Blog and Buy Sale Christmas Wishlist: My Top Picks.

Hello! The epic annual Blog And Buy Sale Christmas Wish List is now live…and we’re so pleased to announce that our Retroviral mugs have been featured. Hooray! The wish list is ‘a curated list of the very best creative products available online’, so it’s incredibly exciting to be included.

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You can shop directly from the page – each item links to individual designers’ stores and social media pages. With several hundred hand-picked items to choose from, Christmas shopping should be sorted! I’ve already bought a handful of items from the Wish List because I couldn’t resist. Here are a few of my favourites. (And yes, of course I included our mugs!)

Thefty-blogandbuysale-favesItem list (I want them all!):

1. Dinosaur Print, by Cha Com Letras

2. Ohh-Ahh Wall Hook, by Ohh Ahh

3. Quartz Candy Print, by Paul Farrell

4. Fabric Letters, by Kitty McCall

5. Handmade Geometric Ceramic Necklace, by Isla Clay

6. Love Card, by Karolin Schnoor

7. Retroviral mugs: Herpes, HIV, or Rabies, by Thefty

8. Star Christmas Baubles, by Stories for Autumn

9. Colourful Deep Sea Pouch, by Gabote

10. Sunny Forest Tray, by Anna Lindsten

11. Angel of the North Tree Topper, by Susan Bradley

There are so many great products, so make sure to check out the full list! Blog and Buy Sale Christmas Wish List will run until December 28th.

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.


WEEKLY INSPIRATION: Happy New Year!

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.

Happy new year! My 2014 began with disco balls and dancing dinosaurs, good friends and good times. We celebrated with a party in my flat, where the dress code was over-the-top glamour. As expected, there were plenty of tuxes and sequinned dresses, but there was at least one person in a dinosaur onesie (including a gold bowtie, naturally).

Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolourNYE2013-09I took the opportunity to go full neon-kitsch with the decorations, opting for silver streamer curtains, pink flamingos, rainbow tablecloths and fluoro cocktail glasses. Too much going on? PAH. #MoreIsMore #MaximalistForLife

Below is my Vasilopita, which is a traditional Greek New Year’s Eve cake. It is traditionally a plain sponge cake, and I obviously felt the need to add chocolate and colourful sprinkles.

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Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolourNYE2013-04I got a disco ball for Christmas, which is pretty much a lifelong dream come true (I wish I were joking). The gnome was also a gift – he came plain white, and I spray-painted him because that is the sort of thing I do. Gnomes aside, I was very excited to wear my rainbow sequin dress for two reasons. Firstly, it is a rainbow sequinned dress. Secondly, it was given to me by my elderly neighbour who used to wear it in her youth, so it’s extra special to me.Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolourNYE2013-17

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Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolourNYE2013-10As you can see, I wasn’t lying about the dinosaur onesie. Turns out dinos have all the moves, as well as a taste for champagne.

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Weekly Inspiration: Autumn becomes Winter.

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.

I was lucky enough to get out of the city last week, just in time to catch Autumn turning into winter at Longleat. In the woods, there were lemon-lime and sherbet coloured leaves peeking through layers and layers of milky fog. We went for morning walks and found frogs under logs, mushrooms in the dirt, and spider webs soaked in dew.

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Helena-Maratheftis-weeklycolourwinter-09I am a big wimp when it comes to the cold, but I was very pleased that I got myself out of bed and pulled on my wellies (and my thermals, and scarf, hat and gloves..and duck down vest under my big coat. Sigh. )

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Helena-Maratheftis-weeklycolourwinter-16Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the light was yellow and the sunsets were off the hook:

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Christmas Cards Thefty Style: Robots, Cupcakes & Dinosaurs!

Guys! My Christmas cards are back in stock!

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Helena-Maratheftis-thefty-xmas-15The cards are bright and festive , but they’re also totally non-denominational (i.e. there is not an angel or a nativity scene in sight).  They can be purchased individually (with hand-embellished rhinestones) or in packs of 6 (2 designs per pack).

There are 4 designs to choose from: Dinosaur Santa, Festive FroggyGingerbread Robots, and Christmas Cupcakes.

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Christmas Cards by Thefty (aka Helena Maratheftis)

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Beetles! Alfred Russel Wallace’s Specimens.

Hello! Welcome to my Beetles! series. I am the behind-the-scenes photographer in the beetles department at the Natural History Museum (aka the ‘Coleoptera section of the Terrestrial Invertebrates Division’). The collection is an enormous jewel box of six-legged beauty, and I’ve got plenty of photos to share!

For the last few months, I’ve had the incredible job of photographing Alfred Russel Wallace’s type specimens from the NHM beetle collections. I was so honoured to be able to see his specimens up close, to handle them, and to scrutinise his tiny hand-writing with my very own eyes! 50 of my Wallace photos are featured on the Natural History Museum Flickr page, and you can see them there in spectacular high-res glory!

