The DART Interview: Lucy Jones

By Peggy Roalf   Thursday April 16, 2020

Peggy Roalf: When did you get the idea that art and design would be your life’s work?

Lucy Jones: I’ve been interested in art and design from a young age; it's always felt like the natural path for me to follow. When I left university I worked as a technician in a college in the print department. It was great to have unlimited access to printing facilities where I could have the freedom to experiment. I worked there for 9 years and in that time I did a lot of work for friends and bands, music posters, record covers, T-shirts etc.It helped me develop a visual language that I felt confidant about sharing. I started to think I would like to make art full time around this period, so I began to research how I could make that happen.

PT: Your work has a strong graphic style that makes it seem as much like printmaking as illustration art. Do you use printmaking in your illustration art, or do you bring the graphic style into your illustrations. Can you tell the readers a bit more about your work in printmaking, and bridging the two disciplines? 

LJ: I did a lot of screen printing when I was a technician, but unfortunately, I don't have access to the same facilities at the moment. My process of making illustration remains the same as it would if I were to prepare a screen for printing. I build illustrations and artwork using layers and I use a lot of cut out and collage materials. I don't like to build shapes using the computer; I only use the computer for arranging composition and changing colours. Ideally, I would love to be able to screen print my work again because I love the mistakes and surprises you get with the process of printing, and the fact that you're physically making work with your hands; you don't get that with a computer. I hope I can bring print back into my work soon. I recently bought some equipment that will allow me to print from home, so we'll see what happens!

PR: When did you realize that animation was key to digital communications media? Were you an early adopter of Gifs, and do you find it a natural transition from flat art?

LJ: I first learned about animation processes at university. I loved analogue animation but I wasn't that interested in digital animation. I remember writing a letter using stop-frame, where the words were written on the page as the film played; it was very simple, but also really magical to watch the lines come to life. I think animation can add and extra dimension of emotion and character to an illustration. The first animation brief I received was for Vogue, which required me to make 16 animated illustrations based on love stories. I'd not made a Gif before but I understood the process. I don't involve much movement or narrative when making an animated illustration/Gif; it's usually a static image that has movement in the lines and textures--very simple but it can be really effective and also more engaging than a regular illustration.


PR: I noticed that you use a lot of typography and hand lettering in your art. When/how/why did your interest in these art forms originate?

LJ: I love type and I really enjoy using it in my work when I have the opportunity to do so. I don't always get the chance with editorial illustration as it can distract from the text. I used to make a lot of posters for bands and friends and I think to begin with I was intimidated by typography. I used handwritten text a lot more, but I started to play around using type as an image as opposed to thinking of it as informative text; that's when it started to become more exciting for me. I like using found type that I can scan, sometimes using digital type feels too clean, I don't really like the digital aesthetic. 

PR: Where do you live, and how does that place contribute to your creative work?

LJ: I moved to Rome 2 years ago and I love it. I only started freelancing full time when I moved to Rome so it's been a learning curve, but it's also been amazing. I love the architecture, history and culture, the natural light and colours of the city also really inspire me. And it’s great for people watching.

PR: What changes have you made, in work and in life, to accommodate getting through the restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 virus?

LJ: I am working from home in Rome and I am only leaving the house for food when necessary. Fortunately, I am used to working from home, but I miss the people and interactions we have in our community on a day to day basis. 

PR: What do you consciously do to maintain a positive outlook in this difficult time?

LJ: I try to stick to my regular activities and routines which luckily haven't changed so much. However, it's difficult to find space for a break. I've enjoyed eating food and trying new recipes, making aioli and beans. We are fortunate to have restaurants and bakeries that offer home delivery so we can support our local businesses. We don't have a TV, so it has been good to have limited access to media, but I've been watching films and also making some clothes. 

PR: Please describe your workspace and how it contributes to/or alters the artist’s basic condition of working alone.

LJ: At the moment I live in a very small apartment so my working conditions aren't ideal. I don't have a permanent designated space to work in so  I tend to move around the apartment to suit my needs for comfort. We'll soon move to a bigger apartment where I will have space for a studio. From what I've learnt I think it's important to have a separate area for work; it puts some space between work and life. I sometimes work from a studio in the centre of Rome where I can be around other creative people and also around the Italian language. Working from home can be quite isolating so it's good to have some human connection.

PR: How do you know when the art is finished—or when to stop working on it?

LJ: Sometimes it's hard to know, especially if you've spent a lot of time working on a piece. I like to have the opportunity to revisit the work with fresh eyes, but I don't always have the time to do this. If I'm working on something with a short deadline, it can be quite intense and difficult to know if and when the work is finished. I think the more work you do the more you get used to your process and more familiar you are in knowing when to stop.

PR: What are some of your creative inspirations—artists, music, literature, culture in general—that you draw upon during your working hours?

LJ: I like to look at books for inspiration when I'm working, it's a good way to have time away from the computer screen. Some of my go to books at the moment are Henryk Tomaszewski, Niki De Saint Phalle and Jean Tinguely Posters and Werkman Leben & Werk. I enjoy listening to the radio or music after my sketches have been approved, but when I'm thinking of ideas I prefer to work in silence. I enjoy watching films, and find inspiration in the music, colours, composition, clothes, narrative, its a good way to switch off but remain creatively stimulated.  

PR: What is your favorite activity when you take a short break from the work?

LJ: I like going to the market that's at the end of our street to buy food for the day. It's good to have some interaction, to look at interesting things, to taste nice things etc.

PR: What advice would you give to a young illustrator struggling to find the way into a difficult assignment?

LJ: Try to relax. I find it's really difficult to make work when I'm stressed or anxious. Don't rush, take some time to let the text or brief sink in, maybe go for a walk. Do some research and start to pick out key words from the text if it is an editorial piece. Don't worry, ideas will start to develop, even if it feels like they never will, they always do.

PR: What would be your dream job—the one thing you have always hoped for in an assignment?

LJ: I always love the set design and costume when I see contemporary dance productions. I love the sets that David Hockney designed for opera, and Robert Rauchenberg’s sets and costume for Merce Cunningham’s productions, a project like that would be cool. 

Lucy Jones is an illustrator and printmaker based in Rome. Her playful illustrations combine mark making, line, cutout, type and colour.
Instagram: @lucy.j.o.n.e.s
Tel: +44 7455112614



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