Tropical colours, a share love for the animal kingdom and beautiful modern sign-painting. We would like you to meet Animaux Circus.
Hello Animaux Circus! Can you tell us a little about who you are and where the name came from as an initial introduction to your marvelous collective?
Animaux Circus: We are Animaux Circus, a multidisciplinary design studio specialising in graphic design, Illustration, mural & sign painting. Our studio is made of 3 designers who all met at university whilst studying Graphic Communication at the University for the Creative Arts in the sleepy town of Farnham, Surrey. Each of us comes from a creative background of some sort, Lana’s father a sign writer & carpenter, always encouraged her to paint & draw from a young age…as she grew up surrounded by his beautiful signage & lettering reference books. For Rory, growing up in a family of Graphic Designers, following their footsteps into design was only natural for him, whilst Margaux, growing up in France & moving to the UK when she was in her 2nd year of studies, grew up with one parent being an architect & the other a ceramicist.
For each one of us growing up around creatives, we found ourselves with a love of design, which led us to meeting in our small class of 12 graphic design students specialising in Image Rich studies.
The name actually comes from a discussion between Lana and Margaux. They were discussing the things they love & the things they love to draw… When throwing words around to each other and themes, they soon realised that they both loved animals, everything about them and especially drawing them! They had an interest in the idea of a bunch of animals being grouped together (although they don’t actually like or agree with zoos, the idea began focusing on the fact zoos bring humiliation and sadness to the caged animals.)
They loved the idea of describing themselves as a bunch of grouped animals using a mix of the two languages to represent our different nationalities and identities. Lana being a tropical bird, Margaux a polar bear and Rory a lion!
The circus side of things is based on our often silly and colourful adventures, whilst thinking about the fact we work as a collective, similar to that of the animals in the wild or the acts in a circus.
NM: Sounds like you formed with a great story behind you and all of you coming from creative backgrounds as well must have certainly helped with the development. Animals are an interesting subject due to the fact that there’s such a wide range. Clever planning on the ‘Animaux’ name too!
Pick Me Up has just been and gone, which is how we met of course! How did you find the experience from start to finish and can you tell us a little about the pieces you’d chosen to exhibit?
AC: Pick Me Up was great fun… and a lot of hard work!
We initially had the idea for our proposal at the beginning of November last year. I’m not sure if you know, but to be part of the exhibition you have to pitch an idea to Somerset House. We carefully planned the idea behind our exhibit with mock-ups of the planned space and details of how it would all work. Fast forward a few months and we have a meeting with the team at Somerset House who thankfully liked our idea and asked us to be part of the show.
As soon as we found out, we set about making our vision come to life.
A lot of planning went into the display for the ‘evolving wood mural’, we had to design all the letters, animals and words templates that were laser cut and then screen-printed onto wood. This was one half of our exhibit – the idea was that the public could take part in workshops to paint the pieces with us.
The other half of the exhibition was a showcase of pieces specially created for Pick Me Up. We created limited edition prints of our own and also contacted some of our favourite artists and asked them to create pieces based on a selection of African folk tales. It was great to have original pieces by people we admire on display. Shout out to Adam Ilex, Ruth Clifford, Josh Stika, Dennis Asare, This is my Costume, Rob Colquhoun, Lakwena and of course Studio Mothership.
Once we were all set up, it was show time! In the 12 days of the exhibition we were very busy running workshops and chatting to people about the work on display. We got a great response from people so it made all the hard work worth it!
NM: Sounds really good and well done for getting into Pick Me Up as well! We remember seeing the special illustration issue by Creative Review and becoming really excited for it all…
From October to now you’ve clearly all come a long way and a lot of thought process went into the pieces you were showing but what is next? Do you have any more plans for upcoming shows this year or collaborations?
AC: At the moment, we’re working on updating our website and online store… So if you missed out on the fun at Pick Me Up, there will be a few goodies available there! In terms of projects, we’re actually running a fair few workshops over the coming months. We have one at Fairground (Kingsland road, Haggerston) on 25th May in association with the lovely people at Indytute, so if you’re in the area pop by and paint with us! We’re also planning on getting out and painting murals round the city whilst the sun is shining (if it ever actually does), so keep yours eyes peeled for some tropical colours around town.
With regards to collaborations, we have some exciting plans in the works with our friends at Studio Mothership, at the recent Alternative Press fair we teamed together to live print cocktail cards on their amazing Adana table top letter press. We’re hoping to take this idea further with the help of some friends, but it’s very much early days for that. We can say over the next few months we do have some more fun planned with a Jean Paul Gaultier inspired workshop at Blackhorse Workshops (Walthamstow) & a weekend of sign painting fun at the Tate Britain, keep an eye out as we’ll be advertising these very soon!
NM: The collaborations seem to be coming thick and fast, which is perfect news for you guys, especially when exhibiting at events and fairs. The work with Mothership has an incredible colour palette, which just makes your eyes dance…
Working as a collective comes with a strong persistence to act and work as a team, but what do you find are the three motives and the three obstacles that you face day-to-day?
AC: We’ve known each other for a number of years now, and we’ve gotten to know each of our strengths and weaknesses. This comes in especially handy when we work on a project together, as it means each of us can plan, create and divide the work between ourselves. So it’s quite quick & easy to just say who does what at the initial stages without offending anyone!
The main motive for us to keep going is that we get to do what we love (as cheesy as it sounds, but it’s true), we soon realised that sitting in an office at a computer all day isn’t for us – of course it’s ok in moderation but we get itchy to go off and do something else quite often, its just a part of what we do!
Another great motivator is seeing the possibilities & outcomes of what is achievable by us as a team. Each project we take on, we try and push our creativity to give ourselves new & exciting challenges, so its good to see what can be done in terms of creating something newer, fresher, larger and more colourful every time!
As for obstacles – our studio is a bit of a mess & full of physical obstacles that we must tip toe around in the hopes that we don’t get crushed by stacked paint tins and spray cans. But in all seriousness, sometimes it’s hard to work on a project when a client limits your creativity (For example they may give you a starting point and slowly extract bit by bit of a design which can be difficult as at times it may change to result in something you might not have wanted to work on having known this perhaps, or a project outside of your comfort zone) the timescale can be an issue sometimes and of course, the boring one – the budget in terms of what the client may want, but what they expect to pay for it…
These are the main issues we face day-to-day… but it’s often nothing that can’t be worked out by reaching a compromise. I guess that’s part of the fun of being self-employed designers. We usually find an answer!
NM: Your work visually states that you guys work well as a team! There’s always those slight flaws, but it wouldn’t be an interesting role to have if it weren’t for those obstacles to learn and remove.
Let’s wrap this natter up (natter may not be the right word, but it’s been really enjoyable so it’s working at the moment). If you were to go to space and had to chose three people to go with, who would you chose and why?
Tough question! I would have to choose Ping (the recent winner from Master Chef 2014!), If i’m in space I don’t want to be eating space ice-cream everyday. She’ll sort that out no problem.
Lana suggests taking Elvis with us to keep the crew all entertained, and tell us tales of his youth in Memphis.
Margaux simply says – “Leo, of course!” (that’s Dicaprio…)
To find out a little bit more about this talented collective head over to where they’re giving a shout online right here – you’ll be in for a right treat.