Saturday, 26 November 2011

Surfacephilia now on sale at MIMA's 'A Few Of My Favourite Things' Christmas sale!

A few months ago I was very honoured to be asked to put my work into Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art's Christmas sale, 'A Few Of My Favourite Things'. Dropped off last week, here's how things look!

My work will be on sale until Christmas but if you can't make it along you can catch me at Designers Marketplace next Saturday 3rd December in Middlesbrough Town Hall. 11-4pm.

MIMA as just opened an amazing exhibition called Between Dimensions: The Representation Of The Object, which 'raises questions surrounding the traditional view of the still life by extending it beyond the canvas and considering the space between the second and third dimensions'. Selected artists include Ben Nicholson, G├ęsine Hackenberg, Vanessa Bell, John Bratby, Duncan Grant, Elizabeth Fritsch, Julian Stair, David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein, and Pablo Picasso.












Thursday, 24 November 2011

First tests of fabric printing!

Last week I had a magazine call for fabric samples. Although I am in the process of getting my designs tested with fabric manufacturers I don't have any full lengths printed up so had to pay a quick visit to the life saver that is CCAD! Thanks Vicky Graham for once again being a superstar!! 

Friday, 18 November 2011

SurfacePhilia lifestyle shoot with Tom Burton Photography...

Yesterday was action packed AGAIN, going from digitally printing my first samples of fabric at CCAD to then rushing over to a photo shoot with professional photographer Tom Burton. Both of us in need of some new collaborations and exciting project work, we decided to use my latest bone china collections to put our skills to the test and expand our portfolios. 

I was kindly allowed to shoot inside Michael O'Connors furniture store and also use the furniture items to help set room scenes. After paying Northern Lights Interiors a visit for extra props, I used their antlers, turquoise glass vases and earthenware to help style my sets and sit up against the ceramics. 

The images below were taken and styled by myself, NOT Tom! Im sure his shots are going to be so much more amazing! These were experiments with compostions, themes and moods within the photographs.   

And a big thanks to Lucy Leaver and Adam Burton for their supreme assistance and patience on the day!


Styling: Helen Stevens - http://www.surfacephilia.co.uk/

Props: Northern Lights Interiors - http://www.northernlightsinteriors.co.uk/
Furniture and location: Michael O'Connor - http://www.michaeloconnor.co.uk/













Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Prop hire from Northern Lights Interiors!

Tonight I paid a visit to Saltburns hidden little gem, Northern Light Interiors to pick out some props for this weeks lifestyle shoot, An eclectic shop of antiques, vintage, retro and new, I pulled out antlers, turquoise glass jars and heavy decorative earthenware to sit up against my bone china collections and wallpapers. A big thanks to shop assistant Lucy for organising the loan and to shop owners Ted and Shirley for their generosity.




Northern Lights Interiors shop windows create a bit of a stir within Saltburn, and are always considered and conceptualised. Here are a few of my favourite shots taken from their Facebook fanpage, all displays pulled together by ex London Visual Merchandiser Lucy Leaver.










Tuesday, 8 November 2011

First handmade SurfacePhilia wallpaper book

Today has been spent hand making my first SurfacePhilia wallpaper book and I'm really pleased with the end result! 68x58cm in size, I used digitally printed fabrics to back the front and back covers, and choose stained dark wood panelling for the spine to help screw it all together. This little book is off to Liberty, London.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Interview with Calum Ross for Arts Thread Blog | Full Interview

Interview with Calum Ross for Arts Thread: http://blog.artsthread.com/2011/11/qa-helen-stevens/

1. Talk us through your creative process.

I have just recently launched my debut wallpaper collection which is called Navajo. The collection currently holds five designs which I am working towards adding to. I took my inspiration from a native and earthy theme, researching and then creating visual studies of American birds types, feathers, geometric patterns found within rustic native jewellery and embellishment. These paintings and drawings were then worked into repeats for wallpaper designs, and placement prints for cushions and china ranges.

I am interested in pushing boundaries between many areas of design such as illustration, repeat pattern, traditional painting and drawing technique, and surface embellishment. I like to play on the unexpected, and introduce unusual combinations of imagery into my work and products. With my wallpaper designs I tried to bring as much innovation into flat print as possible, by playing with scale, heavy patterns, colour and overly complicated repeats.

Having always had an interest in fashion I also look there for inspiration, I am interested in concepts and themes rather than trends. This helps to style my work and think of new direction for interiors, almost like ‘couture for interiors’. I love the freedom that design has within fashion and I work towards creating whole new concepts based around imagery which has not been seen, or is expected to be seen within interiors, looking at embellishment, placement and fluidity of print, colours and textures.

