“Blink” Retail: Bright Young Things, Selfridges

And here’s our final post about Selfridges Bright Young Things. We really love good graphic art, and there were a couple of windows that created such stunning graphic impact, with stark monochrome and energetic scale play, we just had to share them with you. First up is graphic designer, Archie McLeish, followed by the work of menswear designer, William Richard Green.

Archie McLeish

Archie McLeish

William Richard Green

For more on graphics, click here. If you’d like to catch up on our arts posts, then click here.

Enjoy! Lucy

Blink Graphics: Autumn ’11 Highlights

We asked our resident graphics expert, Christian, to select his favourites from the Autumn ’11 quarterly ‘Graphics’ report. He scoured the 300 or so images that make up this report and pulled out those that he felt are the most inspirational and innovative. This is the penultimate issue of this report (boo!) but we have added another new report to our offer which means we have to refocus our energy. We still find graphic art incredibly inspirational, however so we will still be dedicating the occasional post to this theme, as well as adding in some great T shirt graphics into our ‘Jersey’ report.

St Bride at the Vintage Festival

The art of Letterpress is in the process of a massive revival at the moment. Keep your eye out for one off posters and letterpress woodblock fonts. Check out St Bride for lectures and shows, always interesting.

Bacon Street, East London

Bacon Street, East London.

Loving this line drawing graffiti style, differing from the norm.

The Peter Blake bus, spotted at the Vintage Festival

The Peter Blake bus is a wonder, pure British eccentric design.

Buxton Street, East London

Some street art by Anthony Lister, always great to see up. A very interesting artist.

Anthony Burrill

Letterpress goodness by Anthony Burrill. What’s not to like?

Ardingly Antiques Fair

I love old signage, a disappearing art which is a shame. Great reference here.

If you’re interested in seeing more of our ‘Graphics’ oriented posts, just click here. If you’d like to read more about our reports, click here. Enjoy!

Blink Interviews: Boys&Girls

As some of the most stylish folks I see these days are the offspring of some of my very stylish friends, I think its fair to say that fashion knows no age limits. We were really excited when we heard about a new British kidswear brand that combined brilliant aesthetics and a brilliantly ethical approach so it didn’t feel too much of a stretch to feature them on the blog.

Each garment is made using the highest quality organic (GOTS certified) and fairly traded (FLO certified) cotton for garments that are soft yet strong and easy care. A small section of the range is fully Fairtrade certified and carries the Fairtrade Mark, the aim being to eventually have an entirely Fairtrade certified range. The Boys&Girls ethos is ‘created with care’.
The Boys&Girls brand has steadily been building momentum since its launch and now has 50 stockists in the UK and Europe, a great blog as well as a Facebook page and a growing Twitter following. The full range is available from the Boys&Girls website.

We decided that we wanted to know more about this brand and its founders so we asked them for a quick interview…

So, what is the main inspiration behind launching ‘Boys and Girls’?
The inspiration behind Boys&Girls is to prove that ethical retailing can be mainstream, look really cool and need not be ‘green’ or ‘hippy’ just because it’s created with care.
We also feel there is a gap in the kidswear market for a more down-to-earth  British brand that is design-led and reflects today’s vibrant urban lifestyle– more parks and playgrounds than paddocks and ponies. We purposely use just normal kids (not models) to allow their individual personalities to shine through. Boys&Girls styles are comfy, practical and great everyday play clothes yet bright and attractive enough to wear to parties.

Why incorporate sustainability/ fair trade/ organic?
We really just feel it’s the right thing to do. The 3 of us have all worked with organic and Fairtrade manufacturing and it would have been hard to go back to working with conventional cotton again once you are aware of all the positive consequences using organic and Fairtrade manufacturing practices can bring.

Do you think sustainability, fairly traded or organically produced clothing should be a specific focus for kidswear?
We think it should be a specific focus for all clothing manufacturing.

Where do you look for inspiration for the collection?
We are lucky to be surrounded by endless sources of inspiration here in London’s East End– great markets, vintage stores and lots of interestingly dressed people. We always try and make sure our styles can fit the description of play clothes and so we do like retro sports clothes. We are also all about colour– we get very excited about colour palettes and the designs just seem to follow.

Have you considered recycling or upcycling with your products and packaging?
We do try and incorporate sustainable practices into anything we do where possible. So, for example, our paper mail bags are made in the UK from sustainably managed sources and are recyclable. We haven’t done any upcycling yet, but it is a great idea and definitely something for the future.

What is your dream for ‘Boys and Girls’ in 5 years time?
To be the No. 1 British brand for design-led and ethical kids clothes!

Who is the team behind ‘Boys and Girls’?
There are 3 of us in the Boys&Girls team all with a background in clothing retail, but luckily from different head-office roles; Buying, Merchandising and Design. Between us we have worked at some of the main high street retailers including, Topshop and BHS, but all met while working at the organic baby retailer, Green Baby.
However, there is also another Boys&Girls team as in all the various suppliers, free-lancers and friends that have helped us turn our original idea into the fledgling brand it is today and continue to offer their invaluable enthusiasm, support and advice.

