Continuing with my Sunday Artist Interviews, now it’s it’s 5 month and going brilliantly! I can’t even describe how happy I am that these have caught on… Please do take a look back at the other artists who have willingly answered the questions, but for now, here’s the lovely Jo from Patternorium to tell us who she is and of course, her favourite cheese…
First of all, who are you?
Hi folks, I’m Jo part hippy, part goth, whole entire staff and creative force behind Patternorium the Surface Pattern company with a Victorian Gothic aesthetic and gorgeously unique home decor products. My work is mostly concept based and I love the research side of my work just as much as the designing! I am drawn to themes and issues such as the life and death cycle or mental health, although I have been known to draw the odd cute animal when asked! I live in the West Midlands with my other half, who is a master carpenter, My son who is at Art college and my daughter who is just about to start secondary school and who is a ‘demon child’ (her words) and a published author!
I graduated from University of Wolverhampton with a First in BA (hons) Fashion and Textiles in 2014 and a distinction in MA Applied Arts in 2016, that’s when I began running Patternorium full time. As well as designing, making and selling my own product line, I also sell designs direct to manufacturers, create public artworks and events/exhibitions, run workshops and run fashion and textiles Saturday clubs for 14-16 year olds. I also lecture at University of Wolverhampton on several different modules including CAD design, screen printing, creative Industries, and on the Foundation course.
When you were asked (all those years ago!), “what do you want to be when you grow up?” What did you answer?
My original goal in life was to be a dancer in Pan’s People on Top of the Pops. I loved dance, I took tap, ballet, country dancing, and my favourite.. disco dancing classes. I won lots of competitions and assumed I would go on to be the greatest dancer of all time, however when I was 14 I discovered alcohol and boys and all that training went right out of the window. I decided then I was more suited to be a penniless tortured artist, always on the move, slightly crazy, drinking, doing drugs…..a bit like the beat poets…but with less words and more pictures. Luckily my second choice worked out for me just fine!
What is the funniest thing as an artist that has ever happened to you?
Can’t think of anything specific but to be honest people laugh when they are around me everyday….I’m hilarious, they don’t call me ‘funny Jo’ for nothing y’know……. oh hang on…hmmm!
What is the hardest part of being creative?
Not enough TIME! Time is my enemy, I have soooo many ideas for new designs, new products, how to grow my business, amazing events I should get involved with. But dividing my time between my business and working 3 days at the University plus looking after my kids and all their school activities, there is just never the time to do everything (or even a small portion of) all the things I would like to. I get up at 6.30am and go to bed at 3.30am every day and I’m still always behind Gah!
What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?
You need people! Although I don’t have help with the actual work load of my business, what I do have is a ton of support/advice/networking/opportunities from friends and other small business owners I have met. Everyone you meet can help you in some way. I am friendly, I talk A LOT and I love meeting new people, this is the reason my business has grown as quickly as it has. Join online groups (specific to what you do and your interests, not just random generalised rubbish groups!), do online markets, do real life markets/events. If I’m in an exhibition I turn up to the open evening and talk to everyone there. You need exposure and to get your name out there, you can have the best product in the world but if no one knows it exists they can’t buy it. Getting noticed is hard. I join in things whenever I can, meeting new people opens up new market areas. I do things for free, I give stuff away…it’s all good marketing and I have always got more customers back from it than the cost of my time I have given for free or the stock item….Also have a niche, you can be amazing at something, but if everyone else is doing the same something you won’t get noticed in the masses. Be different, get noticed, find a USP that really is unique to you.
What subjects inspire you?
Ah…Inspiration is one thing I don’t run out of. I am most attracted to themes such as the life/death cycle, mental health, evolution, mythology, history and religion. However I have been known to fit all sorts of designs/subject matter into a Victorian Gothic aesthetic if asked to, and if I like the result that gives me more inspiration for things I wouldn’t normally have tried. Gothic buildings, the works of William Burges, Books, films, lines from songs, exhibitions are regular sources of inspiration, however just walking down the road and looking at old buildings or seeing the silhouettes of trees against the sky, or even dreams I have can all throw up ideas, I literally have a notebook with me at all times and write several ideas down every day….far more than I can ever complete.
