An Interview with Jo Ham
I (Antoinette) discovered HAM through Instagram in March 2017. When I first saw the rabbit, I immediately smiled widely. I love the black and white silhouette and how the rabbit does everyday human activities with a dose of humour. So funny! On the second day of following HAM I knew I needed to get these products into the Figg Street Co. shop. They're so delightful and happy.
So I was pleased when Jo Ham, the artist and illustrator who created HAM, was willing to answer a few of our questions...
What gave you the idea to create HAM?
I’d always wanted to do my own thing, but it wasn’t until I became ill in my early 20s and had to take some time off work that I got the motivation I needed. While I was recovering, I took solace in drawing - I couldn’t get out much, so I looked for inspiration in the everyday. I started to see the fun and happiness in our daily routines - made even more poignant by having my normality threatened. My protagonist became a little black Rabbit I'd first created at uni ...a year later HAM was born.
Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I'm from England and grew up on a farm near the Welsh border.
Are you right-handed or left-handed?
Did anything in your childhood point you toward a future in art and design?
I started drawing on walls when I was about five, much to my parents’ dismay. They managed to get me off emulsion and on to paper relatively quickly and things snowballed. My first watercolour set arrived at the age of eight and from that point I was hooked. Fast forward ten years and I was studying for a degree in Fine Art at Oxford University’s Ruskin School of Drawing. Here I specialised in anatomy and continued, like I'd done for all those years before, to focus on capturing the characters that surrounded me alongside the ordinary. When I look back at my drawings, all of which I still have, the ideas that fascinated me then still do now: potted plants, shoes, people at bus stops, portraits at the supermarket... it’s always been about vignettes of life and the everyday.
Who's inspired you in your life and how so?
My parents. They built their own business when I was little and their journey has been of great inspiration to me.
What's most exciting to you right now at HAM?
I'm just about to launch my first series of children's picture books featuring Rabbit with the amazing Walker Books and Candlewick Press. We've been working together on them for a number of years and I can't wait to share what we've created this September.
What aspect of stationery appeals to you most?
I'm very obsessed with my daily planner. I write a weekly to-do list every Monday and I'm always jotting down notes and categorising tasks. I'd be lost without it.
What's your favourite writing instrument?
I'm very particular about my pencils! I sign all my work with a 3H and have a drawer full of them!
What's your favourite ink colour(s)?
What are your favourite colours and/or motifs to work with in your creations?
HAM is known for its monochrome aesthetic but I also love working with bright pops of colour for limited edition Rabbits and collaborations.
What's your favourite aspect of working for HAM?
I'm most content when drawing Rabbits. I’m also very lucky to have a great team around me - there are five of us in the studio and our extended family is a network of brilliant makers, freelancers and retailers. Everyone gets involved with creating Rabbits and I love bouncing around ideas and developing new products and illustrations together.
What the best book you've ever read?
Too hard to pick! But I do love the classics and historical fiction.
What's your favourite way to spend your time?
We're very lucky to be surrounded by beautiful countryside and I spend a lot of time out in the fresh air walking with my family and two dogs, Ted and Abe.
Have you ever visited the Niagara region?
I haven’t, but would love to. Hoping the Rabbits will bring me to Canada one day.
We know HAM products are very popular at the shop. So we hope you enjoyed this week's interview with Rabbit's creator, Jo Ham.
Now that we're well into spring, perhaps we'll see a few new bunnies at Happy Rolph's Animal Farm!