About Joanna Lisowiec

Hello! I’m excited to be representing Gola as a student ambassador, and help them in their mission to discover and recognize Britain’s emerging, creative talents. I’m currently an illustration student at the Edinburgh College of Art. I love what I do and nothing makes me happier than working hard and being totally immersed in an idea. I like adventures and a lot of the work I do is about journeys, exploring cool places and meeting interesting people. Between Scotland’s wild, highland landscapes and a vibrant city full of history, there's a lot to be inspired by.

Paula Grubb: Show-Off Dunfermline

A couple of weeks ago another promising young creative talent with a mind for business and showing off creative talent from the local area hosted a pop-up shop in Dunfermeline, just north of Edinburgh in an successful event that brought together aspiring creatives and provided a platform from which they could sell their unique, hand-made work and products. This young woman is Paula Grubb, interior and environmental designer whose work has won merit and recognition from Carnegie U.K. Trust.

To create the display for her pop-up shop, Paula sourced recyclable material which she innovatively constructed together to form unique and changeable forms on which to display the work of over 40 up and coming creative talents. Making use of cardboard discs which are used to protect flexible packaging from a factory in Dundee, ‘Discover Flexibles’, Paula reclaimed the material and found a visually interesting and environmentally friendly way of displaying work.

The idea for this project started after Paula trialled Show Off as a business idea in a shopping centre in November to research for her feasibility study. The initial design used reclaimed wooden palettes, and after the amount of positive feedback she decided to develop the idea even further and began using the cardboard discs from discovery flexibles.

Her set-up in dunfermeline was inspired by the rising issue of traditional high street shops being replaced by global chains like Primark and H&M who do not necessarily have local interests at heart. By displaying unique, hand-crafter works in her pop-up shop Paula brings back the appeal of local products with plenty of thought behind them.

The shop installation has been a huge success for Paula who has gathered interests from many students across the east coast of Scotland. She describes her installation best in her own words,

‘Show Off is a creative business designed to host pop-up events to showcase work of emerging artists and designers prior to graduation. Show Off is a platform intended to utilise vacant retail spaces on high street.  Show Off is intended to bridge the artistic spectrum from fine art to jewellery design allowing aspiring creatives the chance to gain market feedback through public exposure as well as enabling new connections to form between art and design students and the creative industry.’

Included in the students whose work she showcased are Rebecca Sarah Black, a jewellery designer from Dundee whose work is based on mythology, Dorothy Arnott, a recent graduate from Textiles whose work includes eco-friendly printed textile cushion covers influenced by nature and countless other fantastic artists and makers.

In the future Paula hopes that she is able to continue Show-Off in some way, shape or form but knows that realistically it is extraordinarily difficult to compete with hight street shops and so she is also looking to work as an interior designer, finding ways to put her skills of environmental design into creating shop interiors or merchandising displays.

This is a truly innovative and fantastic idea so I hope that the idea can go further and Paula gets the recognition she deserves.  Feel free to check out her website, follow her on twitter @PaulaGrubb and check out the facebook page! to keep an eye out for what’s happening next!

Posted in Art

Creative Meadows

This time of year a lot of newly graduated artists and designers are looking for places to showcase their work and network with like minded creative people and business contacts. As a recent graduate myself I was delighted to hear that someone had organised a great opportunity for designers and artists like myself to exhibit their work and get a chance to make friends with other people who are also just starting out.

Creative Meadows is the brain child of Jack Lennie, a product designer and Steven Jones, a graphic designer who toyed with the idea during a conversation over lunch and then decided to take it upon themselves to organise a pop-up gallery where recent graduates from creative disciplines around Edinburgh could gather and show off their work in a non academic environment. As they put it themselves, ‘Our ambition for Creative Meadows is for it to be a one stop shop for everything artistic and design orientated, we hope to be able to get as many people in work or working for them selves as possible, and above all have fun doing so.’

