The month of May is coming to a close and we are overdue for a studio visit. And woah, is this a nice one. Meet Jo Waterhouse.
Jo Waterhouse is a printmaker and illustrator based in the UK. The first work of hers I saw were her prints on textiles (hello pillow fish) and I loved them. Now with her focus primarily on paper and collage, I love these too. Her aesthetic in pattern, shape and colour are really interesting and fun. Plus, I 100% recommend that you read her blog and her instagram after this. She is able to articulate aspects of a being a working artist in such a real way that resonates, you know?
Name: Jo Waterhouse
Where: Hertfordshire, England
Mediums: illustration and printmaking
How did you come to choose the methods you currently work in?
I’ve moved from fabric to paper based work out of necessity but it’s been my best move for a long time. I had a baby so I couldn’t put in 12 hour shifts at the studio hand printing textiles any more - so now I work from my spare room in the evenings and send all my printing off to be done by someone else.
Another funny thing that happened is that someone I know made an very similar website to mine and some very similar products. It was odd but actually very useful, it made me evaluate the direction I was headed in. I realized I wanted to work more on developing my style: to make pieces that communicated more, it wasn’t the best use of my skills hand-printing everything. So I rebuilt my website and updated my portfolio and now I feel happy sailing in this direction.
What is the best thing about the medium you work in?
I love working in collage because I can re-arrange all the elements of my image so easily, it’s like a manual version of Photoshop. The only thing I hate about it is sticking things down, it’s such a hassle - all the surfaces in my studio are covered in collages that haven’t been stuck down yet.
What do you listen to most in the studio?
Art or business podcasts and hip hop/ r&b. I try to listen to art/educational things: I like Radiolab and all that kind of stuff. But if I need a boost of energy I get a bit of Beyonce on, I bloody love that woman. Sometimes when I’m drawing I can get a bit tied up in the detail, high energy music helps me loosen up and make things more expressive.
What is something in your career that you think differently about now than when you began?
I used to be so scared to put anything out in the world, sometimes because I thought it was so rubbish, sometimes because I thought it was so good that someone would swoop and steal it. Now I just try and get stuff out there because you’ve got to pedal hard to make a dent, you can’t do too much naval gazing.
When I first started out I would feel a bit guilty about making money by basically having a nice time, but now I realize that I’ve got a very specific skill set and I’ve got to work with it rather than push against it and go after a ‘real job’. I had to re-learn that lesson after becoming a Mum because it felt irresponsible to be self employed with a baby to look after but actually it’s the best option for me; it’s so very flexible.
What’s your guilty pleasure T.V. show ?
I watch First Dates, do you know it? It’s set in a restaurant and you get to watch people going on first dates together which is totally cringe. But ultimately it’s always uplifting because people find matches - even the most odd people usually end up finding their perfect bizarre match and it’s really lovely.
I also like a bit of RuPaul, obviously.
What sort of ideas are you currently interested in?
I worked as an antiques dealer for a long time and I’m still interested in junk and people who make a living by their wits and recycling the detritus of modern life. I also like folklore and at the moment I’m thinking I’ll make a series of artworks concerned with both those things: a kind of modern folklore with some domesticity and objects chucked in. I’ve moved out of London recently to Hertfordshire where it’s a funny mix of rural and light industry on a very flat landscape and I find it quite inspiring: it’s shabby but hardworking.