Fee Fee La Fou

It is always a good idea to talk to a stranger at a party, because otherwise I never would have discovered Fee Fee La Fou. It was at the Next Shoebox party and it was Fiona who actually designed and created the neon Jukebox that was centre stage of the event. Fiona is the owner of Fee Fee La Fou HQ which opened in October 2011 on Dalston Junction High street. FFLFHQ is a bijou shop full of curiosities, where Fee sells her own work and a curated selection of work of other Artists and Designers.  I met with her at the HQ to talk about her, the space, and finding inspiration.

Talk us through your pathway from being an Artist to running the HQ?

I have been a Painter for 15 years professionally, and it can be quite a solitary practice, within four white walls. I was creating for exhibitions and it was a lot of pressure. To have more balance, I joined print clubs to be surrounded by other artists, and Creatives. This made me realise that this kind of environment was something I preferred, so I looked for a job where I could be surrounded by other inspiring people.  I worked for two ad and creative agencies, for 5 years and I kept my studio on. The sad reality was the 7 day work week,  it was my husband who encouraged me to get back into painting full-time, as I didn’t have the time to paint as much.
Around that time I went on a trip to India, and was very inspired by Holi, and when I came back, the idea was to move my Hackney Wick studio up to Dalston, where I could have an open working studio.  It made sense to open up here because of the vast array of talent that are situated in East London.  Reality hit, because I just couldn’t find anywhere big enough for what I needed. It took a year to find this space,  now I have a great balance which is two days a week solitary time in the original studio, which is still in Hackney Wick, and the rest of the time here to interact with people. It is great to talk about what they think of artwork,and talking about how art is made and being able to get that straight away feedback.

 

Fee Fee la fou HQ Dalston

Everything is becoming digital, there is a massive difference between a digital print that can be mass produced in a few hours, whereas my collage could easily take me two months

Are there particular artists in residence we should be looking out for?

I am particularly passionate about Maria Rivans she just did an exhibition for Saatchi, and she works in mass scale collages. In the shop at the moment is a print of her collage Sugar Queen, the original is actually three times the size which are more 3D and pop out. They are painstakingly made, and I can appreciate the workmanship, because of my background, and working in collage. A lot of my big heroes are collage artists, I am interested in seeing her work develop. She is an Artist who I think is very special.
For jewellery Rosita is amazing, she is works in embossed handmade leather, silk screen printing, and creates four collections a year. Her illustrative background means she approaches jewellery design, as an Illustrator and an Artist, that’s what makes her different. Her leather workshop is just around the corner, and has just started creating in metals, she is incredibly hardworking, and not afraid to take a risk, and try something different.

 

What advice would you give to aspiring Artists, Illustrators Creatives to get out there?

I see a lot of frustrated people coming in who want to be creative or who think about being creative. I always say keep a discipline of practicing your craft, and protect that time to make.

Fight to keep practicing because it can get rusty, you can’t lose it, but it needs to be something you keep doing.

Be patient, we are so used to having everything right now, we need to slow down and realise it will take time.

Don’t be afraid to go back to education, it’s never too late, and take risks.

Make sure you are active on social media, and create a strategy.

Research and think about at least 10 people or brands you want to work with, look at what they do, and how it can fit in with what you do. Keep pitching.

Collaborate with people as there are so many different perspectives.

Pick up the phone. At my ad agency there was no email you had to call everyone, there is something about that personal touch

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Dalston felt really right at the time, there is still this vibe that is just so electric and the culture clash that just goes on, which is so exciting. Originally I was  thinking where else in the world really, I have always been excited about Japan. I won a painting scholarship so got to travel there, it would be a dream setting up that space, as the Harajuku district & culture in Japan is what I am interested in, and obviously  New York; but I think the realities of running a store like this, as an Artist, as a maker there are constraints, and restraint I have to consider.

The most exciting thing at this point I see about this shop is that it has become a platform. The world is changing the way we are making things differently. This is more of a brand, we do illustration projects, we do live and storytelling events, it is the off shoots where people are learning about the store. I cultivate my fine art practice, working and collaborating with other brands, spotting a niche and balancing the digital element, but still holding on to a handmade craft. I am developing a ceramics project of our Circus characters, so watch this space.

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