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If you have any interest in science or the natural world, you’ll want to look Wallace up. Wallace was not only Charles Darwin’s co-publisher, he was also an intrepid explorer, a gentleman, a badass and a beetle geek. For these reasons, he easily makes it into my list of All Time Heroes.

November 7th marked the centenary of Alfred Russel Wallace‘s death. To mark the occasion, a statue of Wallace by the sculptor Anthony Smith was unveiled at the Natural History Museum. I was lucky enough to be there, and I listened to David Attenborough, Bill Bailey and Richard Wallace (Alfred’s grandson) say some very inspiring words. (If you haven’t already seen Bill Bailey’s A+ series of documentaries about Wallace, check ’em out here!)

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I like that the statue depicts Wallace in his prime: all dressed up in field gear and brandishing a butterfly net with a  look of wonder and delight on his face! He may be looking up towards a shiny beetle, but I reckon we can all look up to him.

To see the full set of beetle photos, click here.

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Hello! Welcome to my Beetles! series. I am the behind-the-scenes photographer in the beetles department at the Natural History Museum (aka the ‘Coleoptera section of the Terrestrial Invertebrates Division’). The collection is an enormous jewel box of six-legged beauty, and I’ve got plenty of photos to share!

This is a deviation from my usual Beetles! posts, because none of these photos were taken inside the Natural History Museum. Instead, they were taken at the Royal Albert Hall, during TEDxAlbertopolis: ‘an afternoon of inspiring, thought-provoking and entertaining talks exploring how art and science fit together in the modern world.’ I was excited to hear all the speakers, but was particularly looking forward to Max Barclay‘s talk. Max is the collections manager for the NHM beetle and bug collection (you might recognise him from my photos) and he had plenty of interesting things to say.

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AboveMax in mid-talk, with his shirt accidentally adhering to the colour scheme!

The venue was the perfect setting for TEDx. the Royal Albert Hall is part of Albertopolis, London’s complex of buildings dedicated to the pursuit of science and the arts.  It’s a spectacular building, with its soaring Victorian ceiling and mesmerising colour-changing lights. An inspiring backdrop for inspiring ideas. The event was a sell out – the hall was packed with 5000 people – and I’m guessing most of those people left with a new appreciation for beetles and the work that goes on in museums!

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Below:  Beulah, Lucia, Lydia, and Hitoshi – curators and research assistants at the NHM Coleoptera department. The team manned the super-popular beetle exhibit, where the TEDx crowds flocked during the interval. They presented all sorts of fantastic 6-legged beasts from the Museum’s collection.

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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.

Helena-Maratheftis-dr-sketchy--10Below: A cubist interpretation of Frankie.

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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!

Green Screening: Photography with a little somethin’ extra.

Hello! Did I tell you I published a book? Well, I did…sort of.

These images are from a personal publishing project completed in April. They are the result of a dress-up photo shoot set against a green screen backdrop (actually a cheap tarpaulin, ahem) + a fair bit of unsubtle image manipulation. I created the images as a special gift for a friend who – despite being in the photo shoot – had no clue what I was going to do with the photos! The final set of images were published in a beautiful, glossy, hard backed book using the excellent Blurb BooksHere is a tiny selection of my favourite shots*:

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Below: one of the ‘before’ shots, where you can see the faaancy green screen in the background.

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Things I discovered while making this book: I really like making books. Apart from the sheer playful joy of taking photos and creating composite images (some of which featured gorillas and robots), I loved designing the layout of the 50+ pages. I’d happily do it again, so if any of you are feeling inspired…you know who to call!

*re. pixellation: This is partly for my friends’ internet anonymity, but also because I like occasional dramatic use of Photoshop filters. (The images in the published book are uncensored, of course, because a memento with unrecognisable faces is a useless memento.)

Double Thefties: Mirror Images and Pattern Play.

Hello! Today I dug up one of my old paintings, a self-portrait that I made many moons ago. You already know how much I adore patterns and portraits, but did you know how much I enjoy reinventing old pieces? Because It’s a lot. In fact, while some people relax in front of the telly, my afternoons off are spent playing around with Photoshop. (My sore back is a testament to how much time I spent hunched in front of my monitor.) Anyway, enough chatter!

Here are some fluoro Double-Thefties, disco style!

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Happy Anniversary: A Comic Strip.

Hello! Here is an illustration that I completed last month. It was commissioned as a wedding anniversary gift from a wife to her husband! Sweet!

I was asked to illustrate the text messages that she and her husband sent to each other on the eve of their wedding, and on the morning of the big day. I turned the texts into a hand-drawn comic strip! I really loved playing around with the layout and adding dialogue (as well as slightly absurd details such as an owl out the window).

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If you’re wondering why there are greyed-out bits, blank spaces and empty speech bubbles, it’s because I edited out the names of the bride and groom to give them a bit of privacy!

In other news, his is my 3rd marriage-related commission of the summer (Here’s the first and the second)! It’s really kinda nice to be involved with so many people’s happy occasions – these kind of commissions really give me the warm and fuzzies.