Inspiring : Lewis Mark Grimes {surface design}

After a high flying career in publishing and launching his own agency, it was not until he was struck down by illness and a prolonged recovery that Lewis Mark Grimes came to surface design.


feather rishi - a tisket a tasket

feather rishi – a tisket a tasket


Working solely with molted feathers and designing in digital kaleidoscopes, much of his work is reminiscent of shibori with its undulating tones, but retains its own distinctive textures. And although he occasionally dabbles in neon brights and altered colour schemes, his most sensuous designs use the natural (and sometimes surprising) hues of the feathers themselves.


feather rishi - golden ripple

feather rishi – golden ripple


Residing in San Diego, California, he is currently undertaking Honours at college. “I reside in a small place where the rooms are multi-purpose. So my workspace is layered with the textures and patterns of school, work, play and prayer. Mostly I pray for a larger workspace.”


feather rishi - pompeiian mosaic

feather rishi – pompeiian mosaic


“It was a great surprise to me that I was a surface artist. I went back to college in ’08 and assessment tests pointed me to art. Skepticism was my initial response – as a boy, my family had told me I was a horrible artist and they discouraged me. But I dutifully signed up for some art and graphic design classes. My painting and drawing professors were generous and they gave me high grades I ill-deserved but graphic design was another matter. Although my introductory course was something like swimming in quicksand (I only got a B) I sensed I was home at last. After that it was all A’s and I found my lifelong fascination with art, style, fashion and design was something I could enjoy and master.”

“I guess the quintessential, best thing that’s happened to me as a designer is keeping rare birds and making friends with parrots. It was part of my recovery. I kept all their molted feathers which I was able to utilize as models for my school art projects. Then my professors said what I was doing was unique. Pretty soon I was calling my work a new genre.”


feather rishi - native drums

feather rishi – native drums


Like most creatives, he has struggled with finding enough time to do everything he wanted. But he reckons he’s got that sorted. “I have two inventions, patent-pending: the 48 month calendar and the 48 hour clock. I don’t know why I’m the first to come up with these breakthroughs, but they have given me a new lease on life.”


feather rishi - sepia sparkle 16up

feather rishi – sepia sparkle 16up


feather rishi - starry night

feather rishi – starry night


His early years were not filled with inspiring memories of art and design. “During my childhood my stepfather was extremely ambitious. He wanted our house to win the annual competition for best decorated. We lived in Anchorage, Alaska. I remember one bitterly cold winter. There was no snow. We had mannequins dressed like elves and Santa, the sleigh and the whole team of reindeer to exhibit. I was tasked with gluing cotton to the display to create the illusion of snow. My mittens would freeze and I cursed the day. Well, I won’t go into that. That was my earliest memory of craft and I swore I would never, ever, ever go into anything like that.”

Lewis started his career in publishing, working with some great names. “I worked at ICM for Lynn Nesbit, one of the top literary agents in the business, and I worked with such authors as Jimmy Carter, Carol Burnett, Hunter S. Thompson and Anne Rice. I stayed with her when she joined the top commercial agent in the world, Dr. Morton Janklow and worked with an expanded roster of authors including Jackie Collins, Judith Krantz, Harold Bloom and Danielle Steel. I was a cockie young man and so went off to start my own agency after years of launching the careers of many new authors. Then, I had a devastating illness, lost that agency and was brought low. After years of rehab, I was thrilled to have had the experiences and grateful for the opportunities. Yet I knew there was something more and I’m especially lucky to have found my way to design.”


feather rishi - thor

feather rishi – thor


This year will be an especially important one for him – he has been accepted to exhibit at the Licensing Expo in Las Vegas. “This will be the fourth year I’ve attempted to go to the show. It’s happening this time. I’ve engaged a fabulous model, designed two dresses for her. I just ordered the fabric printing on Spoonflower!”

We wish you all the best, Lewis!

