“Blink” Inspiration: Working as a Designer- how we illustrate

July 28th, 2015

When I work with students who are just starting on their design education, the first thing I make sure they know is that you don’t have to be excellent at drawing to be a great designer. Being a fashion illustrator is a very different role to being a fashion designer. Some of the lucky few are blessed with being both, but mostly we working designers just find a way that suits us to best express our ideas, in a way that our colleagues, bosses, suppliers, clients can understand what we are trying to express.

I am not a great illustrator by any stretch of the imagination. However I have found my own style, my own visual language to show my design ideas, developed over many, many years of working as a womenswear designer. My style is pretty clear and understandable. Hey, I love David Downton and Rene Gruau as much as the next fashion fan, but you try cutting a pattern from their drawings! Also, as a working designer, you are pretty much always time-poor, so you need to find a rather speedy way of getting your creativity from your imagination and on to a piece of paper.

Many people now create their design work using a computer, but I am pretty old-school in that respect. It’s still all about the pen, pencil, rubber and marker pens for me! I thought you might like a little insight into the way I create my design drawings- from very scruffy thumbnails to the finished sketches. What you see here is the process we at Blink London go through once a month when creating our retail reports for our international clients. The aim is to distill all of the big looks we’ve seen at retail each month in to a few pages of drawings, inspiring and informing our clients all in one go. No biggie…

Stage 1: the 'thumbnails', fashion drawings by Blink London, fashion drawing, fashion illustration, fashion design, Blink London fashion blog

Stage 1:the ‘thumbnails’, fashion drawings by Blink London

Stage 1: a very rough, ‘back of a fag packet’ downloading of ideas onto a few pages. I would NEVER usually let these see the light of day! I tend to create these as ‘flats’, so a garment drawing rather than ‘on the body’.

Stage 2: drawn up in pencil, fashion drawings by Blink London, fashion drawing, fashion illustration, fashion design, Blink London fashion blog

Stage 2: drawn up in pencil, fashion drawings by Blink London

Stage 2: those scruffy thumbnails get redrawn on a body template that I have developed over the years. Using a template is a great way of making sure you spend your time designing rather than illustrating. I make sure my pencil is super sharp and that my trusty rubber is close to hand!

Stage 3: adding colour, fashion drawings by Blink London, fashion drawing, fashion illustration, fashion design, Blink London fashion blog

Stage 3: adding colour, fashion drawings by Blink London

Stage 3: next I rub out some of the pencil lines (I know this may seem like a weird thing to do!), leaving just a faint trace so that I can add colour without being stuck with pencil lines that I might want to change a little when I later over-draw with my pen. Out come the Copic and Promarker pens that suit me to represent a flesh tone and also to add some shadow, depth and detailing to the designs.

Stage 4: adding definition, fashion drawings by Blink London, fashion drawing, fashion illustration, fashion blog, Blink London

Stage 4: adding definition, fashion drawings by Blink London

Stage 4: hopefully now rubbing out some of the pencil lines makes more sense! As I want my clients to fully understand the ideas I am delivering, I like to make the drawings look well defined. To do that I redraw all of the key elements with a super fine black pen (my one and only choice for this is the Muji rollerball in 0.38). I may then add a few more pencil or marker flourishes, but pretty much, that’s it folks!

They may not be super artistic, but they do the job well enough as far as my retail report customers are concerned. Happy customers, happy me!

For more fashion inspiration, take a look here.

Enjoy! Lucy

“Blink” Music: SG Lewis ‘No Less’ feat Louis Mattrs

July 27th, 2015

Our choice for today’s #MusicMonday isn’t going to help boost your energy levels this grey and drizzly Monday. Sorry! SG Lewis delivers an ultra smooth, super laid back, Monday-angst-eliminating feel with ‘No Less’. So laid back it’s pretty much horizontal.

So who is this SG Lewis chap? Well he’s actually 20 years Liverpudlian, Sam Lewis. He’s been producing music for less than a year, but already his moochy, soulful sound is grabbing the attention of music industry movers and shakers. He’s also on the roster for this year’s Bestival.

On this track, ‘No Less’ he’s accompanied by Brighton born and bred, singer and songwriter, Louis Mattrs who adds a heartbreakingly honest vocal to this delicious track. You can check out more of his work on his EP called ‘Beachy Head’.

For more great music posts, just have a looky here.

