Spotlight on Lucy Tiffney
See this stunning wallpaper that I've just put up in my kitchen? The one everyone has been asking about? Well, it’s from the lovely Lucy Tiffney, finalist in the Great Interior Design Challenge, #GIDC, mural creator extraordinaire and interior designer. Lucy creates the most exquisite murals and has recently started up her own business to sell the designs through wallpaper, fabrics, rugs or cushions, which you can buy here.
Lucy Tiffney is an instinctive designer with a unique, spontaneous and vibrant style. Last year she was a finalist on The BBC’s The Great Interior Design Challenge.
Lucy now works as an Interior Designer and mural artist. Following the response from the show and the success of the murals she has created a new range of wallpapers, which are fresh, lively, colourful and inspired by her ‘paintings on the walls’.
"Following the TV show, I knew I wanted to be an Interior Designer. Quite quickly I got commissioned to do some murals and then more followed. I discovered I loved the freedom of painting on blank walls, but wanted to make my designs commercial. I decided to put them to print and that's how the new collection evolved." says Lucy.
The designs are all hand painted using house paint and acrylics on to a variety of surfaces, e.g walls, cardboard, tabletops etc and then digitally transferred to product. The new range includes printed murals, wallpapers, fabrics, cushions.
"From since I can remember I have made things. The murals are the most recent string to my bow and I love the freedom of painting really large scale on a huge blank wall. I was suddenly inspired by the idea that the murals were one offs and yet could be made commercial by being digitally transferred to wallpaper" Lucy says.
“My work is an improvised and a visual interpretation of the crazy world around me and it’s diverse inspiration, be it a Japanese plastic toy, a muddy sea wall or a bright lime tree. In response to those experiences I create designs with a strong use of colour, line and space and the juxtaposition of those elements.” Says Lucy.
"Henri Matisse has always been a huge inspiration and Orla Kiely, who was one of the judges on the show that I was on, the BBC’s The Great Interior Design Challenge, who just has an amzing eye for detail".
1. What was the reason behind you starting your business?
I started up following my appearance on the BBC’s The Great Interior Design Challenge in 2016. The show gave me confidence in my ability as a designer and I knew that I was ready to turn my passion in to a business
2. How did you start up?, kitchen table? Mum’s garage, renting premises?
I started on our dining room table at the front of our house, a very light room, and very quickly spread out making the whole room my studio.
3. How did you fund your business?
When I appeared on the GIDC I was still lecturing part time in the local art college. I used my earnings from that to plough in to the business, getting small print runs of the tea towels to start with and then as soon as I got interior design or mural work I used that money to fund more production.
4. What was the most difficult part of starting up your business? Access to money, advice, finding people to buy, marketing etc?
The most challenging part of starting the business was working on my own, making all the decisions myself and having the courage to just ‘Go for it’! Juggling two teenagers roaming in and out of the studio/dining room was tricky too!
5. What help was missing for you?
I didn't really notice the help that was missing at the start, but research to find good suppliers and manufacturers took so much time and literal practical help with juggling the workload was challenging
6. What went wrong in your first year? Few months if you haven’t been trading that long?
In the first year, it was a struggle to work out pricing and costing, particularly for commissioned and bespoke jobs like the murals and interior design projects and having the confidence to charge enough.
7. What have you learnt?
I have learnt so much about business along the way, not least that mistakes happen and you just have to suck them up quickly and move on. I have also learnt loads about myself and my unique capabilities and that you can run a business and still be a nice person, but it’s hard sometimes! Also, that there are so many lovely kind and supportive kindred spirits out there!
8. What is the most important piece of advice that you could give others thinking about starting a business?
Be true to yourself and what you are about. Try not to fit in to a mould to please other people…. Different is a good thing and it helps you to stick out from the crowd
9. And what do you enjoy the most?
As an artist, painting and designing are my fave things, but as the business grows I have less and less time to paint, which makes me appreciate it even more.
Nicola Says, "Lucy has a unique and incredible talent that she can, not only make bespoke pieces of art, but create products for those of us who appreciate her work but would not necessarily commission someone to do a one-off piece. Getting the time to do everything is a challenge that most small business owners talk about regularly and Lucy alludes to here, as well as sourcing the right people to manufacture the products and knowing what to charge. Pricing is a challenge for unique products and offerings. There is often very little to compare yourself to, be careful not to under-price yourself"
Thanks so much for sharing your journey Lucy!
The Girl with The Green Sofa