On one of the hottest days of the summer so far they hosted their pop-up exhibition at the Old Ambulance Depot, a popular creative event venue just off of Edinburgh’s colourful Leith Walk. Featuring some superb creative talent from many different disciplines, the Creative Meadows team came away with a great turnout and a lot of positive feedback.

Showcasing the work of people like Duncan Peace who did a spray painting on one of the walls and made hand designed aubergines – yes you read that right, as well as product designer Luke Tarry whose sports injury prevention and treatment product brought on interest from a crowd of people.

In the future Creative Meadows are hoping to organise a pop-up shop displaying products, hand-made wares and beautiful prints and cards as well as expanding to include even more members.

We wish them all the best and hope that Creative Meadows continue to be successful in their events for the future. Perhaps the events will eventually have a presence in Scotland on par with that of D&AD New Blood, or New Designers down in London.

For updates on the ongoings of the Creative Meadows team check out their facebook page and keep an eye out for the website which is coming very soon!



Posted in Art

Exit Calm

Where there is smoke there is fire, and with the amount of praise that one Sheffield based band is getting, you have to be sure there are some flames where that music comes from. Exit Calm is a four piece band comprised of Nicky Smith on vocals, Rob Marshall on guitars, Simon Lindley on bass and Scott Pemberton on drums. They’ve had great appraisal from the music crowd, with Stone Roses’ bassist Mani, quoted to have labelled them as ‘proper fuckin’ music’. I shot out a few questions for them to talk about their music and where the band is headed in the future.

Describe the overall sound aesthetic for Exit Calm. What qualities do you tend to bring out in your music? 

Well, there are four of us. We all play one instrument. It’s always been the minimal approach for us that gets the biggest sounding output, we’ve always gone for an instinctive, up-lifting feel with our music – I think that’s natural to us as people anyway.

Where does your band name Exit Calm come from? 

 It’s from a book I was reading when we formed called ‘Silent Rebels’, ‘Exit’ and ‘Calm’ just popped up in a sentence about chaos changing lives – we liked the sentiment.  I also thought it would look smart on a t-shirt, which it does. I always thought it sounded like a dance band name – Scott and me loved the name ‘Lunatic Calm’, who were a big beat band, that maybe helped it along.

Music is a creative vessel. What is the message behind your music? Is there one? Can you tell us what you hope to put across? 

 The main reason we’re in this band is still the same reason we got into it in the first place, -we love bands that take you somewhere else, give you something to believe in, that’s what we try to do.

You’ve released a video, ‘Fiction’, would you like to tell us more about this? Is there a story behind the video? 

 It was boiling hot and 2 of us had leather jackets on – we were covered in industrial sawdust by the end of it, we were all sober as well. The video is a simple performance video, it’s just about conveying the song, and the visuals seem to be about movement, we just wanted to get the beat across and not do the moody northern thing, so it’s about the visual movement – the girl dancing against us, so just movement, whether its dancing in a group, dancing on your own. Dancing on ice.

 You’ve been really fast off the start line. Tell us a bit about your experience going from a newly formed band to one with sold out gigs across the country and an International presence. 

We’ve worked pretty hard! I think it’s in you or it’s not.  We could have let it go after our first album and been one of those influential cult bands that hope to get cited as important. So yeah, we’ve got that album under out belts, but we just keep pushing forward and working hard. Doing sold out gigs is amazing, but I think if you show you’re honest and the music has depth, people see something in you, and the gigs are happenings, not just 4 people stood there playing well.  On the last tour we had people saying the gigs had more in common with Massive Attack gigs or early Bunnymen – the intensity. Which means a lot.  We’d hope that people still need bands like us.

 Where do you think all of this will take you in the future? What is your ultimate goal as musicians? 

 With this album we want to take it up to the next level, whatever that may be. I believe we’ve got an album that can do that.  It’d be great to exist in our own space, like The National, Elbow, Super Furry Animals style bands. They’re always still standing and relevant, no matter what synth bands with pajamas on, come and go.

