Get Lit: Alice Oehr and Natalie Turnbull Create a Light-Themed Set

Inspired by '70s living rooms and seductive candlelight.

by VICE Staff
08 February 2018, 12:08am

This article is supported by BIC®, who are giving you the chance to win big by designing a lighter. We challenged a design duo to come up with some lit images based around the theme of light.

Alice Oehr is an illustrator and designer who somehow manages to incorporate her love of croissants and cats into a lot of her work. Her style is colourful—at once masterful and innocent.

Looking at stylist Natalie Turnbull's work, you just know her bedroom is going to be nice. Inspired by Japanese minimalism and clean lines, her portfolio screams, “Visually merchandised bedside table.” Together, they have the perfectly-curated Instagram feed of your dreams.

Friends in work and life, we challenged the duo to creatively interpret a brief around themes of light. This is what they had to say about it.

VICE: Can you explain your process of approaching a brief?
Alice: I love having a brief as a starting point. Without it, there are just too many things to explore. Once I've worked out the limitations of a brief, I draw upon my usual tools to create something that I feel looks like me—often a colour palette, pattern, or illustrated element. I try and make it so that regardless of who the work is for it contains things that I like, and is pleasing to my eye.

How did you interpret this brief?
Alice: A mood of warmth was our starting point, so before we knew how it would look, we were thinking about conveying this sense of seduction. Candles are ignited to convey a certain mood, and there's always a sense of drama that comes with this. We had this in mind when working on the various elements that composed the shot: the stage setting, the lighting, the graphics. I thought about 70s living rooms with conversation pits, fireplaces, and also birthday cakes.
Natalie: We thought about candles as being contained and decorative. It’s interesting really, the idea of scented candles and how they’re used to change the scent of an interior and also as decorative objects.

What’s the best thing about collaborating with other creatives?
Alice: You get somewhere with your designs that you wouldn't if either of you worked alone, which was the case with this shoot. Also by being involved in their actual working process, you learn a lot and gain a deeper respect for what they do in their field.
Natalie: Getting to work with people whose work you admire.

And the worst?
Alice: Sometimes it can be a case of too many chefs in the kitchen. Too many ideas, and people being too polite to be decisive. But I think when you push through, collaborating makes the most interesting work.
Natalie: Too many ideas.

Tips for brainstorming or getting ideas and inspiration quickly?
Alice: Immediately get off the computer. Get a paper and pen and get to the core of what you're trying to do. Then start doodling and jotting down words. Maybe go for a walk around the block and think about it.
Natalie: Text messages or brain-dump emails.

You are both very good at Instagram. Any pointers for styling the dream life?
Alice: Don't overthink it. Try to remain strongly connected to what you think looks good. Work that out. And disregard the idea that many people you've never met will be looking at it. That's a wormhole that's best to avoid. And know that any dream life you may style is not real. Never forget.
Natalie: Instagram is always hard, but both of us follow the rule of no strategy. Just be real.

How do you know you've made it as a creative?
Alice: In one sense I think if you're making a living from working in the creative industry, that's the dream. Unfortunately, creatives usually also want to be creatively satisfied and that one is not as easy. It's usually a non-stop chase to have that feeling of producing work you actually like—so you may have a long life of trying to make it. Satisfaction can come from working along with the knowledge that you're doing something you love and are good at, even if sometimes it still feels like work.
Natalie: I don’t think any creative will ever think they’ve made it, because the nature of working in the creative field means you’re always evolving, changing, and being inspired by new things.

Any words of wisdom for up-and-coming creatives?
Alice: The hardest thing about working in the creative industry is that you have to put a lot of your own personality and history into your work to get good results. You can't separate work and life clearly. Your career path will not be a straight line, and may not always be particularly lucrative. If you're cool with navigating all those things, the actual work part is easy. Don't compare yourself too closely to other people. People's careers move in very different ways, especially when it comes to success, which can defined in so many different ways: money, clients, creativity.
Natalie: Spend time honing your skills. There is no rush.

You can follow Alice Oehr on Instagram here and Natalie Turnbull on Instagram here

This article is supported by BIC®. You can find out more about their design competition and enter here.