Jolby is a collaborative design and illustration studio based in Portland, Oregon. Josh Kenyon & Colby Nichols began their partnership in 2005 after meeting at the Art Institute in San Diego. They combine their talents as Art Directors, Designers and Illustrators, utilizing their experience from working within agencies over the course of their careers. The two have exhibited their illustrations in galleries all over the world and have produced award-winning designs for clients including Disney, Intel, T-Mobile, Pitchfork and AIGA. They try to achieve two goals within the work they create: “Tell a memorable story” and “make people smile”.
Interview by Lisa Hassell
Tell us a little bit about Jolby & how it came to be?
Colby Nichols: Josh Kenyon and I met in 2005 at the Art Institute of California – San Diego in one of my final classes there. We didn’t know each other, but really admired the other’s work. After graduation, we began working on our first projects together and haven’t stopped creating as a duo since!
Describe your process for creating a new piece – what sorts of materials do you prefer to use?
CN: Our work starts with the two of us sitting down and concepting together. Whether it’s sketching together, looking/finding inspiration, or talking it out. Once we understand the goal of the project and what we want to do for it, we’ll divide the work up. Josh does all of the patterns, textures, and a lot of the coloring for the pieces we make, where I draw the characters and big shapes. As far as materials go, we draw/create everything by hand including textures, paint swashes, all of our inked lines, and sometimes our type, too. It’s then assembled digitally, although we’ll sometimes do acrylic paintings. More recently, we purchased a Wacom Cintiq which has greatly changed the way we work.
How does collaboration differ from working alone? What do you love/hate most about it?
Josh Kenyon: We heavily preach the benefits of collaboration. It takes time and understanding your/their strengths and weaknesses to fully realize the benefits of collaboration, but the results are always better than what we could have created on our own. The process of collaborating with others should ultimately take the ego out of the equation and allow everyone to focus on the work. We don’t view projects as how it will look in our individual portfolios; the goal is to create the best work we can together. It’s hard to imagine what working alone would be like if we weren’t Jolby.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background; where did you study?
CN: We both started off as animation majors at the Art Institute, then quickly changed to Graphic Design. Josh and I had design jobs throughout our college careers and worked as freelancers, too. I worked in a screen printing shop and Josh worked for Drive-Thru Records and some action sport companies. When we both finished school we wanted to do a project together, so we decided to start a clothing company.
We’ve heard the art scene in Portland is pretty awesome – what’s it like living & working there?
CN: I can’t say enough amazing things about Portland! Especially at this very moment, there is a great creative presence in the city, all of the people are so nice, nature surrounds you, great food/beer/coffee. We love it here.
JK: We both have never lived in a city that truly inspires and helps as grow as creatives. Being able to drive 10 mins and be in the forest is amazing is something that will never get old for me.
What inspires your ideas?
CN: We’re constantly inspired by our surroundings. Nature has a big presence up here and it’s hard for us to not be inspired by it. Our friends and other designers/illustrators we’re into are constantly producing great work that pushes us to be better each day.
JK: For me it’s nature. I love being outside and just letting ideas just form around me. This isn’t something that I have always had so it still amazes me. The patterns and textures we make come from nature but also from Indian and asian pattern work.
What do you have upcoming? Projects? Trips? Shows? Etc…
CN: The most exciting thing we’re working on right now is our next children’s book being written by Rachel Roellke Coddington. It’s coming out next year published by Sasquatch Press and will be filled with some pretty wacky characters.
JK: We are getting ready to reboot our Etsy shop. We are adding a lot of new sizes and things that we are stoked about. Also we are working on a couple of branding projects that we will be able to announce very soon. If anyone wants to sign up for our newsletter they can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Check out more of Jolby’s awesome portfolio at jolbyandfriends.com.
More Like This
Posted by Lisa Hassell