Enjoy! Lucy

“Blink” Stylish Steals: Pimp my Ikea, the Bekvam step stool

July 21st, 2015

If you follow us on Instagram, you will already have seen a few  of our initial steps in kicking off the big Blink Towers kitchen redesign and refit. Well, it’s all happening and I wanted to share with you our first complete project. I’ll kick off with a disclaimer statement that we have not been sponsored by any of the brands featured. We have chosen every single thing because of several reasons: 1) we love it 2) it fits in with our shoestring budget 3) it works really, really well.

You’ll see more of the full kitchen as we progress, which will include us making our own concrete worktop (argh!) but firstly lets focus on a smaller, less challenging, but still key element to the overall look. You may know that I absolutely love Pinterest (already inspiring our bright yellow front door!), and when I started researching the kind of overall look and detailing I wanted to incorporate into the kitchen project I found so many great ideas on this super site (you’ll find them all on various of our Pinterest boards if you’d like to see more). One of which was this super cool pink step stool, originally shared on Cecilies Lykke ‘Made’ blog. As it happens I do actually need a step stool in the new kitchen as I have made the most of all the wall space and some if the units are set pretty high.

the inspiration, found on Pinterest and originally from Cecilies Lykke blog, Ikea step stool upgraded, Bekvam, neon pink

the inspiration, found on Pinterest and originally from Cecilies Lykke ‘Made’ blog

When tootling around Ikea looking for kitchen inspiration I spotted the very same stool, called Bekvam, kicking off my first DIY spray painting adventure. I bought the unpainted birch version- although if you don’t fancy any DIY, there are some pre-painted versions too. Ikea do have their own range of paints called Behandla that they recommend you use on their products, but none gave me that neon pink hit that I was searching for.

Ikea's Bekvam step stool

Ikea’s Bekvam step stool

So I went back to Pinterest to see if I could find some good ideas on products and how best to use them. This is how I found this great instructional blog post from In My Own Style. Love those chairs! She recommended Valspar spray paint so I tracked some down at my local DIY superstore and got to work…

Sanding prep- a mask if you're being very sensible, thick gloves, a sanding block, fine grain sandpaper.

Sanding prep- a mask if you’re being very sensible, thick gloves, a sanding block, fine grain sandpaper.

Stage 1, although the step stool was plain wood I still gave it a quick sanding over just to be sure the surface was best prepared to take the paint well. I did this before constructing the stool for ease. Follow the grain of the wood to create a smooth surface. You just need to give it a quick but thorough going over.

Construction! Ikea, Bekvam step stool

Construction!

Step 2, put this little baby together. My biggest tip here is read the instructions from start to finish before you begin. That way you will avoid all of the stupid back to front mistakes that I made! When all the pieces are in place then give all the screws a final tighten. When you have your step stool all made you must remove all dust etc from the sanding process. Spray paint isn’t like normal paint in that it is a very fine layer, therefore all rough patches or splinters will still be seen and felt. The better the job you do at this stage in having a smooth, clean surface, the better your overall finish will be.

The Valspar primer basecoat

The Valspar primer basecoat

As this is going to be stepped on repeatedly I wanted to ensure I gave my paint job the best chance of survival possible, so I started with a few light coats the Valspar primer. Again, pop on your mask as this is pretty toxic, and spray only in a really well ventilated space. I set up my ‘spray booth’ outside, knocked together using some cardboard boxes that the kitchen units came in, plus newspaper around and about just to be double sure I was keeping things contained and tidy. Once the primer was dry I double checked that the surface was smooth and flat, sanding a little more in spots and ensuring all was super clean before getting the pink spray paint out.

Going neon pink in the spray booth, Ikea, Valspar, colourful DIY project

Going neon pink in the spray booth

Wow, the pink colour is as bright and bold as I had hoped! I built it up with lots of thin layers applied in opposite directions, constantly moving around the stool and ensuring every angle was covered. As this stage the paint is pretty easy to just wash away if you do get spray paint somewhere you don’t want it…

The final finish with Valspar's clear sealer

The final finish with Valspar’s clear sealer

After 24 hours of drying time I then applied the final protective coat that also gave my step stool a really great sheeny look. The clear coat seems to pretty much be a spray varnish. I gave the whole surface several thin layers but went back over the actual steps several more times to ensure these are as durable as possible. This thing makes me so happy! Not just because of it’s super sunny colour, but also at the satisfaction that I did it myself- and it was an absolute bargain!

