Tag Archives: Lara Ostertag

Interview with Posh Fruit, amazing artist

And this is what happens when Creative Director Lara Ostertag and Claire Bentley-Smith get together…it’s dangerously amazing and very desirable. Claire a.k.a Poshfruit has brought an image from Lara’s Twisted Heritage shoot to life in a whole new way, I’m blown away by the transformation.

Claire Bentley-Smith knows how to maximise time and yet still remains to be extremely skilled, being efficient and effective on this scale is a serious juggle. There is no doubt about it… this lady is highly organised, determined and hungry. A mother, a cat carer, a body painter, production designer, illustrator prop maker, art director, teacher and the list continues… this is a sweet smell of success.

Poshfruit somehow had time to answer a few questions and not half heartedly, she has given 110% percent and it was a real pleasure getting to know this talented young lady. So now ladies and gentlemen I present to you Claire Bentley-Smith a.k.a. Poshfruit

Favourite food: 

Food and cooking is a huge pleasure of mine and I’ve been very interested in healthy nutrition for many years. Firstly, as I used be a party girl, I used healthy eating to try to re-dress the balance, in my mind at least but now it is a natural way of life.  I love to cook with game as I think it’s a very healthy way to eat meat but we only eat meat in about 50% of meals. As for dining out, I love everything from a good Sunday roast, world foods, fine dining or the occasional Ikea hotdog!

Favourite bar:

Since having my son I rarely have the luxury of going to bars any more but in Leeds we are spoiled with many great ones. Through my work as a body-painter and production designer I’ve worked in many of them but I’ve worked at Bar Fibre for the longest and as their window display person for 10 years am part of the furniture now. I Love its flamboyance and being part of a great family team! For lunch with the girls and kids it is often Normans or Nation of Shopkeepers but Neon Cactus & Jakes Bar & Distrikt are always the best for evening drinkies with old friends behind the bar and a shimmy round the dance floor to cool music!


Favourite Restaurant: In London it’s Bentleys Seafood Restaurant, just off Piccadilly, as my father took me there from being very young and we would sit at the bar chatting to the staff as they opened hundreds of oysters.  In Leeds I take my son to Little Tokyo Japanese for lunch as it’s so healthy, Normans for their fried chicken wings (the crack cocaine of the food world), Harvey Nichols 4th Floor & Gauchos for occasional decadence and the Deer Park Pub in Roundhay for the best Sunday roast after a walk round the lake!.

Quote of the moment:    

“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life… as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.”
 Booker T. Washington quotes

Recommended music:

All sorts, depending on mood! I’ve passionately lived through many generations of dance music so I have nostalgic favourites spanning the last 20years and as I work in clubs I am surrounded with this constantly evolving genre. I adore classical & jazz for working to including anything from Eartha Kitt, Ella, Nina etc to Amy Winehouse & Corrine Bailey Ray, Nouvelle Vague, Melody Gardot and the like. For more up-beat listening my fave album of the moment is Bag Raiders and elecro music such as Ted & Francis, Chromeo, Maceo Plex, Neon Neon…………..and I love Spotify Radio for finding new stuff I’ve never heard!

Favourite travel destination:

Not so much the destination as the travelling, I love it!! I have many favourite places and have travelled all my life so am happy in the tropics, on beaches, learning cultures, being active. I took my son to Australia, Thailand and Cyprus last year but, at 2, he was really too small to appreciate it all but we’ve just come back from snowy fun in the French Alps and looking forward to Barcelona & Ibiza this summer! Wish we could travel more but with 2 Darling cats we are prevented locking the house up and deserting!

Studied at: Leeds College of Art                                    Course:   BA Visual Communications Degree

What influenced you to do Fashion Design HND and BA(honours) degree in Visual Communications? And why did you pick Leeds?

At the time I started college at 16 I was going through quite tumultuous times in my family life and this had an effect on my concentration and also brought the move from Kent boarding school to Yorkshire to be nearer to my Father. I started a foundation course first and at the time found myself really frustrated that we spent so much time making pictures from spaghetti and the like, so I swapped to fashion as I adored illustration and designing and had more time to draw with purpose. I suppose my art practice was further forward than the foundation course catered for. Following that I started the Fashion Degree at University of Northumberland at Newcastle but I had to leave after 4 months to look after my Dad who passed away soon afterwards. As sole benefactor of his estate & business it took 2 years to tie up probate and then I moved to Leeds to be near friends and went back to Uni ……….and stayed!

Who are your favourite artists and influences?

