New Portfolio & Blog

Hello! I’ve been posting on this blog since 2009 (Argh! Six years!) and although I do NOT plan to stop, I’d like to change things up a bit.

Until now, all my creative news has been posted here, whether it be Thefty news, or my personal freelance work. The time has come to separate the two streams. My personal illustration and photography work will now move over  to www.HelenaMaratheftis.com, my shiny new portfolio website and blog. You can follow me there on Bloglovin’ if you like, and I hope you come and say hello!

All Thefty-related news will remain right here, so don’t run away! 

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That’s all from me now, but I’ll be back soon with come exciting news…stay tuned!

Blogstagram: The week in Instagram Pictures.

Hello! If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I’ve had a very colourful few weeks! Spring is coming and it’s a total relief to see the days  getting longer. Flowers are appearing, as is the sun and the blue sky. Hell-freaking-yes. All this colour and light has put me in a the mood for drawing and decorating, so I’ve been filling up my sketchbook with doodles and filling up my house with patterns and flowers. And, of course, I’ve been packing Retroviral mug orders…which never gets old! Here are a few recent Instagram snaps.

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Painting, drawing & TV: Off the Fence 20th Anniversary

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Happy new year! It has purely been mugs! mugs! mugs! around here lately, but I’m still drawing and painting as ever. To kick off 2015, I’ve got a super colourful painting to show you. This piece was commissioned by the team at Off  the Fence, a TV Production company which celebrated their 20th anniversary in 2014. As part of the anniversary celebrations, I created this A1 piece for the company’s founder, and it is now hanging in the company’s head office in Amsterdam.

Here are some close-ups:

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This painting is an assemblage of everything that Off the Fence is, as well as things that OTF’s founder, Ellen Windemuth, loves. After a meeting with the London team, we came up with a long list of things to include, from images of Ellen’s beloved children and pets, to OTF’s worldwide office locations…as well as a rather tongue-in-cheek quote from a colleague which you can see on the blue banner.  Off the Fence produces a huge range of non-fiction television, and I incorporated many of its flagship productions into the painting (look closely on the TV screens and you can see some popular titles!).

The bright colours I’ve used are not random: the branding of OTF productions is colour coded according to subject matter, and I thought it was fitting to use their characteristic colour palette in my painting. I hope it’s obvious that I had a lot of funw orking on it, because I did!

Congratulations to Off the Fence for their 20th Anniversary! It was fantastic to be a part of the celebrations.

Christmas Gift Guide: The Science Wishlist!

Hello! I have put together a collection of cool/beautiful science-themed goodies which make A+ Christmas presents. These items are mainly inspired by biology and natural history, and I’d be very happy to find them underneath my Christmas tree. Scroll down for a list of books, clothing, jewellery, artwork, home accessories and stationery. There’s stuff for kids, stuff for grown ups, pretty things and simply badass things. Enjoy!

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1. 3D printed bracelet, inspired by Radiolarians. By Nervous System. £52.35

2. The Universe is Under No Obligation to Make Sense to You, art print by DangerDust. £13.09

3. Mitochondria Greeting Card, by Anatomically Correct Greetings. £2.78

4. Natural History Illustration butterfly brooches, by Blings to Pay the Bills. £5.69

5. Melatonin molecule necklace, by Cherryloco Jewellery. £15.oo

6. Anemone clutch bag, by Saskia Pomeroy. £45.00

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7. Petri Dish Paper Coaster Set, by Proton Paperie. £9.82

8. White Blood Cell (basophil) plushie, by ButterflyLove1. £10.47

9. Fluid Earrings, inspired by ammonite fossils. By Nervous System. £13.09

10. HIV Retroviral Mug, fine bone china, by Thefty. £9.90

11. Herpes Retroviral Mug, fine bone china, by Thefty. £9.90

12. Rabies Retroviral Mug, fine bone china, by Thefty. £9.90

13. Moorland Botanical Sweater, by Masha Reva x SNDCT. £78.53

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14. Endangered Bee Board Shorts, by Riz. £90.00

15. Animalium: Welcome to the Museum. By Katie Scott and Jenny Broom. £15.49

16. Sex, Drugs & Rock n Roll, book by Zoe Cormier. £12.99

17. Set of White Pencils with Purpose, by Newton and the Apple. £6.50

18. Dinosaur Santa Christmas card, by Thefty. £1.75

19. Anatomy Tee, by nonfictiontees. £9.81

Happy shopping!

