illustrator interview – lydia shirreff

:: by Lizzie


Do you use old school or new school tools when creating your work?

I am old school. I work with my hands. Although if someone were to buy me a laser cutter I wouldn’t complain.


Show and tell your piece of work. Describe your submission for Old School.

My submission for Old School was a paper pencil case filled with colourful, patterned school bits. The kind of stationary you would save for best and probably not take to school because it would definitely get stolen by the naughty kid. I made it slightly larger than life-size to make you feel like a child again when you see it.




What is your creative process?

I will usually start by drawing out a very minimal plan, then spend a long time constructing with a lot of trial and error. I change things quite a lot as I go along so it’s a very fluid, experimental process. It can sometimes be incredibly monotonous and tedious but the results are always worth it.


Does your work represent your personality?

I think it does to a certain extent, although I am naturally quite untidy. And impatient. And I don’t wear bright colours very often…



Send in a picture of your desk now and describe your studio space.

My studio space is also my bedroom in a vacant office in East London. I was lucky enough to bag the conference room and table which is now my desk. It’s 9 feet long which is awesome in theory but actually just means I cover it in more mess. I like being surrounded by stuff, not necessarily my own work, but this is kind of unavoidable. Empty space makes me uncomfortable.




What’s your earliest memory of drawing/creating?

I think for me it would be hard to find an early memory that wasn’t drawing or creating. One of my favourites was to make tiny little books. My mum and I found a whole box of them in the attic recently. They would invariably be about a blonde princess and a unicorn.



Did you have an imaginary friend?

I am an only child so I had a whole army of imaginary friends for different situations. We would have adventures in the field behind my parents’ house.



Did you know at school what you wanted to be?

Not really. I guess I knew I’d like to be creative at something. For a while I wanted to write stories I think.


What advice would you give now to your ‘old school self’?

Don’t worry. One day your individuality will be interpreted as cool. Don’t hide it.


Smug’s colour is yellow. What colour best represents you?

I’m a big fan of cobalt blue.


If you had to choose one Smug product what would it be?

I can’t help touching the blankets every time I pop in.



lydia_shirreff_decorations_4b_smuggler_cropped copy


Lydia has also made by hand these stunning Geometric Christmas Decorations for SMUG. Each one is unique and very beautiful. They are for sale upstairs at SMUG in The SMUG Christmas SHOP.



hilary grant knitwear

:: by Lizzie

Hilary believes that everyday items should be beautifully made and I rather agree. Designed, knitted and hand finished in Scotland, Hilary Grant’s collection of scarves, hats and gloves combine simple, classic styles with bold patterns in sophisticated and compelling tones. Made from a soft 2 ply lambswool, Hilary Grant’s pieces are wearable, practical, playful and of the utmost quality – designed to be cherished and enjoyed winter after winter.












SMUG launched Hilary’s 2012-13 collection last winter in our Islinton store and the mushroom dash circle scarf that I bought at the time is still cherished and enjoyed and will continue to be, I’m sure, winter after winter. The things is, now SMUG has received the 2013-14 collection with it’s beautiful cinnamon and vole colourways, it wouldn’t seem quite right for me not to chose another scarf to cherish and enjoy winter after winter.


SMUG is lucky enough to have two Hilary Grant exclusives in our trademark mustard, or picalilli as Hilary likes to call it. You’ll only find these designs at SMUG which makes them extra special in my book. Hilary Grant’s pieces offer the perfect unity between beauty and utility. Wearable and well-crafted, they are designed to bring a little joy to even the most gloomy of winter days.






Our exclusive Arrow Circle Scarf in Piccalilli and Pom Scarf in Cobble & Piccalilli are availble in store at SMUG and online at along with the pieces from Hilary’s 2013-14 collection.


a hotel life – lloyd hotel & cultural embassy

:: by Lizzie


We’re on to review number three and I’m still loving writing for

The latest is my review of Lloyd Hotel & Cultural Embassy where I stayed in October on a sourcing trip for SMUG.


Originally a migrant hotel, then a few other things including a Nazi prison before becoming what it is today, the history of the Lloyd is fascinating. I do also like what they’ve done with the place design-wise but in my opinion it still feels a bit ‘prisony’. Read the full review here.


