I am a designer maker based in rural Derbyshire, located somewhere between Manchester and Sheffield, where I make all my designs and products in house. Currently everything is still made by myself, start to finish.
I believe in producing beautiful, reasonably priced products, while maintaining the highest quality.
Where possible my wall clocks and coasters are made using sustainable materials from local dealers, including leather offcuts from local remnant shops which would otherwise be destined for landfill, and wood veneers from various sources in Derbyshire, Yorkshire and Lancashire.
I try hard to make my finishing and packaging processes as environmentally friendly and low waste as possible, meaning water based stains and varnishes, with much of my packaging laser cut and glued on demand from remnant card.
I design and make homewares, wall art and jewellery, mainly through the use of “generative” computer techniques. My work mainly involves pattern design, which I apply to interesting and sometimes unusual materials.
Generative design could be described as where you don’t really sit down and draw something (though I do do that a lot). Really you need to have a clear idea about what you want before you start – it’s not really the sort of design where you can just make things up – although there is also still an element of that!
I prefer to work primarily in soft and hardwoods but have used all sorts of materials over the last 4 or 5 years – neoprene, rubber, gold leaf, hot foil and pewter to name but a few. Though the majority of my work is laser cut, I also use a Formlabs Form1+ 3D printer for printing 3D prototypes in resin.
My degree is in Artificial Intelligence from Middlesex University, graduating back in 1991. At the time I wanted to write a program to make music, however I ended up writing a program that would interactively diagnose ailments for NHS patients, thus saving doctors the hassle. It was a quarter of a century ahead of its time, though I’d still rather have done the music thing!
Between graduating and what I do now, I had various well paid but unfulfilling jobs designing, building and maintaining large Oracle and Solaris web infrastructures.
I am mainly self taught in a lot of what I do, though I do have certificates in jewellery design and making (NOCN and City and Guilds). My current tools of choice are Illustrator, Coreldraw, Rhino3D and Grasshopper3D. The latter two, especially, are fantastic tools for generating mathematically derived surface patterns and 3D forms. I have also dabbled with Processing, vvvv (a little German pun – vier v) and Python. Apart from laser engraving and laser cutting my designs, I have also produced limited edition 3D printed jewellery.
I can list many influences on my design style, but it’s mainly maths, nature and music. To me they all intertwine. Probably the greatest influence is nature itself (that old chestnut), particularly when mathematics can be used to model natural forms and shapes. I first started looking at the generative design route when I was researching animal fur patterns for some early jewellery projects, and revisited Alan Turing’s work from the 1950s. Originally I studied him for his work on AI and machine learning, so this was an interesting offshoot of Mr Turing’s which I was previously unaware of, and probably uninterested in at the time. Turing truly was a genius and I do wonder what else he would have discovered, had he stayed with us.
When not doing that I also work with other artists, jewellery designers, crafts people and businesses as part of my day job at mekkit.com, which is my laser cutting and 3D printing business. And when not making pretty things for people, I also help advise towards bringing products to market that would otherwise be too expensive or complicated to produce. Also some nice corporate gift and award work (ssshh!).
Hobbies and Music
I enjoy exploring the Peak District, Carry On Films, Brutalist architecture, sarcastic comedy, overproduced 80s music, above all from Trevor Horn and his assorted muso friends, with Paul Morley doing some interesting marketing. Trevor talks here about what makes a hit song, which could be applied to craft and design…
And let’s not forget Zero 7 and the hugely talented Sia Furler. Also this. And look at Sia and Sophie here! And Tina Dico here! And a bit of this from the Chemical Brothers. Last but not least, some lovely vocals from Susanne Sundfor on this Royksopp ditty.
As you can see I almost like researching the backgrounds of other artists more than their actual work. Almost. I think it’s the AI researcher in me that wants to deconstruct what makes people tick.
I was a regular exhibitor at British Craft Trade Fair in Harrogate, where I’ve appeared five times. I was most recently there in April 2017.