Thanks for answering all of our questions! Is there anything else you’d like to add that might be of interest? Got a funny story to tell from a tour or maybe just a cheesy joke? 

No. Thanks for having us. Here’s one for the pop kids – I was washing my hair in a sink a couple of years ago when we played V Festival, some lad asked me if I wanted help rinsing – I had shampoo in my face so I said “yes please”. After the rinse had done I looked up and it was Danny from Mcfly. Lovely lad. Very smooth skills. Deserves his success.

With such inspiring people at the forefront of this band it’s sure to go far. Take a moment to listen to their music and like their facebook page for regular updates!

Ahoy! Animation

Dynamic lines,  atmospheric imagery, humour and imaginative narrative are all at the heart of good animation, and new collective of artists ticks every box. I’d like to introduce to you, Ahoy!, a collective on animators set up by Oana Nechifor and Peter Shaw of Edinburgh College of Art (ECA).

Ahoy! is the ECA winner of the Deutsche Bank Award for Creative Enterprises, a very competitive award for a £10,000 business grant focusing specifically on creative industries in design. The founders of the collective, Oana Nechifor and Peter Shaw have worked hard to make their idea become a reality, and now have given themselves the opportunity to continue working within the field of animation, as well as supporting other up and coming animators who share their passion and talent.

Although Ahoy! is a newly founded business, both Oana and Peter have had very successful films and projects during their time as ECA students.

Notably, Peter and Oana among other students Farah Ahmad, Amy Shields, Miryam Lacey, and Gavin Robinson were given the opportunity to animate short 5 minute films that were broadcast last November on BBC Scotland, as part of a series titled ‘Addicted to Pleasure’ hosted by Brian Cox, which investigated how the brain and body are affected by different substances such as sugar, alcohol and tobacco.

Alongside this, Peter and Oana both produced beautiful short films for their final year show at ECA.

Peter made Lagan, a film about a fisherman and his son full of magical realism and apocalyptic atmosphere. This will be shown at the Edinburgh Filmhouse as part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival on June 26th, alongside other films eligible for the McLaren Award in New British Animation.

Oana Nechifor also made a stunning film called The House with No Doors, exploring the life of the character Jon who lives his life as a hermit and whose only escape is through imagination and the arrival of a little bird. The film, which is also eligible for the McLaren Award, will be shown at the Filmhouse on the 21st of June.

Please take a look at the Ahoy! show-reel and stay tuned with them to find out what will be happening next.


Some really great music is coming out of Scotland these days and one of these super sweet sounds is Discopolis, an electronic four-piece band from Edinburgh. Although they aren’t exactly new to everyone as they had quite a lot of success two years back (especially in Japan it seems) and managed to get a spot on stage at T in the park in 2011.

However, since then, they have been making some pretty great new music so I felt the need to share that with you. With people in the music industry coming and going from the spotlight in just a mere snapshot, they are definitely one to keep an eye out. Here is an interview with front man Fergus.


Tell us a bit of background about Discopolis: Where it all started, who is involved, how you define yourself and what’s happened for Discopolis in the past?

Laurie, Dave and myself went to school together. Bar a few shows in Germany, Laurie and I enjoyed minimal success in a basement rock band called Ryan’s Mothership, while Dave bewildered and amazed as – every inch the misunderstood genius – DJ Canon.

More recently we opened our doors and hearts to Cat. Adding live drums to our set up had seemed like the next logical step for a while, to a certain extent, I think we’d been putting it off because we’d been warned that the search for a drummer is generally long and arduous. So what luck that Cat was the first drummer we went into the studio with.

We’ve never been very good at defining ourselves… Between us, we enjoy a myriad of different genres, so when we write together, it’s all about connecting the dots and hopefully finishing with something catchy and coherent.

 Now you were selected to play at T in the park in 2011, where has this taken you and have you been continually inspired to make music? How has your music evolved since then? Are there any recent influences? 