 

Art + Neuroscience = Art Neuro

This weekend I attended Art Neuro, a four day extravaganza exploring the overlap between art and neuroscience. As you’ve already seen, the crossover between art and science is one of my favourite topics, and I was looking forward to spending an afternoon immersed in it. The Saturday session began with a brief – and incredibly colourful – introduction to the evolution of the brain in both animals and humans. We learnt about the structure of brains and neurons, and got fired up for the screen printing session we’d take part in later on.

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Before dipping into the screen printing, we grabbed a drink and explored the Exhibition. Pairs of artists and scientists explored a variety of topics, from aging and dementia, to brain tumours, what it’s like to be a scientist, and the beauty of brain cells under the microscope.

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Finally, we all got to try our hand at screen printing, under the guidance of textile designer Zeena Shah. Zeena showed us how to print (sort of) like pros, and we all came away with crisply printed brainy tote bags and cushion covers…as well as a sense of accomplishment.

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All in all, it was a thought-provoking afternoon of creativity and discovery. I’m looking forward to the next Art Neuro event.

Blogstagram: The week in Instagram pictures.

Hello! What a week it’s been! As you may have noticed* I finally launched my first ever collection of illustrated mugs. Woohoo!

The collection is called Retroviral, and is as retro and as sciencey as it sounds. So many lovely people have already ordered mugs online, and I’ve been up to my eyeballs in bubblewrap and boxes. I love it! Parcels have already been dispatched to Hawaii and Las Vegas and other far flung locations. (My mugs are clearly leading a more exotic life than I am.) Here are a few of my Instagram photos, documenting a week of the best kind of chaos:

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In case you’re wondering: Of course I made time for technicolour tea parties and bouquets of lilies despite the madness. Those are the things that keep me sane. Here’s to another good week (and yes, I know it’s Wednesday!).

 

* Ahem – If you’ve managed to miss my constant posting, I salute you.


Bhuna’s Beetles: A New Painting.

Hello! I’ve got a new painting to show you, and it features plenty of six-legged beasts!

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So far you’ve seen a lot of beetle photography from me, but it had never occurred to me to put my beetles onto canvas! Luckily, someone else (codenamed Bhuna, a long story in itself) had the idea, and asked me to paint something based on all the photos I’d been taking. We settled on something green, lush and leafy with plenty of details for the eye to explore…and I got cracking. Here are some of the work-in-progress shots I posted on Instagram:

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I had a lot of fun researching imagery for this painting! I often create Pinterest boards for my projects, but they’re usually set to private so that the project remains Top Secret. In this instance I created a public board called Bhuna’s Beetles, so that Bhuna (who is not a member of Pinterest) could keep track of the beetles I was inspired by. Funnily enough, the board got quite a few followers, all of whom must be all confused by the board’s title!

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My aim was to draw beetles that remained true(ish) to nature, and which were stylised as little as possible. However, I did use a generous dollop of artistic license, but as an artist that’s literally in my job description! I’m allowed to borrow patterns and shapes from different species to create insect hybrids not necessarily seen in nature!

I also gave the beetles human eyes with irises because, towards the end of the piece, something felt missing. I realised that the lack of irises on the insects’ faces made them expressionless. Obviously, beetles don’t have human eyes or human expressions, but the addition of little eyeballs gave the painting character and humour…which is what I’m always trying to create in my work.

Bhuna, I hope you enjoy looking at your leafy canopy of beetles! I really enjoyed painting it.

Instagramming: Patterns, petals and pixels.

