait - Comedian Dave O'Neil

What are you most proud of professionally?

As a professional assistant, working in Paris on a Dior campaign just blew me away and I’m so proud of myself for getting to that point. As a photographer, that’s a very difficult question! I get excited when anything I shoot is published. I’m probably most proud of having work in Nylon magazine, because 10 years ago I would have never imagined I’d be working as a photographer, let alone working in New York, for a real magazine! But that excitement passes quickly and I focus on getting the next thing published. It’s nice to look back and think about my achievements. Thank you Design Files!*
(*ha ha! thankyou! you're so welcome! - Lucy )

What's the best thing about your job?

The interesting people I meet, the places it takes me, and the flexibility. I can’t wait til I get a puppy and can take it to work with me. That’s my definition of success!

And the worst?

The uncertainty of freelance work – not knowing if you’re going to have a great, busy month or a slow one.

Portrait - Ariell Llunga

What would be your dream project?

Shooting documentary stills on a movie set for Vanity Fair. Ask me tomorrow and I’ll probably say something else, like shooting a fashion story for Italian Vogue. There are so many dream projects! I need to make a list.

What are you looking forward to?

Working on more interesting projects, shooting interesting people whose own work inspires me, travelling, and visiting friends back in New York. And getting a puppy.

Melbourne Questions –

Where is the best gallery in Melbourne to see the work of emerging Australian photographers?

I need to know the answer to this question too! I’ve been out of the loop for a while. Checking out graduate exhibitions at universities is always a good start.

What/where was the last great meal you ate in Melbourne?

I rediscovered Sahara on Swanston Street last week. I used to go there 10 years ago and I forgot all about it. It’s more of a restaurant now and my meal was delicious. It was so lovely sitting by the window with the breeze, looking out at people rushing around on the street, below.

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

I developed a fondness for brunching while in New York so I love getting out of the house for breakfast. I’m quite fond of Lawson Grove Shop in South Yarra. The location makes me feel like I’m in the Hollywood Hills with the surrounding art deco flats and palm trees.

Melbourne’s best kept secret?

I think I just gave it away (see above answer).

Portrait - El May