Saturday, September 19, 2009

HOUSE CALLS: Hayley and Lucas from The Keep Calm Gallery

My love of Typography is pretty clear from the choices I make on Apothecary Fox. The very first piece I bought from this genre was the now famous Keep Calm and Carry On screen print (in pink of course!), from the online Gallery of the same name.

Lucas Lepola and Hayley Thwaites started their business in January 2007 and now have an incredible array of striking screen prints of their own design, as well as from International Artists. These two lovely people have a passion for Typography in poster design and in the medium of screen printing. In my humble opinion, their version of this iconic image is the best around. The most beautifully made, hand pulled screen print in fabulous clean colours, that can be ordered in the perfect frame. I should also add that their customer service really is second to none, which is another reason why I will just keep coming back!

"'Keep Calm and Carry On', a high quality screen printed reproduction of a poster produced upon the outbreak of World War 2. The original poster was issued as a means of allaying public fear. The poster was held in reserve for use only in times of extreme crisis. Although thousands were produced, only a handful ever saw the light of day. Even today 'Keep Calm and Carry On' is a phrase which perfectly encapsulates the traditional British 'stiff upper lip!" - via Keep Calm Gallery

Anyway, enough of my ramblings. Lucas and Hayley, it's over to you.

Describe the work that you do.
"We design prints, tea towels and postcards with a heavy typographical influence, which we present and sell through our online shop, Keep Calm Gallery. We also work closely with a number of artists, designers and print makers from around the world, whose work can be found at Keep Calm Gallery. Towards the end of 2008 we also launched our sister site, Alphabet Bags, where we sell our range of screen printed cotton tote bags."
You can never have too many bags, can you?

What was the career/education path you took to get to this point?
"It's probably not the most conventional route, neither of us studied design! Hayley graduated with a degree in the History of Art, and I took a degree in Business and Management. We had the odd job and work experience position before and during University, but actually set up Keep Calm Gallery whilst still studying. We've learnt a lot whilst running the site, most lessons are self taught!"

Where do you get your inspiration?
"Everywhere and nowhere in particular. It surprises us sometimes where we get inspiration from, it could be a song or a scene in a film, a word, a colour, just about anything."

Describe the creative process in designing and constructing a particular piece.
"We'll usually start off talking about the idea with each other for days on end before putting pen to paper, as most of our time is taken up with the day to day running of the site. When we have some free time (usually in an evening) we'll start sketching out ideas on endless scraps of paper. Once we have a good enough rough idea of how we want the piece to look we'll make a start with creating it on the computer. Anything can happen from there, we'll either get the design looking just how we like it first time, or we'll spend weeks making changes before we get there or abandon the idea altogether!

We work closely with a few screen printers who the finished file will be sent to. Usually at the sketching stage we've thought about inks, colours and papers, so from this point it's just the anxious wait before delivery of the prints. Unwrapping new deliveries and seeing prints for the first time is always fun."

Where do you create your work?
"We work from our home office here in East Dulwich, South East London. We've been in East Dulwich for almost two years now and love it. Our home and office are small, so we really have to juggle the space with so many prints, frames, tea towels and bags to store. Not to mention postage tubes and packaging! Most of the time we'll work on our print designs in the office at our two old Post Office desks on our Apple Macs."

Share 3 of your favourite artisans whose work you admire.
"Tricky to choose three! Today it would have to be, Jen Garrido, a Californian Painter , Tauba Auerbach, mixed media Artist and Sophie Cook, a ceramicist creating delicate porcelain pieces"
Three Blue Apples, Jen Garrido

Truth Is - It Hurts, Tauba Auerbach

Walk on the Heath, People Pod by Sophie Cook

Where do you sell your work?
"We supply our work to a handful of shops around the world, but our full range of prints, cards and tea towels can be found at our store online at"
Just some of the selection of Cards, Tea Towels and Mugs available here.

What/who are the things you love most in your life?
"We really love what we do and feel very lucky to be running the business together. Other than working we enjoy spending time making the most of being in London, going to shows, catching films and strolling along the South Bank. We love to eat out and try new restaurants but we're trying to cut down! I don't think we've really scratched the surface in terms of things to do in London, so we're hoping to see and do a lot more in the city just as soon as we can. When we're not out and about we're likely to be at home doting on our two kittens, Alfie and Maisy. They're such great fun and extremely affectionate (when hungry)!"
Hayley and Lucas's own creation, Love Rules, coated in sparkly glitter! I HAVE to have this!

What would you do “in your wildest dreams”, if there were no restrictions (like money, or responsibilities!)?
"In short, we'll take houses in London, Paris and New York please, and fill them with beautiful art... why not! While we're hopping from one to the other we'll travel the world, in a classic Mercedes where possible! We would also have to be able to take the kittens with us wherever we went, we wouldn't want them to miss out!"

What is your greatest professional achievement?
"For both of us it's just to still be in business today, almost three years after launching Keep Calm Gallery. We're also particularly proud to have exhibited prints at the Urban Retreat Cafe in Harrods and Paul Smith's Space Gallery in Japan."

What is new with you and your work.
"We're working on several new pieces at the moment, some typographic and some quite simple graphic prints. We're experimenting with new papers and inks where possible and will be launching a particularly green collection of prints on behalf of an organic gardening charity in the very near future. We're particularly looking forward to this! Lots of new bags in the pipeline too which will be available on the new Alphabet Bags site when we relaunch next month."

Do you have a motto for life?
"Simply, 'make the most of it'."

There are way too many artists to choose from in their collection, but I have to say my favourites are Douglas Wilson and Seb Lester. Their prints are so simple, with wonderfully powerful timeless messages that resonate for me. The choices of paper, colour and ink make them so unique. Here are my favourites.
Douglas Wilson, Do What You Love

Douglas Wilson, Kill Them With Kindness

Seb Lester, Keep It Simple

Seb Lester, Home Sweet Home
(the colours change depending on the angle you view this at, amazing!)

For a full list of all the artists featured, go here.


  1. The elegant sans-serif typeface is what first drew me to the Keep Calm and Carry On posters. That and the classic true red color. The first site I found with American shipping is . They have fast shipping and a vast selection. Their history page also provides the necessary context for understanding the journey this poster has made. Carry on!

  2. Thanks Erica, just going to check it out now.


Related Posts with Thumbnails