The finished neon pink painted Ikea Bekvam step stool

The finished neon pink painted Ikea Bekvam step stool

As the kitchen itself is still very much in progress, I can’t show you the step stool actually in situ, but here it is with some of the products it will soon be living alongside. Most of the kitchen will be black and white, like these Target Tiles patterned floor tiles, so the blue Plumen pendant lights (currently on sale!) and this stool really do add some much needed accents of colour. Watch out for more kitchen refurb news as the project continues.

For more of our diverse and inspired Stylish Steals, look here. For more lifestyle posts, look here.

 

Enjoy! Lucy

“Blink” Beauty: Lucy Bee’s Coconut Oil

July 16th, 2015

On a recent trip to Portugal (did I overwhelm you with tile pics on Instagram?!?) I had to travel light so some smart thinking was required to ensure I was covered for all eventualities and circumstances (work, beach, evenings out, work, lounging about, more beach…). I looked long and hard at the huge amount of lotions and potions I like to take away with me and decided that some tough decisions needed to be made in the name of efficiency (not my strong suit). What could I swap out for more space efficient, multi-tasking options?

This was my eureka moment. I already have a stash of Lucy Bee’s coconut oil in my bathroom that I use as an occasional body moisturiser, but I know there’s more to coconut oil than that. So could this little pot of joy really solve my packing dramas for a 10 day trip?

Packing light and packing smart- the beauty of coconut oil, beauty blog, multi tasking beauty products, natural beauty, Blink London

Packing light and packing smart- the beauty of coconut oil

Do you know that coconut oil contains lauric acid and Vitamin E? Both of these things make it a really effective as a soothing and nourishing moisturiser. Goodbye night cream, hello a light application to sun-glowing skin before bed. I kept hold of my day cream though as it has a sun protection factor that is very important especially for fair skinned, freckly types like me!

I also set aside my bulky bottle of after sun and decided that I would instead indulge in the soothing, nourishing, moisturising properties of Lucy Bee, making it the perfect after-sun. It is also perfect as an intense hand and foot cream too (no unsightly dry tootsies in my flip flops!).

My fabulous Simple Micellar cleansing wipes do a grand job, even on mascara- but sometimes you need a little extra help. Instead of packing eye makeup remover, do you know that you can safely use coconut oil? In addition to cleansing we have a great coconut oil suggestion from Lucy Bee’s founder herself:

“I love using this, once I have taken off my make-up, I reapply some more to my lashes. This is very nourishing and helps to lengthen and strengthen lashes!”

I also have a mane of unruly hair that usually goes extra crazy in hot sun, especially when hitting the beach and sea swimming. This means that generally I have to pack all sorts of deep conditioners, protectors and serums. Well, not this time. Due to the Vitamin E in coconut oil it makes a really effective, moisturising treatment mask. Just smooth some thoroughly through your hair a little while before you wash it. You then may need 2 washes with shampoo to get your hair squeaky clean, and do still apply your usual conditioner, but your tresses will be silky smooth. Actually I used a small touch of Lucy Bee as a hair serum, smoothing it through damp, post wash hair. It prevented all my usual frizzles and gave a really glossy finish. So there’s another product I could leave at home; my hair serum!

Lucy, Lucy Bee's founder

Lucy, Lucy Bee’s founder

More from Lucy of Lucy Bee:

“This is why I like to call Lucy Bee a miracle oil!”

Well, after ten days with just that little pot of coconut oil doing so many jobs so very well, I must agree!

For more beauty posts, just click here. If you’d like to read more about our travels, look here.

Enjoy! Lucy

“Blink” Inspiration: Valentino’s AW’15 Couture collection

July 15th, 2015

Of course any fashion fan worth their salt has a soft spot for the ever-tanned Valentino, but I must admit that since he handed creative control over to Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, it has become an even more significant, wonderous and influential label.

The pair delivered a AW’15 Couture collection that was even more Valentino than I have ever seen before, but not so much about the man himself but more about utterly embracing the Roman roots of this brand. As we expressed rather over enthusiastically for the Giambattista Valli collection, we can also see super skilled craftsmanship at the beating heart of this collection. This is what couture is about, this is what luxury fashion is about; handworked product to a level that pretty much makes each garment a work of art equal to any painting or sculpture. This is far from everyday fashion as we can possibly get.

