Blog, Meet the Maker, Uncategorized

Meet the Maker, the Queen of paint, Annie Sloan

Annie Sloan has just launched her third Bookazine , The colourist (hard copy, editorial like a magazine, no adverts like a book). Here is the interview I did with in her, in her eclectic studio and headquarters, about her life, passion and rise to fame. Annie Sloan is known for her paint company and in particular her chalk paints. She also produces at least one book a year on different aspects of painting, decorating and up-cycling furniture. Recently she added a limited edition of printed textiles to her products. 

JB Did you go to art school originally and if so where and what did you study?

AS I went to Croydon art school to begin with and then I finished at reading University, I was at art school for seven years. Stared off doing a foundation, which I actually did for two years whilst I tried to figure out what I was going to do. I wanted to do everything!! In the end I chose Fine Art because Fine Art seems to be the basis of everything.

JB Annie I met you many moons ago when we were both craft authors. Can you tell us how you made the leap from being an author to running your international paint company?

AS Yes I remember well!! I wrote books and I was also going out and painting for people who had commissioned pieces. I had a young family and I wanted to be able to have something that I was doing and making but that could be sold whilst I was still raising my children. I was looking for something, I got the idea for paint from other paints that were around at the time. People were beginning to think back to traditional paints such as milk paints. From that idea I started to think about what I could make, and one thing led to another.

JB What made you want to produce your own paint and was it difficult to find a manufacturer?

AS Once I became keen to make a paint, I happened to mention it whilst out for dinner in Utrecht. I spoke to a Belgium man who just happened to know someone who owned a paint factory and made paint.

JB You have to create a range of colours and obviously some will sell better than others, was it difficult in the beginning to know which ones would sell best?

AS I wasn’t thinking about selling to be honest, I was thinking about what colours I would want and need. Money doesn’t come first.  I was already painting furniture and I was after certain traditional colours that weren’t available. It was important to me that I could mix colours to make other colours, just like an artists paint palette.

JB Can you influence sales of certain colours by presenting a fabulous upcycled project on your web site or blog?

AS We do know that when we get something printed in a popular magazine, we often see an influx in sales of that particular product. I think that’s the same in the shop, if I painted something in Antibes, people would buy more of that colour.

JB You sell abroad do any of your suppliers hold franchises?

If so, how does this work?

AS No we don’t have any franchises at all, the reason being that we are a creative company and I feel to offer someone a franchise is too restrictive. Creative people need to be able have there own style, we just look for wonderful shops to sell the paint, run workshops and be inspiring. We love passionate people to get involved.

JB Are any members of your family involved in running the business and if so what roles do they perform?

AS My husband works with me, he is in charge of the finances. He’s the calm cool one!! My middle son Felix is the Brand Director and has a Graphic Design background, he’s very much like me but also completely different. Felix’s partner Lizzy is also involved in the business, she does the Digital Marketing but at the moment has just had her third baby so she is on maternity leave.

JB What is a typical working day like for you or is there no such thing?

AS No such thing!! Every day is different, tomorrow I am off to Venice, we make some of our woven linens , so I am off to do some colour matching there- it’s important to get these things right! Last week I was at conference in Rotterdam with our European distributors. I was painting yesterday, working on some new products which I am excited about. We are painting furniture for photo shoot in London next week. I am also doing plenty of events this year. (Handmade Fair in London September and  I also do The Country Living Fair). Things are very busy!!

JB One of the reasons I am interviewing successful women who are over forty is that they have often had to take a career break, or had to slow down to deal with child care and or aged parents. Have you ever had to deal with either of these of issues and did it impact on your creative life or business?

AS Yes and no, I didn’t really start the business until my children were a little bit older, I was 42 when I started making the paint and running the business. I wanted be a around when the kids were small so I suppose I put it hold for awhile, I always worked but was able to be there when they were ill and look after them.

JB You run creative workshops at many different events and venues. Do you enjoy doing them?

AS Yes I do! I love meeting people, I find people so interesting.

JB You collaborated with Oxfam producing a colour for them how did this come about?

AS Well it was just one of those magical things. Oxfam are based in Oxford, hence the name Oxford and Famine, and they were looking for a paint company to work with. The discovered that we were also in Oxford, it was a marriage made in heaven. They asked us if we were keen to collaborate and I didn’t even think twice about it.

JB What did it involve and did you enjoy the experience? AS It was one of the most excellent experiences of my life, so impactful. I went to Ethiopia and made a colour inspired by my travels. It makes you realise that people are people, for me it confirmed that money is not what it’s about- it’s about other things. The people there are just amazing, they do need things but they are still vibrant and positive.

JB What is the best part of your work and what is the worst part?

