Coco Lom is a young, London multi-disciplinary artist quickly making a name for herself. Known for her love of patterns, shapes and colours, Coco’s work has been seen underfoot on the Nike 5k Run route, as well as on walls and community planters across London. She’s been commissioned by clients including The Royal Parks Foundation, Shoreditch Studios, The Tree Council and Hackney Arts. With an upcoming exhibition at The Book Club in Shoreditch and a short film in the pipeline, we caught up with Coco to discover more about her inspirations and how she uses photography to inform her work.
You’re known for your love of pattern, shape and colour. Can you tell us about your journey and how you arrived at this point as an artist & designer?
I did an Art Foundation at Kingston Uni and then went on to do Illustration at Norwich University of the Arts. The course at Norwich was amazing as it encouraged us to explore all sorts of ways of making, from film, animation, textiles, photography and sculpture. I loved how varied our workshops and briefs were. When I graduated, I wasn’t sure which direction I wanted to go in or if I wanted to be self-employed, so I spent some time assisting and shadowing a range of creatives. I worked with set builders making giant puppets for The BRIT Awards, I worked with prop makers to design sets for music videos, and I even worked with food stylists and learnt how to tame a mountain of jelly! It gave me an insight into lots of different creative worlds and helped me discover the parts I particularly enjoyed, mural painting was one of them. While I was assisting, I started to get some personal commissions and decided to set off on that journey which, four years on, has led to me having my own business.
You’ve worked in a lot of mediums, creating art prints to clothes, installations and small and large scale indoor and outdoor murals. You’re also a photographer, capturing the amazing details that are often overlooked in daily life. Were you always inspired to work across such a large range, and what role does your environment play in your work?
I love working in lots of different areas and my work has always been quite varied. I enjoy researching and making in different ways, from photography and scanning to painting, filming and hosting creative workshops. It’s also super exciting to see my patterns and designs come to life on new things! Whether on a wall, piece of clothing, or in a community space. Environment plays a big role in my work, with the location and background of the space inspiring my commission designs. School, shop, venue or event, I love getting a new brief and a new world to explore.
Your photographs often inform your artwork. Can you tell us a little about your process?
Yes, photography is a massive part of my process! A lot of my inspiration comes from the different shapes, colours and patterns I see in the world around me. My photos often become the starting points for my projects and designs. For example, Shoreditch Studios, a photographic studio in East London, commissioned me to paint a mural in their entrance. The first thing I did was spend a day at their studio exploring and taking images of all the equipment cupboards and colourful props. Petrol blue scaffolding poles, coiled cables, bright yellow ladders and all sorts of bolts and clips! I then cut, collaged, and photocopied my photos back at my studio to create my final designs. It’s important for me that my murals are in some way inspired by their homes, whether it’s the location, the activities happening inside the space, or maybe the people within it.
You use a photocopier as part of your practice. Can you tell us a little bit more about this? How did this happen?
My love of photocopiers grew from a workshop at Uni that was taught by my amazing tutor Peter Nencini. He got us to scan all sorts of interesting and unusually shaped objects, from bits of discarded plastic, wooden puzzle pieces, cardboard packaging and broken bits of lego. We went on to make drawings and prints from the scans and I’ll always remember that part of the workshop. It made a massive impression on me. Big shout out to Peter for the incredible workshop. He’s a fantastic maker!
You’ve done a number of collaborations and projects supporting local charities and groups, including raising money for music venues and NHS Charities, as well as a number of local, large scale murals. Have you always been passionate about using your art to support your community?
I care a lot about using my work to help others, whether it’s by helping raise funds for causes close to my heart, or by bringing people and communities happiness through colour and pattern. I try to use my work to speak about topics that are important to me and create more conversations around them. For example, I’m dyslexic and I think dyslexia is something quite misunderstood. It’s been amazing to connect with so many others that are dyslexic, lots of creative people are, and support each other within that community too. It’s a fantastic feeling to be able to support different communities through my work. I love it when a grassroots music venue or a local sports event gets in touch looking for my help to bring some colour and pattern into their world.
You’ve also worked with brands such as Track Mafia, Jo Malone and Evermade, as well as being invited to do an Artist in Residency at a leading international hotel in New York. Is there such a thing as a typical client for you?
Every client is different, but all my clients love colour and pattern and want to celebrate them and bring joy to their community or space. For example, I’m currently speaking to some London music venues about a commission to revive their premises with my designs. Music has so many mental and physical health benefits. It lowers stress levels and increases social bonds & happiness. It’s also great exercise, if you bounce around enough like me! Research shows that repetitive rhythms and melodies can help our brains form patterns that enhance memory. It has the power to soothe our minds and bodies as we come out of the Covid lockdown. For me, music venues and my studio are my two happiest places.
Who or what inspires you?
One of my favourite things to do is walk around a new city on a sunny day taking pictures of shifting shadows and patterns in architecture. Before the pandemic, I flew to New York for a month with my camera and took a huge archive of photos. I was totally mesmerised by the buildings and the shadows they cast. I was in pure pattern heaven! Sadly I’ve had to put a trip to Lisbon on hold for the time being but I can’t wait to be back exploring abroad when I can.
How do you market yourself?
I market myself as an artist and designer on a mission to open people’s eyes and minds to all the fantastic patterns and shapes in the world around us. I’m a colour lover and a shadow chaser and I hope that through my work I can help people celebrate them with me. If I could turn my brain inside out, I feel like it would be one massive grid of geometric monochrome shapes and stripes. Bold and crisp. Every month on Instagram, I choose a new topic and share some of the mighty mono patterns I’ve discovered. From fashion, architecture, ceramics, nature, textiles and food. Take a look at my Instagram highlights called ‘Mono Monday’. I’ve also designed a range of things, from prints, clothing and wrapping paper, which I sell through my online shop.
What’s next for you?
This summer I’ll be painting my biggest and most challenging mural yet, which I’m mega excited about, however it won’t be on a wall, it will be beneath our feet! I’m also currently working on a short film for a festival in Lisbon called The Container of Togetherness happening later in the year, a wonderful project created by The Fandangoe Kid and Lara Haworth. Can’t wait to share!