Monday, 5 March 2012

Interview with Lisa Tilley - uoldbag!

Welcome to the newly styled blog!

Each Monday I'll be featuring a designer/maker or vintage guru who is truly MARVELLOUS. 

Way back in January I featured the work of a fellow Bedfordshire resident Lisa Tilley. Lisa creates truly stunning one off pieces of “functional art”. Using vintage materials Lisa has created an amazing collection of accessories and homeware which you can find in a variety of exciting shops (see the list at the end of the interview).  Lisa’s work caught the eye of the Fashion World too, with her bags being stocked in Paul Smith stores to tie in with the Paris and Milan fashion weeks. In fact her bags ended up being featured in Paul Smith’s international stores for around 18 months!
Lisa has very graciously taken the time to answer some questions so we can all find out more about her incredible work.

1. Do you have a bag or suitcase that you are especially proud of?
I like all of my work so it’s quite difficult to choose one. I normally like my newest works the most as they’re fresher to me, which is why I think I like the intricately detailed bird suitcases that I made recently, they are very gorgeous and I put a lot of work into them. I also love the tea cosy handbags that I make, especially the ginger cat one.

Tea Cosy Handbag by uoldbag!
I recently made a wonder woman suitcase to commission, it was for a client who is an artist and has quite an out there style, she loves colour and crazy stuff like me. The bag I made for her was really great and I was wishing after I’d made it that it was for me but I’m always happy for my products to go to homes where they’ll be loved as much as I love them. I think I’m a good people person and am very good at designing for a person in mind, I never seem to fail at this which is something I’m very proud of.

Wonder Woman Suitcase by uoldbag!
2. When you are creating a piece, do you find that the item decides the images used or the images decide the item to be decorated?

Yes definitely, the materials have to work together and I am mainly influenced and inspired by the materials I use. I collect all kinds of things that I like and put them together. I normally decide on a theme or collection that I want to work to, I hunt out all of my imagery that I want to use and that goes with that theme, I then choose bags that will go with the theme too and merge the right ones together. When I collect the cases I normally know what style they are going to be used for based on their shape and era.

Another lovely suitcase by uoldbag!

3. What are the challenges of using the decoupage technique?

Sometimes things can go wrong, if your having a bad day things might get stuck together and when your using original irreplaceable vintage materials this can be quite tricky, but this hasn’t happened to me much, I think I have a lot of patience and have had a lot of practice. When I first started experimenting with decoupage on bags, I found that the imagery would eventually peel off, but through spending a lot of time experimenting with different materials and techniques I have a formula that works.
4. What are the particular joys of decoupage?

I trained as a weaver at University and although I love it and often think about allowing myself time to do some weaving, painstakingly settling up a warp and spending a lot of time weaving all before knowing what the exact outcome will be is just so time consuming. My bags also take a lot of time to create but not as much as weaving a fabric and I can mock up my bags before doing the final sticking stage to see what they’ll look like. I think the almost instant results combined with the use of old prints and materials that I love, is what does it for me.

AviaryIII by uoldbag!
5. Name three things that influence your work

My Materials, Lisbon (Portugal) and going to exhibitions.
6. What are the challenges/benefits of being based in Bedford rather than a hub like London?

The challenges can be that your not always in the loop and I imagine that London has more opportunities for getting out there, mixing with like minded people and being inspired, but I find that with social networking now and from doing regular fairs in London and other places that I am building up a good network of peers, clients and connections.
-The main benefits of living in Bedford are space and calm! I am lucky enough to have a big studio with more than enough space for me all to myself and I’m certain that I wouldn’t get that for the same price in London. My studio is in a great area as well, it’s close to Castle rd, it’s a great arty area and I visit the shops along there as part of my work scouting in the junk shop for treasures and in the book shop for great illustrated books. People often ask me if I feel isolated working alone, but in my studio I never do as I just pop to the shops when I need a break and see a whole host of people.
Bedford’s great for the fact, that it’s affordable, a peaceful place to live with lovely countryside and is short train ride to London for everything else you need.
7. Do you ever suffer from inspiration drought? If so how do you get motivated again?
I never lack inspiration with my creative work, I could make forever, I always have ideas that I don’t get time to do, I suppose I keep myself inspired by constantly collecting materials to use for my work, which inspire me the most and by traveling and going to exhibitions. The problem is that unfortunately as a maker, you don’t get to just make, there’s so much more involved and that’s where I sometimes get de-motivated. You have to also be a business person and be constantly thinking of new ways to get out there, promote yourself and reach your customers. There’s always so much to do but when I get things done and see the results I find it gives me a boost, which in return motivates me to do more.

Fish themed case by uoldbag!
8. Is there a part of your creative process that you particularly enjoy?
I love creating new work and knowing that I’ve got it right and that it really works. I love it when I make a product, stand back to see what I think and get a big buzz when I think to myself ‘yes!’ 

9. Have you ever created a piece that you couldn't bear to part with?

No, I often make products that I like so much that I think I’ll keep them myself, but then other people like them and I end up selling them as that’s what I’m suppose to be doing, making a living. I normally like the new products the most though so when I make more I have new favorites to replace them.
10. What can we look forward to seeing from uoldbag! this year?

I’m in the planning stages at the moment for the rest of year, but I’m looking to do some different fairs, I did Vintage at Southbank last year by the Hemingways and it worked really well with my work, so I’m planning on trying out some other vintage fairs this year and have a few in mind. I’m also aiming to get my products into more stores this year and have ranges in mind to work with certain shops, so watch this space. Of course I have many product ideas too and want to expand the range so I will be working on that and getting them out there, so keep your eye’s peeled.
Vintage fashion - another great case from uoldbag!
A massive thank you to Lisa for a fascinating interview with lots of gorgeous pictures.

Do check out Lisa’s amazing work here:

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