HELLO, PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF:
My name is Jen Lindup and I’m an artist and surface designer living in Toronto, Canada with my husband John, our 3 year old son Jasper and our spotty cattle dog named Jake. Yep, we’re all J’s….the J-Crew!
I’m new to the freelance world, I’ve been working from my home studio for about 18 months now. My background is in design and product development and I spent many years creating and buying artwork in the corporate fashion world.
HAVE YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO BE SURFACE PATTERN DESIGNER/ILLUSTRATOR?
I was always interested in combining my love of textile design and fashion. I took a few years off between high school and university and I started exploring art classes, in many different disciplines. I ended up taking a print-making class and fell in love! I immediately started imagining all the amazing things you could do with printed fabrics. At that point, I went back to school full time to study Textile Design. After graduating, I did a few different things; I was a studio artist at a wallpaper company, I set up a small studio and made one of a kind, hand printed fashion pieces and I worked in set design for theatre. I eventually partnered up with some friends to start an indie clothing line and for the next few years, I was really just focused on clothing production and design.
Eventually we folded that company and I decided to take a fashion industry job. Over the next 8 years I worked for a few different companies in design, product development and as a buyer. I worked mostly in the kids and womenswear markets and shopped shows like Printsource and Indigo. While my last position was more of a directional role, leading a team of designers to execute seasonal collections, I was always happiest when I had the opportunity to get my hands dirty and create artwork myself.
I realized when I took a maternity leave after giving birth to my son, that I missed having a creative outlet. Feeling generally burnt out from the corporate world, I started sketching and thinking a lot about working for myself again. I couldn’t do it right away, but eventually took the leap a year later. I started taking more art classes and painting for the first time in more than 10 years. I really focused the first 6 months on building a body of work, learning new skills, and defining my style. Once I had a reasonable amount of work together, I finished my website and started reaching out for freelance work. It’s been a slow process but I have 2 design studios in the US who take my work into their lines on a regular basis. Eventually, I’d like to also start licensing my artwork and am planning to show at one of the print shows in 2018.
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY/WEEK LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
I usually put aside 1 morning a week for paperwork, research and planning. On a perfect day, I like to get emails, social media, etc. out of the way and then spend some time painting or drawing. But that is unfortunately the first thing that gets dropped if I’m busy. Conversely, if I’m not busy, sometimes I’ll spend an entire afternoon painting which feels so indulgent! I have a small child so I need to end work at 5 to spend time with him. Most nights after my son goes to bed, I spend 2-3 hours more working, especially if I’m in the middle of a project.
I also try to get out and meet other freelancer friends at least once a week. It can be very isolating, which is good in some ways, if you are disciplined. But it’s also important to get away from your work and online environment for an hour or two and have real world conversations. I try to be disciplined about social media time and keep it to specific times of the day (although, who doesn’t cheat on that rule?!)
IF YOU COULD GIVE YOUR 10 YEARS YOUNGER SELF ONE KEY PIECE OF ADVICE OR AN INSIGHT, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Always be open to new ideas and experiences. You never know where they could lead you! Even the best laid plan needs to be flexible.
WHEN YOU FEEL STUCK OR IN A DESIGN RUT, HOW DO YOU GET YOURSELF OUT OF IT AND BACK ON TRACK?
I mostly get stuck on specific projects so when that happens I need to walk away from it for awhile. It might be a few hours or days (depending if there is a deadline or not!) but I’ve learned that once you feel like something isn’t working or taking a turn for the worse it’s better to leave it than waste hours spinning your wheels.
If I’m feeling uncreative in general, I find the best way to fix the problem is to just sit down and start painting or drawing. If I’m still stuck, I’ll try to find a prompt to help…..there is no shortage of creative prompts on the internet! I’ve also found joining groups like Folio Focus, The Textile Design Lab and the MATS courses are really helpful to keep your creative flow going. It forces you to think about new ideas, perhaps something you wouldn’t have come up with on your own. It may be my personality but I find that little bit of structure to be extremely helpful.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE DESIGN TOOLS?
Watercolours and gouache, inks, pens and photoshop
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR DESIGN PROCESS? FAVOURITE APPS AND PROGRAMS
If I’m working off of a brief from a studio, I usually create a colour palette and then start painting right away. If it’s something for my own portfolio or online shop, I take a little more time in planning and pulling together images, looking at reference material and doing preliminary sketches until the idea forms. I usually paint or draw my elements by hand first and then put together the final design in Photoshop. I was only an occasional PS user before I started freelancing. i found it incredibly intimidating but once I had the time, I was determined to learn more. I love how immense this program is. Even though I’m quite comfortable with using it now, I’m still always learning new ways of doing things and different ways to use it. I’ve also been a long time Illustrator user and find it to be such a helpful tool for creating repeat layouts, colourways and vector art. I often combine elements from both programs.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE DESIGN PROJECTS TO DATE?
I have a love for ceramics and everything indigo so I created this series of art prints for my online shop a few months ago.
WHO ARE YOUR DREAM CLIENTS OR WHAT IS YOUR DREAM PROJECT?
I’d love to see my designs on ceramics or dinnerware somewhere like Anthropologie and I would love to do a line of greeting cards for a company like Red Cap Cards.
THERE HAS BEEN AN ART SUPPLY SANCTION IMPOSED AND DESIGNERS ARE ONLY ALLOWED TO POSSESS 3 ITEMS/TOOLS, WHAT DO YOU CHOOSE?
Turner design gouache, Escoda brushes and paper
WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?
I have a great collection of art books, pattern & textile books and tons of kids books. I’ll be sad when my son gets too old for story books. I love having an excuse to buy them! Recently, we’ve been reading the Iridescence of Birds. It’s a storybook about Henri Matisse as a small child and how his mother influenced his life and art. It is so beautifully written and illustrated.
I’m fascinated with different cultures and love to travel. While I can’t always hop on a plane and go to Paris or Marrakech, I’m lucky to live in one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world. Nature also plays a huge role in my art. I’m looking forward to springtime arriving over the next few weeks as that first dose of green and flowers is always so inspiring.
WHO WOULD YOU SAY THE GREATEST DESIGNER IS?
That is so tough for me to answer as I have so many favourites and can’t pick just one. Recently I’ve really been enjoying the work of Vera Neumann. I love her loose and intuitive style.
WHEN I'M LONG GONE:
I hope people remember me for my determination, sense of humour and of course for making beautiful art!
Where you can find me: