Lou Taylor, Jennifer Loiselle and Rachael have a chat!

This article first appeared in the HZ Zine which we released in August and all the copies were gone before the Edinburgh Festival was even over! This is the unedited version, so grab a cuppa and settle down for a long read…

I was so excited to work Lou Taylor on the cover of our latest zine and was inspired to involve another designer to create a range of jewellery based on Lou’s ideas. When I mentioned the name Jennifer Loiselle, Lou’s reaction told me I was onto a winner!

The collaboration turned out to be a dream project as we soon realised that we had lots of similar influences and working habits. We decided to have this little round robin email exchange to find out more about each others style and working methods.

PAST LIVES?!

L to R: You must spend hours in your beautiful shop,  but if you could spend a night in any shop anywhere in the world where would it be and why?

R to L: Two shops spring to mind immediately, but top of the list is the Comfort Station shop on Cheshire Street, London. It’s so utterly beautiful and when I was opening the HZ shoppe I often wished I could just copy it entirely! Even though it’s small, I’m sure I could spend a night there trying on all the lovely things and gazing jealously at the wonderful displays.

The second shop is Tokyu Hands, (in Tokyo strangely enough). It’s a mega craft store over about 7 floors with absolutely every craft item you could ever want to buy –  fabric, stickers, cards, cooking and baking stuff, acrylic, gocco supplies, silly washing- up sponges shaped like ghosts – I could go on. It’s ace and so easy to spend HOURS filling trolleys of crazy Japanese goods so an overnight would be no problem!

J to R: Oh Rachael, I love Tokyu Hands! I lived in Tokyo for a year about 8 years ago and it really opened my eyes to how amazing retailing and merchandising could be! I also need to come up and visit your store. I’ve never been to Edinburgh before but I’ve been told it’s a great city.

R to J: Tell me about your time in Japan? Was it work or pleasure and where did you stay?

J to R: Oh Japan –  I had such a great and crazy year there! I taught English and wrote freelance for a few publications. I lived in Naka Meguro in Tokyo, which is this cool little suburb, quite central with lots of amazing cafes and shops. I remember just leaning on what I thought were normal doorways in alleys (don’t ask!) and they would give way and open up to all sorts of secret places. One was a super cool bar, decorated like a clockwork orange set, manned by two cute girls in 60s outfits with matching bobs – I’m disappointed I never knew the name of the place and have no recollection of where it is any more. I’m pretty desperate to go back for a much needed visit, hopefully that’s a trip that will be happening soon.

R to L: Lou – How did you make your way to paper cutting? What’s your creative history?

L to R: Well.. I’ve always done creative bits here and there. My mum’s a painter, so it definitely runs in the family and I think we have a similar style.. She trained as a textile designer, which really shows in her work and I’d love to design fabrics too. Her website is www.dorsetpaintings.co.uk if you want to take a look.

My first papercut was very ‘Rob Ryan‘ and was a commission for the Figleaves website (beautiful undies!). Then my friend Matt Setchell commissioned a pair of alphabet eyelashes for his magazine Twenty6. Since then, I’ve worked on developing my style. Lots of colour and pattern!

Lou Taylor

L to J: Jen, you’ve done some amazing things already –  styling, writing, shoe design. How did you start designing jewellery? What was the first piece you ever made?

J to L: Many, many years ago, back when I was still at uni, I had a friend who had a small jewellery line.I remember very clearly, him teaching me how to make a pair of oversized hoop earrings and having no interest in it whatsoever! Fast forward a decade or so, I was on maternity leave and fairly certain that I didn’t want to go back to a conventional office job, so I started making statement headbands for friends (think giant bows and pom poms) which I then sold on Etsy. They sort of caught on in the blogging world and jewellery  naturally evolved from there.

FUTURE PLANS?

L to R: Rachael, you run an amazing shop, blog, zine and online store. How long have you run HZ for now and is it how you imagined? What plans do you have for the future?

R to L: Aw, shucks. I’ve been doing this now for about 9 years, firstly online and then I opened the shop in 2010. I’d always kind of wanted to open a shop, but I had such a specific idea of what it would be like in terms of location, features etc that I never thought I’d find premises that I liked and didn’t ever get serious about it. Then one day, John happened to look online and saw the shop I’m in now was available to rent – I knew instantly it was going to be perfect! I really love doing what I do.Well, about 95% of the time!

