GRINtroducing: Lucky Pablo
Creators of Lucky Pablo, creative duo Jane Anderson and Ally Standing join us for a chat.
1) Hi Jane and Ally! Thanks for taking part in our GRINtroducing series. For those who don’t know about Lucky Pablo, can you tell us more about it?
Hi! Lucky Pablo is a project we started last year, involving playful, colourful, and folk-inspired designs. We initially started off with drawing simple compositions made up of shapes, forms, and grids. Illustration is still central to the project, but since then we’ve expanded our range to include homewares, merch, and more recently collage and painting too.
2) How did Lucky Pablo first come about? What inspired you to start creating work together?
In March 2020, at the start of the first COVID lockdown, we started doodling as a bit of a stress reliever and a welcome distraction from the events that were unfolding at the time. There was something quite mindful about the process of the drawings we were making, and before long, we knew we wanted to turn it into a bigger project. Since then, we’ve been trying to spread a bit of joy through our work. The world can be a dark and scary place, and we wanted to start creating work that would be a bit of a visual pick-me-up.
3) You’ve been involved in plenty of events and exhibitions recently. We saw your work at Birmingham Design Festival’s Creative City Exhibition and you’re part of the Gratitude installation that was recently on show in Chamberlain Square, before going on to Manchester, London, and finally Edinburgh. What is your favourite thing about events like these and do you have any others coming up?
It’s been great to be a part of so many exciting events recently. After so long without physical gatherings, it was wonderful to see the city’s creative community coming together in real life for the BDF exhibition – not only to celebrate the brilliant work that had been made, but also to raise money for SIFA Fireside, a homelessness charity in Birmingham. Similarly, the Wild in Art Gratitude sculptures will be auctioned off after being exhibited around the country and the proceeds will be donated to NHS Charities Together – so it’s a great way to give a little back through our work, and to say thank you to the NHS staff and key workers that have got us through the last 18 months.
We’ve got a few exciting things in the pipeline – later this month we’re taking part in an IG live interview with global illustration community Inkygoodness, and we’re also going to be running a workshop for the lovely folk at Port Loop’s Civic Square. As well as that, we’ve got a few collaborations coming up in the next few months, so keep your eyes peeled!
4) What is it like working together? What does your collaborative process look like?
For most couples, it would probably be a nightmare to live, work, and create together – but we honestly love working collaboratively and vibe off each other’s creative energy. In terms of our process, it’s quite fluid and organic. Sometimes we draw individually, and sometimes we ‘pass and play’; literally working on the same piece and passing it between us. The ideas for our compositions also come about in quite a collaborative way – we’re continually borrowing shapes and forms that the other one has come up with. More than anything, our process is FUN! We love to get stuck into a creative sesh: materials out, music on, a couple of beers on the go, and we just go for it. We don’t put pressure on ourselves to make work in a certain way, and we embrace wonkiness and happy accidents.
“We don’t put pressure on ourselves to make work in a certain way, and we embrace wonkiness and happy accidents.”
5) If you could give any advice to someone starting out in Art and Design, what would it be?
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Looking at things like IG and Pinterest, all you see is finished pieces – we rarely get to see all of the hard work, failures, and self-doubt that has gone into the process. It’s far too easy to compare yourself to others and forget that we all have to start somewhere.
If you are starting out, try doing something that you love and keep pushing and expanding your skills along the way. There is so much good and free content out that there, that you can acquire new skills from watching Youtube with a bit of hard work and dedication. It goes without saying to become good at something you need to invest time and energy into your development. But it’s important to remember: it’s meant to be fun!
6) Do you have a designer/illustrator/filmmaker/creative that you’re currently obsessing over and why?
We really love what Mary Hemingway and her team have done with the @designbywomen_ page. In a relatively short time she’s grown the platform immensely, and it’s great to see her sharing and championing wonderful work by female and non-binary creatives from all over the world. If you haven’t seen it already, make sure you check it out!
7) Aside from Lucky Pablo, what other projects are you most proud of?
Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve started to go on a lot more walks, and have both got really into foraging edible plants and mushrooms. The two of us have developed a keen interest in fungi, and as part of her master’s degree Jane created an online resource called Mycelium Threads, which shares information about fungi and biodesign (an emerging design movement which incorporates the use of living materials). We continue to look for exciting specimens on our walks, and post them on our other Instagram page @myceliumthreads.
Like a lot of people, we really reconnected with nature during the lockdowns, and we love nothing more than spending weekends outdoors and increasing our knowledge of the natural world. A lot of this has had a profound impact on us and comes through in our Lucky Pablo designs. You might have spotted representations of plants, birds, trees… and of course a cheeky mushroom here and there!
8) You are currently both lecturers at Birmingham City University! What is your favourite thing about teaching and working with the next wave of artists and designers?
This sounds a bit cheesy, but we honestly feel like we have the best job in the world. It’s a real privilege to be a part of our students’ creative journeys, and to help them enter the world of work. We’re especially passionate about trying to play our part in changing the status quo in the wider design industry – as we all know, there is still a long way to go to reach anything like equality in a still very white male dominated industry, but we try.
More than anything we love having a laugh with our students; they really inspire us with their ideas, how they solve complex problems, and how they flourish creatively.
“We’re especially passionate about trying to play our part in changing the status quo in the wider design industry.”
9) What do you love about Birmingham? Do you have a favourite spot?
Us Brummies don’t shout about it enough, but Birmingham really is a brilliant place to live and work. We have some amazing architecture – not just the Brutalism we’re famous for, but also some lovely historical examples in places like the Jewellery Quarter – the streets are ripe for exploration and type-spotting. It’s not all brick and concrete either; we’re always bombing about on our bikes enjoying the scenic and green parts the city has to offer, like the canals which are gorgeous. We have an amazing array of parks which we love to visit – and, of course, where we go mushroom hunting!
As well as the environment itself, we also love Brum for its amazing independent scene, which is growing all the time. Not only that, but we have a great creative community – there’s so much to get involved with and it feels genuinely supportive.
More than anything, we love Birmingham because of the people! Brummies are down to earth, friendly, welcoming, and they make the city the vibrant and diverse place it is.
10) Plan B – If you weren’t working in Design, what job could you see yourself working in?
That’s a real tough one, because we love what we do. Perhaps Ally would be a musician or something that involved speaking Spanish, and Jane would be a chef! In all seriousness, if it wasn’t in design, it would be something equally creative, or nature-driven in some way. We like to dream about setting up a foraging school, building a treehouse, and teaching people to cook with the ingredients they find in the natural environment.