What’s in Your Toolbox: Lotta Jansdotter

When I was a student at SCAD, I haunted a beloved local shop for new delights from one of my favorite textile designers, Lotta Anderson of Lotta Jansdotter. It began with an obsession for her sticky notes and continued with collecting every tea towel and sewing kit I could get my enthusiastic hands on. I am so thrilled to see her brand continuing to flourish and expanding to new arenas of design. Lotta Jansdotter washi tape? Sign me up. To be interviewing her now is an honor, and it lets me high-five my inner, bright-eyed art-student self. Her images are so joyful, aren’t they? Continue reading for a delightful visual smorgasbord of creativity.

1. Design*Sponge: What is in your toolbox?

Lotta Anderson: My tool box is rather simple: pen (my favorite pen is a Pentel Sign Pen in black), paper, rubber cement and a pair of scissors.

I create my print designs, motifs and patterns by hand: I sketch and draw in my custom-made sketch books or on plain copy paper. I cut out shapes and motifs out of black construction paper. I do this for a while, and I might find something I want to develop further. Then I will play with scale and layout by using my copy machine. Then I am back to cutting and pasting again. A very hands-on process! I like the tactile process of how I create my designs.

2. Design*Sponge: Fill in the blank, “When I am in my studio, I feel _____________.”

Lotta Anderson: When I am in my studio I feel exhilarated, enthusiastic, chaotic, unorganized, happy and crazy!

Read the full post after the jump!

3. Design*Sponge: What is on the top shelves of your inspiration library right now?

Lotta Anderson: I am very interested in live performances at the moment: the movie PINA was amazing and a concert with Antony and The Johnsons.

I am drawn to and inspired by people with real strong, personal and vibrant personalities and visions.

Other than that, I love poring over my notebooks filled with magazine clippings I have saved over the years. I love love those notebooks!!!

I don’t like reading blogs very much, and sadly enough, there are not many great inspiring and unique magazines in America right now. I think Kinfolk is nice, and some Japanese magazines are rather super!

4. Design*Sponge: How do you keep yourself organized? Time management is often one of the biggest obstacles for creative minds. Do you have an agenda book, and do you make to-do lists?

Lotta Anderson: I create many many lists, too many. I lose them and start over. I start lists on papers, and in my notebooks . . . and it does not do much good actually. I sort and organize things only to quickly mess it all up again. I am not a good “maintainer.” I am bad at maintaining the order I just created. I am black or white: very organized or very messy — no in between. I am starting to accept this fact more and more, and I try to embrace it; no point in getting all frustrated about myself in regards to it. Some sort of chaos . . . this is how I roll.

5. Design*Sponge: If you could have one superhero (or magical) power, what would it be and why?

Lotta Anderson: I wish I could fly, that would be so freakin’ awesome! Beyond exciting.

6. Design*Sponge: What is the best advice you have ever received, and what is the one piece of advice you would offer to a young artist/designer?

Lotta Anderson:

Received: “Follow your heart. Do what you love to do.”

Advice to offer: Just start doing things, try them out. You might make mistakes and that is OK. The more things you do, the more you will find and learn what you are good/bad at; what works and what you want to spend your time doing. If you are too afraid of even trying, then nothing will happen. And most things pass. Everything changes. You can always renew/start over and move on. You do not have to have all the answers at once . . . baby steps.

7. Design*Sponge: How do you combat creative blocks?

Lotta Anderson: I never get to that state. I have a different problem: It’s hard to find the time to create. There is so much else to attend to and do . . . or am I simply procrastinating?

Usually the process will get me going. I might not have a solid or firm idea of what to do in the beginning, but then I start drawing or cutting and after a while (when I am “warmed up”), I get going and feel the inspiration come along. So to answer your question: the creative process itself unblocks me.

8. Design*Sponge: Where do you like to shop for inspiration?

Lotta Anderson: I like going to thrift stores a lot, yard sales, and visiting Ikea. I shop much more when I travel, and then I try to find independent shops as well as the grocery stores, office supply stores, and markets.

Image above: Lotta’s studio shop called Work + Shop. Stop by and visit!

9. Design*Sponge: If you could peek inside the studio/toolbox of any designer/artist/craftsperson, whose would it be and why?

Lotta Anderson: Maira Kalman. She is such a joyful, witty person, and she feels so free in her work. I would love to watch Picasso paint his ceramics, or watch Matisse cut his papers. I guess I am much more interested in watching the process than actually seeing their tools.

10. Design*Sponge: If you could make a master mix-tape of music that is inspiring you at the moment, what would it include?

Lotta Anderson: I love KCRW out of Santa Monica. Also I stream “One Summer ” and David Byrne Radio. I listen to Bart Davenport, Nina Simone, Fleetwood Mac, The Purple Man, Rufus Wainwright, Antony and many more!