Plans for the future… hmm… I’m not a big planner, I tend to have an lightbulb  moment and run with it. But I have just signed a new 5 year lease on the shop, so I’m planning to stick around and keep doing what I’m doing, but hopefully getting better at it.

L to R:  Well I’m sure HZ will keep going from strength to strength. It’s certainly one of the nicest shops I’m stocked in, especially in terms of how much you collaborate with your artists. Your hard work really shows!

J to R: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to collaborate with Lou, it’s been great fun. Is this something you’ll be doing more of in the future?

R to J: I’ve enjoyed this a lot too! We all seem to be on the same wavelength and have similar artistic influences so it’s been a pretty dreamy scenario. It’s been fun tying Lou’s paper cut shop window and zine cover in together with your jewellery and I’d really like to repeat the process again. I think the zine will be a yearly thing, so hopefully next years issue will be as amazing as this one!

WORK AND INSPIRATION:

R to L:  Lou,  before I found your work whenever I thought of papercut art, I thought of whimsical, intricate pieces in the style of  la Rob Ryan. Your work was unlike any paper cutting I’d seen before – so bold and colourful! Where did you gain your influences from?

L to R: I did originally become inspired to try papercutting after seeing Rob Ryan’s work (and I even did some work experience with him), but very quickly I realised his style of papercutting didn’t feel like me at all. I read somewhere that he loves papercutting as it’s so beautiful to create an image or story from just a single piece of paper and not get distracted by things such as colour.I’m the complete opposite – a colour addict! I’ve really worked hard to develop my own style. I love creating patterns and motifs, and although it drives me crazy, making 25 flamingos or pineapples is strangely rewarding!

Style influences range from Mr Snippy (real name Michael Roberts – an amazing artist/papercutterwho worked for Vanity Fair in the 80s/90s) to Andy Warhol’s early 50’s fashion illustration. With everything from Busby Berkeley‘s dance routines, 60s fashion photography, kimonos, Pop Art like Patrick Caufield, to Yayoi Kasuma, Diana Vreeland and  Jacques Tati films in between!

I also love contemporary designers and photographers like Fred Butler, Camille Walala, Bela Bosordi, Anna Lomax, Lacey, Thom Browne. Too many to mention!

The love in continues!

L to J: If you could design a piece of jewellery for anyone who would it be and what would you design?

J to L: Ooh good question Lou! If I could design a piece for anyone, it would be Yayoi Kusama.  I am totally in love with her and her work. I think we share the same obsession with polka dots and repeat patterns. I can only hope to be as  actively creative as her when I’m in my 80s.

J to L: I know that you work on a lot of commissions, what would your ‘dream’ project be?

L to J: I love Yayoi Kasuma’s work so much! I keep meaning to read her novels, too. I have her Alice in Wonderland –  its so beautiful and  unusual to see someone interpret a classic story in such an individual way.

A dream commission? Crikey.I’m really enjoying working on your lookbook Jen. I love fashion illustration and plan to create more along the lines of my papercut collars. And you’ve mentioned a book of paperdolls which I think is such a great idea. I loved paper dolls when I was young! So yes, maybe combining my love for paperdolls and female icons such as Carmen Miranda and Josephine Baker. Oh and there may be some jewellery coming soon based on my papercuts. And I really will make silk scarves from my designs one day soon!

R to J and L: I love that we’re all huge Yayoi Kusama fans! And so weird, I used to make paper dolls of my friends for presents, and have their favourite clothes cut out with little tabs on – I think you should definitely do a paperdoll book, Lou!

J to L and R: I’m sure you both have probably seen it, but the documentary on Yayoi called “I Love Me” is well worth watching.

L to R: You made papercut dolls for your friends in their favourite outfits – what would a papercut doll of you wear?! Money is no object when it comes to paper couture!

R to L: I’d probably create my own clothes for my papercut doll, so it would be a 50’s style dress with short sleeves and a buttoned-up front, maybe made with fabric printed from one of your paper cuts and jewellery by Jennifer – haha!

J to L: OK Lou, you seem to be planning on working with more mediums other than paper, obviously you see your paper cuts as a stepping off point for other projects. How do you manage it all  – is it a juggling task, do you have a clear plan or path? I only ask, as I think my business has evolved quite organically and I’m not much of a planner, but thinking perhaps I should be!