There was lots and lots of black, but with a lightness of touch, sheerness and delicacy that ensured it didn’t feel at all dour. Stunning brocades brought antique feeling pattern, flashing with metallic touches, which then lead to some stunningly all-gold looks fit for a Goddess. Enhancing the Roman theme there was also a scattering of stunningly ‘Papal’ red statements too.

Every look was accessorised with beautiful golden jewellery that looked as if it had been discovered in some ancient treasure haul, featuring pagan looking symbols that again hinted to the layers of history, culture and tradition that makes Rome such a unique, creatively rich and fascinating place.

Valentino AW'15 Couture. Images with thanks to Style.com, Blink London, fashion blog, couture show review, AW'15

Valentino AW’15 Couture. Images with thanks to Style.com

Valentino AW'15 Couture. Images with thanks to Style.com, Blink London, fashion blog, couture show review, AW'15

Valentino AW’15 Couture. Images with thanks to Style.com

Valentino AW'15 Couture. Images with thanks to Style.com, Blink London, fashion blog, couture show review, AW'15

Valentino AW’15 Couture. Images with thanks to Style.com

Valentino AW'15 Couture. Images with thanks to Style.com, Blink London, fashion blog, couture show review, AW'15

Valentino AW’15 Couture. Images with thanks to Style.com

Valentino AW'15 Couture. Images with thanks to Style.com, Blink London, fashion blog, couture show review, AW'15

Valentino AW’15 Couture. Images with thanks to Style.com

Valentino AW'15 Couture. Images with thanks to Style.com, Blink London, fashion blog, couture show review, AW'15

Valentino AW’15 Couture. Images with thanks to Style.com

Valentino AW'15 Couture. Images with thanks to Style.com, Blink London, fashion blog, couture show review, AW'15

Valentino AW’15 Couture. Images with thanks to Style.com

Valentino AW'15 Couture. Images with thanks to Style.com, Blink London, fashion blog, couture show review, AW'15

Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Picciolo. Valentino AW’15 Couture. Images with thanks to Style.com

Thanks again to Style.com for being such a fantastic fashion resource. If you’d like to see more show reviews and inspiration, take a look here.

Enjoy! Lucy

“Blink” Music: Rudimental ‘Never Let You Go’, feat. Foy Vance

July 13th, 2015

Oh Rudimental, you’ve had us waiting too long! With the new album, ‘We the Generation‘ scheduled to drop in September, Rudimental are back on the road and making the festival circuit rounds. Thank goodness for that because these guys truly bring it live.

Following hard on the heels of our chosen track they’ve also dropped the official video for the beautiful ‘Rumour Mill‘, also from the new album. Although we love that track too, we’re focussing on ‘Never Let You Go‘ as it reminds us why we fell for Rudimental in the first place. These guys can deliver huge, arena-shaking, awe-inspiring tracks as well as more intimate, soulful and subtle songs. This time round we’re going with the monumental. We hope that you all approve.

‘Never Let You Go’ features vocals from Foy Vance who’s roots blend Northern Ireland and Southern America. If you like his sound then look out for his newest album, ‘Joy of Nothing’ which drops later this year.

Enjoy! Lucy

“Blink” Inspiration: Giambattista Valli, AW’15 Couture Collection

July 10th, 2015

We have discovered a new level of fashion joy. Have you seen the Giambattista Valli couture collection? It is beyond luxurious. I think that between Valli and Dior, the whole lexicon of luxury fashion is being redefined. Fendi and Lagerfeld can bugger off into the history books with their all fur disgrace along with the old fashioned ideas of luxe that fur represents. Giambattista Valli reminds us with this collection that true luxury, and true couture is all about the craft, skill and diversity created by those legion of ultra talented ‘petit mains’ teamed with a geniusly innovative designer.

Building on those vast skirted looks from the AW’14 couture collection Valli again plays with acres of airy tulle in sweeping skirts, but this time in tandem with puff ball style surges of volume at empire line or hip. There is a strong feeling of 60’s cocktail hour with fancy pants layered over with matching tunic or coats, enhanced with the high contrast monochromes of flashes of acid trip brights. The 60’s vibe is reaffirmed with those huge rounded shades, studded with massive, square-cut crystals. Oh, and what about those vast earings? Giambattista, we are utterly in love!

