Working from her studio in east London, Coco Lom is quickly building a reputation for herself. With her distinctive bright colours, bold use of stripes and her Instagram initiatives like #PeacefulPatterns and #MonoMonday, Coco encourages us to notice more, and be open to new ways of thinking and seeing. As an artist and designer with a purpose, Coco has collaborated with brands including W.A. Green and Evermade, and designed part of the Nike 5k run through Hackney Marshes. On the launch of her latest collection, Look Up, Look Down, we caught up with Coco to find out how she got started, her inspirations and how she stays motivated.
As an artist, having your own point of view is essential. How would you describe your aesthetic?
I am a pattern seeker who celebrates bold colours and shadows, with a love of all things stripey!
Can you tell me a little bit about your background? What prompted you to become a professional artist and start your own business?
I studied Illustration at Norwich University of the Arts. Lots of people think of illustration as drawings for books or comics, but the course was fantastic as it encouraged us to think of visual communication – whether that be film, sculpture, animation, textiles or photography – we explored it all! When I graduated, I wasn’t sure which route I wanted to take or whether I wanted to be self-employed, so I spent some time assisting and shadowing a range of creatives – from photographers and set-builders to sign-writers and even food stylists! This gave me an insight into lots of different creative worlds and helped me discover the bits I particularly enjoyed. While I was assisting, I started to get some personal commissions and decided to set off on that journey which, four years on, has led to me having my own business.
You’ve collaborated with a number of different brands, as well as launched your own products. Can you describe your process of deciding which products to launch and which collaborations fit with your brand?
I’m still in the early stages of my career and interested to work with a wide range of partners. Creating quality products is important for me. At the same time, I also love to help communities I care about – like my Look Up, Look Down sweatshirt, which supports Save Our Venues – a campaign to protect our vulnerable, grassroots music venues. I’m always up for exploring new ideas and my brand has been growing thanks to the fantastic response to my Instagram initiatives like #PeacefulPatterns and #MonoMonday. Through Peaceful Patterns, I share my photography archive to soothe and calm an unsettled world. Mono Monday celebrates the joy of black and white, from the patterns found in ocean life, to the geometry of architecture. These two archives open my eyes to new ways of thinking, seeing and making and inspire new projects.
“Some of my happiest moments have been at the top of my ladder painting 60-foot murals in the sunshine, experimenting with new techniques and a pot of paint balanced on my hip!”
What do you like most about working for yourself?
I love working with others but I think I’m at my happiest when I’m working quietly alone. Some of my happiest moments have been at the top of my ladder painting 60-foot murals in the sunshine, experimenting with new techniques and a pot of paint balanced on my hip! When I’m not outside, you can find me in my east London attic studio where I can curate my days in a way that feels most productive for me. Plus I can eat as much chocolate as I like without anyone sitting opposite to judge me!
Who or what inspires you?
Bauhaus, De Stijl and Swiss Design movements. Photographers Andreas Gursky, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Sol LeWitt and Bill Brandt. @vacant.chairs.mag, @fandangoekid and @jakechancellor for big smiles. And a sunny adventure around a new city or town with my camera – shadow heaven!
A huge part of starting and growing a business is having the right mindset. What are some of the things you do to stay motivated?
Absolutely. I’m really discovering that the right motivation is everything. I only allow myself to look at my phone notifications once I’m at my desk in the morning, which helps me get up and not get stuck in the deadly scroll. If I’ve got lots of design work in progress, I’ll put on one of my brother’s Spotify playlists. We’ve got a very similar taste in music and his tunes keep us both going throughout the day (thanks Barney!). Current favourites include Charli Brix, Koherent, Pola & Bryson and DRS.
What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
Stop worrying about the things you don’t know how to do. You are capable of learning whatever you want. Any skill that someone else has is something they’ve learnt, from scratch, not knowing anything. You can learn it too.
What’s next for you?
A commission to revive a large outdoor sport venue for a local community in central London, plus an Artist Residency at a leading international hotel in New York when life allows it! I’m also working on a new film commissioned for a music venue in Lisbon later in the year. Watch this space!