L to J: I think I’m like you Jen – I don’t really have a plan at all – I’m a bit of an octopus grabbing at lots of ideas at the same time! I think juggling can be a good thing to keep ideas flowing but I should also probably concentrate on one thing at a time too –  it’s hard not to get carried away! But I also see these collaborations as an excellent way to pick other peoples brains and see how they work.

L to J and R: What music do you listen to /will you listen to this Summer in your studio/shoppe?

J to L: Oh is the music question is for me too? If so, I will be listening to Kendrick Lamar, he has a total 90s hip hop vibe, which reminds me of my teens.

Rachael to Lou: We all have our own playlists in the shoppe so what we listen to depends on who’s in charge of the laptop! My favourite playlist for a sunny day and guaranteed to get customers (and my) feet tapping has old stuff like Little Richard, Wanda Jackson, Jackie Wilson, The Ronettes – it makes me feel so cheerful! Gill, who is putting together the zine worked in the shoppe for a while and she left us with some wonderful playlists, we totally have the same tastes!

Lou to R &  J: Ooh re music – I share our ‘studio’ (ie spare bedroom!) with my boyfriend Rich who’s a motion graphics designer (animator!) so we kind of take it in turns to play music, but it’s normally my choice! I’ve recently discovered a band called Waxahatchee who I love.. but also love bands like tUnE-yArDs, a bit of Salt’n’Pepa .. and I found a Spotify playlist of all the Wes Andersen soundtracks which is great!

J to L: Lou, I love Wes Anderson films and soundtracks, especially The Royal Tenenbaums l’ll also have to download the rest of your playlist.

J to R:  You approached me very early on when I first started out and think you may have been one of my first retail stockists which I’m very thankful for! You obviously are on the lookout for new designers, is there any advice you can offer as a retailer to anyone with a fledging jewellery or accessories line?

R to J: I think I saw your jewellery on What Katie Wore which was one of my favourite blogs when it was around and emailed you within about 5 minutes of spotting it, I loved it so much! So much advice but I think the most important things to me is firstly the quality of your work closely followed by your organisational skills. If a designer can come to me with a well designed line sheet with clear pricing structure and then stick to a delivery deadline, it really makes the difference and can often be the deciding factor in whether I’ll order from them again. But to be honest, if you are making truly amazing things, a lot can be forgiven!

J to R &L: I loved What Katie Wore, was very sad when it ended! What blogs do you visit frequently, and what makes you come back to them more than once?

R to J: What Katie Wore was a great blog. I loved how Joe wrote about Katie, it was really sweet.
What keeps me going back to blogs? Mainly the writing I think, good pictures and I  love a fashion blogger with a nice smile!

L to J:  I love a blog called The Cutting Class (but its only really updated each Fashion Week), Fred Butler’s blog, It’s Nice That, and July Stars.

L to R: Do you often end up buying stock because you can’t bear to see it sold? It must be dangerous!

R to L: I have a rule of only wearing jewellery from the shop and have a section in my bedroom that’s like a mini Hannah Zakari! I’ve actually learned to be pretty good about buying stuff and if there’s something I must have I’ll order extra next time so I can keep one for myself –  it seems to work.

L to J: Jen, how do you juggle mumhood with your business? Allegra (Jennifer’s daughter) is so beautiful! Do you ever design jewellery for her?

J to L: Aw shucks, I think Allegra’s pretty cute too, but I’m biased. Answering your question: It’s soooo hard juggling being a mum and having a business. I’ve been lucky however as she’s fairly independent and totally gets that sometimes I have to work while she plays. She’s also been in some sort of part-time childcare since she was one and I work solidly while she’s at nursery. I think the trick is to be as organised and focussed as possible.

I do make jewellery for Allegra – perspex clip on earrings and necklaces which she often helps to put together. She loves feeling like she’s a ‘grown up’!

R to L and J: If I’m going to actually fit this in the zine we need to wrap this up! So, final question to you both – We’ve all said that we’re not big planners but what about the short term? Any other collaorationss or new ranges coming up in the next few months? What can zine readers be looking forward to from you both?

Lou: Next collab is a window for a shop in Brighton who sell my work – lifesize synchronised swimmers! And I’m getting much more organised about having prints, wrapping paper and cards available of my work.

Jen: My next collection will continue with mixed media pieces. Look out for laser cut perspex talismans, incorporating new woven ribbon techniques and semi-precious stones.

I can’t thank you both enough for your contribution to the zine and the shoppe, it’s been a delight to workwith you both!

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