It was 29 months ago (before Design Mum was born) that I became a Mum for the first time. A slightly alien role, but one that I welcomed wholeheartedly and a badge that I am proud to wear. Before that I guess I was known as a design professional. A design studio manager and graphic designer, lucky enough to work with some of the world’s biggest brands. Operating alongside leading talent and being immersed in the wonderful world of design was the everyday norm for me. And then boom! I was suddenly out of the familiar studio environment and shotput into the uncertain arena of parenthood.
Initially, I think it felt as though I was pushing aside my lifelong passion for design. Abandoning my design principles maybe, and in those hazy, sleep needy days, accepting of the fact that my new mum-life meant a compromise to my design identity and personal style. Yes, my home would soon be filled with the type of patronising design that I generally find quite tedious. Stereotypical doodles bedecking muslin cloths and cringy statements emblazoned on changing mats. Was this really a sacrifice that I was willing to make?
“Parenthood had opened up this whole new world of children’s design to me that I had never imagined before this life changing event”
What I realised was, actually, I wasn’t abandoning my design principles at all. I was simply shifting my design focus. Parenthood had opened up this whole new world of children’s design to me that I had never imagined before this life changing event, and I soon came across other parents who had had the same realisation. Designers who were combining their passion for design and for their children. And so Design Mum was born – to shine a spotlight on the incredibly talented designers out there, that have become parents, and are producing the most amazing design for children. And when I say design, I mean proper, considered design.
One such designer doing just this is Emma Jameson from The Jam Tart, whose typographical prowess is quickly taking the children’s decor world by storm.
The Jam Tart is a graphic-led children’s brand with a passion for typography and geometric pattern. Designed by mum of one, Emma and best friend Tom, their distinctive and whimsical animal characters are carved and moulded out of the Gill Sans font to compose the letters of the alphabet. Intricate patterned detail and careful colour consideration brings to life their custom name prints, wall art, stickers and festooning banner kits to decorate children’s spaces.
And an ever-expanding range of original flash cards and colouring books act as an educational resource for younger ones. You won’t find here the standard A is for Apple, thrown up on a primary coloured poster.
I catch-up with Emma, one half of the jammy duo, and delve into her private life a little, on your behalf. No, you’re welcome!
How did the idea for The Jam Tart first come about?
I’m a self-confessed ‘typ-o-holic’ and since becoming a Mama thought it was time I combined my love for type with the world of children’s design. As a Mama I set about designing colourful and educational interiors for my daughter that were an extension of our contemporary home. These have since grown into The Jam Tart typographical delights for design loving parents everywhere.
What is your background?
I’m a graphic designer www.dottyaboutdesign.co.uk and love sharing good design that makes people smile. I’ve worked on numerous children’s brand licences for high street stores. My wall art work has featured on Channel 4’s Grand Designs and forms part of the exterior graphics wrapped around the Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children’s Books, in Newcastle.
Who is your ultimate design crush?
Orla Kiely (well I did name our daughter after her!) I just love pattern, especially those of the geometric variety; I love design from the 50’s and 60’s. Geometric shapes form the basis of our animal typeface.
What was the last cool thing that you bought for your little one, that you just had to tell someone about?
A Donna Wilson snake scarf, apparently it provided hours of entertainment when found on the nursery cloakroom floor, “Mrs Curry… Snake!”
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
Designing comes naturally, but sourcing suppliers has proved exhausting. To date we have built up a collective of uber talented UK-based manufacturers, many of which are literally on our doorstep.
If you had a billboard somewhere, where would it be and what would it say?
A typographic message… ‘Paint the Whole World… Rainbow!’ I like the idea of it being on Big Ben.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Children’s books, I have a vast collection and I’m a massive fan of American illustrator J. Otto Siebold. His work inspired my submission to The Macmillan Children’s Book Illustration Prize, which was highly commended and subsequently published within Education winning numerous prestigious awards.
What was your best memory growing up?
Family time. Tucking into a bowl of home cooked panacalty, around the caravan table. Me, Mam, Granda Jimmy and Nana Myra. Surrounded by big fields, big skies and 1970’s caravan decor.
What are you most excited about for the future?
I’d love to work on collaborations with others, just imagine our designs on baby grows, breakfast sets, stationery, cushions and bedding.
What is your favourite font, and is the animal alphabet based on this?
Gill Sans and yes it is!
Of all your designs, which is your favourite?
A is for Alligator, he was the start of wonderful things.
And lastly, I can’t let you go without asking, what is your favourite Pantone colour right now?
I‘m very seasonal so it has to be Snow White 11-0602.