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


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:

Helena-Maratheftis-OTF-small-02 Helena-Maratheftis-OTF-small-03 Helena-Maratheftis-OTF-small-04 Helena-Maratheftis-OTF-small-06 Helena-Maratheftis-OTF-small-07Helena-Maratheftis-OTF-small-05

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.

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.





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. )



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

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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:











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.

Beetles! A new collection at the NHM.

Hello! Welcome to my Beetles! series. I take photos for the beetles department at the Natural History Museum (aka the ‘Coleoptera section of the Terrestrial Invertebrates Division’). There are plenty of photos to share. Stay tuned!

Last week was extra-exciting, as the team unveiled thousands of new specimens acquired for the museum collection. I was invited to take a peek at the new material…and encouraged to take lots of pictures, as usual. Here are some of my favourites. (You’ll be entirely shocked to discover that my favourites were the most heavily coloured and patterned beetles of the bunch!)



Helena-Maratheftis-NHM-new-collection-600-03Jade greens and dusty blues…spots and stripes and abstract prints…gloss and matte and metallic finishes… these little guys give me so much inspiration for my artwork. They are just too cool.


Helena-Maratheftis-NHM-new-collection-600-09Row after row of little white boxes, filled with specimens from all around the globe. These will soon be integrated with the museum’s current collection.



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Weekly Inspiration: Black + White + Neon.

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

Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour20-02My latest jumper + necklace combo. It’s still really cold in London, so I’m trying to keep my winter clothes interesting!

Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour20-04I’ve been eating a lot more soft boiled eggs since I bought these fluoro plastic egg cups. Aren’t they great? (Yes.)

Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour20-07Speaking  of fluoro, I think this is the brightest lunch I’ve ever had.

Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour20-08So. I’d been perving on this mug from Design House Stockholm for a very long time…so when I spotted its doppelgänger on sale for a mere 95p in a charity shop, I had to buy it! So, so pleased.

Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour20-05Now, this was even more exciting than the mug. I was photographing specimens at the museum when this label caught my eye. It’s one of Charles Darwin‘s own specimens! Argh! This resulted in a complete fangirl meltdown moment.


These biscuits are Iced VoVos, a favourite treat from my Aussie childhood. I finally cracked open the box I’d brought back from my holiday last December, and they were good.

Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour20-06On my desk this week: Jars of paint water, bowls of fruit, and brand new drawings.

It has been a bright and jam-packed week! What have you been up to?

Beetles! Behind-the-scenes photography at the NHM.

Hello! I spent yesterday at the Natural History Museum, lending my photography skills to the Coleoptera section of the Terrestrial Invertebrates Division (which roughly translates as ‘beetles department’). I was presented with a jewel box of Tanzanian beetles, and was asked to take close-up portraits for their beetle database and. I was also given free reign to take as many ‘arty’ shots as I liked! Let’s just say I was in heaven. Most of the ‘literal’ shots will end up on the NHM Beetles and Bugs Flickr page, so I’ve mostly included creative photos here. Enjoy!


Helena-Maratheftis-coleoptera-beetles-07From this angle, it looks like a tiny dragon! (‘You arty people love your weird angles, don’t you!’)


Helena-Maratheftis-beetle-pattern2I couldn’t help but create a pattern out of these gorgeous, flame-hued beetles.

Helena-Maratheftis-beetle-pattern1 Helena-Maratheftis-beetle-pattern3I love the subtle variations in shape and pattern. Nature is just too cool.

Helena-Maratheftis-coleoptera-beetles-04Real entomologists wear beetle earrings. Continue reading

Christmas Giveaway on Facebook!

Hello! I’m feeling festive and am giving away a free A2 poster calendar to one of you!

The competition is taking place on Facebook. To win, simply ‘SHARE’ this photo and ‘LIKE’ Thefty on Facebook!

Click here to enter!


The prize is an A2 illustrated poster calendar for 2013, by Helena Maratheftis. Printed on beautiful, 235gsm satin photo paper with a semi-gloss finish. You can see it in my shop, here.

One randomly-selected winner will be selected on Friday 14th December. Good luck!

Weekly Inspiration: Leaves, Flowers and Rainbows.

Hello! This is a weekly feature where I share my photos with you. I carry my camera everywhere, and I’m always taking pictures of things that inspire me. Prepare to see lots of colours, patterns and good times through my lens!

This has been a week of saturated, autumnal colour. November in London is pretty damn good looking.

I want to live on the stairwell at United Colours of Benetton, Oxford Circus.

A neon jugful of purple hyacinths. My house reeks of flowers, and I love it.

An autumnal rainbow on the footpath.

I love that the car matches the autumn leaves.

A Friday treat. (We ate toooo much.)

Zombie tulips at Spitalfields Market.

