Monday 13 September 2010

Introducing... Keep Calm Gallery

We're big fans of Lucas and Hayley (aka Keep Calm Gallery). Their bold typography and life-affirming idioms are both eye-catching and humorous, telling you to buck up your ideas (in the nicest possible way)! We caught up with them recently and asked them some probing questions about fonts, cats, and of course... tea towels!

Tell us a bit about Keep Calm Gallery; who are you both and what do you do?
Hello! We are Hayley Thwaites and Lucas Lepola, a soon-to-be husband and wife team living and working in a little house in South London. We started Keep Calm Gallery over three and a half years ago from our university halls, selling just three prints. We now produce and sell a large collection of prints, tea towels and cards from a fantastic group of artists and printmakers. It's just the two of us here, and together we do everything from packing orders to working on new product designs and everything in between!

You obviously share a love of typography. Can you remember what sparked your fondness for fonts (and do you both have a favourite font)?
We've always had a thing for prints, paintings and photographs and for as long as we can remember we've been collecting far too many of these things, more than we can possibly put on our walls! At some point we started collecting more prints with a heavy typographical influence and since then anything that has an interesting use of typography has really caught our eye. We couldn't possibly choose a favourite font between us! Many of the fonts we're most keen on we probably couldn't even identify, they are often spotted on anything from old packaging to disused shop signs.

We love the use of idioms in your work, especially ones from bygone eras; do you research old sayings or do you come across them by chance (we have visions of you pouring over wartime archives)?!
We do love a good idiom at Keep Calm Gallery! We come across these in all sorts of ways, whether it's from a line from a song, an old movie or just in conversation with friends, family and complete strangers. We're always listening out for something interesting!

We see from your website that you have two very cute looking cats! Who are they and do you have any other pets?
Our two beautiful cats are Maisy (a Maine Coon) and Alfie (a Russian Blue). They demand all of our attention and make enough mess on their own so at the moment they are our only pets. We would happily have an entire house full of cats if we could though! Maisy can usually be found sleeping across important papers on Hayley's desk attacking the printer every time it makes a noise and Alfie usually sits high up on a mountain of boxes surveying the messy office below! We love them to bits!

Does tea revive you (or are you secret coffee drinkers)?
I'm ashamed to say Hayley isn't much of a tea (or Coffee) drinker but I (Lucas) drink enough tea for the both of us!

As well as producing your own prints and products you work closely with other artists. How do you choose who to work with and do you have any favourite artists that always float your boat?
Over the past few years we have approached and been approached by some fantastic artists and printmakers. We don't have selection criteria as such, but I guess the first question we always ask ourselves is whether we would hang the artist's work on our own wall. It's important that the artist's work compliments the rest of the work on the site, whilst not being too similar to anything we've done before. Even though we are always thinking about whether we like the work personally, we've got to consider our customers at the same time, as they are quite a diverse bunch!

We are always finding new artists who we love and have to stop ourselves from buying work from all of them sometimes as we just don't have the room! We've got a few pieces from artists who are particular favourites, such as our large painting from Jen Garrido and some classic Banksy prints.

If you weren't doing what you do now, what would you both be and why?
(Hayley) - I studied Art History at university and have always had a passion for art of all forms. If I wasn't doing this I would hopefully be working somewhere like the National Gallery, curating exhibitions and happily studying paintings all day long.
(Lucas) - After a recent helicopter trip into the Grand Canyon I quite fancy myself as a helicopter pilot. Should we decide to try our hands at something new I will be heading straight to helicopter school to earn my wings!

Your motivational cards are great. What's the best piece of advice you've been given (and have you put it into practise)?
It's not the most profound piece of advice but we appreciate the importance of the phrase 'keep your chin up'. It's something we say to each other every now and then and it's a good reminder not to let things get you down.

If you could be transported back in time to a different period in history, when would it be and why?
(Hayley) - I would love to be transported back to the 1960s because I just love the popular culture of that time, everything from the fashion and amazing cars, to the fantastic music and classic films.
(Lucas) - I would like to go back to Jurassic times as I think that would make for a pretty interesting safari. I probably wouldn't stay for long though, I certainly wouldn't be around for lunch!

And finally, who does the washing up in your household (and do they dry the dishes with your tea towels)?
Luckily our trusty dishwasher does most of the washing up in our household but our tea towels do see action from time to time. We always have one of each of our own towels in rotation around the kitchen (far too many in fact!). We also have other favourites which we have acquired over time, such as our vintage 'be a deer and wash up' towel and a more recent Flight of the Conchords towel which we were excited to find on their recent tour.

If you want to find out more about Lucas and Hayley, or buy some of their amazing prints, why not check out their website:

Friday 10 September 2010

Drop Scones Not Bombs!

We heart drop scones! We hate bombs! It's another winning tea towel from designer-extraordinaire, Stuart Gardiner.

Drop Scones is now available from here...

PS - It even comes with a mini recipe card, so you can have a go at making your own drop scones at home!