Who are the 3 greatest living artists in your opinion? (they don’t have to be famous!)
Gah this is tricky, I start getting sidetracked with thoughts of what makes a great artist.. is it the concept, or the final artwork or their influence on their respective fields hmm… I’m going to ignore the word greatest and pretend the question is.. ‘who are your favourite artists?’. (I’ve also ignored the 3 and put 5 because decisions aren’t my strong point haha!) 1) Timorous Beasties, a Scottish textile design duo, who do mainly fabrics and wallpapers but are very innovative and forward thinking in their field. 2) Audrey Kawaski A Californian painter, who paints ethereal girls in oil paint on wood. 3) Mark Ryden also an American Painter who is known as the Godfather of pop-surrealism. 4) Klaus Haapeniemi from Finland who is another textile/surface pattern designer, love his weird creatures and patterns. 5) Jeff Zimmer UK artist who makes 3D layered glass paintings full of atmosphere with a Victorian Gothic styling. If you haven’t heard of any of these people go check them out, they are amazing. Also I could have listed a hundred people here who I love and are just as talented!
Who are the 3 greatest dead artists in your opinion?
Again just my favourite artists, and again 5 of them haha! 1) William Burges Honestly no favouritism because we share the same name! He was an amazing Victorian ‘Art-Architect’ in that he designed Gothic Revival buildings and the art within them. My favourites are Cardiff Castle and Castle Coch in Wales, but I love everything he ever did. 2) William Morris as a textile designer I’m kinda obliged to add him as he is such a major influence in the field, love his work all beautiful and sophisticated patterns. 3) Harry Clarke an Irish Stained glass designer and book illustrator….his work is very similar to Aubrey Beardsley who I also love. Two of my favourite books are ‘Salome’ by Oscar Wilde with artwork by Aubrey Beardsley and ‘Tales of Mystery and Imagination’ by Edgar Allan Poe which was illustrated by Harry Clarke. 4) William Blake Well no introduction needed here…love his poetry and his painting! 5) Albrecht Durer wonderful paintings, engravings and woodcuts, Again I could have listed hundreds more. I love all the Pre-Raphaelites, Arts and crafts movement, Beat poets and Gothic artists.
What is your favourite work of art you have ever produced?
My favourite work is my 3m x 3m installation at Wolverhampton Art Gallery for my Masters exhibition. It was a wooden Gothic structure built into a spiral 2.5m tall with 24 wallpapers with different designs on hanging from lasercut acrylic panels that lit up with Led lights. On the outside of the spiral were 3 windows with fused/printed and etched glass tiles. In the middle of the spiral were fabric hangings and a large wooden Zoetrope, a manual one where you could turn the handle yourself. It was the culmination of a 2 year project looking at the relationship between Creativity and Mental illness, entitled ‘Altered States’. The spiral was symbolic of the spiralling thoughts that can hamper daily life of people with Mental issues. The designs were all based on different types of Altered states both accidental and Intentional, some of the main inspirations were ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, ‘The Doors of Perception’ by Aldous Huxley, Timothy Leary’s Harvard Psilocybin Research Program in the early 60’s, Syd Barrett, and other notable artists of considered ‘mad genius’. As it was so huge…and in a spiral…and in a darkened room it was hard to take decent photos of…it looked much better in real life honest!
What was the last piece of art you sold?
My last order was for 3 cushions, which were 3 of my most popular designs. My Bat and my Deaths Head Moth designs out sell all my others about 5 to 1, my Black and Gold Spring Ressurrection design is relatively new but already its overtaken sales of lots of my older designs.
And finally… Because this is really important….
What’s the best type of cheese? (haha)
Oh everyone knows it’s Cheesecake!