  1. this is one of my favorite columns!i don’t think i’ll ever get tired of seeing people’s work spaces and tools.

  2. Her work is fantastic! It was such a pleasant surprise seeing this feature here!

  3. Emily Desai says:

    I love her frank acceptance of her strengths and weaknesses- she doesn’t struggle with creative blocks, but can’t keep a straight schedule- and *both* of those characteristics are part of her…. That is something you learn, as well, when you move from being a designer in your 20’s to being one later in life.
    And, Bart Davenport is great!

  4. Donna says:

    Always found Lotta’s art delightful, and your photos and interview so make me want to have her as my new best friend! Can’t wait to visit the shop in person and come away with more of her happy colors and designs. Thanks***

  5. lua says:

    THANK-YOU for this posting! I often walk by her former place and have been curious of her whereabouts and what she is doing. Now I know. So happy to see her and what a fabulous studio she has. Kinokuniua bookshop still has a mook of her things though. Pleased to see that she’s OK. Better than Big Box is right :) much better :)

  6. I love Lotta, and seeing her workspace *sigh* amazing. I agree with Donna, I want her to be my new best friend too!

  7. Love her workshop and her works ! Simply amazing and beautiful :)

  8. Ciara says:

    Gorgeous space….I have it on my to do list to keep my environment as organised and energized as Lotta’s seems, maybe one day!

  9. Ritsya says:

    Love Lotta and her approach to the creative process. Definitely resonates with me. She is inspiring without even trying. Thank you design*sponge for showcasing yet another brilliant and enthusiastic artist!

  10. Stephanie Weddle says:

    Great studio. Love the ‘work + shop’!

  11. Mary says:

    Yey. It is neat to hear that the creative process itself gets her going. I also liked that she calls it “warming up.” It seems like a neat approach to getting started for the day.

  12. Julian Hazlett says:

    My heart skipped a beat when I saw your interview and studio visit with Lotta. I love her work and her approach to the creative life. Wish there had been more!! Thanks.

  13. sharon says:

    I looooove this studio! I think you can tell a lot about a person through their work space. All the white really makes her work stand out, too. So beautiful.

  14. Jen says:

    I really love those folio drawers – where did you get them??

  15. Oh dear, what fun she is! I’m very inspired by those rows of books, and the merry jumble of things in her wonderful studio~

    Thank you, I never knew about her until this article. :o)


  16. Shannon G. says:

    I love Lotta! Have been charmed by her colorful designs and free spirit since I saw visited her former studio in Carrol Gardens. Her book on studio spaces is wonderful too!

  17. TACK !
    I am so delighted to read all of these posts..THANK YOU ever so much!
    Makes me very happy.

    The beautiful photos for this feature was taken by my very talented and dear friend,
    the photographer Jenny Hallengren. http://jennyhallengren.se/

    My studio and shop “Work+Shop” is open to all of you to visit:
    131 8th Street . Brooklyn NY 11215 @ 2nd and 3rd Ave. p:718 755 9945

    tuesday-friday 12 pm- 6pm
    saturdays 11 am- 4 pm

    I hope to see you soon.
    Vi ses, Lotta

  18. love her workshop. I am going to make one similar.

  19. I looove this. Lotta is one of my favorite designers…I started using her fabrics in my handmade shop a few months ago & they just make the process a little cheerier! So happy to hear a little behind the scenes about her. :)

  20. Annie says:

    I LOVE LOTTA! I have been following Lottas work for around 5 years now and she is one of my favourite textile designers! I hope one day to visit her in her New York studio….I am always inspired by her freshness of colours and clean designs!! Annie

  21. Laura says:

    “I love poring over my notebooks filled with magazine clippings I have saved over the years. I love love those notebooks!!!”

    That thrills me to no end! That is so me :)

  22. Loving this! What a beautiful and inspirational workspace, and some great advice too, especially to ‘do what you love’, wholeheartedly agreed!

  23. Katie Martin says:

    I had not heard of Lotta before, but just seeing these snippets of her designs and hearing her personality in this interview makes me very interested to see more! I love that she is able to use her environment around her to create and doesn’t need to push herself to find motivation; I feel like that truly shows she is an artist at heart. And her advice to others is so spot on- you can’t find what it you if you don’t try a lot of things first! Does she just make paper crafts and bags, or is she starting to go into clothing design as well? I think it would at least be great if she started designing textiles because her prints are just darling!

  24. dianne says:

    This place has soul….

  25. Saskia says:

    Love the interview, love the workspace and have fallen in love with the chair she has at the sewing desk!! Does anyone have any idea what its called, who designed it or where I can get my hands on one?

  26. Brooke says:

    Hi there! I really love the art framed behind the paint brushes. Looks like handwriting on fabric? Just wondering who the artisit is behind this piece or did she make it?
    Thanks, Brooke

  27. yvonne says:

    I’d love to know source of little drawer unit/box also


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