Let's Go Through the Keyhole with GEMMA SHIEL

Let's Go Through the Keyhole with GEMMA SHIEL

Posted by: Jerry


Jamie Reid print.

Original Lazy Oaf screen prints

Because there are too many broken hearts in the world.

Welcome to Lazy Oaf's Through the Keyhole where we delve into the lives and studios of some of our favourite creatives. With the Let's Face It event happening at Tate Modern on Sunday, this month we have paid a visit to the working space of one of the events contributors. We're delighted to welcome you to the world of Lazy Oaf's very own Gemma Shiel.

As our founder, designer and creative director, Gemma Shiel is Lazy Oaf. After graduating with a degree in Textile Design from Nottingham Trent University ten years ago, Gemma homed in on her love for illustration and turned her designs into T-shirt prints resulting in the birth of Lazy Oaf. She started off selling her tees on Spitalfields Market and has gradually turned Lazy Oaf into what it is today. With a boutique in Fouberts Place, an HQ with six full-time staff members in Islington, dozens of worldwide stockists and new products launching constantly, Gemma is a very busy lady who splits her time between designing collections and running the Oaf business.

Gemma is most recognised for her unique, lo-fi drawing style that she simply creates with a pen and paper and transforms into the designs that fill our site. Aside from our own collections, in recent months she has been working on designing an exclusive menswear collection for Selfridges and capsule range for Tate. You'll be able to see Gemma in action when she creates her very own self portrait on the walls of Tate Modern this Sunday.

I travelled down to Gemma's Crouch End pad yesterday to check out where she puts together the majority of Lazy Oaf's designs. With an unbelievable collection of Minnie and Mickey memorabilia, limited edition toys, a Jason Donnovan board game and a giant Playmobil man, her house is nothing short of a dream. Read the interview below to discuss Rolf Harris, mouldy tea cups and hunky men.

How would you describe the space that you work in?

When I am working from home, I surround myself with piles of objects and scrappy bits of paper. There is always some kind of snack on the go which also spills onto everything I do, and also numerous stale mouldy tea cups. I normally get up and leave my desk at moments to look inside the fridge to discover that there are bits of paper stuck to my arms or in my hair. I should say if when I have some hard core creating to do I lock myself away at home for a while, but most of the time I am creating stuff in the studio, when I get a chance where the fridge isn't so much a distraction.

In what ways do you think your creative space effects your design process? Would you say it was more of a distraction or an inspiration?

Sometimes the studio can be a distraction but it's always good to have people constantly around to bounce ideas off. The studio has become an extension of my home, as a huge amount of my belongings are everywhere. I like to surround myself with ridiculous stuff as it's a true reflection of what I am about, and sometimes serves as an inspiration, and sometimes a welcome distraction.

Is there one picture up on your wall at the moment that keeps catching your eye?

Have you met my hamster (see above)? He is right by my front door, I might start chatting to him now my flat mates have left me. What is the best Lazy Oaf product you have ever designed and why?

Hmm tough one as I tend to dislike things quite quickly, there are a few things I look at now from the back catalogue and think, yeah! That was alright! I still wear my yellow 'dont be square' brooch. And I love the burger sweatshirt as it is a little hmmm, unhinged....

Lazy Oaf have just launched a range with Tate (see here), what inspired this particular collection?

This was such an exciting opportunity for me! They wanted something art related and would appeal to their Tate visitor. To me that started with how I personally make art or in my case draw. I came up with lots of stationery led ideas (I always draw with pens, nothing fancy). I think I came up with about 20 tee designs for them that ranged from my art heroes to some awful art puns. The successful designs I tried to develop further and followed through ideas of drawing through to jewellery, note books and badges. I am so proud of the end results and the fact that a little bit of my art is in the Tate is mind blowing, it's not hanging on the walls but it's as close as I am likely to get!

You're going to be drawing at the Let's Face it Event at Tate Modern on Sunday - what can we expect to see?

Probably some mild panic. I might draw my face but massive, I guess, maybe some other people's too. My real live face will also be there, probably with a bit of smudged pen on.

The event follows the theme of self portraits, which artists would you most want to draw you?

Rolf Harris, but in the style of the Rolfaroo...Gemaroo.

Is there anyone elses work that you are enjoying at the moment?

Yes, I am loving Jean Julien's table man, the most genius bit of furniture I have seen in a while. I love this blog finelittleday.blogspot.com, it's beautiful and dreamy.

What is your most treasured possession?

They are all treasures. At a push I guess I have to go with the obvious and say my photographs, and sadly my laptop....what a douche! I have some nice pictures that I hope will become investments, specifically my Jamie Reid print (see above).

When you were younger what did you dream of being when you grew up?

I wanted to do several things; farmer, truck driver, journalist and a horse for a while.

Where is your favourite place to hangout?

The Old Kings Head in Hoxton; there are free bagels there on Friday evening, top notch!

What snack/beverage is keeping you going in your studio at the moment?

I have discovered oat biscuits which I am telling myself is a healthier option to rich tea's, therefore eat more and add cheese.

Who is your hunk of the month?

HUNK! I am crushing on Don Draper from Mad Men, and Adam Buxton AKA Adam from Adam and Joe, oh, we would have some japes.

To see more of Gemma's work, look no further than www.lazyoaf.com!