My kaleidoscopic friend.

For more inspiration, follow me on Pinterest!

2013 Poster Calendars by Thefty

Hello!  I’ve been busy designing two poster calendars which you can buy in my online store! Yippee! They’re printed on beautiful 235gsm satin photo paper with a semi-gloss finish. They would look beautiful framed, or just tacked onto the wall (which is what I’m planning to do). Both designs come in two sizes, A3 (£8) and A2 (£11).

The first design is called ‘Colour Lovers’, and is a happy explosion for your eyeballs:

I reckon this design would make any room look joyful!  If you look closely (see below) you’ll notice that the poster comes fully loaded with intricate patterns, and the killer ‘Bebas‘ font by Dharma Type.  I’ve also included the quotation which inspired the design. That way, all you colour lovers will remember to give yourselves a little pat on the back every time you lay eyes on your poster.

Click here to buy the Colour Lovers Calendar Poster

My second design is called Starface. (If this looks familiar, it’s because you can also purchase it as a cushion). This one has a lovely organic, hand-drawn vibe…if I do say so myself.

Here’s a close-up. There’s a subtle polka-dot print in the background, and a lot of rich colour and texture. Velvety grey is one of my favourite colours, believe it or not! For the month names, I’ve used the gorgeous Deftone Stylus font by Larabie Fonts.

Click here to buy the Starface poster Calendar

I hope you like them! I figured they’d make great Christmas presents (Yes, yes,  I know, I said the C Word in October). I like the idea of a gift which looks good but will actually come in handy the whole year ’round.

While we’re on the topic of Christmas, don’t forget that my Christmas cards are back in stock, and that my cushion designs will be available until the end of October 2012.

Get ’em while they’re hot!

Plants, Paints and Portraits.

Hello! Last Thursday afternoon, I found myself with a bit of free time. I decided to get my paints, brushes and pens and do some doodling. By dinner time I was feeling quite pleased with myself, and I tacked a couple of the paintings (drawings?) onto the shelf behind my mirrors. I’m very sorry about the face I’m pulling. I can’t help myself sometimes.

I scanned one of the drawings and added some more colour, digitally. I quite like all the clashing colours and patterns.

My new house has a lot of plants in it. I think I was inadvertently inspired by the colour palette on my table: Green leaves, yellowish wood, and dark pink berry juices.

Below: My green lady and my furry oregano plant. They’re a good match.

Another drawing on the floor / another shot of my glamorous slippers.

And, lastly, my beautiful lavender.


For the Love of Colour: Doodles and GIFs.

Hello! I found this quotation by John Ruskin and felt as though he was giving me a little pat on the back. Colour, you see, is my dearest and most favourite thing.

After I finished the above drawing, I thought it was an ideal candidate for the GIF treatment, as only with animation could I fit in all the colours I wanted to!

Which is your favourite colour? I find it hard to choose, but I think mine might be sea foam green.

Weekly Inspiration: Sunshine and Cake.

Hello! This is a weekly feature where I share my photos with you. I carry my camera everywhere, snapping pictures of things that inspire me. Prepare to see lots of colourful and heavily-patterned things through my lens!

This week the sun came out in London. As you can see, I spent a lot of time outdoors! I ate cake in Notting Hill and lay on the grass in Regent’s Park. Everything glowed in the sunlight and I was happy. The end.

Pink and green! One of my all-time favourite combos!

Notting hill bunting, with a blue-skied background.

Someone lost their horsey. I found him on the street.

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Fluoro Self-Portrait

I started this painting a few months ago, when I had some paint left over from another project. I slapped on the pink and green thickly and quickly, creating a very rough self-portrait. Today I found the painting and decided to go over it in black markers, creating a crisp black layer of lines on top. (I love crisp black lines, I really do.)

There’s something spooky about a disembodied head with piercing fluoro eyes…but I like it. What do you think?

Paintings and home deco: Got stripes?

Right: Brace yourselves! There are a lot of stripes in this blog post!

This week I’ve been painting for myself, which has been really refreshing. I’d had a big canvas collecting dust under my bed for months, and I finally painted it and hung it up in my living room. Hooray! That dark little corner looks so much happier, and I feel pretty smug.

Below: A work in progress. (FYI, I managed to slather both my floor and the bum of my trousers in yellow paint this week. Oops.)

In our flat, we’ve created a fake ‘wall’ using a row of bookshelves. I got bored with the plain white backs of the shelves…so I put seafoam green stripes on them. Of course. (I think they work nicely with my red lamp and stripy trinket box. And yes, I also painted the trinket box.)

Funnily enough, the inspiration for these personal paintings came from a commission piece I’ve been working on, which features stripes in the background. I can’t wait to finish it and show it to you.