There are lots of articles around that have so many good things to say about Sheffield. Local blogs say it has always been a proud city! Everywhere I turn there is a new survey done that quotes Sheffield as one of the happiest cities in the UK or 10 reasons why we should be proud of coming from the Steel City.

Venturing through the busy streets, I look around and see artwork, mugs, even t-shirts, that all have northern slangs or maps of our seven hills. Henderson’s Relish has lots of products for sale, you can even buy a bottle for each football team.  Great artists use our city as a platform to express their pride in our industrial steel delight. If you pop to the Millenium Gallery, the gift shop is full to the brim of merchandise to buy. There is even wallpaper available of Park Hill flats, which is actually pretty cool I have to say.

Looking for a print for my new living room, I came across a design that struck a cord with me, being very simple, but clever, and yet very northern. It said ‘Put Big light on’ which is always something my family used to say when I was growing up. I ordered the print and thanked the designer, and followed more of his work. So when the opportunity came up to meet the man behind the designs, there was no doubt about jumping at the chance.

One Saturday afternoon we caught up with huge mugs of coffee, chatted about his work, what inspired him to produce such iconic prints, and what else he has in store for us. Lee has great warmth, a very genuine chap, who also happens to be easy to talk to, and has very interesting things to say when it comes to design, art, interiors, and his hometown.

The man behind Maseface is Lee Mason a graphic designer from Sheffield, who has many talents. Firstly he does his graphic design job for a Digital Marketing Agency, working full time, and has had a career in this field for over 25 years. Then he spends his spare time designing for his own brand, and ships prints all over the world, with eager fans in London, Australia, and New York.

Loving art from a young age, and growing up in the 80’s, the city had a huge buzz when it came to hip-hop and graffiti. Lee felt excited about the look and feel of spray cans, and would often venture out with his crew to get the vibe of the street culture that was happening at the time. As he grew a bit older he became inspired in a big way by the likes of Neville Brody, a pioneer in graphic design and art direction, and Ian Anderson from Designers Republic, who created some of the best record album covers of all time. This led him to the job he does now, and come up with all the amazing ideas he has.

Photo via Maseface

My favourite print is of course ‘Put Big light on’ but there are quite a few iconic prints that Lee sells. The likes of ‘The Cheesegrater’ and ‘The North Reyt Bobby Dazzlers’ prints are best sellers for his brand. Speaking to him I wanted to know what inspired him to come up with these northern style prints, and he said “I would go to my Grandad’s and he would be sat doing his pools and would say hey Lee put big light on for me” and those sayings just stuck! Lot’s of his prints are inspired by Lee’s childhood, comments his dad would say, and his family, also growing up in a northern town.

Brutalist Architecture has played a huge part in Lee’s thoughts and ideas, which is why he designed the model of Park Hill Flats. He also sells prints of Brutalist Architecture and has a real love for concrete. Sat amongst a busy coffee shop we talked for a very long time about this, in fact, it was lovely to meet someone who seemed to love this artificial stone-like material as much as me.

Lee loves Interiors too and talked in depth of different designs, and products he felt inspired by (one of them being the on trend concrete planters that he recently purchased). Whenever he gets the chance he loves to go to Brighton with his wife, and visit the independent shops and look at all the merchandise there.

Asking about the future, Lee said “I am loving the direction that the brutalist designs are going in” and that he sees that going from strength to strength. There was also talk of developing some Interior products. I can’t wait to see what ideas he comes up with next, but for now I will look at my print in my living room with irony, as actually the big light, The Bloom by Kartell, doesn’t give off hardly any light, and we are subsequently in search of a standing lamp to add more, but I don’t care as it all looks very atmospheric, which is the look I wanted to achieve.

You can purchase Lee’s Prints via his Etsy shop and Folksy shop. Ora is a place on Sharrowvale Road In Sheffield, that currently has prints available to buy. Following Maseface on social media, gives the opportunity to see new products, and links through to his online shops.

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4 Comments

  1. kate

    December 13, 2016 at 7:54 am

    I love his prints – will pop in to Ora over Christmas – lovely article supporting an amazing artist. Thankyou for highlighting this! Good luck with your ‘big light’!

  2. Natalia Mingorance

    January 3, 2017 at 8:00 am

    I also live in Sheffield and I totally agree with you: it’s unique! Not surprised graphic designers and artists get inspired by it 🙂

  3. Rachel

    January 3, 2017 at 9:42 am

    I havent been to Sheffield in years, not since my Uni days so can imagine it has changed a whole lot since then x

    1. northerninteriorgirl

      January 3, 2017 at 11:59 am

      Rachel you must come back, its a wonderful city, with an amazing vibe, full of music and culture 🙂

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