So many to mention as I like things I wouldn’t paint myself, and get influenced even by things I dislike! I adore and admire most genres of art & design and love the way art is such a link between the sociology, political landscape, fashion, music and culture of any particular time. Whilst I learn draughtsmanship from the great masters and their figurative techniques I also admire contemporary work, deconstructing traditions, finding beauty in strange places and challenging us to think differently all the time.  In my illustration work I am really influenced by such artists as Gerald Scarf, David Downton and the late Ronald Searle and I only consider myself at the beginning of my painting career and a fledgling so am constantly influenced by many things currently.

You went to boarding school as a child in Kent  and spent a lot of your child hood immersed in culture in South East Asia as well as Australia,  Africa & Europe what was it like growing up such a diverse style? What are your memories? Was this an easy lifestyle?

There were immense highs and lows of having such a childhood. Whilst living in exotic places had, what we all think, as huge luxuries such as palacial homes & servants, in reality, as an only child of a single parent who spent much time travelling for work I was isolated, lonely and at times left in a very vulnerable situation. The culture, history and beauty I experienced whilst living in those countries was indeed amazing but the loneliness was equally devastating and when political unrest was at it’s highest, after President Akino was assassinated in Manilla I asked my Dad if I could go to boarding school in the UK. Being a boarder immediately immersed me in a family of friends and brought routine and stability with girls I had lots in common with. I loved every minute of boarding school and as a kid that had little family and a pretty rocky past it was brilliant fun and I made life long friends I still have to this day!

Do you think your history plays a key influence in the diversity of your work today?

Well, I am very adaptable, liberal in my views and draw on the experiences of my past both good & bad for concepts & ideas. As I have so many strings to my bow professionally I suppose that my past has helped me work independently and given me the drive to succeed. That said, when I lost my Dad I went off the rails for a long time whilst I rebelled and wasn’t as productive as I should have been and I still punish myself for not being further ahead with my career, but that was the grieving process and there’s no time limit for it!

In 2007 you travelled around the world taking undertaking art projects in Thailand, stock horses in Australia and nudes in L.A what was it like working in these places and different environments?

It is always easy to be inspired when travelling and as long as one packs some decent brushes, it’s easy to find paint to buy in most places and plenty of people who love art. I have a real interest in the trading of art for bed or food when travelling and I’d love to do a project in future travelling and trading artwork, mural paintings and see how far and what I could get. In this age of consumerism and financial unrest it is a comforting back-to-basics way to survive; swapping something that comes natural to you and gives people pleasure. I’d like to see if I could make a documentary about this actually. I’m planning to take my son away over next new-year to India so perhaps I could develop my idea then I hope??

What are the challenges and highlights of working around the world?


At the moment it is challenging having a toddler who needs constant vigilance and 2 cats at home that need looking after! Otherwise it’s easy to find work as word of mouth is the best advertisement. Everywhere I’ve painted so far there have been further requests for paintings and nothing is better than hearing the sea lapping as you paint and seeing the joy and smiles of people enjoying your work.

In addition to teaching at several locations around Leeds you also manage to squeeze in face painting, how did this come about?

I’ve worked in the club industry a long time and thought it could be a fun side-line, but it has taken off brilliantly and is now a significant part of my work. I look forward to doing more artistic body painting with upcoming projects for fashion stylists but even painting faces at events is fun and gives people pleasure, which I love!

What are your favourite pieces of work?

It changes on a daily basis, especially as I work in such a diversity of mediums and genres. I’m usually not too happy with work on completion then it grows on me, unless it sells right away, that’s my favourite work, the ones that put food on the table, haha! No, always the horses & people!

In particular I was blown away by 3, 4 & 7 or your original portraits and illustrations and all of you horse and animals work…how long did these pieces take and what was involved?(please find pics on the poshfruit website)

The drawings done  with wire dipped in ink are very quick , half an hour perhaps, but I usually do several before I get into the swing of it and one bad move means a new page. I do portraits drawn with a feather quill in 10 minutes which is good for parties, whereas oil paints take a long time to layer up and drying time in between colours & varnishing , throw a toddler into the mix and it takes me a month to do an oil! Window paintings in town are simpler in technique and I seem to be fast a working large scale and murals a bit longer as they’re permanent.


I reeeeally liked no.1 of your sample illustrations from working alongside Ibiza DJ Erick Morillo  how was it working with him and will you be doing more for him in the future?

I didn’t get to meet him personally but the project was through a friend of mine who ran his label & PR etc.

