My story, Maria Livings / Lush Designs

Lush Designs is Marie Rodgers and Maria Livings (me). We met when doing our Fine Art Painting and Printmaking degree course. After college and got involved in Community Arts, the visual side of theatre and performance, agit-prop poster making and wearing of outlandish home-made costume. The outsized sculptural jewellery we created to complete the look ended up being a successful business called Lushlobes - which is why we eventually morphed into Lush Designs.

Our remit as artists has always been to be a bit entertaining, and we are very serious about what we do and think deeply about ideas; it is the peculiar and the humorous though that really gives rise to our creative urges. We also get very excited about colour and know that heaven is to be discovered in the vibrating interface between the hot, orangey pink of a papaya and the cool greenish blue of the sea.

The look of our work has been through many evolutionary cycles, however there are some recognisable threads running through it. Marie has a love of rhythm and pattern and I like narrative ideas and these two things are often combined by our illustrative style. Our fine art background means we approach ideas in a more conceptual way and through real life observation rather than through design trends. We do look at design but it’s not the route of what we do, necessarily. It’s more about narrative ideas and about drawing. You can make anything happen in a drawing. I can’t knit, but I can draw knitting. I could never be an architect but love to draw fantasy buildings. To imagine a world and then depict it is far more interesting to me, there’s something of reality about it but why not make it seductive and gorgeous?

We both love lampshades, partly because you can make a picture than goes round and meets itself coming, and also because of what light does to colour, opacity and translucency. We specialise in illustrative ideas and prints, narrative, storytelling ideas which are highly decorative, with lots of detail and we both love doodly, fancy embellishment.

I used to do the screen printing myself but I made a decision after a while that my time would be better spent doing other things so we found brilliant printers for all our products. We had a market stall for many years as well as a healthy wholesale business and eventually a web shop. Now I work in our real shop which is a good place to draw and dream up new ideas and have contact with our customers, who are lovely. Marie works in the studio where she takes care of the business like an evil puppet-mistress (an evil puppet mistress who has to pack boxes and do all the admin).

Being friends and running a business works brilliantly for us, it requires complete trust and loyalty and we support each other unconditionally. We write down the hours we work individually and as long as we know we're both completely knackered all the time we know we're both pulling our weight.


 

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We are often asked to advise people starting out in a creative business, but that advice is usually particular to the individual. People ask where do you get your ideas and inspiration from? We would say look at the world, not at other design. Don’t be inspired by what you see in my work but be think about what it was that inspired me. Everyone has ideas, the trick is to capture them and make them work. Creativity is often the knack of catching an idea before it floats away. Always try and record any thoughts as they occur and articulate them before they go.

Be sure that people want what you're creating particularly before you invest any money in it, ask other people what they think and listen to their opinion. Treat your creative endeavours as a job, nine to five if you can, nothing succeeds like hard work.

Handmade is a life habit. Making something with your hands and practising a chosen craft is uniquely satisfying. It doesn't matter how clever you are using Adobe Illustrator, if you haven't spent many hours practising drawing your work will lack veritas and humanity. Hand-making means you have understanding of process, form and structure.

Visit Lush Designs website: www.lushlampshades.co.uk

Visit the Lush Designs Shop at:
8 College Approach, Greenwich, London SE10 9HY.