Lately, I’ve been posting plenty of distorted images on Instagram: I’ve been taking photos through foggy windows, through my teleidoscope,  as well as posting ‘work in progress’ shots of my computer screen rather than my sketchbook. All of this results in (intentionally!) blurred and pixellated images with really lovely textures. I love playing with Instagram because the filters allow me to add even more layers of distortion, which is pretty much my definition of Good Fun. Yes, I’m so rock’n’roll.

Here are some recent favourites:

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It’s a struggle to not be that annoying person who Instagrams the  bejeezus out of everything, but I reckon I’m doing a decent job of reigning it in. I mean, I’ve only got 13 photos of food on there! (Yes, I went and counted.)

Find me on Instagram here.


An Evening at Dr. Sketchy’s: Burlesque Life Drawing Class.

Last night I attended Dr. Sketchy‘s burlesque life drawing class at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern. I rocked up with a sketchbook, coloured pens, a few friends and high expectations. We did not leave disappointed!

In case you’re wondering what burlesque life drawing involves, think of it as an upgraded life drawing class: Instead of traditional nude models, you get to draw ‘beautiful burlesque performers, bizarre circus acts, and rippling hunks of man-flesh‘! Dusty Limits, our glamdrogynous MC, prowled around the room barking orders and handing out lollipops and cheeky compliments. The approach to drawing was the same as with karaoke: Skill doesn’t matter, but enthusiasm does. It was a really fun way to get back into life drawing.

Helena-Maratheftis-dr-sketchy--16Out first model was Violet Strangelove, who appeared on stage in full Minnie Mouse regalia.

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Helena-Maratheftis-dr-sketchy--14Above: My drawing is on the right (I can’t resist adding colour, as usual). The sketch on the left belongs to my friend Tom, who I’m more used to seeing with a paintbrush in his hand.

Below: A drawing by my friend Andrew Croskery, who brought some super awesome brush-nibbed pens with him.  Andrew has published a graphic novel, and he’s so very good at drawing comic-style figures.

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Helena-Maratheftis-dr-sketchy--03After a while, Minnie took her clothes off. Although she covered up her chest with her huge mousey hands, we did catch a glimpse of her Mickey Mouse shaped nipple tassles. OOH-ER.

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Helena-Maratheftis-dr-sketchy--02Drawing above by Tom, drawing below by Andrew.

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Helena-Maratheftis-dr-sketchy--17Next up: The gorgeous Frankie von Flirter. With her striking features and tumbling locks, Frankie was a dream to draw.

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Weekly Inspiration: Bright Lights & Watermelons.

Hello! This is a weekly feature where I share my photos with you. I carry my camera everywhere, and I constantly take pictures of things that excite me. Prepare to see lots of colours and patterns through my lens.

This week I dressed as an electrical storm, carried a watermelon, got a bunch of sunflowers, accommodated a kitsch armchair in my flat, and danced under a ceiling of lightbulbs. Here’s the evidence:

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Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour27-09That floral armchair is a masterpiece of kitsch, yes? It’s hideous, with frills on the bottom and shrunken, faded upholstery, but I won’t lie: I love it. How did I end up with it in my flat? Well…

My boyfriend found The Armchair on the side of the road about 8 years ago, on the streets of his student town. He and a friend pushed it home (in a downpour, no less) and I’m shocked it  didn’t die a mouldy death shortly thereafter. After graduation, my boyfriend somehow convinced his parents to take it home, and the chair was tucked in a room at the far end the house (i.e. hidden).

We’d see it every time we visited, and the chair acquired its own mythology. Over the years, I sort of fell in love with the chair and its story. That, ladies and gents, is called Stockholm Syndrome, and it explains how I ended up agreeing to be the new owner of this thing. Truth be told, it totally fits in with the kitschy rainbow that is my flat. I mean, seriously, it looks right at home next to my painting and purple chest of drawers.

p.s. This was meant ot go up last Friday but there was a technical glitch…so you might be getting two batches of photos this week!

Oh, oh Frida: Seven faces of the colourful Ms Kahlo.