What are your key tools, favourite software’s and programmes for creating amazing work? Have you got a favourite that works its magic on all types of work?

Although I do use Photoshop & illustrator to clean up and put colour/filters on some work I am fiercely proud that the basis of my work is traditional draughtsmanship! Only years of patient practice and observation can hone those skills and no amount of technology can fake it! I use wire to draw with which is unusual but makes for an unpredictable line that is also very detailed when handled gently. I also challenge myself to draw & paint with varying mediums & scales so this prevents one becoming jaded and precious.

Why when and how did you come to collaborate with Lara Ostertag?

I’ve known Lara socially for many years and we’ve always had creativity in common, she’s always looked immaculately styled and stood out which I admire in people. As her career has blossomed over the last several years she has been dedicating every moment of her spare time to creating inspired fashion shoots and I have been delighted to assist with styling along the way (toddler allowing). As things have taken off for both of us we often use each other as sounding boards and voices of reason and I hope our working relationship can continue to give us both the strength to go much further and be mutually beneficial for a long time.

What’s happening this year, what can we be expecting?

Absolutely all sorts, no project is ever the same and that’s why I’m incredibly lucky to have a career that keeps me inspired. I’ve just finished making a mirrored crucifix for a Drag-Queen show at the Viaduct Showbar and this week installing a promo window display for Cream, bank holiday party at Mission Nightclub. I’m also illustrating for several projects, body painting lithe Lovelies for Tongue ‘n’ Cheek Events and researching a restaurant mural painting to come. All very exciting!

What are your words of wisdom for anyone interested in getting involved in your line of work?

Develop good relationships with your suppliers, mine are the key to creating slick work, on time for the best price! I can’t say hard work got me where I am as, in truth, being a party girl for years meant I was part of the establishment that gave me much of my work to start with and still remain clients to this day. I certainly think you can’t be a wall flower in the events world or for the murals and widow painting as you are often working in public and with different teams all the time.

With regards to drawing & painting skills, there’s NO short cuts so practice, practice, practice, see exhibitions, observe and go see your subject in real life………no copying from books……………or google!

If you could have a celebrity wardrobe, who’s wardrobe would you have and why?

Vivienne Westwood of course………………LOVE! (reminds me of someone else i know…Lara Ostertag!!)

If you could go back/forward in time which year would you visit and why?

December 21st 1994, to tell my Darling Daddy not to go!

Please follow Poshfruit on Twitter and do check out her fab website. Thanks again Claire.

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Lara Ostertag, recent work

Creative Director Lara Ostertag is a favourite of mine and I plan to closely follow this one. This outstandingly talented young lady not only offers innovative skills and ideas she has an amazing spirit that rubs off.

When I look back on my first encounter with Lara Ostertag she was creating flyers for night clubs and using other photographers work. I recall several conversations where I could sense her bursting at the seams to do more, she enjoyed the work but it was just a stepping stone for her. ‘ Using other photographers work isn’t enough for me, I want more control over images, I’ve got concepts and I have photographers interested in working with me. I want to create my own art inspired fashion photography’.

Lara Ostertag has been very busy and a recent shoot that really caught my eye was her Twisted Heritage project. An interesting fact for you…. When you need some fog grab the talcon powder as Lara proves there’s nought better for creating that mysterious foggy theme.

When Lara and designer Laura Baker collaborated this was always a recipe for something special. Yorkshires Falconry Centre made a perfect location for setting the theme and being able to have a bird of prey star in the shoot made it even more spectacular.

Did you know it’s (Tweed) name came about by a simple communication error, back in 1830 a London merchant received a letter from a Hawick firm about some Tweels he misinterpreted the handwriting, understanding it to be a trade-name taken from the river Tweed that flows through the Scottish Borders textile area, easy mistake but a mistake that made its mark in history.

Lara has recently collborated with a team who are involved with creatng a series of new  Oxfam fashion adverts, this is a perfect opportunity for her as she shares their strong values and beliefs. ‘By coming up with a series of subtle but clever fashion advertising campaigns, I’m able to create awareness for global issues to promote the vintage fashion brand that Oxfam provides. I’m personally very excited about this project so keep an eye out over the next 6 months’.

Another shoot that caught my attention was her United Blingdon T-shirt  shoot this was my favourite image…

This is all for the moment on this great artist, people watch the Ostertag space there’s much more to come. I look forward to updating you soon with more on Lara Ostertag. In the mean time yu can stay up to date by following her on Twitter.

Photographer Simon Paterson works with Lara and all pictures are copyrighted, if anyone would like to use images please contact Lara or Simon and I’m sure they would be happy to help out.

