Kindred Tales | Jen and Gus | Paper & Jen
Jennifer is the North London based illustrator and surface pattern designer behind Paper and Jen. Her fun and playful doodles can help to brighten up even the greyest day. Plus, if you follow Jen on Instagram you would have noticed she is often joined in her studio by cheeky side kick Gus.
We chatted to her about her work and how Gus has become her ‘employee of the month, every month’.
Can you tell us about Paper and Jen and what inspired you to become an illustrator
I’ve loved to draw since I was very little. Somewhere at my mum’s house there’s a wad of about 800 different characters I drew when I was about 8 or 9 and they all have crazy clothes and names I made up for them! I must have thought the outfits were awesome as I remember afterwards making my own spin off fashion catalogue, ha!
Fast forward a few years I went on to study fashion and applied arts which then led me to my degree in Textiles, where I specialised in print design.
These days I design and illustrate for a mix of outcomes.
I freelance for a print design studio in Hackney mostly creating prints for women’s wear which I love.
I also illustrate imagery for brands and store windows, I really enjoy this work as every brief is different and allows for lots of fun doodling!
Lastly, I love to work on hand drawn commissions, I’ll get requests mostly for a ‘welcome to the world’ style print- these are always so sweet to make!
To sum up, Paper and Jen is a bit of everything really.
I love the variation within my work, different briefs often mean a change in pace too which keeps things fun and interesting. All the varied avenues within my work also allow me to exercise lots of styles and ideas, so I’m kept on my toes and always learning something new!
What inspires you when it comes to your work
Oooh, I think I’m inspired by a bunch of things- I love children’s books, I’ve collected some beautiful ones over the years and I love flicking through the illustrations of my favourites. It’s my dream to write/illustrate a kid’s book one day!
I love a good song lyric, I keep meaning to continue a little illustration series that I called ‘paperandjenlyriclove’ on my instagram- have only drawn one so far which was inspired by lovely lyrics from a Paul Simon song, have a few more in my head I need to get down on paper!
Lots of other wonderfully random things inspire me though, people watching, trips to galleries, a good quote, pretty doors, floral wallpaper, a beautiful film, I was so inspired recently binge watching all of ‘Next in Fashion on Netflix’- the winners collection was SO good! Old photos, plants, oh and of course my pup!
Tell us about your Gus and how they came into your life
Gus/ Gussybear/ Gustav… is a very loved/ maybe a little spoilt, 2 year old Brussels Griffon.
My husband Ben and I had never heard of his breed before but saw a photo of him online and were instantly smitten which was quite incredible as we couldn’t agree on a breed beforehand!
He was the only one in his litter and he had this ridiculously cute, grumpy face and cheeky personality. We couldn’t NOT take him home, really!
Gus is such a character and makes us laugh daily, he’s a very confident little dude who’s not scared to go say hi to a dog 4 times the size of him.
He loves a belly rub, his food/ your food/ whoever’s food really, cuddles on the sofa and sunbathing when weather permits.
Dislikes the rain, getting his paws muddy and the postman.
How does your Gus fit into your general day working
Gus fits into my work days perfectly, we go for a walk to our local park before I start my day which wears him out quite nicely and then he’ll have a snooze as I start my work.
I call Gus ‘my employee of the month, every month’ because he is just so lovely to have around when working- once he’s had a snooze he’ll come up and stretch his paws out on my knee which always acts as a perfectly timed reminder for a tea break!
On the days I’m not working from home, he has someone walk him which is great as he gets to play with his little crew of mates and we get a video of the fun he’s had that day!
When you are not working where do you and Gus like to hang out
Since Gus arrived on the block we love to go on walks, my favourite spot is probably Clissold Park but also on the way to Clissold Park is Abney Park cemetery which is really pretty.
Often on a Saturday we’ll go grab lunch on Broadway Market and have a stroll around London Fields, Gus does very well out of treats and freebies when the market is on!
What essentials do you always have on you when heading out for a dog walk and what do you carry them in?
At the moment he’s living in his yellow raincoat which has been brilliant as he’s so little it saves his belly getting absolutely soaked on muddy days.
Also, beautiful Joe’s dog treats are great to have on hand when Gus is experiencing ‘selective hearing’ a shake of the tin and he’s straight back!
What adventures do you and Gus have planned for the rest of the year
Definitely lots more walks!
There are so many lovely parks in London we’ve not yet been to with Gus that are on our list.
A little later in the year we’re going to Brighton where I’m sure he’ll make the most of that sandy snout life too! We love a trip to Margate also so maybe he’ll get to enjoy the sand on his paws again a little later in the year.