As part of the HANON AW18 Collection, we worked with Jonny Mowat, a graphic designer from Catterline, Scotland, to create a series of t-shirts which feature caveman inspired graphics.
We headed south to the central belt one Saturday morning to catch up with Jonny at his home and talk about all things design, inspiration, his process, Glasgow, and films.
HANON: Hi Jonny, thanks for taking the time to meet with us. First of all, let’s get started with a couple of basics. Who are you and what do you do?
Jonny: I’m Jonny Mowat! Between 9ish and 5ish I work as a designer at O Street, a design studio based in Glasgow, London and Denver, CO. We work on all sorts of graphic design projects, from creating brands from scratch, to print campaigns, to web design, to editorial illustration. Outside of those hours I work as a freelance illustrator / farter-abouter on projects that take my fancy enough to be worth spending my evenings and weekends on.
HANON: You’re from up our way, right? How did you end up in Glasgow?
Jonny: I am indeed, I grew up in a lovely wee spot called Catterline, about 25 minutes south of Aberdeen. CATTERLINE MASSIF. I wasn’t much of a city guy until I moved to Glasgow for uni, which was 6 years ago. My then girlfriend now wife moved there at the same time,and now we can’t see ourselves leaving any time soon.
HANON: When did you fall in love with design?
Jonny: I actually had no real idea what being a designer meant when I was at school, so I didn’t find out I liked graphic design until I was 2 years into a degree in mathematics. I got into it through making flyers. Unlike others, it wasn’t for some edgy club night, it was for the Glasgow University Christian Union of all things. But people responded to them positively, and I really enjoyed the feeling of having made something that people appreciated. That motivated me a lot then, and still does now. And it’s even more exciting when I can put some of my personality and taste into my work, and people dig that too.
HANON: Where do you take your inspiration from?
Jonny: I spend a lot of time on Instagram, and try to take care with who I follow on it so that my feed consists of 75% art, 10% skateboarding videos, 10% memes and videos of kids falling over, with the last 5% reserved for friends taking pish photos. This balance has worked fairly well at keeping me sane, whilst becoming a reliable inspiration tool. I have always enjoyed humour comics, having been raised on The Beano and old Broons & Oor Wullie annuals, and I’m a big fan of editorial cartoons and comedy in general. I’m trying to be more focussed on producing humorous work, because I really enjoy consuming it, and I think it’s more true to what I enjoy outside of design & illustration, but it’s a bit nerve-wracking.
HANON: It can obviously be tough out there to try get work, and I see you’re a city host for @thedesignkids and also run @thedesignweans, so it’s obviously quite important to you to try and help other designers/illustrators/etc?
Jonny: Well I feel extremely #blessed to have got a job at O Street, because I’ve wanted to work for them since hearing about what they do, and I want other people to have the same opportunities that I’ve had. The Design Kids sounded like a great way to help in that area, and it’s also been great for me to meet lots of like-minded folk in Glasgow. Geez @thedesignweans a follow!!
HANON: If you had to give some quick fire advice to any aspiring designers, what would it be?
Jonny: Make loads of stuff so you realise what you yourself have to offer, and go to industry events in your city. Designers, and ‘creatives’ in general, are usually pretty easy to chat to, and would probably all rather die than go to a crusty LinkedIn business networking event, so their meetups tend to be pretty relaxed.
HANON: Give us the lowdown on what you like to do in Glasgow? Where do you like to hang about? Go to clear your head? That sort of thing.
Jonny: Kelvingrove skatepark would be my first choice, as skateboarding is probably the best way to clear your heid, especially if you’ve embraced the fact you will never be very good, as I have. Much freedom can be found in accepting your own mediocrity. I think Gandhi said that. Glasgow also has loads of nice eateries and drinkeries, which I probably spend too much of my money on. Some of the favs are: Kimchi Cult for Korean fried chicken, Ox & Finch for payday tapas, Bread Meats Bread for grease, Six Degrees North & Inn Deep for beer. I also really love going to the cinema, and have recently started going on my own if I find myself at a loose end in the evenings, and it is so relaxing. Sneak a couple of tinnies in, and some Kettle Chips and you are set. Or go to the beautiful Glasgow Film Theatre or Grosvenor Cinema where they have all that stuff for sell anyway.
HANON: I done some digging on your twitter and you seem like a bit of a film buff, what’s the best film you’ve watched in the last year?
Jonny: Ha! More like film GUFF. My 2018 New Year resolution was to watch more films, so I’ve set myself the task of watching 52 films in 2018 that I’ve not seen before, and I’m writing wee reviews to keep tabs on the project. I have watched some belters this year though, and I’d say the best watch had to be Isle of Dogs. That is a graphic designer’s absolute cinematic fantasy. Every frame is full of beautifully designed little things, and it was just a feast for the eyeballs. I also thought it was really funny.
HANON: What was the inspiration behind the HANON x Jonny Mowat Stuff collection?
Jonny: The initial brief was to create illustrations and graphics that incorporate the HANON logo or name in some way. After having a few sketches go back and forth between HANON and I, we both came to agree that using the flame logo in the context of cavemen discovering fire was pretty funny. We then decided to run with that theme, which was super fun for me because there’s loads to draw inspiration from when it comes to cavemen and how they are depicted in cartoons etc. If you google ‘caveman New Yorker cartoon’ you’d be surprised at how many come up! As humans we like to think how far we’ve come from prehistoric thuggishness but we probably haven’t come as far as we think.
HANON: What was the design process like?
Jonny: I would sketch out a rough idea that I thought worked, scan it in, send on to the HANON team, and see if the concept gets across in that low-fidelity rough. This is a good way to see if an illustration has legs or not, because if it needs to be beautifully rendered before anyone gets it or sees the value in it, then it doesn’t interest me. You may think that’s because I’m jealous of those people who can beautifully render things, but it’s definitely 100% more because I’m above that sort of shallow nonsense. Once we’d confirmed on a concept, I’d go ahead at drawing it out in full. For the range I’ve drawn some in ink, some in charcoal and some digitally. I really like to use whatever will work best, but I’ve been drawn more and more to using ink and brushes and dip pens because it adds a nice element of randomness and enjoyable mess to the final result.
HANON: What’s next on the radar for Jonny Mowat?
Jonny: I’m hoping to stick around at O Street for a good while, cause I really like working there and the team are all great. Besides that, I’m sure I’ll be picking up any fun jobs that come my way, and just trying to improve my skillset in areas that I’m interested in. I’ve got a couple mural gigs coming up soon which I’m stoked for. But besides that, I’m also going to spend a lot of time not doing work and just KICKIN’ IT.