Thursday, March 9, 2017

Meet Our Judges: Jonathan Kenyon,
Creative Director, Vault49

The story about how Vault49 came about is an interesting one. Founded by two school chums at the London College of Printing, their first claim to fame was through flypostering. What started out as a street art collective producing 1,000 handprinted screen prints each week has grown into a studio focussed on branding, advertising, packaging, illustration, live art, events and interior design.

As Jonathan describes the beginnings, “We saw a derelict building in London’s East End and took the opportunity to cover it’s façade entirely in our work. It turns out that the abandoned building was in fact not derelict and was actually the HQ of Dazed and Confused magazine, and they had to cut their way into their office the next morning. The editors of Dazed managed to track us down and, instead of being pissed off, they told us that they loved what we’d done and they offered us a six month exhibition in their gallery plus three features in the magazine too.” They followed that up with like-minded displays on the offices of WGSN and Creative Review all of whom featured their work which then lead to commercial commissions.

Jonathan interest in illustration begin with drawing competitions between himself and his brother to see who could most accurately draw his mother’s collection of antique dolls. Ask him is love, and the answer is screen-printing. Design is his hobby, not just a profession, “I find it relaxing to be creating work that is not on a deadline.” The screen studio is an active part of today’s office in midtown Manhattan, “It’s the first place I turn to if I’m feeling burned out and just want to have some fun.”

The move to New York from London in 2004 was a humbling one. What started out as a one-bedroom operation has grown into a diverse studio divided among design, strategy, motion and accounts.

Today finding the balance between commercial opportunities, creative rewards and personal fulfillment is the challenge, “It’s a constant balancing act and the challenge isn’t that much different from the days when we were two people to the 30 we are today. The consequences of getting it wrong are just greater and the responsibility of making this work for more people needs constant attention.”“Our clients see us as a breath of fresh air – or their `special forces’ as we’ve been called a few times. We work hard to retain what made us unique at the start.”

His day-to-day duties? “I’m like a bumblebee! Flying around from plant to plant within Vault49 helping ideas cross-pollinate so our studio can make sweet creative honey… and money, so I make sure that the hive is looked after.”

Asked about his views of today’s illustration he replies, “On the downside, there is too much repetition and imitation in the world of design and illustration. However, the positive result of this is a return to fine craftsmanship and a focus on natural talent instead of copycat art, for this is now the only way to stand out from the crowd.”

Jonathan is on our professional show jury.

3x3 International Illustration Awards No.14 open for entries
Three shows: Professional, Picture Book and Student, open to all illustrators in all countries
Call for Entries poster

Deadline: Midnight, Friday, March 24

Sign-up to receive our Call for Entries and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter


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