Category Archives: Art

Profile – Dead Sleekit, making a Kickstarter Campaign work


Scottish fashion designer Iain MacDonald of Dead Sleekit is celebrating. He’s achieved 118% of his  Kickstarter – Dead Sleekit Campaign reaching an incredible £4,786 (his target was £4,000 in four weeks), and with 140 backers, allowing him to start work on his second collection. The campaign ended on 28th February 2016.

Here’s his incredible story so far.

Who are they and what do they do?:

Dead Sleekit is the brainchild of Glasgow-based Iain MacDonald. A former Herald Scotland Graduate of the Year, Iain designs “wearable art”. He draws delicate and intricate prints by hand, which are then put together digitally and printed on a mixture of jersey and mesh. The results are wearable clothes in simple easy to wear shapes but their incredible prints make them stand out from the crowd.

Keeping everything Scottish, Iain uses local printing and his clothes are manufactured in Glasgow’s east end by a trusty band of seamstresses based at BeYonder Textiles, part of BeYonder Ltd, a great social enterprise company who call themselves ‘A Profit for Purpose Organisation‘. And with prices ranging from £30 – £80, it’s making wearable art accessible.

With his first collection under his belt, Iain turned to Kickstarter  to help him fund his second collection.  Kickstarter state “Our Mission is to help bring creative projects to life”.

The dreams of millions of people have become a reality since Kickstarter’s inception. The company that consists of 135 people based in an old pencil factory in New York said:

“Since our launch, on April 28, 2009, 10 million people have backed a project, $2.2 Billion has been pledged, and 101,176 projects have been successfully funded”. Kickstarter

Iain’s success is a good example of a well thought out Kickstarter campaign. It ticked all the boxes. If you are considering Kickstarter, here’s a few things to consider.

  • Everything on Kickstarter must be a project. Have a clear goal.
  • Set a realistic target/challenge/time scale.
  • Ensure your project is attractive, desirable and sought after.
  • Show your project off, market it well, use great images, or video if you have any.
  • Make the price range pledges accessible. Dead Sleekit’s pledges ranged from £1 to £290, with everything in between.
  • Ensure people are suitably rewarded. Dead Sleekit offered a bow tie for £8, exclusive art works for £15, a screen printed t-shirt for £20, posters for £35, designer clutch bags for £75 and a bespoke designed dress for £290.
  • Keep the momentum going. Engage with people. Use your networks, constantly update social media, give progress reports, reminders, use countdowns, get your pals to spread the word.  Word of mouth still works wonders.
  • Give thanks. Dead Sleekit thanked people along the way. See the half-way point personalised ‘Thank You’ image below.
  • At campaign end – post an update, but it doesn’t end there. Keep communicating with your new customers. Dead Sleekit promises his backers a secret Snapchat account with sneak peaks of behind the scenes progress.

To view Dead Sleekit’s Kickstarter campaign, see link Dead Sleekit – Kickstarter Campaign


I asked Iain to give a quick insight into Dead Sleekit.

Tell us a little bit about your background and training?

I studied and specialised in Textiles and Surface Design for fashion at Grays School of Art in Aberdeen. Prior to that I studied Graphic Design and Fine Art. I tend to use my my love for fine art and graphics in my textile designs for my clothing label. During my time at Art School I did a placement at Alexander McQueen.

Tell us about your business – Dead Sleekit, and your first and limited collection which was called Veranico.

Dead Sleekit is a clothing label that loves print and emphasizes print through each collection. Every collection has meaning behind it and is derived for love in Art, stories and music.


You’re about to start work on your second collection – what we can expect? How will it look?

The collection is inspired by American Horror Story, although this concept is quite dark it will have a pastel colour palette.

You’ve used Kickstarter as a way to fund this collection – how does this work and where does the money go / what does it help to fund?

Kickstarter helps a new business (or an existing business) to start a project which gets people involved. The aim is to raise money towards a project and also give back to people who pledge by offering exclusive rewards. We are offering bespoke scarves and dresses as well as prints and more unique gifts.

