With a background in documentaries, as well as some award-winning stints as Creative Director of FilmFour and More4, Liz Unna's understanding of what makes people tick is present from the get-go.

Always aiming to choose work that honours women’s stories, the Kode Media director has put out work for Samsung, American Airlines, M&S, Age UK, the NSPCC, Google, Dove, Microsoft, and Volkswagen, with The Unquiet Film Series for The Times and Sunday Times seeing her win two D&AD pencils, several British Arrows, and two Cannes Lions.

Here, Unna gives us a glimpse at the hand-crafted and personal items that give her creative impulses meaning, from spectacularly original custom cards to a hell of a story behind a name...

The Notebook

I sure do love notebooks. 

I steal my kids’ half-empty ones from school or buy cheap crappy cahiers de brouillon in France. 

I go through so many. I always start a project with written thoughts, a lil scribbled idea. I write notes during calls and interviews, and I must admit, the chicken scratch handwriting? I can barely read it myself. 

Eventually, it all makes sense, but it can take a while to decipher the odd markings. 

I’m stuck with it now - I cannot improve it no matter how hard I try. 

Someone told me once that my handwriting, while completely illegible, looks happy. 

I’ll take that.

The Cards

My daughters have always made me incredible cards for Mother’s Day and Birthdays... each one unique and often nuts. 

Being their mother is the coolest. 

I took a lot of time off when they were little, even quitting my beloved Channel 4 job to look after them. 

Some were horrified by this. It’s not what professional women do - it’s not exactly ‘leaning in’. I leaned so far out I thought I’d never work in the industry again. 

But gradually the work came back, and I slowly figured out how to make it work my way. 

It’s always good to swap war stories, so if anyone is struggling in the dance between creative life and motherhood, hit me up.

The O'Keeffe

Oh Georgia. She is the original. 

I’m from New Mexico and grew up with her art everywhere, but only really got to understand her recently, as we are developing a feature doc about her. 

She was such a liver of life and so exquisitely finely tuned into the beauty of the world. 

Her work came first before everything - she’d even move to her isolated Ghost Ranch house in the summer so she wouldn’t be distracted by the beautiful garden in her Abiquiu house. 

I wonder how she’d have managed with an iPhone. She collected bones and rocks. 

I read that on a rafting trip through the Grand Canyon, her friend found a smooth black stone that Georgia coveted. He wouldn’t give it to her, and she fumed. 

Later he invited Georgia to his house and had the stone on display. 

She stole it, thinking he didn’t notice. 

I find this delightful; her attachment to rocks is something I relate to. 

I have bags of them in every cupboard.

The Note

Raymond Briggs was a very reluctant subject of a Channel Four documentary I made ten years or so ago. 

I came to see what a genius he is by talking to other artists who were influenced by him. 

If you haven’t read Ethel and Ernest, get it now! 

During the many long drives to his house in the South Downs, I’d drive slower and slower the closer I got, as I knew he’d be grumpy when I got there. 

He could not understand why anyone was interested in him as a person - surely his work was the more interesting thing? 

I wanted to make a film that reflected his brilliance and worked with a hand-drawn animator to animate certain episodes of his life. 

I really hoped he’d love the film, as painful as the process was for him, so receiving this note from him was a very proud moment.

The Name Plate

My grandmother Maya was a Swedish/Austrian doctor in Berlin in the 30’s and had to flee Germany. 

Her father, Stefan Grossman, had been a writer and critic in Vienna and wrote scathingly about Hitler as he rose to power. 

She and my grandfather were lucky to escape and come to the States. I am American because of this. 

Maya’s life reminds me how fragile our security is, especially when madness is at the helm. 

I’ve lived in Europe since I was 12 and our family seems to be condemned to forever travel back and forth across the Atlantic, dragging furniture, heirlooms, and cherished belongings with us... I don’t have a sense of national identity and while I used to wish I did, I now feel free. 

What did Theresa May say? A citizen of the world is a citizen of nowhere. 

That’s me.

The Vase

Abigail Schama is one of my dearest friends, and this is an early piece of hers. 

We are making a film together for a show she is in at the Freud Museum, in Anna Freud’s room. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about clay, thread, materiality and making beautiful things with your hands. What working with your hands frees up in the intellect. 

Anna Freud was a weaver, and Freud believed weaving to be the only technique attributable to female ingenuity. 

He thought the motivation was women’s need to cover their ‘genital deficiency’. 

Silly Freud.

The Finger

Sometimes you just need to flip someone the bird. 

Many teenagers have tried to steal my finger. 

I have no idea where it’s from, but I’m quite attached to it. 

Not literally though.