We at For The Love of The North are dedicated to supporting local North East artists and creatives - Jo from Wot Ma Like is just one of the incredible creative minds that we work with. I got the chance to ask Jo a few questions all about her work, inspirations and possible future projects. Here’s what she said…
Like many talented artists, Jo believes she’s always been very creative. “As a child my dolls were the best dressed in Byker. I was always making clothes and drawing. My friends Mum had a print of Georges Seurat (Bathers) and I loved it. She knew lots about art and as a teenager I wanted to know more.” She describes having her own drawing style which is quite ‘classic’ and ‘sharp’.
With a natural creative flare, it only makes sense that Jo expanded herself and gained some qualifications. She has completed a foundation course at Newcastle College and followed on to do a Textile Design degree at Huddersfield University. “I’m just about to do a calligraphy course. I have done screen printing courses and at some point I want to do a ceramic finishing course and buy my own kiln.”
When speaking to any artist, one thing I love hearing about is their inspirations and where they stem from. Jo expressed that she always gets something from visiting art galleries, “Even if it’s just a colour combination or a shape I call these visual cues. My phone is full of random sections of pictures, nature etc.” When talking about specific artists, Jo told me that she loves Grayson Perry purely for humour and storytelling and Eric Ravilious for his stark illustrative style. “I’m def born in the wrong era as I love 1950s austere design.”
Jo currently lives in Hampshire, though she is originally from Byker meaning she tends to go back and forth visiting family and customers. There’s a huge community of artists within Newcastle and the North East who all keep in touch, chatting and sharing tips with each other. Jo’s very first stockist was Fezziwigs in Tynemouth around 11 years ago, she says they still supply them and are still friends to this day. “I have very loyal customers in independent stockists, many of which are now friends.”
She once said that a fortune teller in Newcastle told her she’s to draw people and everyone would love them. At first, she doubted it but then decided to give it a good go and turns out...she’s good at it! From this, she developed a love of portraiture and has a worldwide licence agreement with a big card publisher and her character cards are sold and distributed all over the world. “It’s such a buzz when a store in Australia tags me in with pics of my work. I love drawing people but being a business owner means I’m involved in the day to day running of the business and don’t draw everyday.”
We’ve worked with Jo time and time again, it’s always been a pleasure. Something we always love about working with different artists is how different everyone’s ideas can be and what everyone can bring to the table. Jo has expressed that she’d love to do more collaborations with us in the future, “I’d love to rework and expand my 3 colour coaster/print range I produced exclusively for you. I think there are more places to add and new colour ways to experiment with.”
And finally, in every order we send out, we include a tourist tip - just a little snippet of information for people visiting the region or to give some fresh ideas to long-term residents. I asked Jo for her ultimate tourist tip, “for me I love Northumberlandia. Great place to meet friends and family and have a walk and talk. It’s so unique and easy to park.”