Last weekend, I was having a chat with my boyfriend when I happened to mention Frida Kahlo. He had no idea who she was. Somehow, he had managed to go almost 30 years without seeing any picture of the iconic woman or her artwork, and I felt the need to rectify that. I dragged him to my computer and Google Image searched her name, talking all the while about her life and her struggles, her colours and flowers, and of course those magnificent, defiant eyebrows.

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Consequently, I’ve been thinking about Frida all week, and when I picked up my sketchbook last night it was to draw her face. Or, rather, to draw a face…Fridafied. I started with a pen drawing but I ultimately ended up on Photoshop, where I completely let loose. I layered colours over colours and textures over textures. Pattern, blur, filter, smudge. Spots, dots, swipes and stripes.  I ended up with a whole series of Fridas, which is what I’m showing you today.

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Illustrated Recipes: Apricot Muffins & Pumpkin Fudge

Hello! This post is part of my illustrated recipes series. I love making food and I love drawing it, so I figured I should put the two together!

These two doodles were made for two of my friends. On their wedding day (yes, more weddings around here) they asked guests to bring print-outs of their favourite recipes, so that they could begin married life in a …delicious way. Obviously, I wasn’t going to rock up with plain old Times New Roman on printer paper. Oh no. I was going to draw my recipes! I dug through my old handwritten recipe binder and pulled out two old favourites:

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Recipe 1: Apricot Muffins (original here)

Helena-Maratheftis-illustrated-recipe-cards-02I’ve had a lot of practice with these muffins because one of my best friends really likes them, and she ain’t afraid to make requests! Having said that, they’re really really easy to make.

TOP TIP: I’ve always used tinned apricots rather than dried ones. If you live in the UK, go to Sainsbury’s and buy tinned breakfast apricots instead of regular apricot halves. They’re smaller and sweeter and you won’t need to chop them up (unless you want to separate the halves, which I often do).

Recipe 2: Pumpkin and Walnut Fudge Helena-Maratheftis-illustrated-recipe-cards-03

This recipe is a bit more complicated, but I’ve still managed to make it a few times without a candy thermometer. Just go for it! It looks and smells amazing while it’s cooking, and tastes really good when it’s set.

TOP TIP: Do not be tempted to stick your finger in for a taste while it’s boiling – you will melt your hand off! (I speak from experience.)

Enjoy responsibly!

(i.e. don’t eat the whole batch in one go before it’s even cooled properly.)

Back in Stock! Good Vibes prints and postcards.

Hello! I just restocked my Folksy Store with ‘Be Happy’ and ‘Chin Up!’ postcards and A3 posters

The A3 posters are printed on beautiful, 235gsm satin photo paper with a semi-gloss finish. The postcards come in packs of six and are printed on 100% recycled, 280gsm matte card stock. I made them as an antidote to rainy day gloom, and I recommend tacking them up above your desk for those days when grumpiness sets in!

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Head over to my store and have a look!

Cake & Canvas: Thefty at Bea’s of Bloomsbury

Sweet news! A handful of my paintings have been installed at Bea’s of Bloomsbury, the cult London cake shop. If you haven’t visited Bea’s before, you now have a double excuse to go!

My paintings will be up for the next month, so head over and take a peek while nibbling on some cheesecake, a huge meringue, or a duffin (doughnut + muffin!). I’m doubly excited to be a part of Bea’s because, apart from a reputation for making super-delicious treats (which you know I love), Bea’s has been commended for it’s gorgeous interior design.

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Helena-Maratheftis-Beas-of-bloomsbury-06I popped in to Bea’s to photograph the exhibition yesterday. The paintings add a nice burst of colour to the space, with the soft lighting making the rhinestones extra twinkly!  Of course, I didn’t leave before having lunch (a massive portion of quiche and salad) and dessert (a rich chocolate cupcake with fluffy raspberry buttercream – pictured).

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Good cake + good design = the ultimate sweet spot in the universe.

Thanks for having me, Bea’s!

Bea’s of Bloomsbury
44 Theobald’s Road
London
WC1X 8NW
(Near Holborn Station)