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Stuart Gardiner

“My radio alarm goes off at 7am (BBC 6Music), and I stumble out of bed in search of caffeine. It’s espresso for me, and tea for my wife, Sam. I’ll check in on our 2.5 year old daughter and if she’s awake, she’ll come downstairs and ‘help’ me with said task, offering words of wisdom. If not I’ll leave her be, make the drinks and then get showered and dressed.

“I get to work for 8am. My studio is just 3 minutes from home, so I’ll walk or hop on my skateboard if weather permits. The council have just resurfaced all the roads locally, so they’re very skate-friendly. I spent most of my formative years on a skateboard, and this is the only chance I get now. I’m past being able to do any tricks – last time I tried my board ended up under a car and I was mocked by some van men!

“When I get to my studio I choose some music to put on, a decision which can take an age. I then eat breakfast whilst checking emails and looking at the web. Breakfast consists of muesli and more coffee. My Guzzini espresso machine has just packed in, so I’ve got an Aeropress as a replacement, which I swapped for some coffee tea towels. I’ll then sort any urgent orders ready for the courier to pick up at lunchtime.

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Seasonal Garden Flowers Tea Towel (£10)

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Seasonal Wild Food Tea Towel (£10)

“Ideally a perfect day would consist of me designing all morning when I’m at my most productive, ignoring calls or emails with the aim of  responding to them later in the day. In reality I’m constantly interrupted by the usual day- to-day mundanity of running a business. Packing orders, book-keeping, bill chasing are all the chores that I hope to be able to pass on to someone else soon.

“If I’ve had a day where I’ve made progress on a new design or project, then I’ll feel content. If it’s been a day of frustration with aforementioned business durge, then I’ll need to go for a run. My time actually designing is probably about a quarter of my day if I’m lucky. I often come back to the studio in the evening if I have any pressing design work to do, as there’ll be no interruptions after 7.30pm.

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Sustainable Seafood Tea Towel (£10)

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Seasonal Fruit & Vegetable Tea Towel (£10)

“Lunch involves going home (in 3 mins) to see wife and child, and usually consists of a sandwich and some fruit.On the days that Sam & I work together we occasionally treat ourselves to a pub lunch in one of the local pubs. I’m very lucky to see so much of my daughter while she’s so young. If I was still working for a design agency in town, I would hardly see her at all in the week.

“I work until 6.00 then commute home, getting back around 6.03pm. I then hang out with my daughter, usually having to watch Cbeebies until her bath time. I then get her ready for bed and read her a story.  Depending on her form, this may an hour of fun and laughter, or one of tears and tantrums. There’s a reason why they’re called the terrible twos.

“After that I’ll either go for a run, go back to work, or have a beer and eat some food. There was a time when I had musical hobbies, but running a business and having a daughter has sapped away any time for such frivolities! Sam or I might make an effort and cook something interesting, ortherwise we’ll have something simple, like pasta. We’re generally eat pretty healthily..

“If we’re in the midst of a decent TV series, and depending on fatigue levels bed-time can be as late as 11.30 (so rock ‘n roll). One of us will usually venture out one evening in the week, while the other babysits. A night out together is a rare treat.”

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The Tea Towel & The Coffee Towel & Save Our Bees Tea Towel (£10)

Stuart Gardiner Design is a brand & studio creating homeware products from East London. The studio prides itself on keeping production UK-based and commits to minimising environmental impact by using organically produced materials wherever possible.

Stuart graduated from Falmouth College of Arts with a degree in Graphic Information Design, and went on to work as a designer and art director within the music industry. After 10 years as an employee he decided to go it alone and start up his own studio. Inspired by his information design education he applied an ‘infographic’ to a tea towel and the brand was born.  The first product launched in 2009 – the ‘Seasonal Guide to British Fruit & Vegetables’ tea towel. A unique style soon emerged celebrating the power of knowledge with the occasional indulgence of humour. The collection continues to grow and stockists now include landmark stores, galleries, boutiques and various independents across the UK.

After 3 years flying solo, Stuart has now been joined by a new Co-Director – Sam Gardiner – formerly Design Manager for home ware at Laura Ashley. Sam just so happens to be Stuart’s wife.