For people who donate and participate in the Kickstarter – what’s the benefits?

The benefits are backing an independent brand and watching them grow from the beginning of their development. Also,  getting some exclusive rewards and one of products from the project.

You’ve exceeded your target of £4,000 to fund your collection – well done! What happens next?!

I will be working away frantically and excitedly on everyone’s rewards. It also means the new textile prints I’ve been working on will be digitally printed to fabric so I can start working on my new collection.

Thanks to Iain MacDonald of Dead Sleekit for this little insight into his work and Kickstarter. Good luck on the new collection – can’t wait to see it!

Meanwhile – here’s a little view of his previous collection – see below. 


“Backing a project is more than just giving someone money. It’s supporting their dream to create something that they want to see exist in the world”. Kickstarter

Useful links:

Dead Sleekit

BeYonder Ltd



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Filed under Art, Fashion, Glasgow, Kickstarter, Scotland

The Kelpies, Helix Park, Near Falkirk, Scotland – May 2014


The Kelpies

In Scottish folklore a kelpie is a water spirit who can appear in the shape of a horse. The mythical creatures are said to live in Scottish lochs and rivers.

The Kelpies

These Kelpies can be found at the Helix Park, between Falkirk and Grangemouth in Scotland. The 30m high horses heads which are made of steel, are one of the the UK’s tallest pieces of public art.

The Kelpies

These giant structures are the result of an eight year project by Glaswegian sculptor Andy Scott. Each horse’s head consists of 300 tonnes of steel and each head took 75 days to complete.

The Kelpies

Sculptor Scott says the inspiration for his kelpies comes from the heavy horses that once powered Scotland’s canals.

The £5million project which officially opened in April 2014, is fast becoming one of Scotland’s most photographed sites.

The Kelpies


To read more about the project BBC News Website and also official Kelpies website


Filed under Art, Photography, Scotland, Travel

Lola Nicol is In The Rings With Ali

“I wish people would love everybody else the way they love me.

It would be a better world.”

Muhammad Ali

The Olympics has opened to a huge and successful fanfare, courtesy of Danny Boyle. Britain is on the way, after a shaky start, to the medals list, finally getting a Gold. There have been tears, triumphs, disappointments and controversy … and future stars waiting to shine. But before it all began … one Olympic legend was fondly remembered.

The man who floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee may have arrived in London a wheelchair but his presence was the same as when he danced deftly around the boxing ring, gloved fists flying.

Muhammad Ali celebrated his 70th birthday earlier this year and to commemorate the event a retrospective exhibition is on display at Forman’s Smokehouse Gallery, 100 metres from the main Olympic Stadium.

Lola Nicol - Muhammad Ali painting

Muhammad Ali painted by Lola Nicol

Sitting alongside works by renowned photographers and artists from all over the world, is Brora-based artist Lola Nicol’s painting of the boxing legend.

Lola had already painted Ali as a commission for one of her clients, and she was researching boxing clubs, as a lot of them collect boxing memorabilia, when she came across news of the exhibition.

Lola sent the creative director, Dutch-born London-based photographer Christina Jansen, a photo of her painting, initially only hoping to get some kind of response to her painting and maybe some feedback. Lola was interested to know if she had captured Ali and figured Jansen would know.

Jansen first photographed Ali in 1986 and it has taken her, and co-curator Sandra Higgins, two years to put In The Rings With Ali together. The exhibition comprises 70 photographs and paintings, including some of Jansen’s own work as well photographs and paintings from other photographers and artists.

Muhammad Ali photographed by Christina Jansen

Muhammad Ali photographed by Christina Jansen

Lola obviously captured the essence of the boxing legend, as Jansen liked her painting so much she included the piece in the exhibition.

In The Rings With Ali shows different stages of the man’s life, alongside video and audio installations, poetry and memorabilia.

And not just his sporting life, but Ali’s humanitarian work through the decades is also displayed.

