Journal

Downtime with Jenny Stuttard

Meet the designer behind Yawn's new print, Eve. 

Jenny, could you tell us a bit about your background and why you decided to work in design?

I’ve always been into drawing and making things. I was constantly doing something in one way or another from drawing animals to painting on shoes, so working in something creative was inevitable.

When I found out you could study illustration at university it lead me into finding out about graphic design, and I realised that brought together lots of the things I enjoyed doing into a career. I then studied Graphic Arts at Liverpool John Moores and then after graduating went on to do internships in New York and the Netherlands, before coming to work in London. 

What was the design process behind Eve? 

It started with sketches, exploring mark making and how I could use them to create different flowing abstract patterns, and from there we saw these leaf like shapes happening. This then became the focus of the print, and I made drawings of different leaves looking at how I could overlap them to create the pattern. While working on this we found shapes in the leaves looked like a female figure, and this would be the influence behind the hidden detail to the print and where the name was drawn from. 

This then went through different rounds of drawing, finding the right combination of shapes, thickness of lines and the right shade of green to have the calming feel the fabric needed. Because of the density of the pattern, that was really important. If it was too dark the pyjamas would be too loud and hard to look at. Too light and it would disappear and the pattern wouldn’t read clearly enough. Also, it had to be the right shade of gentle green.

What's the most challenging aspect of designing a print? 

Creating something that can work on such a large scale. Something can look nice in a small amount, but it has to be something you want to wear a full PJ set of! I think for Yawn in particular getting the hidden details to work within the print can be a challenge. In Eve for example, the hidden figures are actually quite large, so the challenge there was using shapes that could effectively camouflage her into the leaves, but still be readable as a female figure when you do see her. She kind of had to be so obvious you couldn’t see her!

Also getting the pattern to repeat effectively can be challenging, especially depending on what the design is like. Eve is made up of lots of small lines that need to have no visible break in them, but we have tricks for that in the drawing stage.

Eve focuses on celebrating the creative power of women and the female form. What women inspire you?

Es Devlin, Patti Smith, Elspeth Beard, Lucy Baker and many more. Anyone who goes against what they’re ‘expected' to do, because it’s what they want to do and are passionate about it. 

What’s your favourite place to visit for some downtime? 

Home in Nottinghamshire, anywhere coastal or if in London, the Barbican and the parks.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given in your career? 

There's lots of answers to this! But I'll focus it to one, which to be proactive in your role and think ahead to what may be needed.

I've learnt to really consider the affects of what I'm working on and then see if those things are questions I can answer myself, or whether they’re something to be discussed collectively. You don’t have to have all the answers all the time, but it’s about thinking more broadly then the immediate problem. Try to present people with clear solutions and options, not more problems or work. This can happen at different scales, but I think it’s under pinned by trying to be considerate.

What keeps you up at night?

To do lists.