In April 2014 I won the “Highly Commended award for Excellence in Design” award at BCTF. The award was from the Giftware Association for my coaster designs and packaging, which were judged to be “exceptionally well produced and beautifully packaged at a great price point”.
I also exhibited at Craft London, in January 2015.
I’ve given trade shows a miss for a while as they seem to be noticeably less well visited by buyers than ever. Instead, I’m focusing on:
Exhibitions and Awards
Public Events and Markets
I am now a regular exhibitor at public craft fairs and selling events. Apart from finally getting to meet and talk to some of my customers, I find these are a great place to try out new designs on the unsuspecting public!
Being a designer maker in a small town can be quite an isolated existence at times – any opportunity to meet people who are enthusiastic about your work is always a welcome boost.
Markets are exhausting! But well worth the effort.
This was my first market of 2017 and I think also the first time this market has run in Bristol, at least at this venue, the Arnolfini.
This one is the Bristol version of its very successful London sister show, The London Artisan. The standard of the other exhibitors was very high. I lived in Bath for a few months in the late 90s – loved it – but I’d never been to Bristol, and was hoping it would be slightly more laid back to park and unload/setup/load again than anything that happens in London. Fortunately it was!
The Bristol Artisan
Saltaire Arts Trail 27th - 29th May 2017
This was my second market of 2017, and my third appearance at Saltaire. I really enjoyed doing both markets last year and enjoyed this one over the May Bank Holiday. It’s got a really great vibe and apart from the Arts Trail, there are a lot of activities for kids, and plenty of things for the grown ups to see and do. It was even bigger this year so even more to see. Weather was strange though!
Read more about Saltaire Arts Trail here.
Previous Events and Markets
In 2017 and 2018 I did a lot (perhaps too many?!) markets. It’s quite knackering, to say the least. But rewarding overall.
Having done Harley Outdoor Art Market in Worksop on the Welbeck Estate for two years running, I did it again for a third time in November 2016, and a fourth time in November 2018. Thankfully, although it was cold, the wind stayed away this year so there was no tent almost flying away incident! They also generously gave me a great stand at the end of a run, which I filled with some of my new clocks.
I did one of the last Holmfirth Christmas Art Markets in November 2016, after a very successful first time in 2015. It’s always nice to meet people who love my work, of which there were a few! The Art Market i n Holmfirth is no more, alas. It is moving to a bigger and better place in York in October 2017.
Finally, I went further afield to Sleaford in Lincolnshire for the National Centre for Craft and Design Christmas market in early December. It was freeeee-zing – I can’t stress enough how cold it was! However, there were plenty of eager customers wanting Christmas presents so again well worth it. I also spent two nights in the cheapest B&B in Grantham, which was, um, nice!
If you run a market or exhibition, or know of one which would be a good fit for my work, please get in touch with me on 07767 767648, or drop me an email. Thank you 🙂
I used to own a pair of VPR6 1″ reel to reel video decks, which I’d bought from Saatchi & Saatchi who were clearing out their basement. I gave them to the National Film and Television Archive, so now I have no way of playing my beloved collection of 1″ broadcast tapes! I had to get rid of them as they were huge and slightly pointless. Like the Defender game I imported from the US one time…
While at school in 1985 I wrote “The Hackers Newsletter”, my own version of The Hackers Handbook. I printed and sold about 50 copies. It wasn’t very good, but certainly ahead of its time.
After an article of mine was published in a computer magazine shortly afterwards, I was rung by a journalist from (he said) a national newspaper, who berated me for my sensationalist gutter journalism. He never identified himself and I’m not sure he had a clue I was still at school, otherwise he might have curbed his language. With hindsight, everything I said has come true – hacking is indeed a big problem and the hackers are winning, at least sometimes.
I wrote to the University of Manchester as an 11 year old, to ask if they had any spare old computers knocking about that they’d possibly like to donate to me. I never got a reply. Shortly afterwards my dad gave in and I got a ZX81.