You can find more of Lewis’ work on Spoonflower at feather_rishi.

How to Make Your Home Workspace More Beautiful and Productive
How to Make Your Home Workspace More Beautiful and Productive
wall mural - "Door to the Sky" via

wall mural – “Door to the Sky” via

Guest post from Betti Hunter

When we’re working from the office, we aren’t often afforded the luxury of tailoring our workspace to our own needs and aesthetic desires. Unless we’re working for a particularly progressive company, our at-work desks are often drab and uninspiring – hardly the ideal environment for nurturing creative thought processes and productivity! At home, however, our workspace is a blank canvas that we can continue to develop and improve to complement the way we work. Here are some of the best ways to style up your home workspace.

Declutter the space

Though recent research has suggested that a bit of mess on your desk might actually encourage creativity, it’s still important to keep all your key documents, books and tools in an organised, easy to access manner. While an extensively labelled filing system may take organisation a bit too far, try cutting down on the swathes of paperwork scattered across your work surface by throwing out anything unnecessary, keeping the bulk of your work in a large patterned folder and using pinboards to display your most important notes alongside fun postcards and business cards. Invest in a stylish desk caddy to house your stationery, and keep unused wires and cables neatly wrapped up and stored in a decorative box.

Include a motivational quote

When you feel your productivity flagging, sometimes it can be helpful to reflect upon a particular motivational quote from a person you admire to get those creative juices flowing again. Try incorporating a couple of your favourites into your design scheme – modern, minimalist framed texts can easily be hung at eye level over your computer, or go one step further and attach a custom quote decal directly to your wall so that you’ll never be short of inspiration. You could even pick a selection of quotes, which could be changed every couple of months depending on your mood and current projects.

Learn the art of shelf organisation

It’s the 21st century – shelves are no longer mere storage space. Arranging your shelves has become something of an art form, and now even has an Instagram hashtag dedicated to it! Instead of loading all of your books haphazardly onto your shelves, try arranging your most-read titles in height or colour order. Keep them tidy with some small but lux bookends, and add a splash of personality with a whimsical ornament and a couple of miniature cacti. Remember, les is more – how can you expect to realistically get any work done with the fear of an overloaded shelf literally hanging over your head?

Surround yourself with inspirational imagery

Us humans are visual creatures, and nothing inspires us more than gazing upon pleasing patterns, stunning vistas and beautiful artworks. While you might not have a breathtaking view from your window, you can definitely bring some eye candy into your at-home workspace by adding a wall sticker or mural to your backdrop. Go all out with a relaxing, high definition photograph of a tranquil Japanese garden or, if you feel that you might be too easily distracted, opt for a bright abstract print to keep you sharp and focused throughout the day.

Make the most of natural light

One of the best ways to increase the productivity potential of your workspace is to make sure the lighting is spot on. To stay perky, focused and content, try to position your work station in a part of your house that is regularly flooded with natural light…taking into account the potential for annoying computer glare, obviously! Once you’ve found the sweet spot, install some slatted blinds which will allow you to control the amount of light pouring in – while natural sunlight is great for spurring you on, a dimmer room is perfect for reflecting on ideas and cultivating creativity.


Author’s Bio: Betti Hunter is a journalist and copywriter who specialises in investigative features, lifestyle and entertainment. She gets her kicks by playing with words. Currently she is the editor for the wall murals section of You can contact Betti via her website


This post was supported by . But rest assured I only ever share things I genuinely believe in, and that I think will be useful for you!

