TEA AND A CHAT

Jess Wright and Lara Davies share how they cre­ate joy from their char­ac­ter­ful tex­tile de­sign stu­dio in Mel­bourne, Aus­tralia

Mollie Makes - - Contents - Words: LOTTIE STOREY Pho­to­graphs: JESS AND MARTIN REFTEL EVANS

Meet the cre­ative duo be­hind colour­ful tex­tile de­sign stu­dio Home-Work

Jess Wright and Lara Davies are ob­sessed with print, pat­tern and colour. With a back­ground in cor­po­rate graphic de­sign (Jess) and free­lance fash­ion print de­sign (Lara), the pair’s com­ple­men­tary skills make for an ex­plo­sive mix. Since 2009, they’ve worked to­gether bring­ing colour­ful tex­tile de­signs to life, on screens – both com­puter and mesh­framed – and through teach­ing from their stu­dio, Home-Work HQ.

Jess and Lara run sell-out work­shops at Jam Fac­tory Ade­laide and The Na­tional Gallery of Vic­to­ria, where they’ve also been col­lab­o­rat­ing on an ex­clu­sive range in the gallery’s De­sign Store. And, a love of shar­ing knowl­edge and ex­per­tise with their stu­dents led to their first book, Print Play, be­ing pub­lished ear­lier this year.

While Jess’s de­sire for leop­ard print, se­quins and draw­ing a face on ev­ery­thing might not seem com­pat­i­ble with Lara’s love of flow­ers, plants and pot­tery, we chat to the duo to find out how they bonded over bright colour, bold pat­terns and Bey­oncé to pro­duce prints that are both thought­ful and fun.

De­scribe your style in three words. Bright, bold and joy­ful!

Did you al­ways want to be de­sign­ers? We were both ‘cre­ative’ kids – al­ways draw­ing, al­ways de­sign­ing clothes for our toys. We both have the in­stinct to cover ev­ery­thing in pat­terns, so it was pretty in­evitable that de­sign was al­ways go­ing to be a big fo­cus of our lives.

When you first started out, did you have any par­tic­u­lar am­bi­tions? We wanted to cre­ate fun de­signs and teach peo­ple how to screen print, but we didn’t think too far be­yond that. We just really wanted to share our love of screen print­ing with other peo­ple. It’s so fun and is much more ac­ces­si­ble than most peo­ple think. We have al­ways wanted to write a screen print­ing book, so Print Play is def­i­nitely a dream come true for us.

What’s your typ­i­cal work­ing day like? We live quite far away from each other, so most morn­ings start with a phone call that can last for hours! And we both have kids, so our week­days are usu­ally dic­tated by their sched­ules. On the days we’re teach­ing we ar­rive at the stu­dio,

set up for the work­shop, then spend the day show­ing lovely peo­ple how to screen print. It’s al­ways so much fun! The non­teach­ing days are full of emails, plan­ning ses­sions, post­ing on Instagram, pay­ing bills, send­ing in­voices, cre­at­ing de­signs, clean­ing the stu­dio, strip­ping screens, mix­ing ink colours, drink­ing co ee, lis­ten­ing to true crime pod­casts, heat-set­ting fab­ric, try­ing to re­turn calls, up­dat­ing our web­site, print­ing fab­ric, mak­ing each other laugh, and dis­cussing how there’s a Martha Wain­wright song for ev­ery sit­u­a­tion. Is screen print­ing easy to learn? Ev­ery­thing we teach can be done at home, which means it’s sim­ple for stu­dents to keep print­ing once they’ve left a work­shop. We want peo­ple to keep cre­at­ing and not feel con­strained be­cause they don’t have a huge stu­dio space or fancy equip­ment. But we should men­tion ev­ery piece of cloth­ing we have is cov­ered in ink splat­ters! Do you en­joy any other crafts? We barely have any time for per­sonal craft projects th­ese days, but Lara is an

“We just really wanted to share our love of screen print­ing with oth­ers.”

avid pho­tog­ra­pher and Jess en­joys sewing se­quins onto any­thing she can get her hands on!

Who, or what, in­spires your work? That is such a huge ques­tion! Ev­ery­thing. We both take a lot of pho­tos of the de­tails of our lives, and when we’re de­sign­ing prints, those pho­tos of­ten be­come the jump­ing-o point for new cre­ations. We’ve de­signed prints in­spired by ev­ery­thing, from a favourite child­hood book to the floor­ing of a Los An­ge­les ho­tel lobby.