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Classic Cocktails Tea Towel (£10)

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Red Wine Pairing Tea Towel (£10)

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White Wine Pairing Tea Towel (£10)

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Great British Roast Tea Towel £10 (designed exclusively for Howkapow by Stuart)

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Some new Wine & Beer Tea Towels Stuart is launching in 2014 – find Beers Of The World Tea Towel (£10) here.

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WIN £100 to spend at Howkapow in our Easter Egg Hunt!

Happy Easter holidays and long weekend everyone! We’re planning some epic egg hunts of the chocolate variety at home with our families over the next few days; but this year we’ve decided to share another Easter egg hunt competition with all of you… on our colourful shop Howkapow!

We’ve hidden a little blue egg on one of our products on the shop - all you have to do is find it and you could WIN £100 to spend on anything you like on Howkapow!

Simply email the location of the egg to competitions@howkapow.com and you’ll be put in the draw to win the cash prize. Simple! The egg is already hidden and the hunt has started; entries close on Monday April 21st at midnight. Happy hunting and enjoy your weekend!

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My Bookmark…

I love the fun work of Ukrainian artist Olena Mysnyk. She claims to make “the craziest bookmarks in the world!” and I might have to agree with her.

Based in Kyiv she hand-makes her one-off book marks from polymer clay, acrylic paint and metal and her off-kilter designs are inspired by pop culture, cinema, burlesque, fashion (check out her Alexander McQueen Lady Gaga blue glitter shoe version!) … even Star Wars.

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My particular favourites are her Wizard of Oz inspired Wicked Witch Bookmark – complete with red slippers (see above); as well as her C-3PO Robot Leg Bookmark, Blue Rainboot Bookmark and Sexy Legs Bookmark – with some super glam gold high heels and red knickers to boot. Ooo err! Reading just got a bit more fun!

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Howkapow’s Autumn 2013 Art Direction & Photo Shoot

For our Autumn shoot we wanted to showcase a load of new ceramics: Fenella Smith’s Fox and Labrador jugs, Esther Horncher’s risqué teapotcups and bowl set and our blinging gold mugs from Holland! Photographer Luke Albert took these pictures for us following our art direction, and after some brainstorming and back-and-forths with Luke, we came up with these…

In the cover photo above, we wanted to get an English country garden feel to go with the more traditional cream jugs by Fenella Smith, but still keeping true to playful Howkapowness! Luke made some cool paper cuts to achieve this and we changed the background blue to our favourite Howkapow blue to reinforce our brand values.

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In this shot (above) featuring all of Esther Horner’s Bathing Girls Ceramics that we stock, Luke did some fun line drawing in the background and Cat added some fills in our Howkapow colours of soft grey, cherry red and sky blue. We wanted to reinforce the outlines of the girls with the outline of the crockery in the background.

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Our Gold Mug shot was all about sparkle and glitz. Luke sourced some glitter confetti and did some snazzy things in Photoshop with a selection of our Gold Mugs. We wanted to reinforce the shine, glamour and frivolity of them and were very happy with the results!

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Sabine Timm

“German artist and illustrator Sabine Timm is based in her studio in Dusseldorf, home of the Academy of Fine Arts where she completed her degree. Her work – which has been exhibited across Europe and in Tokyo – reinvents the vintage and found objects that she discovers on her strolls along the beach.

The strength of every inanimate object – from its size, colour and texture – is personified and played on to form narratives between them through witty compositions of combs, beads, plates, teapots… anything that can provide a spark of character.

Timm’s scenes capture objects in humorous moments as though caught on film. These objects live in a vibrant world of their own – sometimes they seem lost in conversation; other times about to burst into life, opening their mouths to speak.

‘Combersation’ (pictured above) is a perfect example of this where each of the combs is engaged in conversation with each other with the sideways glance of the blue comb looking at you. There is something to be said for feeling the need to apologise to a comb for interrupting his conversation! Buy the Combersation Print here.”

Hannah Makepeace is currently studying Illustration at the Cardiff School of Art & Design. She interned with Howkapow in March 2014 as part of her degree. Browse Hannah’s portfolio here.

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Wise.