The T-break gig was a very early show and while personally it gave us a massive boost we still had a lot of legwork to do as a band – we’re still figuring out what works for us, whether it’s live on stage or in the studio. Naturally when you write music together for so long, you start to get a real feel for what makes the others tick, so we’re definitely more efficient when putting a piece together and I like to think we’ve been able to retain our original sound to a certain extent.

Recently we’ve been enjoying Foals, Toro Y Moi, Bonobo, amongst others.

What are your future plans as of now? With the festival season fast approaching do you have any gigs lined up that you are looking forward to?

With the mad rush to get ‘Committed To Sparkle Motion’ out, summer bookings have all become fairly last minute, so I’m going to play it safe and play the ‘bound to secrecy’ card. After the tireless meetings and sessions in the studio producing the single and other new material, all we really want to do is get out there and play – to really hone our live show.

 Tell us a funny story or a memorable anecdote you have shared as musicians. Have you ever had any really random but funny experiences or some strange coincidences happen to you?

Poor David is a lifelong Deadmau5 fan. He was understandably giddy at the prospect of catching his hero after our set at Rockness last year. So you can imagine his pain when he passed out in his tent after one too many lager shandys and awoke to the news that not only had he missed the set, but Laurie’s mother had in fact met Deadmau5 in person. While we’re on the subject of Dave’s affinity for the Mau5, it’s worth mentioning that Boards of Canada (who Deadmau5 cites as one of his biggest influences) were big fans of one of our engineer’s previous projects. So we like to think that in a roundabout way, Bryan (the beloved engineer) had a hand in shaping Discopolis prior to us even existing!

It sounds like there is even more in the pipeline for Discpolis, and they will not divulge any information yet, but I encourage you to follow them on facebook and twitter to keep updated.

Check out their EP, Falling (Committed to Sparkle Motion) on iTunes and check out their video which features the stunning landscapes of Scotland’s Cairngorms National Park.



SoftBox Photography Collective is a newly formed arts collective based in Edinburgh which include the photographers; Alice Burden, Anastasios Gaitanos, Billie Kate Dryden, Elizabete Rancane, Hannah Killoh, Heidi Voss, Loren Stuart, Monika Grabowska, Selina Kearney, Stella Heath Keir and Tiu Makkonen.

The collective aims to provide a platform for these soon to be graduates to gain experience working as professionals, and thus enable them to have the upper hand when they finally enter the real world. This includes organising exhibitions, talks and networking events which gives them the opportunity to showcase their work, make industry connections, and practice the skills that are invaluable when working as a photographer in the real world.

Each of the collective’s members works tirelessly to organise things and gather public interest and appreciation. Their core belief is that photography and art should be available to all and able to experience in a stimulating way.

This year they organised an exhibition in Edinburgh’s Old Ambulance Depot about ‘the Human Condition’.

As they have declared on their website, ‘Through our pure, unadulterated infatuation for this medium of light, we wish to project similar feelings of excitement and curiosity to anyone who engages with our work and events. We will never stop creating.’

As for the future, SoftBox is planning on going to FreeRange to showcase what they have to offer. Please check out the SoftBox website and follow them on facebook and twitter to find out what’s happening and of course to see all of their excellent work.

Posted in Art

The Well Rested

Oliver Ninnis sits down across from me in the dusty pub, pint in hand. The warm afternoon light of early summer streams in behind him illuminating the decorum of the establishment, glinting off of antique relics of Edinburgh’s past. I promised Oli I wouldn’t make him sound like a pompous moron, so this is already off to a good start!

Truth be told, Oli and the rest of ‘The Well Rested’ are actually pretty normal and down-to-earth people who are all from an art-school background. I heard once that there is an unspoken bucket list of things you need to do when you’re at art school including; dying your hair a funky colour, trying magic mushrooms and of course, starting a band. The Well Rested have successfully ticked at least one of these boxes.

