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My Studio in Hamilton Magazine February 25th, 2014

So nice to be included in Hamilton Magazine’s art feature with so many talented artists including my good friend Christina Sealey. Photo of my studio by the talented Jeff Tessier. Check out his site for more artist studio shots.

Jacqui Oakley's Studio - Photo by Jeff Tessier for Hamilton Magazine

Jacqui Oakley's Studio - Photo by Jeff Tessier for Hamilton Magazine

Jacqui Oakley's Studio - Photo by Jeff Tessier for Hamilton Magazine

It was so fun to go to the Lighting Our World book launch and finally meet the author Catherine Rodina. Catherine put so much work into organizing this event at Toronto’s York Woods Library on Oct 18. She paid special attention to having tons of fun projects for kids including face painting, lantern-making, henna and more with the activities relating wonderfully to the international festivals from the book.

Book Launch - Lighting Our World - art by Jacqui Oakley

(photos above by Peter C. McCusker for InsideToronto.com)

Jamie and myself were in charge of the Chinese lantern making table, which was hilarious. Poor Jamie was thrown right into the mix making lanterns with eager children while I had to cut the gorgeous cake and sign books. So glad he was there to help that night – I would have been frantic without him!  He was pretty good at making those lanterns though (and way too into the glitter…). It was so adorable seeing how excited the kids got when shown the table of markers, glitter and, of course, stickers. Some spent hours making theirs perfect. I think we definitely have some little illustrators in the making.

Book Launch - Lighting Our World - art by Jacqui Oakley

Lots of family, friends and people form the community showed up that night. Thanks all of you for your support.

Book Launch - Lighting Our World - art by Jacqui Oakley

Book Launch - Lighting Our World - art by Jacqui Oakley

Although the lantern making was a success I do think the cake was the winner that night, although stickers came in at a close second.

Book Launch - Lighting Our World - art by Jacqui Oakley

Thanks for putting on such a great event Catherine and of course a special thanks goes to Shelley Macbeth from Blue Heron Books for bringing the books for sale. She came all the way from Uxbridge to be with us that night. Be sure to visit her store if you’re ever in that area, it looks beautiful. Nothing like a small local store with an owner who cares. Thanks to Kids Can Press for publishing the book and more importantly, for the cake! Also, thanks to all the volunteers who did the face painting, beautiful henna, manned the Halloween table and more. Thanks to York Woods Library for hosting us and for all the librarians who helped out.

Book Launch - Lighting Our World - art by Jacqui Oakley

Photos by myself, Jamie Lawson, Peter C. McCusker and George Rondina. Thanks especially to George for taking so many photos that night while we were all so busy.

You can get the book at local book stores like Blue Heron Books in Uxbridge and it’s now at my local Hamilton store, Mixed Media which I love. Thanks for getting it in Dave! Also, if you can’t find it at a local place it is online at Amazon and in the bigger stores Chapters and Barnes and Noble.

Recently the book was featured on Global’s Morning Show where Lisa Lyons, the president of Kids Can Press, shared some of the top books for kids this season. (We’re at 4:17). Pretty exciting seeing it on TV.



So excited to have Jamie’s and my home and studios featured on the incredible Design Sponge. It is great to be able to represent some of Hamilton, Ontario’s incredible old homes. We also just got featured on the Design Sponge Best of Canadian Homes. Pretty nice way to start the week! So here are a few shots from the post including a few that weren’t featured:

As a married couple operating separate design and illustration practices across the hall from each other at home, Jamie Lawson and Jacqui Oakley feel it’s important to have a comfortable living space that lends itself to creative work. The apartment, located on the second floor of a Victorian home in Hamilton, Ontario — just outside of Toronto — came with a personality all its own. For Jamie and Jacqui, there’s no set agenda in terms of decor, except to surround themselves with things they love and find inspiring. Along with an eclectic collection of furniture, they feel extremely lucky to own beautiful artwork made by their many talented artist friends. With partner Marlon Lulgjuraj, Jamie runs Poly, a design studio specializing in logo design, branding and hand lettering. He is also a painter and enjoys any opportunity to combine his artwork and design. Jacqui has been an illustrator for more than 10 years, working with clients such as Rolling Stone, AOL and ESPN. She specializes in hand-lettering, portraits and bright colors and has shown her paintings around the world. In addition to her freelance work, Jacqui teaches in the illustration program at OCAD U in Toronto. Thank you, Jamie and Jacqui! — Shannon