Inspiring: Elly MacKay, TheaterClouds

I can’t get over how delicate and lovely these images are from Elly Mackay, the artist behind theaterclouds. They glow like warm memories of childhood, viewed through a magical peephole.


theaterclouds - she brought back the gift of the season

theaterclouds – she brought back the gift of the season


Elly is part craftsperson, part theatre-designer, and part photographer. She has been fascinated with tunnel books (books with consecutive cut-out pages that you expand to create a three-dimensional scene), Victorian paper-theatre and zoetropes ever since she can remember, and as a teen began making dioramas with moving parts and selling them at a gallery in Toronto. After completing school, she went on to receive a Bachelor of Fine Art from Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (where she met her husband), and now works from her home studio in Owen Sound, Canada. There, she weaves her magic with ink, paper and light, within the miniature wooden theatre her woodworker husband made for her.


theaterclouds - solo

theaterclouds – solo


“My creative process usually begins with an idea and title; the image follows close behind. I have a big whiteboard in my studio and I play with themes — weather, creatures, botany, etc. I do really loose drawings there, and I keep them up for a while to see what comes from them.


theaterclouds - sun leaves - page from the picture book fall leaves

theaterclouds – sun leaves – page from the picture book fall leaves


“I begin an illustration by sketching. I then build the layers. For the most part, I use ink on Yupo paper, a plastic paper. It has strength, and no grain. It catches the light quite beautifully too. Spraying it with different oils, alcohol, and rolling over inked areas creates unusual surfaces.

“When everything is in place I set up the lighting. Different filters, direction and type of lighting create different atmospheres. I also use the opacity/transparency of the Yupo paper to create shadowed areas or areas that beam with light. Sometimes I get multiple images from the same scene with quite different moods.  It is also nice being able to alter just one aspect of an illustration.


theaterclouds - when it is rainy and grey

theaterclouds – when it is rainy and grey


theaterclouds - the shadow teller

theaterclouds – the shadow teller


“I have a fluid process. With layers to create the setting, individual characters, lighting, filters, camera lenses and settings, there is lots of play that goes into getting my images and sometimes interesting surprises.”


theaterclouds - they tied their hopes to a string

theaterclouds – they tied their hopes to a string


theaterclouds - two families

theaterclouds – two families


theatercouds - on the back of a tiger

theatercouds – on the back of a tiger


Lately, she has been turning her attention to writing and illustrating books, and to date has illustrated two books, as well as writing and illustrating three of her own books – If You Hold a Seed, Shadow Chasers, and Butterfly Park, and . I highly recommend you watch the video about Elly’s process and thoughts about her book, If You Hold a Seed.





You can find more of her beautiful work in her Etsy store theaterclouds, and on her website,


Inspiration : Ashley Lotecki – surface design

After working as an in-house designer for many years, Ashley Lotecki felt that while it had been great experience and creatively challenging, her identity as an artist was completely anonymous. So when a couple of major clients closed down and the company she was working for laid off the creative department, it was a hard but ultimately perfect opportunity.


ashley lotecki - sew my darling

ashley lotecki – sew my darling


“I had already been considering starting my own business for a while so at that time it seemed like a natural transition. In 2013, I became a registered business and have been working hard on it ever since! When I made the decision, it was a huge thing for me to register the business under my own name – Ashley Lotecki Design.



“But it is a wonderful feeling to be able to have my name joined with my identity as an artist now, and for people to recognize my style and associate that with my business.”


Her style is fluid, asymmetrical and whimsical. It conjures thoughts of simpler times, a childhood filled with playful kittens, puppies and dolphins, of watching your mother at her sewing machine, and being utterly besotted with the antique clocks on your grandparent’s mantelpiece.


ashley lotecki - measuring time

ashley lotecki – measuring time


ashley lotecki - everything but the sink

ashley lotecki – everything but the sink


The Canadian designer explains that digging back into her childhood is a wonderful source of ideas. “Some of my favorite places to pull inspiration from are my memories of growing up in the Canadian Prairies and adventures exploring my grandparents’ farm. The temperamental extremes of weather encouraged excessive amounts of make believe, art creation, and dress-up for entertainment! If I think back to a specific memory involving craft or design that stands out, it would be of adventures at my family cabin. Between my siblings, cousins, and friends, the cabin was always full of kids (frequently at least ten of us) so we were always coming up with art projects and crafts. We used to dig up clay on the beach, which was fairly deep underneath the sand, take it back to the cabin and sculpt all kinds of things out of it. After letting it air dry, we’d paint our creations in bright primary colors. Some of those relics still exist to this day!”