This alternative band’s members include, instrumentalists James and Tim, and Oli on instruments and vocals. Oliver also claims to play the tambourine in his set but I’m not entirely convinced. They are entirely self produced and very D.I.Y, demonstrated by their lovely set-up where the microphone is attached to the stand with a sock. Their influences come from many different places but they admire bands such as The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Pink Floyd and The Kinks. The main effort in their music is as live performers, and they urge everyone to see them live because that is where they shine. The trio are as much crowd entertainers as they are musicians.

They music of The Well Rested is mostly about general experiences in life, and I would best describe it as musical narrative. The band’s name ‘The Well Rested’ is intended ironically, as everyone knows, the life of a creative trying to make it in the world is rarely ever glamorous and full of luxuries like a good night’s sleep. Oliver has clear opinions on sleep and explains that he rarely gets up earlier than 10 am because, ‘Nothing good happens before 10 am’. The bands rehearsals and meetings take place in their spare time, which often goes into the small hours of the morning. They may even rehearse their music while drunk, in order to prepare them for how to play should they get intoxicated during their live shows. The band mates share a close friendship and look out for each other both on and off the stage.

Some exciting news for the Well Rested, and I can proudly announce that they have just released a new single, ‘Family Tree’ which is now available on iTunes, Spotify and Amazon. I urge you to buy and listen to it! They are having a launch for this on the 3rd of May at Teviot Underground.

The band are unsure of their future plans, but they want to keep making music and possibly release a full length album in the not so distant future.

Have a listen, like their facebook page and buy their new single!

Danielle Callaghan

I would like to introduce a fantastic, hard-working and consistently breath-taking illustrator, Danielle Callaghan. Danielle originally hails from north Yorkshire, just outside the picturesque seaside town of Whitby where she is surrounded by countryside, and many, many cats.

Right away from looking at Danielle’s work you can see how she is influenced by her love of nature. Her primary interests are natural history illustration and conservation, and her subject matter includes all wondrous creatures, from the tiny and fragile honey bees, right up to the wild roaming red deer. She also has an undying love for birds, and spends her free time out in nature looking out for her feathered friends. She has an in depth knowledge of all the animals she researches for her drawings. Ask her about the habits and quirks of whatever beast she happens to be inking, and she will tell you, ‘the number of chirps a cricket makes rises in frequency with the temperature.’

This attention to detail is not eluded in the execution of her drawings. Flowing, elaborate compositions brimming with intricate patterns, her drawings consist of delicate pen an ink lines layered with a subtle palette of natural shades and tones. The composition of her work always seems to allude to her overall message, whether that be about the plight of the honey bee, the decline of the humble frog or appreciating the noble life of the red stag.

I will leave you to admire, ooh and ahh over Danielle’s work on her website and blog. Danielle is also preparing for her Degree show, opening in Edinburgh College of Art on June 1st so if you are in the area, come and see her work there as well.

Posted in Art


One of my very good friends recently started working with a little company called MoonKo, founded by Debbie Moon who has decided to devote her time and effort to promoting the best of new British talent. So far she has managed to pool together a number of fantastic designers, all of who create beautiful and fresh looking artifacts and images.

Some of the designers featured on her website include Amy Lawrence, Butterscotch & Beesting, Danielle Callaghan, Laura Griffin, Faunagraphic, Death by Tea and many many more.

Debbie’s passion for supporting new graduates in the creative industries has come from her own experiences as a new graduate. She felt that there isn’t enough support for new designers out there and wanted to make a very friendly platform from which they could connect and build up a network, this is where MoonKo began to blossom.

MoonKo also develops projects and exhibitions, working with Urban Outfitters and the Ghost of Gone Birds.

It looks like there is plenty more in the works for MoonKo and I’m looking forward to seeing all the gorgeous things that come out of it. To see more of what MoonKo is all about, and of course to check out all the awesome designers they promote, please visit http://moonko.co.uk/ .

Posted in Art

Edinburgh Showcase

Tuesday night at the Old Ambulance Depot, Edinburgh’s team had loads of fun showcasing all of the emerging talent we have been documenting over the past three months! With some great shoe designs submitted by all the artists and designers for our exhibtion, and a fantastic array of music, fashion and film surrounding the rest of the space, great fun was had by all! Alex and I, the main organisers for the event had been anticipating the night for weeks, and so when it finally arrived, we were relieved to see everything had gone to plan.