:: My Studio ::

Design Sponge often gets its featured artists to illustration two phrases. Here is one of two that Jamie and I collaborated on. Can you guess who did what?
Lettering by Jamie Lawson & Jacqui Oakley (Design*Sponge)

Below, is a wall in my studio that houses a fun collection, dominated by the incredibly heavy antique White sewing machine. I love the woodwork on this table, especially around the White logo on the middle drawer. Luckily, this piece came with the added treasure of the original owner’s manual, containing some of the most beautiful technical drawings and ads of great interest to the Victorian housewife — now I just have to learn to sew. Obviously I like collecting vintage things: from keys, clocks and illustrated kids’ books to everyone’s favourite: alligator heads. Also here is my grandmother’s ivory kimono doll and a doll from my childhood in Bahrain, wearing a traditional abaya. On the wall above is a portrait I painted of my grandparents, a print of one of Jamie’s pieces, “The Fabulous Night Panther,” and a signed print of the amazing Bill Sienkiewicz cover art for Criterion’s edition of Robinson Crusoe on Mars, or as we call it, “Space Monkey,” which was a fantastic gift from Jamie. To top it all off, I love the colours of this globe, another flea market jewel.

Jacqui Oakley's Studio Wall

This is one of the days were I actually tidied up. Usually there are piles of books, unmarked student’s projects and reference images & sketches for illustration jobs piled up here and there. Let’s just pretend the floor always looks this clean.

Here is my desk. It’s great to have some quirky objects that also have some utility — the vintage medicine cabinet that once stored vials of medicines and remedies now houses a formidable ink collection (and an ever-watchful Totoro). The walls above my desk are always inspiring, with work from great friends: Dushan Milic’s Bear print and a page of original art from Kagan McLeod’s Infinite Kung-Fu. The Lion is one of my paintings, from a fun album cover project. The rest of the walls are decked out with clippings and ephemera from museums and antique stores. One of my favorite items is the weird dusty wooden Chinese doll that I fiercely bargained for at an antique market in Yangshuo, China.

Jacqui Oakley's Studio Desk

:: Our Bedroom ::
We love our 1960′s bamboo headboard. We picked up this bad boy up on garbage night before the rest of the vultures descended on it). It’s nice to find interest and beauty in things others discard. Here’s also the paper maché skeleton masks we made for one Halloween along with some of our photos from China and England.

Jamie Lawson & Jacqui Oakley's Home (Design Sponge)

:: Our Living Room ::
The fireplace in the living room was one of the selling points of this apartment — we love the blue tiles and dramatic mantel. We’re so lucky to have a Harvey Chan & Marco Cibola original to contemplate from our comfy vantage point. The mantel is home to brass partridges, an antique ceramic clock from the ’30s, vintage glass Javex bottles and an old tennis racquet press we’ve turned into a frame. Also seen are one of a pair of red ceramic lions and a Krampus doll (complete with stolen baby) from a friendly Czech toymaker, a memento of our trip to Prague last summer.

Jamie Lawson & Jacqui Oakley's Living Room

This is the shelf above the deepest, most comfortable couch anyone will ever sit on, and we’ve enjoyed watching many a film from this perch. We’ve filled the shelf above with books and other bits & bobs that are dear to us. The large photograph is courtesy of our lovely friend Danijela Pruginic, and is a shot from one of her travels to Croatia, depicting a portrait of Tito hanging on the wall of a derelict school. Next to that is Jamie’s mom’s old Yashica camera, copper letters spelling “ZOO” found at the nearby Aberfoyle flea market, vintage wooden shoe lasts, an antique bird print from London and a framed sewing machine diagram from the owner’s manual of a White sewing machine circa late 1800s.

Jacqui Oakley & Jamie Lawson's Living Room (Design Sponge)

:: Our Kitchen ::
The table is covered by an ornate Arabic tablecloth from Bahrain (one of Jacqui’s childhood mementos). On the shelf we have some ’50s Japanese ceramics, an out-of-control plant, and below is a framed image from a Communist Chinese ballet. Peeking out from behind the table, you can also see the bold floral pattern of our metal folding chairs. We like how the orange sets off the bright green curtain, which we added for a bit of pizzazz.

