If you follow us on Instagram, you’ve probably caught sight of a punny print or two by today’s crush-worthy maker, Francesca Greggs. Her company Lemonwood Imprints is all about balancing beautiful, well-intentioned design with cleverness, originality and, most importantly, FUN.
I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with Francesca chatting with her about why she loves to make, while sipping on spiked milkshakes and commiserating over the downfall of Skymall. Read on to learn all about how she got started and why she recommends taking advice from Steve Martin’s character in The Jerk. For a peek behind the scenes of our SF walkabout, head here. And don’t forget to visit Lemonwood’s section of the B+C Shop. Now, let’s meet this maker!
What inspires you? Why do you love to design, create and make?
I’m inspired all the time, which is one of the best parts of my job. Classic sources of inspiration for me though are vintage toy packaging and children’s books, retro signage, architecture, classic cars, and film and travel. I activate a different part of my brain when I’m designing, and it’s one of the few things in life I can focus on for hours without getting distracted.
How did you start Lemonwood Imprints?
To be honest, Lemonwood Imprints was founded out of my deep love for beer. I was trying to teach myself more about different brewing styles, beer histories, and glassware specifics and ended up illustrating an infographic just for my own understanding. Some of my friends wanted to buy the illustration as a print and it got me thinking about the idea of selling my artwork on a larger scale. Lemonwood Imprints is now up and running as a full service gift and stationery brand with the intention to bring beauty, levity and delight to others.
Tell us more about you.
I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio and have been lucky to be able try out a number of different cities — DC, New York, Dublin, Paris, Beijing and now SF & LA. I actually grew up being passionate about film and began editing in high school. I continued to study film through college but at some point along the way developed a love of illustration and graphic design. I started working freelance immediately after school in New York and have been motivated to illustrate ever since.
What’s one piece of advice you’d share with other makers?
You have to be fearless enough to find your own creative voice before anyone will listen to it. I see a number of talented creatives sacrificing their originality to align with an on-trend or overdone aesthetic. Any project is an opportunity to push a boundary and make a unique statement, and it’s okay to fail. You just have to trust that you’ll pick yourself up and do better next time. Steve Martin says “Be so good they can’t ignore you,” and there’s no better person to take advice from than The Jerk.
Tell us how technology has changed and supported what you do.
Without technology my job simply wouldn’t exist. Not only do I depend on it for reproducing my illustrations, but it also provides a marketplace for artists to share and sell their work. It connects me to my customers, helps me reach out to other designers, and allows me to try and have a much further-reaching resonance than I would otherwise.
What’s on your studio playlist?
I share a lot of musical tastes with everyone’s dads: The Doobie Brothers, Bob Seger, Al Green, etc. I’m not 65 all the time though and am always in the mood for the likes of Missy Elliot, Nas, and Sade. I love jazz, too. Chet Baker and Miles Davis are my go-tos in the morning.
How do you get into the creative flow? How does it feel?
The best part of the creative flow is when my hands and hustle are in sync. I’m always trying out new concepts for prints and cards, and some afternoons I will design for hours to no avail. Other mornings though, I’ll be drinking coffee and everything will align and the art will emerge just how I imagined it or take on a life of its own and be even better. There’s no formula for this obviously, I think it’s just giving yourself the space and time to play with your ideas.
What do you love about teaching people to make? And inspiring people who don’t think they are traditionally creative?
The most creative thing I love helping people with is their decor. I hate when people tell me they’re not creative. Everyone is; it’s just about getting out of the mindset that creativity is defined by a rooted set of activities or professions. There is an element to creativity in everything. Balancing financials is creative problem solving. Cooking, making a sale, crossword puzzle solving, picking up girls at bars — it all requires challenging your mind to think differently and try new strategies until something works. Celebrate it.
Itching for more? Well, we’ve taken this maker’s story to a brand new level. Here are four more ways you can get the 411 on Francesca Greggs and Lemonwood Imprints:
GET INSPIRED: Go on a walkabout with me and Francesca as we visit her five favorite posts in SF for creative inspiration.
DOWNLOAD: Download her exclusive computer desktop and iPhone wallpapers, made exclusively for Brit + Co!