What has been your favourite product so far?
I can’t decide between the yellow striped towelling sundress which makes every little girl look like a ray of sunshine, or the Out To Play sweat top which completely took us by surprise with its popularity and has now become instantly recognisable as Boys&Girls.

What additional challenges have you experienced with your decision to make the collection sustainable, fairly traded and organic?
It is a challenge for any start up clothing company to get off the ground due to small quantities being uneconomical and therefore unattractive to most manufacturers. This has been exacerbated recently by steeply rising fuel and cotton prices.
When you also throw into the mix organic and FLO cotton which has an extra cost and less availability it really does become even more challenging. Maintaining the ‘Fairtrade’ element of the range has proved to be the biggest struggle. In order for the cotton in a garment to be fully Fairtrade certified, it has to pass FLO certification at every stage of the supply chain – from the price paid for the cotton, to the ginners, the knitters, the dye house, etc all the way to the manufacturers. This is not as easy as it sounds for a small start-up company as most of these processors need to work with certain minimums of cloth in order for them to stay productive. For example, a FLO certified dye house does not stay open 24 hours a day meaning their employers all have to work overtime as most conventional dye houses do, so they need to reach optimum productivity during the hours they are open in order to remain profitable. Unfortunately we were unable to meet the minimums required by the FLO dye house on all but a small portion of our range and so although we have paid a fair price for the cotton, it cannot be fully Fairtrade certified as it didn’t manage to get FLO certification for this part of the supply chain.
The daily challenge for us therefore, is to continue to support the cotton farmers by buying the FLO cotton while trying to increase our sales and order quantities so that we can eventually have a completely Fairtrade certified range.

Well, we think that all the effort is worth it! Thanks to the Boys&Girls team for sparing us some time to give us the interview and we wish you the very best success with this brilliant brand.

Blink Travels: Paris Graphic, Le Monochrome!

Here’s almost our final hit of inspiration from Paris. We do have a wee bit more for you tomorrow..

This one is for you guys who are more graphically oriented. We really love street art, and Paris has a very special take on it. We found some really beautifully executed stickers and posters, as well as stencils and sketches. The over riding mood was monochromatic, with the odd flash of colour. Here are our favourites for you.









Colette, Paris

For more on graphics, just click here. For more on Paris, click here. Enjoy!

Blink Inspiration: Pick Me Up, Anthony Burrill

Following on from last week’s post, here’s a bit more from the brilliant ‘Pick Me Up’ Graphic Art Fair at Somerset House. Today we focus on the artist in residence, Anthony Burrill. This may not be a name that you immediately recognize, but I guarantee that you know this artist’s work. His limited edition prints with slogans including “Work Hard and Be Nice to People” have lead the vanguard of a whole new graphic art direction. It was great to see his work beyond this incredibly popular statement piece.

The Burrill team had turned their space into a kind of gallery come workshop with a very open and interactive approach. Show attendees were encourages to get stuck in with scissors and glue to create mini artworks of their own, inspired by Burrill’s work surrounding them. There were also some more collaborative elements incorporated into the exhibition, with some stencil style artworks made with Wilfred Wood, and a great section of instant artwork where Ian Stevenson had sketched directly onto the wall (thanks for the banana sticker, Ian!).

Anthony Burrill's work at 'Pick Me Up'

Anthony Burrill's work at 'Pick Me Up'

Anthony Burrill's work at 'Pick Me Up'

Anthony Burrill's work at 'Pick Me Up'

Anthony Burrill at 'Pick Me Up'

Anthony Burrill and Wilfred Wood at 'Pick Me Up'

Anthony Burrill at 'Pick Me Up'

Ian Stevenson's work in the Anthony Burrill space at 'Pick Me Up'

Blink Retail: Bright Young Things at Selfridges, Part 2

We hope that you enjoyed the first installment on the ‘Bright Young Things’ that we posted last month. Selfridges promised a new set of names for February and they did not disappoint. This is such an amazing opportunity for new creative names. Selfridges are behaving in a really altruistic manner, and we think they are setting a great example for other retailers who seem to just repeatedly focus on known and established ‘safe’ labels.

This month’s selection is a diverse group of styles, handwriting and disciplines. Here are some shots of our favourites and they include some names that we are familiar with (we have featured Yang Du on the blog before) and lots that we haven’t come across before but will certainly look into some more. Have a look at Selfridges website to learn more about each of the designers, and be inspired!

Yang Du at Selfridges

Yang Du at Selfridges

Patternity, new patterned tights brand, at Selfridges

Little Glass Clementine, jewellery designer, at Selfridges

Matthew Miller, menswear designer, at Selfridges

Matthew Miller, menswear designer, at Selfridges

Jessica Dance, set and accessory designer, at Selfridges

For more on new designers, just click here. For more on retail inspiration, just click here. Enjoy!