2. What made you want to become a designer and more specifically what lead you to specialise in surface design?

As a child all I ever did was draw, paint and observe how things look, from flowers and birds to the fashions and interiors in films. I was lucky enough to travel the world at a young age due to my fathers job, I saw many interesting sights, colours and textures. I think things you absorb as a child form who you are as an adult, your creative ideas, and how you see the world.

Drawing was always my main driving force throughout school and college, I always knew it was the subject I wanted to be involved with. I have always been interested in both fashion and interiors, and couldn’t decide between the two subjects. Studying a drawing and pattern based course made sense and I found that the Textiles and Surface Design course at CCAD would enable me to be involved with both fields of design and also continue to expand my drawing skills.

3. What would you say was your first ‘big break’ after graduating?

When I graduated I moved to London and began designing prints for Red Or Dead. It was a great experience and I learnt a lot about working within industry and designing on a commercial level. Getting a break doesn’t necessarily come easy, with so many design degree’s and thousands of students leaving education each year, only the more determined and motivated will stand a chance of employment or becoming recognized as a standalone designer.

My biggest break has only been in recent months after the official launch of my surface design business, at London Design Festival. My work was picked up by Liberty London who are now wanting to represent my debut wallpaper collection in store. I also made contacts with international agents, interior designers and stylists who are interested in working with me. Again, this required a long period of hard graft, manufacturing issues, marketing, generally juggling of a lot of balls! It doesn’t come easy.

4. What do you wish you had been told in college/university about the real world of working?

Whilst in university you are concentrating on developing your style and being as innovative as you can be – whilst you can, before moving into industry. I would have benefitted from learning all about the ‘business’ side to design, such as finances and marketing. And being told about the realistic side to self employment, your earnings, out goings, the jobs you have to juggle in order to support your dream of designing. You sacrifice a lot – long working hours, putting any spare cash back into the business, the many roles you have to play within the business, but I definitely wouldn’t want it any other way!

5. If you could travel back in time, what advice would you give to yourself as a student?

Concentrate and commit to your studies from the first year. I lectured in Textiles and Surface for seven years and students always step it up in the final year, I did it aswell. Something just clicks (I think it might be called pressure!?) and you see some amazing results, even squeezed down to the last months. You always hear stories of regret after seeing what can be produced in such short periods of time. Many students feel they could do with an extra year afterwards to keep going at that standard and producing more incredible portfolio work.

6. You set up Designers Marketplace 3 years ago, what was the reasoning behind this idea?

Working as a lecturer for those years and also running my own design business (on a smaller level) I recognized the need for support and encouragement for designers after and outside of education. If you’re in certain areas of design and want to work within industry the likelihood is you will have to leave your area and move to London or abroad. Some people don’t have the opportunity of moving away due to other commitments or personal circumstances. Having left London to move back to the North East, I really felt isolation in what I did, even though I was lecturing and around creative people all day through work. It was taking the idea of a Portobello or Spitalfields and bringing it back north, using it to encourage people to continue using their skill sets, knowledge and talent after graduation.

You see craft fairs and markets everywhere but what I try to do with Designers Marketplace is offer a platform of promotion and sales to degree educated and/or professional artists and designers, both starting out and established. The standard of work at Designers Marketplace is quite high, many of my vendors now supply regional boutiques and galleries. For me the most important thing Designers Marketplace offers is encouragement, work deadlines, a friendly and supportive network, and the confidence for creative entrepreneurism.

7. How do you see the ‘SurfacePhilia’ brand expanding?

I have a lot of ideas for the future but I need to remember to take baby steps, learning to walk before running and making sure my standard of work remains high and my business remains loyal to what I want it to be about, rather than moving down every commercial route possible.

Right now I am launching my debut wallpaper collection and working on lifestyle products such as cushions and china ranges to sit as a collection. What I am really interested in, is working with large companies and organizations on a commission basis, working with interior designers, stylists, other design brands, hotels. Mural painting and collaborative projects with other designers is also what I want to focus on. I am still very keen on experimenting with techniques and applications within surface design including screen printing and hand embellishment. I want a strong conceptual and innovative approach behind my ideas for both the commercial and not so commercial side of the business.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Launch of new china collections! Aubrey, Savoy & Jaeger.

Last week I launched my latest china sets to match with the wallpaper designs
Aubrey, Savoy and Jaeger. Launched at Saturdays Designers Marketplace, the designs went down a treat and I even sold out of Aubrey plates which is a rare occurance! Jaeger feather pint mugs also proved popular. All sets are now available for sale online at www.surfacephilia.co.uk

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