A CHAT WITH ANIMAUX CIRCUS
We wanted to work with Animaux Circus on a collaboration because like us, they love all things animally! The trio, Lana, Margaux and Rory specialise in illustration, murals and signage and have worked on a whole assortment of projects from re-designing an African butchers in Walthamstow to sign painting workshops in the Tate Modern.
They’ve also worked with some pretty cool people including The Book Club, The Queen of Hoxton and other big names like Buff and Tesco, so we were super excited when they said that they wanted to create a print just for Kigu.
To celebrate the launch of the collaboration, we caught up with the team to chat about what they do, how they do it and of course all things animals!
Can you tell us a bit about Animaux Circus and what it is that you do?
Hello, we are Animaux Circus Studio. We are 3 designers, illustrators & muralists who are based in Stoke Newington, London. In our studio we plan, design & paint many of our colourful designs which are later brought to life throughout many London locations, venues and beyond! The three of us all met at university, where we were studying our BA (Hons) in Graphic Communication, at UCA Farnham, UK.
How did you three end up working together?
During our final year at university in 2010 we soon realised how similar our styles, interests & ambitions were… and so nearing graduation we began drawing together just for fun. Upon graduation we then decided that it would be great to actually make it official and set ourselves up as a real design studio once we’d all moved to London and got settled here. We started pretty soon after graduation and began to get our name about town by screen printing our own products and t-shirts to sell on the Sunday markets in Brick Lane. Shortly after, we moved into our first studio and have been keeping busy ever since then on bigger and better, larger and more colourful projects!
How do you guys deal with the creative tension? Is it ever hard to resolve conflicting ideas for projects?
We work very closely with each other as we often have a lot of projects going on at once and need to be rushing around London so sometimes things can get stressful, we’re only human after all! But generally, you learn to read the signs when someone is getting a bit annoyed / tired / stressed and so on, and then let them have a minute of peace if possible and offer to takeover! Usually we know each other well enough to deal with working on tight deadlines without problems, we’ve learnt to just get on with it and even dance around each other whilst painting and leaning in awkward positions to do so sometimes! You have to get on well with each other to work on such jobs as a close team or you’d be in trouble!!
Out of all the subject matter in the world, what is it about animals that captivates you to such an extent?
Our inspiration comes from a lot of places, but I would have to say that the main thing we are into is Folk Tales, as they contain stories and fantastic phrases of animals and, well, many things! we love to read them/ create our own, make up silly stories (that we hope one day to make into a comic!) and use them as story boards for our personal murals and the occasional commission. Other things include: contemporary illustration & street art, old signage, neon signage, traditional hand painted signage, typography, Mexico and it’s painted buildings, ice cream shops, the beach and deep sea, travel, siberia, party/balloon shops, patterns in nature, hawaiian shirts, stories of UFO’s, E.T, the 80’s, hover-boards & much more… we could go on forever!
Do you feel that you’ve pigeon-holed (excuse the pun) yourselves by focusing exclusively on the animal kingdom?
Not at all, we love animals and everything about them – The huge range of creatures and their characters, beautiful patterns & behaviour is so interesting to us as designers, there’s a lot to work with… and we admire that about them! However, we work on so many projects – signage, murals, workshops and so on, where we use patterns in nature and the animal kingdom in our typographic projects and beyond. It’s very versatile, we are happy to face challenges and try to turn our hand to many projects everyday to really push what we do…using the animal kingdom as inspiration.
What would be your dream pets?
Lana – A pretty chilled Sloth that I could hang out with/eat some nice salads and generally enjoy life with… That or a dog! I dream of having a dog in London to walk in the parks & lay down with…One day! I plan to call him Dorito when he does come into my life in the future.
Rory – A pygmy Pug! So I could carry him around in my pocket & ask him advice in my everyday problems, because he talks of course…
Margaux – A bright orange tiger that I could explore the world with and debate over life death and everything. He wouldn’t be a pet though, he’d just be a friend. Maybe his name could be Shere-Khan, as cliche as it sounds because I just started reading Kipling’s Jungle book and I love it.
You work in all kinds of different mediums, from pen and ink to spray paint and perspex. Do you have a favourite set of materials to work with?
Yes! We LOVE spray painting on walls, walls walls! The look of shiny wet paint on brick, yumyum!
What are some of the coolest projects you’ve been involved in recently?
We have recently just worked for Lovebox Festival producing lots of brightly coloured, extremely large scale signs which was great – We went to the festival & got to see them in person, which was quite exciting too!
Also our Private View at our current show 17-27 July at Lik & Neon in Shoreditch last thursday.
Painting murals, designing lettering and signage, we love it all!
What would be your dream commission?
Hmm, well, we love to paint things (as you know!) and have been working on a lot of great projects in the UK, so we dream of being able to continue that and take our work abroad…travel around painting and hang in the trees with sloths/parrots/gorillas as we make our way through the jungles & rain forests on the way to the next painting location…
What other artists inspire you most?
There are so many! Hmm, Hvass & Hannibal (DK) Sainer & Bezt of the Etam Cru (Poland) Steve ESPO Powers, Dusty Signs (USA) Morag Myerscough, Lakwena McIver, Paul Insect, Billy & Alex (UK) to name a few…
You frequently run art workshops where you impart your skills to others – do you think people can be taught to be good artists or do you think it’s an innate ability?
We think that everyone has the ability to do something creative, but I guess only some people choose to actually do it…Its about finding a technique that you are comfortable with and want to develop & practice what you do. Using your skills to progress onto new projects & learn new skills, which is where our workshops come in – it’s really great to have the opportunity to help people and show them our tips and tricks we’ve taught ourselves over the years!
What was the process for creating the Kigu x Animaux Circus designs?
With our designs for Kigu, we dreamt up a wonderful world of majestic creatures living in a wild, tropical land. Usually in our design process we begin by having a brief chat about a theme over a coffee – usually this doesn’t take long as were often all on the same page and once a word or two is thrown out there we can imagine a design pretty quickly! After years of doing this, its like mind reading sometimes! Then we split up who will draw what part, hand draw the elements, scan them, edit and colour the layout using Creative Suite and pass the parts of designs around to each other. Each of us will add a certain element or piece of input that can help the design come together well. And ta-da!
How happy are you with the finished products and which one is your favourite?
We love the finished products, its really great to see our designs on a range of products and printed in different ways…
Collaborating with other companies, it’s very exciting for us to have the opportunity to see what we can all come up with together.
And we love it! Especially the backpack and T-shirts , oh yes!
What’s coming next for Animaux Circus?
Hmm, next we are about to be back at the Power Of Summer Festival at Battersea Power Station leading a painting workshop where guests are invited to paint mini laser cut Power Station templates with us. Painting some tropical signs, murals and making the most of this fantastic painting season we have at the moment before its too late! Oh and painting a Mexican themed ally way in Fitztrovia, chachacha!