During the same Amsterdam trip I reviewed another hotel for A Hotel Life – The Exchange. Review coming soon. Amsterdam was fabulous and I’m in the process of writing a City Guide for The Smuggler so keep your eyes open for that too.







illustrator interview – linus kraemer

:: by Lizzie
Linus Promo Pic


Do you use old school or new school tools when creating your work?

I use a bit of both. My prints always start as sketches or doodles, and then I often redraw them as vectors on the computer.


Show and tell your piece of work. Describe your submission for Old School.

The playground print is a celebration of the playgrounds of my childhood – some still exist around the city but they’re rare now. I spent a lot of time finding photographs and looking for actual playgrounds so I could get the drawings accurate to the real thing. In the end I contacted Wicksteed Leisure (who’s name you’ll find on lots of playground equipment) and they sent me scans from their super retro catalogue from the 70’s.




What is your creative process?

Although my prints look really simple they are usually tons of work. I go through lots of trial and error trying out all kinds of options in the most basic things like colour and layout until I’m happy that I’ve chosen the best version.


Does your work represent your personality?

I’m sure it does in many ways. I suppose I’m quite accurate in life in general!



Send in a picture of your desk now and describe your studio space.

My studio contains my computer and a desk, lots of different paper stocks, a nice printer and scanner, some music equipment. And some clothes and a bed.




What’s your earliest memory of drawing/creating?

I loved trains (esp Thomas the Tank Engine) and drew train tracks a lot. I used to love looking out the window from the train at the curves of junctions where the tracks joined.



Did you have an imaginary friend?




Did you know at school what you wanted to be?

I wanted to be an architect. I think that was just because I liked drawing maps and plans of things. I had no interest in designing buildings!


What advice would you give now to your ‘old school self’?

Just get on with it.


Smug’s colour is yellow. What colour best represents you?

Gotta be dark blue, a bit like Pantone 541C.


If you had to choose one Smug product what would it be?

Can I have one of the formica cupboards please?


the renegade craft fair

:: by Lizzie


The Renegade Craft Fair popped over the pond this past weekend for it’s 3rd annual London offering. The Fair took place in Brick Lane’s Old Truman Brewery. So, after a bite to eat on the terrace at Dishoom, we walked over for some Chrimbo shopping as well as to say hello to the many SMUG desginers, old and new, who were showing their wares.


The first smiling faces we saw were those of Mr Wingate and James Brown. Both have been friends and suppliers of SMUG for some time. Mr Wingate’s Prints, Tea Towels, Cushions et al looked grand as always.




Mr Wingate’s Ten Bells Tea Towel, for sale at SMUG, will be appearing, fingers crossed, in the Guardian very soon. I hand delivered it and the Royal Oak Tea Towel, also at SMUG, to Mina Holland myself earlier today.


James Brown’s Prints always look fabulous. I was loving the linos on Sunday. Every time I see lots of them together I wish we had room for every single one at SMUG. At least we have Baxter and a few of his friends.




My current SMUG favourite has to be Brown’s Gardners Print. Gardners’ is a family business established in 1870 which specialises in bags but also anything else a shop keeper or stall holder might need. We always buy our till roll there. It’s a bit of a London gem as is the excellent Paul Gardner, great grandson of the founder, who runs the business nowadays.




The lovely Harriet Gray was there too. Here she is modelling her temporary tats. She’s drawn kittens, pups and bunnies all for your wearing pleasure. I couldn’t resist the doggie nail transfers.




If you’re a bit more bold than me but still not ready for a full on real tattoo you can purchase Harriet’s Mix and Match Tats here.


Alternatively, SMUG’s very proud to have it’s own Harriet Gray exclusive in this pucka print she illustrated for us. Maybe this is the one for you? Do you know what SMUG used to mean? Have a read below. It’s a neat little knowledge bomb.




House of Ismay and Lucie Ellen were rocking their stand with all sorts of paper-covered laser-cut wooden loveliness. Yes – that is a thing. See for yourselves.




Lucie was even creating custom made Bunting Necklaces for lucky Renegade customers. Cute!




Lucie has some gorgeous pieces in The SMUG Christmas SHOP that are well worth a look and selling fast. Check out her Watermelon Necklace, my personal fave.


Designer and new comer to the SMUG clan, Ladybird Likes had a gorgeous stall-full too.