AS Collaborating with some amazing people and groups, it’s just so incredibly special to work with some wonderful people and places. It’s open up so many worlds for me, such as Oxfam. Worst part endless days were there are just so many meetings and I can’t get any painting done.

JB Who or what inspires you?

AS The Punk approach to life is absolutely fabulous- anyone can do anything!! You don’t have to be posh, you just have to be interesting. People inspire me, I talk to everybody and want to find out as much as I can about others.

JB How long have you been working as a professional  designer?

AS I suppose since 1975, so guess over 40 years…oh gosh!!

JB What advice would you give to any designer starting out today?

AS Don’t give up, practice and keep at it. Trust your gut. It doesn’t happen overnight. Someone once criticized me in Art school and it really had an effect on me, don’t let criticism put you off!!

Many thanks Juliet. Photography by Antonia Attwood RCA

Blog, Uncategorized

The Colourist Issue 02- A fantastic and inspirational read.

The art of colourful living by Annie Sloan

I have just spent 2 hours at the hairdressers and rather than reading all the gossip and fashion magazines I decided to take my own copy of  the latest edition of the The Colourist. I am so pleased I did.

When they first appeared a few years ago I had my reservations about Bookazines, that cross between a book and a magazine, I suppose it was as much to do with the price as anything.

I had a few questions about this form of publishing, the first being:

If you are going to pay the best part of £10 why not just buy a book?

A book takes much longer to produce and the information you get in a bookazine is bang up to date.

Why are so many bookazines cropping up, as the rest of print journalism is very much on the decline.

I think the answer to this is that there are many journalists and designers who are passionate about their subject whether it be design and interiors such as shown in 91 magazine, Rakes Progress the progressive guide to gardens, plants, flowers and The Colourist – which is a cornucopia of  design and colour.

 Bookazines have a particular look and feel about them. On the whole the paper is nicer than run of the mill magazines, they feel like something you want to keep and they are not full of adverts.

 I am aware that Annie is promoting her chalk paints and ‘The Colourist’ is a great showcase for them. However the bookazine is, like Annie herself, full of practical information, design inspiration and examples of how to use colour. 

This issue features two of my favourite designers Anni Albers whose work was shown at the Guggenheim Bilbao before transferring to the Tate Modern late last year. Albers is known mainly for her weaving that was created at the Bauhaus although she worked in many other disciplines too.

The other featured designer is more contemporary, the innovative Dame Zandra Rhodes who not only is a fabulous textile and dress designer but was the instigator of London’s Fashion and Textile Museum.

The magazine covers, what is trending, design classics, inspiration and also homes, including Annie’s own home in France. There are features from abroad plus How-to’s and also includes two stencils that you can use on a project of your choice.

As a bibliophile I am delighted that The Colourist also includes book reviews.

“It all boils down to sharing my passion for style and colour. I want to inspire everyone to get creative!” says  Annie

Features, Uncategorized

The Colourist

The art of colourful living  by Annie Sloan

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The Colourist is a Bookazine and is Annie Sloan‘s latest venture. The current plan is to publish bi-yearly, but don’t quote me on that.

shibori

 

For those who don’t know, a bookazine, as it says on the tin, is a cross between a book and a magazine. It looks magazine like, but is printed  on much better paper. At £9.95 it is twice the price of a magazine, but it is a periodical that you will want to keep, as you would a book.

I did wonder if The Colourist would just be a vehicle for Annie to sell more of her excellent chalk paint. The paint does feature, but in such an inspirational and interesting way it doesn’t feel like an advertorial.

After an introduction by Annie, where she  espouses her love of colour, the Bookazine is divided into sections starting with  The colour hunter. This  includes, What is new, Annie’s picks, Designer Focus, Trend watch and a competition.

There are  inspirational features on designers both  current and historic such as Cressida Bell and Joseph Frank

 

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Homes collections include Charleston Farmhouse and new modern designers such as Lucy Tiffney and Tamsyn Morgans and Dutch artist Yvon van Bergen.

dutch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are  travel features and most importantly Annie’s work with Oxfam in Ethiopia.

pink

There are quite a few How To’s and Make Over’s and a lovely give away,  a  free style stencil accompanied by step by step photographs showing how to use the stencil, to create a tile table top.

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Before I finish this review I think it is important to mention Felix Sloan who is the creative director of The Colourist and Jane Toft, the Managing Editor. Jane is very imaginative and so in touch with the zeitgeist, it was she who started Mollie Makes and The Simple Things. Their combined hard work and design flair has created something truly desirable.

cressida

Perhaps Annie should have the final word.

“It all boils down to sharing my passion for style and colour. I want to inspire everyone to get creative!”

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