Jamie Lawon & Jacqui Oakley's Home (Design Sponge)
Jamie Lawon & Jacqui Oakley's Home (Design Sponge)

:: Jamie’s Studio ::
This hoard of stuff comprises a reservoir of stimulation: assorted books on art, design, philosophy & arcane material; the far edge of our CD collection; various toys, trinkets and talismans. I love the contrast that the stripey Beetlejuice chair provides in here (I also love that some fellow decided that this fabric was well suited to this style of chair). The shelf tops are home to (among other things) a handful Jamie’s artwork, a poster from musician Nurse With Wound, an early Cold War-era gas mask won during a tour quiz in a subterranean hospital in Budapest (not joking — the answer was Morpheus) and a vintage imported Turkish Shriner’s fez found in an antique shop in Ithaca that specialized in secret society paraphernalia.

Jamie Lawson's Studio

:: Our Hallway ::
We have been told that the blue in this window is “Tiffany” blue (and that, therefore, this is a Tiffany window), but we’re not sure if we buy it; either way, we love this damn window and the unique light we get from it throughout the day. We were sold on this place at the landing alone.

Jamie Lawson & Jacqui Okaley's Home (Design Sponge)

Check out the Design Sponge post to see more photographs and posts from some amazing homes. We’re so happy to be featured and thanks to everyone who posted lovely comments. It did make us feel a bit nervous showing our home and studios but it was nice to see people liked the space and what we’ve done with it. We especially loved the comments about our home looking lived-in, creative, comfortable and full of art. Glad the odd mix of our belongings, paraphernalia and art seems to work. So happy that came across. Thank-you!

So, last June for our 2nd anniversary Jamie and I went on a road trip to upstate New York, specifically to Ithaca & Corning. The Finger Lakes & its waterfalls were of course beautiful for hiking, but the highlight of the trip was Corning’s Museum of Glass. I highly recommend a visit to this museum. Who would have known I would turn out to be a fan of glass art? Not I. The work from Czech artists in the 1980s was particularly striking. The sculptures processed an otherworldly quality that I couldn’t help being drawn too. They had a elegant simplicity and dare I say, an eeriness. They would perfectly compliment Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Below I’ve included some photographs of the artwork. I tried to give credit to the artists when possible. If you know the creator of a piece unlisted please let me know.

The Pyramid, 1989 – Marian Karel (Czech, b. 1944)  - molt-melted glass, cut, ground

The Little Circus, 1988 – Dana Zámečníková (Czech, b. 1945) – plate glass, cut, painted, acid-etched, scratched, engraved, assembled.

The Pyramid piece above had to be one of our favourites – I think it was staring into my soul. Another high contender, was Zámečníková’s art. Who knew you could actually draw images within glass? Since the drawings were placed within a glass rectangle at different levels, the piece processed so much depth. Reminded me of a Miro painting. Just beautiful.

We stayed at an amazing bed and breakfast, Hillcrest Manor run by the very friendly and knowledgeable couple, Kyle & Dick. This neoclassic mansion was complete with gilded mirrors, antiques & a fantastic art collection. Of course a manor is not complete without multiple stuffed peacocks. George Abbott, a partner in the Hoare Glass Cutting Company of Corning, New York built the mansion in 1890. Kyle & Dick made us feel very welcome & had such a knowledge of the history of the area & its art. I have to say, we felt very fancy staying there. It was such a treat.

Emergence Four-Stage (above, pink piece) – Dominick Labino, 1975 (United States) – colorless, pink transparent glass; hot-worked, internal air trap & veiling

Tree of LifeFrank Lloyd Wright, 1904 (United States, b. 1867) – stained glass window

The Corning Museum of glass is actually quite massive and includes historical glass (some pieces 3500 years old) to contemporary work. Also featured are glass blowing demonstrations and even an ornate Jesus-themed diorama made with glass and shells! What is going on here? I have no clue but I can’t take my eyes away from it.

And to finish the journey with some retro bottles with awesome label type design! I could go for a nice cold Roundup right now.

Look at the treasures Jamie & I found at Aberfoyle Flea Market this past weekend. I now desperately need more shelves in my studio. Where does one properly place an alligators head? Well, I think this critter will show up in my sketches sometime soon.

So, I now have a set of lovely, albeit slightly musty copies of Robin Hood, Little Women, The Black Arrow, Davy Crockett, & the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Been meaning to read, or reread these lately anyway and they contain some beautiful illustrations that I will soon scan and place up on the blog. Oh, and I can’t forget the best book of them all the 1905 1st edition of, “Studies on Character Building,”. I’ll give feedback on this classic soon. I’m sure to learn a lot I’m sure.