Giambattista Valli, AW'15 Couture collection. Images with thanks to Style.com

Giambattista Valli, AW’15 Couture collection. Images with thanks to Style.com

Giambattista Valli, AW'15 Couture collection. Images with thanks to Style.com

Giambattista Valli, AW’15 Couture collection. Images with thanks to Style.com

Giambattista Valli, AW'15 Couture collection. Images with thanks to Style.com

Giambattista Valli, AW’15 Couture collection. Images with thanks to Style.com

Giambattista Valli, AW'15 Couture collection. Images with thanks to Style.com

Giambattista Valli, AW’15 Couture collection. Images with thanks to Style.com

Giambattista Valli, AW'15 Couture collection. Images with thanks to Style.com

Giambattista Valli, AW’15 Couture collection. Images with thanks to Style.com

Giambattista Valli, AW'15 Couture collection. Images with thanks to Style.com

Giambattista Valli, AW’15 Couture collection. Images with thanks to Style.com

Giambattista Valli, AW'15 Couture collection. Images with thanks to Style.com

Giambattista Valli, AW’15 Couture collection. Images with thanks to Style.com

Giambattista Valli, AW'15 Couture collection. Images with thanks to Style.com

Giambattista Valli, AW’15 Couture collection. Images with thanks to Style.com

Giambattista Valli, AW'15 Couture collection. Images with thanks to Style.com

Giambattista Valli, AW’15 Couture collection. Images with thanks to Style.com

Giambattista Valli himself, AW'15 Couture collection. Images with thanks to Style.com

Giambattista Valli himself, AW’15 Couture collection. Images with thanks to Style.com

Huge thanks to Style.com for being such an amazing fashion resource. For more fashion inspiration, just click here.

Enjoy! Lucy

“Blink” Events: Liberty’s blooming beautiful tent!

July 10th, 2015
The 'Flowers of Liberty' tent collection, camping, glamping, Liberty London

The ‘Flowers of Liberty’ tent collection

Just as we are making our plans for Wilderness festival, news of these beauties drops into our inbox. What perfect timing! We are unashamedly Liberty London superfans, so these stunning floral print tents are right up our strasse.

I’m not a willing camper (although I think this tent is going to change that!), however every festival season I grit my teeth and bare a few nights under canvas in return for some of the most exciting, hilarious, awe-inspiring experiences of the year. A fair trade off I think- especially when it comes to the wonder that is Wilderness festival, our out and out favourite of the past few years.

Liberty Flowers Tents in three floral designs

Liberty Flowers Tents in three floral designs

Team Wilderness joy with the Betsy, Theodora or Wiltshire patterned Liberty floral tents and we think you have a match made in heaven. Made from responsibly sourced materials that are 100% waterproof (we needed that at last year’s Wilderness!), the Liberty tent sleeps 2 with plenty of wriggle room, or 3 if you are really, really close friends! It has a little lobby space that’s perfect for you to stash your coolbox/ wellies/ huge feathered headdress, and the breathable inner tent to allow you to snooze in comfort. Now where did I put my sleeping bag?

For more event coverage, just take a look here.

Enjoy! Lucy

“Blink” Retail: Mount Street

July 9th, 2015
Blink London on Mount Street, Mayfair, Luxury fashion retail, London shopping

Mount Street, Mayfair

Blink London on Mount Street, Mayfair, luxury fashion in London, fashion shopping destinations, shopping in London

Mount Street, Mayfair

For more retail news, then just click here.

Enjoy! Lucy

“Blink” Music: Eryn Allen Kane ‘Have Mercy’

July 6th, 2015

I first heard today’s Music Monday post when listening to Huw Stephens on Radio One. He is currently on fire as far as highlighting great new music. Eryn Allen Kane is about to drip some musical honey right into your earholes. That may not sound quite as pleasant as I had intended, but believe me, you will enjoy the few minutes of escape created by her intensely soulful, spirited and heart-felt vocals.

Detroit born, Chicago resident Eryn Allen Kane has worked with many up and coming young musical talents, as well as featuring on a new track with the Purple King of Musical Cool, Prince. It’s called ‘Baltimore’  and it’s gorgeous, significant and delivers an important message. While we encourage you to have a listen to that track, let’s not loose sight of our main focus today, and that is ‘Have Mercy‘, the most recent release from Eryn Allen Kane, and a tour de force in modern soul. It is stark, pared down and stripped back, just like the video which we think is completely mesmerising. This track will be featured on her upcoming release, Aviary EP, that doesn’t have an official release date just yet but keep an eye out for it.

For more great new music, take a look here.

Enjoy! Lucy