That humanitarian work continues. Over a million pounds was raised at a Sports For Peace gala which commemorated Ali, held at the Victoria & Albert Museum on July 25th. The money will be distributed between the Muhammad Ali Centre in Louisville, his Parkinson’s Foundation and the Michael J Fox Parkinson’s fund.

“Age is whatever you think it is,

you are as old as you think you are.”

During the Gala in London various sports stars and celebrities were privileged to be in the boxing legend’s company and they took time to voice their admiration to the media.

Wladimir Klitschko was a competitor at the Atlanta Games in 1996, where he saw Ali lighting the flame. The current IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight world champion said “Muhammad Ali is an inspiration to me and many others. He was always a real fighter. He stands for a lot of energy and charisma. Ali is an idol for millions of people. He is the ‘Rocky of life.”

Former tennis star Boris Becker said:  “Muhammad Ali is the greatest of all time. The greatest living sportsman. To be in his presence one more time is a big honour and a privilege. He presented his sport all over the world. From an athlete he became a peacemaker, he became a global warrior and just a spokesperson for the right causes. He has had just an incredible life.”

“Champions aren’t made in gyms.

Champions are made from something they have deep inside them: a desire, a dream, a vision.”

And it’s been an unbelievable experience for Lola. When she painted his image, she never imagined where it would end up. Ali’s younger brother Rahaman Ali and his wife Caroline flew over from America to attend the opening private viewing of the exhibition on July 19th.

Christina Jansen - In The Rings With Ali Exhibition

Photographer Christina Jansen and curator of In The Rings With Ali Exhibition

Lola said “To be involved in this feels amazing and unbelievable. For someone like Christina to allow me to be involved in something so big as the Ali exhibition, with some of the best artists in the world, and also be to be involved with something as big as the Olympics feels unbelievable. I can’t explain how much it means. I never imagined something like this would happen to me.”

All artworks at the “In the Rings with Ali” exhibition will be for sale and a percentage of the profits will be donated to Amnesty International, Parkinson’s Research, and to a local boxing club in East London.

Artist Lola Nicol with her painting of Muhammad Ali

Scottish Artist Lola Nicol with her painting of Muhammad Ali


Lola will also have a number of limited edition prints available for sale, and a contribution of each sale will go to the Muhammad Ali Outreach Programme, a programme which will work with young boxers and run by former British light-middleweight/ middleweight champion Oliver Wilson and former Commonwealth Games gold medalist, British light middle and middleweight, Rod Douglas.

“The man who has no imagination has no wings.”

It is estimated 1200 will visit the gallery on a daily basis. The gallery is open to the public 13th–28th August, Thu, Fri 5–9pm; Sat, Sun 12–5pm and also open to the public from September 8th – 30th.

For more details on the In The Rings With Ali Exhibition:  In The Rings With Ali  and In The Rings With Ali Facebook Page

Lola Nicol: Lola Nicol – Artist

Christina Jansen:  Photographer Christina Jansen

Sandra Higgins, Independent Art Advisor & Curator: Sandra Higgins

The Outreach Programme: Muhammad Ali Outreach Programme

Forman’s Smokehouse Gallery, London: Smokehouse Gallery, London


Muhammad Ali – Olympic facts:

  • Ali gained Olympic Gold in Rome in 1960. His name at that point was Cassius Clay.
  • In his 1975 autobiography it says that he threw his Olympic gold medal in the Ohio River after being refused service at a “whites only” restaurant.
  • This fact is still under debate but he was given a replacement medal during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, where he lit the torch to start the games

“The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up.”

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Filed under Art, Boxing, Muhammad Ali, Olympics, Olympics 2012

Lola Nicol

One of the things I love about my job is meeting people. People are interesting, everyone has a story. I have studied psychology, so I’m fascinated by what makes people tick.

I have therefore decided to dedicate a proportion of my blog website to interesting people I meet.  I also figure it’s much easier to write about other people than it is to write about me (and probably a lot more interesting for all you people out there too).

