Meet the designers: Michelle Belak and Melissa Tucker of AttikoArt

Our Q&A with the founders of AttikoArt, creators of beautiful art prints custom-made for interior design...

The mother-and-daughter team of Michelle Belak and Melissa Tucker had the brilliant idea of making beautiful, affordable art prints that can be tailored for individual interior design schemes. We love their work - so much so that we collaborated with them for a special marbled lampshade and print collection - and we wanted to know more about how they started AttikoArt and what inspires them. Here’s their story...

Tell us about your backgrounds - and what inspired you to start AttikoArt?

Our backgrounds? One word would sum them up…“creative”! We’re a fine artist (mum, Michelle) and a graphic / interior designer (daughter, Melissa) so design is just “who we are”. For as long as either of us can remember, right from when Melissa was a little girl, we were always hanging out in our studio working on one artsy project or another - that was just the norm in our house! It made sense that eventually we would do something together professionally - we’d certainly often talked about it - but we were never exactly sure what that might be, until we had the idea for AttikoArt. The lightbulb moment came during an interior design job that Melissa had been working on: Despite searching far and wide, she had not found any wall art that she really loved for her scheme - she needed a specific size of canvas in a very specific colour combination. It occurred to us that there was a real need we could fill here - to provide on-trend, quality, affordable and totally customisable art, tailor-made to compliment individual interior schemes. The final push to really make a go of it though came in the form of a devastating bereavement in our family. (Melissa’s dad passed away in 2014). We were completely heartbroken, but it was also a catalyst that made us realise that life is too short to waste and that you have to follow your dreams if you can. We are very proud to have turned sadness into success with AttikoArt - we absolutely love what we do and feel so lucky to be working together. (We are sharing this part of our story on the off-chance that it might give a glimmer of hope to someone else currently going through a similar situation…)

Sienna Mist canvas print (from £219)

Do you think people are intimidated about buying and displaying statement artworks – and if so, why?

Yes, lots of people are terrified of buying art! It’s such a shame really - it should be a joy putting the finishing touches to your home - and yet it can often be quite a stressful process. There are lots of reasons for this: Firstly there are endless art styles available and people have often never really thought about what they actually like - figurative or abstract for example? Painting or photography? The wide range of choice out there can feel very daunting and people often aren’t sure where to begin searching... Secondly, for statement art to work in your home it has to tie in with your overall scheme - so it’s not enough for the artwork to be beautiful on its own if it doesn’t fit the space. And in order for it to work in a room, it needs to be the right size, style, colour and frame finish... There’s so much to think about! Many people are simply afraid of “getting it wrong”… One of the cool things we do at AttikoArt is guide people through the whole process and work closely with them to create exactly the right piece for their homes. Every day we receive photographs of rooms along with requests for advice - and then we work closely with customers to find the perfect print that will look amazing in their space. We even supply photographic mock-ups of our prints in their rooms if required, so that people can see in advance what the art will look like - It’s a huge help and allows our customers to buy their statement artwork in confidence, knowing that they are getting it right!

Indy Rush canvas print (from £219)

What are your top tips for people when considering buying art for the home? Are there any common mistakes people make?

The are two main considerations when displaying art in the home: Size and Hanging Height. Size: It’s super important to think about the scale of the wall where you are going to hang your art as well as the furniture around it. It’s obvious really - it’s all about proportion. If your artwork is going to be placed above a large sofa or a headboard, be brave! Go BIG! (Or alternatively, create a large “footprint” with multiple pieces grouped together.) There’s nothing sadder than an apologetic, overly small piece of art overshadowed by the large scale objects around it. Conversely, if you are looking for a piece to hang over a delicate side table remember that a very large canvas will look top heavy. In this context a smaller size will work much better and make your room feel more cohesive as a whole. Height: As a rule, lower is better. Hanging artwork too high is probably the number one mistake that people make and it’s such a shame because it’s an easy thing to avoid! If you’re not sure about this, here is our top tip: think of your furniture and art as one single block, not as two separate, unrelated, objects. They have to 'hang together' spatially - and you won’t get that if the canvas is closer to the ceiling than it is to the furniture below it. Voila!

Ebony Swirl canvas print (from £219)

What inspires your artworks and designs?

Gosh, so many things, it’s hard to say! Obviously interior design trends influence us hugely because we are producing art specifically for contemporary interiors. A trending wall paint colour for example can often trigger a new colour edit. But with regard to the actual designs, they can come out of anywhere! “Dilly Day”, for instance, was inspired by the dappled sunlight and falling shadows of a summer evening's walk - one of those gorgeous moments that just takes your breath away. “Rosa Nina” was inspired by the pink trend and peonies/florals, “Airo Cool” by the Scandi trend and splattered paint effects, and so on…

Dilly Day canvas print (from £219)

How do you go about creating a bespoke colour print for individual customers?

Our bespoke colour editing option is a lovely way to tailor one of our pieces to your unique home décor, as we can swap out or bring in any colours necessary to coordinate with a room scheme. (In the case of our ‘Pooky Edit’ collection, we created a bespoke series of prints which have been curated to work in perfect harmony with three of Pooky’s wonderful hand-made marbled lampshades). Often people will have a favourite print from our range which they would like slightly modified in order to fit with their home. To kickstart this process off, we request some photos of the room and the wall where they will be hanging the artwork on. (It’s particularly useful when they send us some close-ups of any accessories, fabrics or colours that they would like us to especially focus on). At this point, we digitally edit the colours in our print, and produce a special tailor-made version for that customer. We create a first draft for them to approve or feedback on before going ahead with their bespoke print. (The cost of this service is +£75 on top of the standard print price).

Do you have a favourite Pooky lampshade?

So many! We love the ikat ones so much (particularly the orange printed linen one which has such a fun, zingy vibe to it!) But then we also became quite enamoured with one of the marbled shades in particular following our recent collaboration: the Arno shade in blue and red...

Sienna Mist ‘Pooky Arno’

And finally, what’s it like working as a mother-daughter team? Do things always go smoothly….?

It’s a bit sickening to say it, but, honestly, we get on incredibly well and have never had a major disagreement! Part of the reason for that is that our individual roles in the business are clearly defined, so we don’t tread on each other’s toes very often, and also that we mostly work in different locations! (The art studio - and Michelle - is based in Bournemouth whereas the digital and interior design desk - and Melissa - is based in London.) We meet up all of the time of course, and our meetings are always something that we look forward to. It helps hugely that we genuinely like each other - it’s what keeps things fun!

AttikoArt's 'Pooky Edit' collection 

See the full AttikoArt collection on their website, and follow them on Instagram.