As we can start to see the light at the end of the lockdown tunnel, the anticipation is palpable. Our next Stay at Home Series feature encourages us to channel that energy into creative projects. Illustrator and designer Biff of Biff Studio is known for his distinctive witty and relaxed style. From attempts at minimalism to painting your home in bright colours, Biff shares his advice on how to refresh your home as well as recommending the best art films and documentaries you should be watching now.
How have you designed your home workspace to boost creativity and productivity?
I moved to Leyton, East London just before the lockdown kicked in, so I’m still finding my feet and getting used to the new space and filling it with new furniture. It's important to me that I furnish my flat with things that make my work-life balance a little easier. Something very important to me when decorating is that I have a variety of places to sit. I tend not to use desks as it adds some element of formality to my practice, which doesn't always help with creativity. I'm more content working on the sofa, a garden chair or a window ledge! Wherever I am sitting, even if it is in the same room, I'll make sure I have a different view each time. It’s subtle but effective (and hugely inspired by George Lois's apartment). I'm also a night owl, so my brain doesn't really switch on properly during the day. A lot of people think that this is unhealthy or odd, and it wasn't until I spoke to another artist in New York that I realised it really doesn't matter. "As long as you get things done and have a blast doing it, who cares!"
What changes have you made to your home environment to improve it and better suit living in your home space 24/7?
I've been lucky enough to pick up some nice prints and drawings from shows and people I've met over the years, so I'm constantly trying to turn my flat into a well-curated hoarders paradise. It helps to have things to look at that I can connect to an enjoyable time in my life. They act as a nice reminder that there are many more things I'd love to collect and places to see. My bed has had a facelift: I’ve bought new pillows, higher legs and new, soft sheets. Studies have shown that a good night sleep can drastically improve your immune system. This is probably the biggest win-win situation: better quality of sleep made comfier. Sign me up! I'm currently on the hunt for a fun chair to put alongside my freshly painted pink wall in my tiny outdoor space. Although very compact, I’m transforming the space into a little haven where I can put my feet up, draw and Zoom with my friends.
How are you staying inspired whilst at home?
I'm really struggling at the moment, but that’s ok. I think it's important to recognise the situation we're all in and be forgiving and thankful that it's not worse than it is. However, having this free time is a luxury and there's so much you can do with it. I've decided to paint a series of large paintings and churn out at least one self-portrait every day because the process is so therapeutic and it's nice to take a break from the internet. There’s also a huge selection of good art films and documentaries on Amazon Prime that I've recently discovered. I'm usually more interested in the people behind the art than the art itself, so it’s been inspiring learning about the artists themselves and seeing how they lived, moved and thought. I’d recommend watching Egon Schiele: Death and the Maiden, Final Portrait (about Alberto Giacometti), Portrait Artist of the Year, Herb & Dorothy and The 100 Years Show.
My biggest tip is be more DIY. Order some clay and make a wonky vase. Collaborate with your family and friends on a painting and hang it up. Draw portraits of your friends' pets and post it to them. Learn to sew a tote bag to cram your essentials in. The list is endless. It will help you to look back at this period with slightly fonder memories and those creations will have a nice sentiment attached to them.
Please could you share your top tips of how our readers can refresh or rearrange their homes during this period?
Clean home, clean mind. I wish I was a minimalist but I've got too much cool stuff to even attempt it! My rule is to neatly store or hide away anything that's ugly or not useful and surround myself with pieces that spark joy. If you need more storage space, I recommend purchasing longer legs for your bed so you can fit more underneath it. Experiment with the layout of your living room to optimise on space. It's important to make your goals manageable, so that it's not overwhelming. A small but significant change is to open your windows every morning to let in the fresh air or buy a special mug from a local potter to have your morning coffee in. Alternatively, just really let loose and paint your ceilings luminous yellow! Whatever works for you.