This blog will be a short Q&A session with a very talented artist called Lola Nicol, a West Lothian born artist, who relocated to Glasgow and who now lives in Brora.

One of the things I love about Lola is that she combines two of my loves, art and music. Her paintings feature rock and pop icons as well as some sporting legends.

You can find her on:

Lola Nicol

Lola Nicol

What influences you? Are you influenced by music?

I’m influenced by a lot of things. I live in a croft by the beach and I take a lot of inspiration from my surroundings. I miss Glasgow desperately and I feel sometimes I paint to fill that gap. And of course music plays a big part in what I do.  I’m a huge fan of live music and I love working alongside some of my favourite bands, whether it be painting for them or having them share my work.  I’m proud to be involved and honoured when they take the time to help me promote myself.

You painted Lana Del Ray before she became well known – why did you choose her?

I’m a big fan of her music and she has such a rare beauty. At the time of painting the piece, there wasn’t a lot of press or hype surrounding her. She was very intriguing both in her style and her music. I never thought she would come across the image. It started off as a gift for a friend and it turned out to be much more important than I could have expected.

Lana Del Ray

Lana Del Ray

You met Lana at her gig in Oran Mor in Glasgow, what was she like?

Lana was very sweet and extremely modest. She asked how the gig sounded and what sort of vibe there was standing in the audience. She also highlighted her fondness for Glasgow and the people she has befriended in the city.

And Lana has also seen your artwork. Were you nervous of her reaction?

My friend tagged my painting of her on Facebook, so her management became aware of it. I’m surprised when any one compliments my work, so when Lana commented on the piece, it was completely unexpected. I was a little worried because the painting shows a very vulnerable, pained expression, which I guess wouldn’t be the biggest compliment to everyone, but she seemed to like that. The piece is still with me but Lana has the first run of a limited number of prints.

Tell us about your collection “Swinging with the old stars”. Who features?

I started painting for the collection last summer.  It incorporates a number of actors/musicians/models tainted by the industry. The pieces have all been painted on old, damaged or recycled wood which, like these individuals have either been thrown away or damaged (intentionally graffitied or worn with time).  It’s a fickle, cut throat existence and I want to portray this in my paintings.

There’s often a dark vulnerability to your paintings – where does this come from?

All of the emotions I felt in my last few years of living in various parts of Glasgow are painted in the faces of the subjects I work on. I guess it’s my way of expressing myself.

Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash

Anyone you would most like to paint?

I love tainted beauty and anyone beautiful with an air of mystery or misery about them is the perfect subject.

Have you always painted? How did you get into art?

I painted when I was younger. I studied art at school at higher and advanced higher level but never had the confidence in myself or my art work to take it any further than that. I was very quiet and had huge confidence issues, so I chose not to go to university. I’ve been working in and out of office jobs for a good part of my adult life and only started painting again after I relocated to the highlands.

What made you settle in Brora?

My family moved there and it gives me time and space to work. It does get lonely at times but my friends and my life in Glasgow are just a train journey away if I need it.

Tell us about your studio, what is it like?

In the summer I like to work outside when I can. I live beside the beach and have quite a bit of land around me.  It’s a really calming environment to work in. Otherwise I have an old wood shed attached to the house, which generally involves wrapping up warm and filling a hot water bottle. My bedroom is also filled with materials and pieces of work. I’ll paint anywhere that’s peaceful with no distraction.

What made you use wood canvases?

I moved up north with no intention of taking up painting. I didn’t have a job and really just wanted to fill some time. Unfortunately I had left all my canvases in Glasgow and an old pile of school desk tops was the first thing I could get my hands on. Now I can’t imagine working on any other material. I try and use reclaimed pieces when possible – this can range from driftwood to old wardrobes.

Dream for the future?

To be lucky enough to keep painting full time. People’s tastes and ideas change, so maybe I won’t always be this lucky but right now I am completely contented doing what I love for a living.


Filed under Art, Music