In translating her ideas to screen, she always endeavours to keep the original organic, fluid lines of the original drawing. “I generally start with loose pencil sketches and sketch until I get to a point where I’m happy with the visual direction. After that, I scan the pages in and reference them when I start working digitally in Adobe Illustrator, sometimes adding in additional textures in Photoshop. This method helps me translate the asymmetric, hand-drawn aspects of my style more organically even though I am working primarily in vector.”


 ashley lotecki - underwater pool party

ashley lotecki – underwater pool party


ashley lotecki - warm paws

ashley lotecki – warm paws


Although most of her time is spent illustrating and creating surface patterns, Ashley also teaches digital illustration to university students and is a guest artist with an elementary school district, working with teachers and students on collaborative illustration projects.

She also spends a fair proportion of her time sewing, and has worked as a costume designer on a regular basis for many projects, including live shows, films, and web series – creating and constructing original characters and pieces, including clients such as Mattel. The combination of digital and tactile creative projects strike a good balance for her – “I love to sew and try to create original projects whenever I can.”


Sewing is kind of like my break time, I find it relaxing and a nice tactile change if I’ve been working on the computer a lot.


“I am also a tutorial contributor for the lovely sewing website Sew Mama Sew and as well as that have been working on a few collaborative sewing projects that I hopefully get to share sometime soon.”

“I have a multi-purpose workspace containing my computer work station, (fairly substantial) storage for fabric and art supplies, and desks/tables for sewing, cutting, and silk-screening on. I like order and simplicity in my workspace, so areas like my desk and projects table are usually pretty bare unless I am working on something at that moment. That being said, the walls of my studio are covered with printed squares of surface patterns I have been working on. I love the visual evidence of what I’ve been doing and accomplished, but along with that I find it very helpful for developing and expanding on my collections of patterns so I can see what I’ve done and how the patterns look with one another. I also have large white boards up so I can write myself temporary notes and to do lists. I am a chronic list writer, it helps me stay organized. Also, physically crossing things off a list is a seriously great feeling!”

In her old designing job working with outside clients, Ashley gained great experience in what it meant to create a brand, and this has helped her a great deal in creating her own.  “Consistency is important in every aspect of your branding, so make sure anything visually accessible relates back to your brand identity – fonts, colors, sizing, layouts, etc. If you are posting photographs of work or products for sale online, they should look as professional as possible. Creating a small light box out of foam core can be very helpful for taking better photographs of products, also allowing you to keep the scale and directionality of the objects the same. Additionally, I highly recommend learning a program like Photoshop so you can make any modifications necessary and format your images properly.


“I have years of experience working on licensed artwork, developing new brands, and creating style guides, so I know what can define the success of a brand and how to manage it.”


“That being said, it is a little different when you are deciding how to brand yourself and your business identity versus a client, so I spent a long time considering what I wanted my brand to represent and how to visually convey that.

“My current branding is intentionally simple, but fully representative of me. The logo is my own signature, originally done by hand and then referenced to create a digital version, the lines of which are quirky and asymmetric just as my artwork is. My standard branding is white and black, without extra icons or embellishments – This allows my artwork and patterns, commonly full of bright colors, patterns, and characters, to be a strong focal point that is separate, but complimentary to my logo.”
ashley lotecki at surtex

ashley lotecki at surtex

“This year my focus has been more on creating illustrated artwork for my portfolio in preparation for upcoming tradeshows such as Surtex which my work will be debuting at May 17-19, 2015 in New York.
Her best piece of advice? “Simply – “You can do this.” “
 You can find more of Ashley’s work on Spoonflower at smashworks, and on her own website,