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Leeds Fashion Show, Meeting Michael Walker Fashion Photographer

(Featuring Katie Newsam Designs)

The Leeds Fashion Show kick started the weekend fabulously, I had my first press pass experience and I must say it was great though very intense. I took the opportunity to introduce myself to people holding professional looking cameras…they knew what they were doing!! I met Michael Walker who you will find lots out about shortly and Mike Distras a Photographer based in Wakefield, West Yorkshire – Covering anything and everything from Weddings, Portraits, Fashion, Events and much, much more! check out his site and keep an eye on him by following him on Twitter.

Now for Michael Walker  (mutantrock photography)one of those people who without perhaps realising it inflicts positivity in a similar way to Lara Ostertag who is always doing something constantly striving for more and ousing with motivation, and these are the type of people I love to be in communication with they really help to keep your goals in sight. Most importantly you don’t have to go to University to necessarily succeed in what you’re doing as we will find out.

Michael Walker shared some of his time to answer a few questions and here’s what I found out about him and photography…

Age:   47         Favourite food:  Shepherds pie, I cant get enough of it, bring me shepherds pie and I’ll give you anything you want.  (ladies you know what you have to do!!)

Favourite Leeds Bar:   I don’t really have a  favourite as I’m not a big drinker, if I’m in Leeds shooting I like to call in at The Bourbon Bar for a pint of bitter, it’s cheap and the sofa’s are massive…..I like big sofa’s !

Favourite Leeds Restaurant: I wish I had time to eat ! I’m often working till the early hours of the morning so its a quick snack is all I seem to manage these days.

Studied at:    I’ve never studied or had any training to be a photographer, self taught, trial and error.

What inspired you to become a photographer ?

All my life pictures have interested me, the more unusal the better. About 5 years ago a friend loaned me his film camera for the weekend so I thought I would take some macro shots of the flowers in my garden, these were not the normal flower shots like you see in your local diy store, I managed to get so deep in to the flower, the shots became almost abstract and with my limited Photoshop skills I created some really stunning artistic shots, that was it….I was hooked.

How did you become involved in the fashion industry?

After shooting macro images for about a year with a Nikon D200, a good friend of mine pushed….sorry asked me, to take some shots of her daughter, friends of friends started asking me and I found I was actually enjoying myself. Another photographer advised me to join a site called Purestorm, I did and the same night I was asked to shoot a local girl from Wakefield. This is when I realised I’ve never done fashion shoots so after a few days of searching through Flickr for inspiration I was ready to go. It’s now all I can think about, I’ve even subscribed to Vogue Magazine.

Describe what you do and who and what has influenced you to make you who you are right now?

As I’m a self taught photographer and still learning after 5 years, I take on board advise from many photographers, my images have been laughed at in the past and this I welcomed. Ive researched, watched videos and learned from my mistakes. My music/gig photography is something I never thought about doing until I came across a photogrpaher called Nick Pickles(Some amazing pics on his site find him on Twitter), Nick kindly gave me some tips and contacts and I now create some blinding shots that im very proud of.

As for fashion photography, so many people inspire me, recently it’s been a professional photographer from Leeds called Jay Mawson(I like this site!!), his work is just so creative and elegant.

How does having your own business differ from working for a large corporation?

I actually have a full time job too.

What has been most challenging?

Juggling work and photography has been a real battle, I’ve found myself working 15 hours a day, 7 days a week for months to get where I am today.

What are your favourite styles and looks?

I don’t have a particular style, having said that, I do still like the punk look.  I do enjoy going to Leeds and buying myself a sandwich from Greggs and just sit and look at what people are wearing. I do like to see people who have created their own unique look using high street clothing, a little imagination is all you need.

Do You Have A Favourite Walk round Lens…If So What Is It?

Haha that’s a good one, I cant leave home without my gear, I take 2 walk round lenses, a 24 x 70mm F2.8 & 70 x 200mm F2.8, the zoom lens is heavy and not really a walk round lens but you never know what you will come across.

Which one item of equipment would you say is the most important to you?

My Nikon D3x, it’s my baby !

In general, during a session, how many pictures would you say you take to find “the right one”?

A portrait sitting I can take about 300+ shots but fashion shows around a 1000, I get a little trigger happy sometimes.

Have you got any advice can you offer to anyone interested in fashion photography?

My advice is do it !  you meet some amazing people and gain a good insight in to the world of fashion.

