Meet the Maker: Jo Waterhouse

Meet the Maker

We'd like you to meet Jo Waterhouse, a celebrated collage artist known internationally for her playful and anarchic style...

We’d like you to meet Jo Waterhouse, a celebrated collage artist known internationally for her playful and anarchic style. We are also thrilled to announce that Jo is one of the latest addition to our Artist Corner at Shop Kit Kemp. We sat down with Jo to find out about her journey of becoming an artist.

How did you get into collaging? What did you study?  

I studied writing but not as you would imagine; it was at Dartington College of Art, a very avant-garde performing arts college in Devon which is sadly now shut down. It was so great; a bit like Black Mountain College but more tie-dye. It was so creative that on the writing course we didn’t always do much writing. I started doing bookbinding there, under the wonderful Mary Bartlett, which led me to illustration and to collage.

Where do you find inspiration from?

I love to get out and go to markets, second-hand bookshops and car boot sales; I find people and their possessions endlessly fascinating. The digital world can be all-consuming at times, and it’s important to me that my work stays rooted in the physical world.

I like things that are wonky, dirty and textured. As AI develops and technology moves on, I find myself drawn to getting more hands-on with materials and making things that express my humanity in a flawless way.

What is next for you?

I have lots of plans for pictures and projects but the big thing for me right now is moving studios. I’ve had my studio out of the house while my children were young but now my youngest is in school I’ve converted the attic into a big, light studio: I’ve painted it a lovely shade of pink and will start moving my plan chests in over the coming months. It’s all very exciting. Once I’m in I’ll have a big pin board for keeping track of all my ideas and I’ll be beetling away late into the night – making things.

Can you talk us through your design process?

Right now my working process is very gentle and meandering. I’m really into fungi, and I’m making images of lots of natural structures that warp and wind around each other. I’m just coming through a bit of a sad patch, and I’ve been trying to channel that in to my work.

I often spend a bit of time just painting papers before I know what image I will make: at the moment I have a pallet of sad sploshy sheets of watercolour to work with. I’ve dug out a stash of antique French mourning letters to compliment them and have been searching through old ephemera for anything that feels kind of mournful.

How did you develop your style?

I grew up in a very creative household and spent a lot of my 20s being an antique dealer so I think I got to know what I like through exposure to ‘stuff’.

What is a material that is always on your creations / you can’t live without?  

Antique etchings, I just love them. The sort with the neatly engraved lines appeal to me so much, I have some wonderful etched cloth textures stowed away. I’ll use every single bit of an etching, even the unprinted parts which can have wonderful foxing and striations.

What is the most challenging part in your creations?

There’s a tiny moment just before I start sticking down a collage that I always find a hurdle. It just feels like a big commitment to decide that the piece has reached its final composition. I get nervous and sometimes put it off but I always feel great once I’ve ploughed on and finally have a finished collage; one that I can hold vertically!

We hope you enjoyed learning about the world of Jo Waterhouse. Explore her range available at Shop Kit Kemp here.