Her Pug Collar Clips are selling like hot cakes in our SMUG Christmas SHOP. Her Wooden Bow Ties for girls and boys also at SMUG are pretty irresistable aswell. Keep your eyes open for more Ladybird Likes at SMUG next year we hope.




Other old school SMUG designers not to be missed at the Renegade Craft Fair included Hanna Melin, Made by mememe, A Alicia (who held a bauble making workshop just like the one she did for us at SMUG) and Lucy Driscoll.


New to the crew and not mentioned above but very much filling their stalls with goodness were Ketchup on Everything, Scout Editions and Stuffed Nonsense.


Fun was definietly had at the Fair.




the SMUG christmas SHOP

:: by Lizzie


Last night was the Private View of our SMUG Christmas SHOP and thus a great chance to celebrate the new-to-SMUG designers and friends of SMUG who have produced work for this year’s Christmas SHOP upstairs at SMUG. We’re very pleased with our selection and think it all looks fab together, styled on vintage desks and in vegetable racks. So firstly, thanks so much to all who have work included and secondly, for those who haven’t been already, do pop in and have a look. Almost everything in The SMUG Christmas SHOP is under £20 – so perfect for little Crimbo gifts and stocking fillers alike.




The Private View went with a swing on all three floors of the shop with Designers and friends of SMUG swigging away on mulled wine, nibbling on the homemade loaf cakes made by my own fair hands (keep your eyes peeled for recipes coming soon to The Smuggler) and enjoying the 10% off discount and the free SMUG totes.






With special thanks to Laura Gee, Long Story Co, Seventy Tree, Hanna Melin, Pui for Scout Editions, Alice Lickens, Stuffed Nonsense, Lydia Sherrief, Amy Harris, Gunna Ydri, DING DING, Cards by Cassandra,  Alfie’s Studio, Lovely Pigeon, Ketchup on Everything and Ladybird Likes.


illustrator interview – fiona biddington

:: by Lizzie


Do you use old school or new school tools when creating your work?

All my illustrations are hand drawn. I draw the main image in pencil and then layer up each colour on a separate piece of paper using a light box. This means I can be as messy and scribbly as I want and the colours don’t just merge into a giant mess. Then everything gets scanned and layered up in photoshop.


Show and tell your piece of work. Describe your submission for Old School.

My Old School pieces are a set of 7 limited edition prints from my ‘When We Were Young’ illustration series. I reckon ‘Hobby Horse’ has to be my favourite. I have great memories of trotting down our street as a kid on the hobby horse my mum made me out of a broom and one of my dad’s old socks.




What is your creative process?

I start with an idea, often a word or sentence, then research around it and begin to play with what I find.  My best work happens when I don’t think too much, when I let the design just happen naturally.


Does your work represent your personality?

I’ve never thought about it. I reckon it must do or else I would’t be doing it.  I guess that’s why artists/illustrators do self-initiated work in our spare time. Working on something that you really care about reminds you of what you like about your work.



Send in a picture of your desk now and describe your studio space.

At the moment I’m living out of a teeny tiny room in London.  I can sit my desk and reach all four walls or if i get bored of that I can lie in bed and still work at my desk. It’s… cosy, if nothing else!




What’s your earliest memory of drawing/creating?

Drawing has always been my favourite thing to do. I was constantly drawing and colouring as a child. I was a bit slow at learning to read so I would just spend hours gazing at the pictures, re-drawing my own versions and making up my own stories instead.



Did you have an imaginary friend?

Doesn’t everyone?! I had numerous imaginary friends, from all the different imaginary worlds which I dreamt up whilst drawing.



Did you know at school what you wanted to be?

I always wanted to be an illustrator when I was young.  I would make my own books full of stories and pictures.  I would meticulously colour everything which could be coloured. There was a period where I changed direction for a while as I had no idea how to get there but now I’m in it for the long haul…


What advice would you give now to your ‘old school self’?

Illustration as a whole seems to have grown so much since I was at school.  I remember a career day where I was told my options were either children’s book illustration or editorial cartoons for newspapers. These days everything is illustrated; there are so many more options and the range of styles out there is phenomenal. I guess I’d tell myself not to be put off by those first stuffy teachers who told me illustration wasn’t a proper job.


Smug’s colour is yellow. What colour best represents you?

Hmmm, white. A confusion of nothing and everything.


If you had to choose one Smug product what would it be?

I love Matt Pugh’s wooden owls. I’d like a whole clan of them!