Over the last year I’ve been lucky enough to shoot Katie Price, Big Brother contestant Stuart Pilkington, Calvin Klein model Neil Lumberg, several bands like Saxon, Buzzcocks, Stiff Little Fingers & The Levellers.

For more photo’s check out his fan page. Now to share some of the night for those of you who were unable to make it…

OMG the items showcased were to die for, everyone had clearly been working so hard in the run up to this event and what a great evening it was.

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Interview with Lara Ostertag Photographer, Retoucher, Illustrator and Art Director

Name: Lara Ostertag          Role: Event organiser and Art Director / Retoucher     Age: 26        Favourite food:  Indian (hot) could eat 3 times a day for the rest of my life!!

Favourite Leeds Bar: Distrikt        Favourite Leeds Restaurant: Teppanyaki

Quote of the moment: Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes; Art is knowing which ones to keep.

Studied      at: Leeds     Metropolitan                                                                Course: Graphic Arts & Design

Website/s: http://www.laraostertag.com

1.   What is today’s event all about? What is it? What’s happening how and why?

Today’s Fashion shoot is for Leeds Fashion Show; it’s a sneak preview to document some of their talented designers for the October 2011 fashion show.

2.   You’ve done very well yourself and now have your own successful business, what inspired to get into art directing?

I’d say it’s all come naturally for me, when I left university I landed my first real graphic design job creating night club flyers, at the time this was perfect for me, as time went on I realised using other photographers work wasn’t enough for me, I wanted more control over images, I decided to think up concepts and work with photographers to create my own art inspired fashion photography.

3. How did you become interested in fashion? Ever since I can remember raiding my mums extensive wardrobe, consisting of sequin jackets, vintage belts and the most desirable high heels a little girl can dream of. Tbh my mum has a huge inspiration within fashion. On the other hand so has my dad, he has always fuelled my passion for art; I believe fashion and art are just another way of life.

4.   What do you think is the biggest preconception that people have about the fashion industry?

People often think the fashion industry is expensive, bitchy and size zero models eat nothing but ice cubes and laxatives. But that’s just for small-minded minorities.

5.   What were your first job experiences?  

I Started a part time work placement with a company called Turnkey Creative Production, It was all very new to me and a little nervous of what to expect, however my first day, I was told to path around a Porsche car, the second day I had to do the same with a mountain sheep, this process carried on for about 2 weeks until the shading and reflections were correct for this one particular advert, all the while I was thinking what on earth am I doing, I became a little bored by the end, but suddenly all this hard work came together, it seemed to make sense. Finally my first piece of work, it was amazing. The next time I returned to work, sat on my desk was a copy of Porsche one magazine, my art dirctor shouted across the studio “not bad Croft! Look on the back cover”. And there it was, my painful two weeks of hard work printed on a beautiful glossy magazine, which was where it all started for me.

I was hired by an event called Vogue. The owner of the event loved a personal shoot I had directed; he loved the rustic, urban location. So the day proceeded, All was in order, set up in one of Leeds most prestigious hotels I had a team of hair and make up, four stunning 6ft female models, 2 male models. When there is a nock at the door… “ Oh just to let you know! We have fashion TV filming us today, they want to document the fashion shoot”. Oh dear I was thinking to my self, little did they know the rustic, urban location was a tramps nest at the back of some derelict city centre building, that was priceless to watch the models deal with the smell, interesting first commissioned shoot, I’d say.

6.   How does having your own business differ from working for a large corporation?

Funny you ask that, I actually have the best of both worlds atm, however there are major differences between the two. I’m currently working for a company called Smiffy’s as an Image Retoucher; it’s a great job and fantastic experience.

Having my own photography studio back in 2010 and working freelance was interesting too, your effectively your own boss and its up to you to get the work, its hard work and exciting at the same time. Having your own business means you have full control over everything and you make the decisions of where the brand will go, working for a major corporation sometimes you are limited as to how much you can change things within art direction, brand guidelines ect…

7. Can you describe the transition from graduating to where you are now? What has the process been like?

One hell of a manic networking whirlwind, business meetings, photo shoots and late night editing. The main transition from graduating is getting used to real life and getting firmly stuck in.

8. What has helped your business the most?

Making serious mistakes and learning from them ha ha no honestly that’s true but on a lighter note, networking, meeting people with like minds and surrounding myself with creative positivity.

9.   What do you find the most challenging and what do you like most about your work?

The most challenging is the weather, it’s so unpredictable. The end result of each project is the most satisfying, definitely!

Finally some words of wisdom please

Never eat yellow snow, always wear matching bra and knickers.

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