The night started off with some giant drawing collaborations on huge pieces of paper and giant shoes, which turned out very vibrant looking by the end of the night as everyone added their own little mark. We raffled off some exciting Gola shoes, as featured in our footwear fashion photo shoot from earlier this year, and I think everyone ended on a high note, happy with the cakes and drinks we supplied and of course excited to see all the great creative talent we featured from Edinburgh!

Please also take a moment to see all the fantastic shoe designs!

Posted in Art

James Albon

Introducing another interesting, inspiring, intellectual illustrator. Whether or not he is all these things, you will have to read on to find out, but the alliteration sounds good.

James Albon is an illustrator and print maker that graduated from Edinburgh College of Art earlier this year. He has now taken on the graduate studio assistant position at ECA, so I pestered him with some questions, some of which may or may not have been about advice for fourth year. He has some very interesting things to say about illustration, the value of art and life in general, so I will divulge these secrets here.

James says something like, ‘I sort of hate that  question about what I am influenced by? What are you meant to say to that? I’m influenced by… my life?’ That is more or less an accurate description of James’ approach to illustration.  He first jokes that his main inspirations are nicotine and alcohol, then says that he feels the potential for comment in illustration, is often under looked, and a lot of his work is about drawing out what he finds interesting in real life, and this is often criticising society.

His main body of work consists of relief prints. This is a printing process where a block of lino or wood is carved away to create an image, then inked up and transferred onto paper using a printing press (or a wooden spoon if you don’t have the facilities). The results are often quite decisive, graphic, stylised images with bold use of colour and tone. It is for this quality of a planned, finished images that James chooses to use this process. His research drawings are very quick, expressive and immediate, so the finished print is like the drawing’s counterpart.

In the summer, James went to Ethiopia for an Artist in Residency placement, and created a series of prints based off of his drawings from there. Thanks to these amazing prints, he recently won the Royal Society of Printmakers Student Award!

He’s taken part in many exhibitions, a list of which may be seen on his website, and will be touring the UK with his Ethiopia prints, so keep an eye out for these as they may be coming to a gallery near you.

Another large part of James’ interests are in writing. For his final degree show earlier this year, he wrote and illustrated a series of stories about different characters who experience the premonition of the end of the world. He is also giving playwriting a whirl and took a course on theatre design.

In the near future, he plans to travel to Hong Kong, and put together some work based on his experiences there. This work may or may not include a play, which will be definitely interesting to see. I think it shows that students of the creative arts certainly aren’t limited to doing one thing, and it takes a great level of thought and intellect to produce work that has a voice, and doesn’t just look pretty.

To read some more about this interesting individual, and of course to admire his wondrous work, we welcome wayfarers to wander his website.

Posted in Art

Bwani Junction

Edinburgh based Bwani Junction doesn’t need more than a brief introduction telling you that you just have to listen to their music to find out how good they are. I am doing just that, however I will say, that Bwani Junction has had an amazing and successful year.

They have played at about 15 festivals this summer including, Stag and Dagger, Down the Rabbit Hole and perhaps most excitingly at Hyde Rock Calling!

Also important to mention, they have recently released their first album with Aksatak Records. ‘Fully Cocked’ is now available on iTunes, Amazon, & at HMV. There is also a rumour that they have finished their newest album, so if you like what you are hearing, then keep your ears peeled for that as well!

The band is composed of four members: Fergus, Jack, Rory & Dan and well, I’m just going to say that their music is awesome. An eclectic mix of chilling riffs, earthy rhythms, harmonic vocals, vibrant lyrics and lively, Afro-Caribbean influences that just make you feel good. Listen to it. You won’t be disappointed.

Listen to more of their music here, buy their album here or here, and don’t forget to like their facebook page!