Kindred Tales | Lana and Susumo | Artist and Graphic Designer
Tell us a bit about your work and how it all started?
I’m a Lettering Artist & Graphic Designer based in North London, where I work pretty much everyday with my sidekick Sumo the Doxiepoo. I’ve always wanted to work in the creative industry for as long as I can remember and I’ve always wanted to do that alongside a dog. Growing up in a small town in Essex, we had a dog for most of my childhood, who was named Reginald. He was the absolute best & we spent many happy years wandering the woods together, but I never truly understood what it meant to care for a dog… until we invited our girl Sumo to move in with us! My Dad is a Sign Painter which drew my attention to typography and design at a young age, fast forward a few years when I graduated from a Graphic Communication degree, and following that, moved to London where I have been a self employed designer for ten years now.
Tell us about Sumo and how they came into your life?
After much research and a little bit of dog sitting after our friends Dachshund Dexter, we soon realised that a Dachshund would be a great little friend for us. After a lot more research, we then found a breeder in South London that I began chatting to & eventually we drove down to meet her puppies. Sumo was 1 in a litter of 9 siblings who were extremely fast as you can imagine! We fell in love with them all straight away (I mean how can you not fall in love with puppies?!) Her mum is a Wire Haired Dachshund, and her dad a Toy Poodle - the cross breed is named the Doxiepoo! We were instantly drawn to this little wiggly girl who seemed to be the quietest of the bunch… little did we know! After a few visits & once the pups were ready to go to their new forever homes, we drove to pick up our girl. It was a nerve racking day as much as it was the best day of our lives. On the way home she sat in the car, enjoyed some tasty treats and gave me a cuddle all the way home. Two and a half years later and we are still enjoying those cuddles (she is currently sitting on my lap as I write about our journey.)
How does having a dog fit into your general working day?
We work at a great space in Tottenham named Artist Hive Studios which has 12 artists in the space. It took me around a year of Sumo living with us, while my partner was off to work everyday in the city before I committed to taking Sumo to work or wherever I went. She has several issues such as her reactivity towards other dogs & often children due to having had bad experiences as a puppy, so these have always stuck with her. I needed to find somewhere that understood her fears & anxieties. When I found & moved into our current workspace, everyone was super understanding & helpful with Sumo! We are very lucky to have found this place and the people in it. Now our days consist of walking 30mins to the studio every morning through our local park, where we often meet up with her doggo friends for a quick play before work. Once we arrive, I grab some coffee, Sumo a water and then she either decides to chase people or get back to bed, depending on what mood she’s in! She absolutely loves our studio mate Simon (@ratio._art) who is also a dog dad, he has a 14yo pointer named Casey who sometimes joins us too. Sumo adores him and loves to spend her time following him around, watching him paint and waiting for him to drop food while I get on with some work!
When you're not working where do you like to head out with the Sumo?
We love to take Sumo to the beach when we can, she goes crazy for the sand! More locally we like to take her to a local recreation ground, which is a huge park where she knows pretty much every dog there, she’s very popular! Having a dog really opens up your life to meeting people you might never have chatted to in the streets, it’s like having a license to just go and talk to anyone that has a dog. I always find it funny that you wouldn’t approach a stranger who is pushing a pram if you both had a baby, but with dogs the social rules are entirely different, and I really love that. Sumo also LOVES bikes, and I mean loves them - she’s a bit of an adrenaline junkie of a dog! She has her very own moped box where she sits behind me with her head sticking out, with the wind in her hair! She also has a bicycle basket that she’s recently become a pro at sitting in whilst we cycle to the park sometimes. Once we arrive at the park she then jumps out and plays with just about any dog in sight. We then grab a coffee and go for a big game of fetch, our girl is pretty ball obsessed too! This is the perfect day for her, followed by a snack and a big snooze.
What essentials do you always have on you when heading out for a dog walk and what do you carry these in?
It only took me 2yrs, but I finally feel I might have mastered the issue of rushing out of the house and forgetting poop bags… I now hang a bum-bag next to the door alongside our keys which contains the three essentials: treats, a roll of poop bags and a tennis ball. I used to always run around the house trying to find these before needing to go out, which got us both in a panic if I’m honest! I eventually gave in and brought a bum-bag instead of one of those belt treat holders trainers wear (We had one and she ate it because it tasted of chicken) oh yea and let’s not forget the hand sanitiser (the things I’ve had to pull out of her mouth on the streets of London, you don’t even want to know!)
What adventures do you have planned with Sumo for later this year?
Sumo doesn’t really deal well with change, she’s one of those dogs that doesn’t like to veer away from her usual routine so we try to keep it as simple as possible for her when we can. Although I am hoping to fit in a few beach visits back to Essex by the end of the year, to let her enjoy the off-season free running on the sand that we haven’t been able to do all summer!