Friday Fun: Pop in to the Pop Up at Liberty

We were doing the usual retail rounds when we spotted this Roger la Borde pop up shop within the beautious Liberty store, in situ until 18th October.

This shop within shop is in celebration of this innovative publishing company’s 25th birthday. We first noticed Roger la Borde cards when they started producing delightful mini versions of Rob Ryan‘s work (a Blink favourite, in case you didn’t know). Alongside the cards by Rob Ryan there is work by  Elise Hurst, Aya Kakeda and Su Blackwell. There’s some stunning original artwork for sale too- the Rob Ryan one is from a limited edition of just 10.

To add to the celebrations Roger la Borde has launched its first ever collection of homewares, including bone china teapots, mugs, aprons, tea towels and notebooks, all featuring Victoriana inspired illustrations like the strongman clad in a flowery apron that we spotted on the window of Liberty.

Hmm, its got me thinking about Christmas gifts already…

Roger la Borde at Liberty

Blink Travels- Istanbul Street Art

As you probably have spotted from previous ‘Graphics’ posts, or seen in our quarterly ‘Graphics’ report, at “Blink” we are huge fans of street art. It was an extra special treat to see so much amazing street art in Istanbul. It seemed to be quite focused in Beyoglu, where we were staying, leaving the more ancient and historical sections of the city pretty unscathed- as it should be.

At each turn, I spotted really interesting variations on stencil designs- small and punchy. There were larger more artistically created pieces too. My favourites, however were the multiple variations on the yellow fist design. Does anyone know who these are by? I felt like maybe these were from Istanbul’s version on Eine perhaps- a specific look and handwriting around a very focused theme.

Istanbul is home to the incredible street art focused Milk Gallery which, if you’re a fan of this art-form, is one for the ‘must visit’ list.

For more on ‘Graphics’ click here.

Blink Events: LED, In Depth

Following Friday’s first look at LED, we have some more great shots for you. It was a stylee event, but on the whole in a less ‘dress up’ way than some of the other East London festivals that we have covered this Summer. Here are some of our favourite looks for you- and the weather Gods were smiling down on the event too…

For more “Blink” events, click here…

LED festival

LED festival

LED festival

LED festival

LED festival

LED festival

Blink Interviews: James Brown

We first came across James Brown’s skills at the Little London Fields festival, and we were hooked immediately. We featured one of his poster designs on the blog back in August. We just had to make contact with James and were delighted when he agreed to an interview with us.

James Brown is an illustrator and printmaker living and working in London. Trained as a textile and surface print designer, James worked in the clothing industry for 10 years producing print designs for numerous brands from Levis to Louis Vuitton. James embarking on a new career as an illustrator in 2007.

James has been commissioned to produce work by publishing houses, magazines and newspapers and advertising and design agencies. Recent clients include Oxfam, Cancer Research, The Guardian and Faber & Faber . Alongside these commissions, James produces limited edition screen prints and linocuts. The traditional processes that go into the production of James’ prints are very important.

What are you currently working on and how is it shaping up?
I have just finished printing an edition for the V&A based the William Morris quote;
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
I tried very hard to make it beautiful! I do hope Mr Morris would have thought it worthy of hanging on his wall.

How did you discover your creative skills?
My parents are both illustrators, they didn’t pushed me into the creative industry but helped me in any way they could.

What or who are your longest standing design influences?
Edward Bawden, M.C Ecsher, Victor Vaserely.

What’s currently inspiring you?
Shoes. I’m working on a print of gents shoes to go with my HATS print.

Has your career developed in the way that you anticipated?
I have never really felt that I know where I am going with my career, but if I look back it has a very logical progression.
I studied Printed Textiles at college and spent 10 years working in the clothing industry, so I have just swapped from printing fabric to printing on paper.

How would you describe your design aesthetic?
Familiar and friendly with a nod to the past.

Do you work best alone or collaboratively?
I have never really done it before until recently. In mid September I have 4 screen-prints coming out which I have done with Cath Kidston. We are both happy very with them, so I guess that means the collaboration worked.

What’s the best thing about your job?
Truly enjoying what I do and seeing other people enjoy it too.

Any future projects that you’d like to tell us about?
I have two childrens books coming out next year. Published by Walker Books, they are both board books for babies one about shapes and the other about animals. Both are heavily patterned in high contrast colours. A page of horses from the book is one of the images below.

Pencil and paper or computer and mouse?
A computer is one of many important tools that I have in my pencil case.

Who would you love to work with, past or present?
I really enjoy making prints and posters for small events and businesses that I like and believe in, like the posters I created for The Scythe Festival and The Friends of Homerton Station

Any final word of advise?
Say yes to everything (within reason), you never know where it may lead you.

Designer James Brown in his studio in Hackney Wick, East London.

The flier for James' designs in collaboration with Cath Kidston


from one of the childrens books

The Scythe Festival poster

for the V&A

Thanks so much James. Another great addition to our series of interviews with inspirational individuals, I’m sure you’ll agree. Click here to see the rest of our interviews and get ready to be INSPIRED!