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Colourful embroidery with a smile from Rachel Castle

For The Love Of… Tape Dispensers

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1. Cracker Tape Dispenser by Pana / 2. Concrete Tape Dispenser by Plant & Moss / 3. Cloud Tape Dispenser by Gongdreen / 4. Wave Tape Dispenser by Igloo / 5. Cat Tape Dispenser by Japan Market / 6. Tape Dispenser by Another Country / 7. Flamingo Tape Dispenser by Anthropologie / 8. Squirrel Tape Dispenser by Japan Market

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Lucie Sheridan Photoshoot

For a few months now, we’ve been taking all our own photos for the Howkapow shop homepage. Each one is its own little project and we try and do a shoot every Wednesday afternoon – normally it’s me, Siobhan and an intern but it can vary depending on the complexity of the shoot and how much work we all have on.

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Cat has a quick look and OK’s the art direction and styling, and then we get down to the shoot itself – sorting out lighting and light sources, any props etc.

Once we’re happy with a range of photos then we bring them all into Photoshop for a quick clean and re-touch, before adding typography and style guides and saving them out in a range of different sizes.

Lucie Sheridan Hot Dogs

This shoot features Lucie Sheridan‘s range of Sausage Dog homewares and accessories. We had kept Lucie’s painting of the Sausage Dog that she did for the front desk of our Cabot Circus pop-up shop which gave us an excellent backdrop for the shoot. Then it was just a case of lighting well and adding a few props and we had a brilliant little scene!

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Jean Jullien

We’ve loved the work of Jean Jullien – a French graphic designer living and working in London – for many years now. Jean completed a graphic design degree in Brittany before moving to London where he graduated from my old college Central Saint Martins in 2008, and the Royal College of Art in 2010.

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His “La Plage” or “Beach” Exhibition previewed at one of our favourite (and appropriately named) gallery spaces, Beach London, last year and we were immediately taken by his signature bold use of block colour and tongue-in-cheek subject matter. With prints drolly given names such as ‘Perv’, ‘Bum’, ‘Whodunnit’ and ‘Lurker’ – Jullien presents men as predatory but hapless observers of the women on his beach, who seem blissfully aware they are being oggled.

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Make sure you check out the rest of his site for a range of his other satirical yet playful social observations, and make a little detour to Niwouinwouin – a French electronic music label who Jullien collaborates frequently with and whose mixes we’ve been enjoying in the studio. Troll Slayer is a tune!

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Eleanor Meredith

“Recently I got a cat, she likes to breakfast quite early, so I’m up around 7.30 and we have breakfast together. Normally it is porridge – if I push the boat out then I’ll add an apple or a banana. I cycle to the studio (in Netil House, London) on my bike the Falcon. It’s ten minutes away from my house so I’m pretty lucky that it is so near.

“When I get to work, I brew a bucket-sized cup of tea and rifle through the post. I chat to Claudia (who I work on children’s newspaper The Loop with) about goings ons. We also share the studio with graphic designers and architects so there is quite a bit of a mix of people about.

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“An average day is a mix of emailing and organising. I try to just keep emailing to the morning, but it often fails. There is a lot of back and forth getting things arranged with The Loop. Recently we’ve been working on the redesign for Issue 5, so it has taken a bit longer getting it right. Depending on where we are at with The Loop, it might be commissioning or editing.

“I try and bring a packed lunch – normally something a little worthy with chickpeas in”

“We have also got some great new people working with us, so there is often a meeting with them once a week.  This afternoon I am trying to correct some things on our website.

“At lunch I try and bring a packed lunch – normally something a little worthy with chickpeas in. Otherwise I’ll just pop down the road to the bakery for a sandwich. We’re a bit spoilt for choice around here, which is great. There is a roof terrace where we can all eat when the weather’s nice. The whole studio eats together which makes you stop, and means you don’t eat lunch in front of your computer.

“Generally leave the studio about 7 I’ll see a friend, or scratch around at home. Dinner is normally a sort of pasta delight and a yoghurty desert. Bed time is about 11, I’m doing a drawing a day just now for a project so try and squeeze that in before I fall asleep.”

Scottish artist Eleanor Meredith lives and works in London. She is publisher and co-founder of The Loop Children’s Newspaper with Claudia Boldt. The Loop Edition 5 is available to buy now. Eleanor also co-founded Bolt Editions and works as an illustrator and teacher and leads workshops at the V&A, Ravensbourne College and the National Portrait GalleryIf you like Eleanor’s work you can buy her Mermaids Print, Gin Slug Tea Towel and Gin Slug Print from Howkapow.

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Loop founders: Claudia Boldt (left) & Eleanor Meredith (right). Photo: Samson Lee