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Utility Follows : Anthony Lee

An interview with Liverpool based photographer, Anthony Lee.

Anthony Lee is a Liverpool based freelance photographer and content creator with a penchant for “casual fits and lifestyle bits”. Having recently moved into a new house with his partner Lauren and two adorable miniature dachshunds, Anthony has been busy styling his home as well as his wardrobe.

We caught up with Ant over a freshly brewed coffee and had a good chat about style, inspiration, interiors, Liverpool life and more. Check out the conversation below.

Q. You’re pushing almost 18,000 followers on Instagram right now. Where did that all start?

Oh man, I don’t even know. After 10k it just kind of shot up, along with the amount and scale of work I had coming in, I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. I remember trying to start out, (this was a while back and we were still living in London) I was only following a couple of guys on Instagram at the time, you know, like Oli Hooson and Matt Buckets, and I’d really only been using the platform on a more social level, I guess like everyone else? 

Anyway, I’ve always had a camera in hand at every opportunity, I used to do photo walks by myself around central super early in the morning, taking pictures of architecture and street bits. Lauren was doing more of the fashion stuff at the time so I just kind of fell into that whole “Insta-husband” role of constantly snapping for her. That’s probably where it all started, I had a small passion for menswear and design at the time, I regularly shopped at Carhartt WiP and took most of my style cues from there - that’s how I got into the workwear / skatewear / outdoors kind of aesthetic. And yeah, the rest is history...

Q. How would you describe your personal style? 

Right now? I’m not too sure, it’s definitely a blend of several styles. At the moment I’m big on this whole 80s / 90s American Sportswear vibe so you’ll see a lot of boxy sweats, basic tees and “dad” sneakers on my feed. But mash that in with some more current Japanese and technical outdoors aesthetics? It’s kind of confusing.

I guess I’ve kind of collected hints of styles I like along my “journey”, which ultimately took me to where I’m currently at today. So, to answer the question I’d probably go for; Japanese minimal, technical, loose, street, sportswear.

Q. What influences your style and where/what do you go to for inspiration?

Mostly instagram actually, it’s sort of become a moodboard for menswear and design aesthetics, I’m seeing something new almost everyday. I mean that and the odd magazine, there’s nothing like just sitting down with a coffee in the morning and having a good flick through.

Q. How has lockdown been treating you? Have you been able to stay creative whilst staying home / social distancing?

Considering the circumstances, I think lockdown has been fairly chilled, I’ve been enjoying my time off work. It’s been a little like the school summer holidays, but with alcohol..

Regarding my creativity, it’s a tricky one, it’s kind of been on and off since this all started. I’ll go through a phase of being super inspired and shooting everything in sight, then spend a couple days after just lounging around, playing Xbox and watching films. The only consistency I’ve really found with all this is making sure I take at least one photo a day, just to keep the mind ticking over. 

Q. I guess spending more time at home has given you a fair amount of time to think about which furniture, lighting and decorative pieces to add to your new place, right? During that process have you seen any similarities between your menswear style and your interior preferences?

Yeah, definitely. It’s been a real eye-opener spending so much time in the house. Spaces and rooms that never got much love really start to grate on you whereas you used to just ignore them on your way out the door.

I’ve definitely become a lot more selective with my spending habits, not sure whether it’s just my age or the fact that the future is so uncertain with finances, but yeah, I’m being mega picky. In terms of similarities between my interior design choices and personal style, I try to select my interiors to reflect my personal style if that makes sense? So a lot of the colour palettes I tend to wear will appear in my interior tones. That, and ultimately, comfort is key, I try to make my living spaces clean, warm and inviting, somewhere I’d be able to sit in a comfy pair of sweats and just enjoy the environment.

Q. Which interior brands have you had your eye on?

Probably just the big ones, Vitra, Muuto, Menu, Frama and Hay. I’m still learning about brands and designers, I’d definitely consider myself a novice at the minute. I generally go by aesthetic for most of my interior choices however the history of a brand is something I need to work more on, I think when you’re spending the kind of money you spend on these kinds of brands, you’re not just buying a piece of furniture, you’re buying into a lifestyle and culture. Similar to the way I buy clothes.

Q. You’ve done a great job on the house so far. We love the Tylko storage / display unit (and the Menu JWDA of course). Do you have a specific area in mind to tackle next, and if so are there any particular products you’re at for the space?

Thanks, yeah, Tylko are great for storage solutions and completely painless as far as setup goes. So my head’s been turned to the bedroom now, at the moment it’s been super basic as most of our attention has been focussed on getting the living room sorted. But we’ve recently put a new Normann CPH Amp Lamp in there and I’m thinking maybe a Menu WM String Lounge Chair to go alongside? I’ve had most of the design say in our living room so far, so I think Lauren will be taking the reins for the bedroom as it’s all for her makeup and stuff. I’m just making sure I get a nice chair in there.. Maybe some String shelving too?

Q. As an independent company ourselves we love championing local businesses and we think it’s even more important to do so now when we’re all adapting to lockdown. Are there any local eateries, bars or coffee shops that you’ve been buying from during lockdown, that you can recommend to our readers?

Totally, it’s definitely the independents that have been hit the hardest out of everyone in the current climate. I can’t even begin to imagine what kind of stress and pressure they must be under to keep business afloat. It’s really amazing to see how some of these small businesses have adapted and adjusted their craft in response to Covid 19.

So I’m waiting patiently for my favourite to reopen, I think they might be doing takeout at the moment or something? Anyway, Mother Espresso is always on my hitlist. We’ve also been buying loads (too much) of wine from Bunch Wine Bar, super tasty and natural wines that have been keeping us tied over during lockdown. I think they do local deliveries across town every Friday. I’ve also purchased a big Ficus from Root Houseplants, getting new greenery into the house really does make a big difference in my books. I’ve also heard that Nomad Coffee has just opened? So there will be a visit there soon in the near future.

Okay, quick-fire round:

Next holiday destination (when it’s possible)?
New York or Japan for definite.

Favourite clothing brand?
Ahh you can’t make me choose something like that haha. But 2 independants I’m wearing currently are Paa and Mfpen.

Favourite menswear store in Liverpool?
I think it would have to be Outsiders Store or Sevenstore to be honest.

Favourite coffee / brunch spot in Liverpool?
Easy, Mother Espresso, this is my meeting spot 95% of the time, just ask Shaun.

Three accounts on IG everyone should follow?
@eyecmag / @yuthanan / @justinryankim probably 3 accounts that are always injecting me with inspiration from new brands, to styling and general lifestyle photography.

Dream furniture purchase?
Don’t judge, but it would probably be a Sofa at the moment, either the Vitra Soft or the Muuto Connect I’d say, paired with a Knoll Bertoia Diamond Armchair in an open plan living room? Oof!

If you'd like to follow Anthony's design and style journey you can do so over on his Instagram account here and blog here.

Time for more? Utility Follows Davy Dooms |  | Utility Follows Charlotte Sintrat Utility Follows Amy Menton | Utility Follows Wouter Kaan

Photography Credit: Anthony Lee

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