Take us through your cre­ative process. We usu­ally start by cre­at­ing a huge in­spi­ra­tion wall. You can do this on the com­puter, but we like to do it the old­fash­ioned way. Any­one who vis­its our stu­dio com­ments on the walls – they’re cov­ered with im­ages that in­spire us. We put up pho­tos we’ve taken, sketches we’ve scrib­bled, colours we like, plus all the im­ages we’ve been col­lect­ing: magazine pages, fab­ric sam­ples, post­cards, old wrap­ping pa­per from the thrift store, pho­to­copies of im­ages from old books, brooches from the flea mar­ket, child­hood stick­ers, paint swatches from the hard­ware store. There are no rules! Once the wall gets big­ger, a gen­eral theme and pal­ette start to emerge, and we use th­ese as the ba­sis for draw­ings and paint­ings.

Then we scan th­ese orig­i­nal art­works into the com­puter and use Il­lus­tra­tor and Pho­to­shop to turn them into re­peat pat­terns. We like our de­signs to still have a hand-painted feel, as we don’t like any­thing to be too per­fect! If you were start­ing up now, is there any­thing you would do di er­ently? We’d prob­a­bly be more proac­tive at pro­tect­ing our de­signs. Pla­gia­rism is a huge prob­lem in the de­sign world, and it’s such a bum­mer when you see de­signs be­ing Subscribe at used with­out con­sent. We both al­ways see the best in peo­ple, so it’s still a shock when they steal your stu . Are there any de­sign­ers or cre­ative he­roes you look up to? We’re huge fans of Aus­tralian de­sign roy­alty Jenny Kee and Linda Jack­son, two in­cred­i­ble women who bonded over a love of colour and pat­tern. They rev­o­lu­tionised Aus­tralian tex­tile de­sign in the 70s and 80s and are still cre­at­ing vi­brant, in­spir­ing work. Ev­ery­thing about it makes us happy!

What’s the most im­por­tant busi­ness les­son you’ve learnt along the way? Trust your gut. Whether it’s a new de­sign, a busi­ness op­por­tu­nity or any­thing else, if it doesn’t feel right, it’s prob­a­bly a bad idea. You don’t have to say yes to ev­ery­thing. Ev­ery job teaches you some­thing, even if it’s what not to do! One big les­son was that it’s okay to start small. Even if you only do one thing, make sure you do it well. Tell us your proud­est mo­ment so far. At the Mel­bourne launch of Print Play we had a mo­ment where we looked around the room and felt this in­cred­i­ble surge of love and pride at what we’d cre­ated, and all the amaz­ing peo­ple we’ve had the chance to work with. It was really spe­cial. And what’s been your big­gest strug­gle? That there aren’t enough hours in the day! Do you have any plans for the fu­ture? World dom­i­na­tion? We’re ex­cited to launch our new Home-Work prod­uct range, and hope to keep trav­el­ling the world, teach­ing awe­some peo­ple the joys of screen print­ing. Fi­nally, what’s the best piece of cre­ative advice you’ve ever re­ceived? Time is valu­able, so do your own thing, don’t be hard on your­self and have fun!

01 Lay­er­ing up colour and pat­terns – and adding to the ink-splat­tered apron. 02 Home-Work’s trade­mark bright pink paint be­ing mixed in the stu­dio. 03 The famed Home-Work in­spi­ra­tion wall pro­vides a daily in­jec­tion of colour, pat­tern and tex­ture.

01 sur­round with Jess and them­selves Lara knick-knacks to in­spire Ice cream stu­dents. 02 shades of paint look good enough to eat. 03 Jess can’t re­sist draw­ing faces, even on the stu­dio walls!

01 Jess has al­ways been drawn to 80s and 90s de­sign. “The bright and play­ful de­signs from those decades make me very happy.” 02 Both Jess and Lara love plants, so they adorn the stu­dio shelves. 03 “There’s noth­ing more pleas­ing than pat­tern!” says Lara.

01 Tote bags are one of the duo’s screen­printed prod­ucts. 02 Jess and Lara’s love of screen print­ing rubs off on their stu­dents, who at­tend work­shops in the Mel­bourne stu­dio.

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