Brand focus: Lisa Jones Studio
One half of the team behind Lisa Jones Studio, makers of cool cards, prints and books, Lisa Jones tells us about her creative process
How did Lisa Jones Studio get started?
‘I came south to study Fine Art where I met Edward, a Londoner. We house-shared for a while and hit it off a bit too well! Around 2000, I began stocking local boutiques with a capsule range of cards silkscreen-printed on our kitchen table in Stoke Newington.’
Where you live and work?
‘We live in the much-modified remains of a windmill’s roundhouse on the edge of gorgeous Lewes. Lo and behold, it can get pretty windy! I have a garden studio to manufacture, store and dispatch our goods. Edward works indoors on the dining table he made and, if he’s got a big job on, tip-taps on the Mac until the early hours.’
What’s it like working with your partner? Any bickering over whose turn it is to make the tea?
‘I suppose there have been times of push and pull, usually differing views on new products, commercialism vs success and, more rarely, aesthetics. But, with our roles defined, it’s largely harmonious and even enjoyable. It’s always his turn to make the tea!’
What’s your favourite card design and the one you like to give? (Ours is probably “Butty Bear”!)
‘“Butty Bear” is something of a signature piece, I still love him. There have been a couple of game-changers for us that – without meaning to sound disingenuous – have since become industry staples: the first sausage dog where the artwork utilised the card’s reverse or the Eye Test (both from 2005) or, more generally, those with characters head-on and cropped as though they’re in a photo portrait. These days it’s all kids’ birthday parties and I like to give “Dragon Breath”. For adults it has to be “Maria”, the little black cat drinking from a saucer.’
What’s your favourite thing to draw?
‘It’s got to be cats, they’re a series of triangles. It’s always fun to watch Edward absentmindedly adopting the expression of an animal he’s doodling.’
What inspires you creatively?
‘For me right now, it’s ceramics all the way: Ken Price or Betty Woodman. Edward is wild over antiquities, any of the impossibly beautiful things from early civilisations. He comes over all unnecessary in the British Museum.’
What’s your design ethos?
‘We’ve always responded to bold, visually inventive or decorative pieces with a strong sense of fun or joie de vivre, without tipping into more saccharine comforts. An ethos perhaps best expressed through our influences: near-household names and playful giants of Modernism, Olle Eksell, Paul Rand or Lois Ehlert.’
Tell us about your creative process…
‘Edward only ever puts pen to paper when there’s a job on. He begins with the best of intentions, but finds the floor is soon scattered with scraps of cut-out paper and pastel dust.’
Does your son Orson influence what you design? Does he have favourites?
‘If his initial reaction is good, it’s all the validation I need. We’ve begun to consult him on colour choices – this may well prove our undoing! He used to have an opinion about our clothes and almost everything else; lately he just says it’s none of his business.’
Is Orson artistic like you?
‘We are constantly astonished and delighted by everything he makes (and believe me, he’s prolific), I’m sure most parents feel the same. Like all children, he has a pretty creative, sometimes sophisticated, way of interpreting the world, but our own insecurities mean we over-stress the importance of academic foundations too!’
Which books does he love?
‘My word, have we been made to read some rubbish… time and time again! Anything to get them reading though, right? Family tastes converge on Tomi Ungerer, Marc Boutavant and Alice Melvin’s High Street. Luckily he loves local boy, Will Mabbitt’s I Can Only Draw Worms and we’ve had a lot of mileage from Eve Titus’ Anatole series (read in an unabashed ‘Allo, ‘Allo accent). We’ve also managed to sneak in a few amazing titles from illustrators like Gaetan Doremus, Taro Gomi, Kozo Kakimoto, Delphine Durand and that latter-day Richard Scarry, Tor Freeman.’
What’s your décor style?
‘Lewes is dangerous for someone with a predilection for junk; we’re surrounded by flea markets and boot sales. Our place is a little like the old TV ad where a tide of detritus rolls up and down the living room. Sometimes some of it sticks.’
We love your recent baby books. Are you working on any more?
‘Thank you, it turned out well in the end… Zoo, Park, Farm and Christmas are a series of four baby books. Edward is working on an early words book, too. He has a picture book, Big Box, Little Box, with writer Caryl Hart and another, One Shoe, Two Shoes out soon. A third title, Bears Love Squares, is in the pipeline.’
Tell us about your beautiful pottery…
‘You like my pottery? Thanks! It’s what I feel most natural doing, though I’ll admit my mind is turning away from the wheel, to less practical, statement pieces. I do evenings at the Star Pottery with Mohamed Hamid and one day a week at Chelsea. Afterwards, I hope to do an MA in Sussex. Life-long learning!’