what's in your toolbox

What’s In Your Toolbox: Lorna Scobie

by Annie Werbler

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In her own Jungle Paradise: a coloring escape into the wild (publishing soon in the US), Lorna Scobie outlines a lush dreamscape meant for imaginative adults to fill in. Lorna, a “designer of cheeky animals and the natural world,” uses the tools readily available to creative children in their artistic pursuits for her own advanced doodles. In sketchbooks, Lorna wields watercolor paints, colored pencils, and fine black markers (“to draw the eyeballs!”), creating scenes of lovely interactions between people, animals, and their environments.

Her own London home studio provides a proper workspace and storage for inspirational books, knick-knacks, and supplies, but Lorna has been known to spontaneously stop and capture “a funny scene or an animal with lots of personality” in drawn snapshots, a skill she works on “at least every day.” —Annie

Photography by Lorna Scobie

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What’s in your toolbox?

Nothing too high-tech, as I like to keep my work simple. I spend most of my day with a watercolor set my Grannie gave me for my 8th birthday, lots of colored pencils, a few fine liner pens, and books galore (but not enough shelving). I’ve also got a traveling toolbox — I have lots of sketchbooks on the go at once and usually there is always one in my bag when I go out, in case I see a funny scene or an animal with lots of personality. So I carry a teeny tiny pencil case of coloring pencils in my bag, too, and one black fine liner pen (to draw the eyeballs!).

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Fill in the blank, “When I am in my studio, I feel ____________.”

… At home… and not just because I am!

What's In Your Toolbox: Lorna Scobie, on Design*Sponge

What’s on the top shelves of your inspiration library right now?

Because I’ve been drawing so many plants and jungle-related things recently for my coloring book, I’ve been craving plant inspiration. I found a really amazing book called Encyclopedia of Flowers by Makoto Azuma and Shunsuke Shiinoki that is full of really unusual arrangements of flowers. I couldn’t get by without my big animal encyclopedias and they are always in reach.

What's In Your Toolbox: Lorna Scobie, on Design*Sponge

How do you keep yourself organized?

I have copious amounts of to-do lists and Post-It notes, and I always make a list at the start of each day to try and keep on track. I also use week and month planners so I can keep an eye on everything as a whole, and drop in reminders for key dates and deadlines. I always physically make my to-do lists (rather than using calendars or notes on my computer) because I’ve found that I tend to ignore the digital lists. For some reason, they don’t feel as real as a big, fluorescent pink note stuck to my watercolor set saying “DRAW THE DOG TODAY!”

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If you could have one superhero (or magical) power, what would it be and why?

This is such an important question! I feel like I really need to think about it, in case someone who grants wishes reads this. I think I’d like to be able to pause time because there is always so much I want to do in a day. Imagine getting close to tigers and other dangerous animals whilst they were paused…amazing! I’d probably go through 50 sketchbooks a day!

What's In Your Toolbox: Lorna Scobie, on 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, maker, or designer?

When I was at university, a visiting lecturer advised us to always be nice to people, and it’s something that has stuck with me. The industry suddenly starts to feel very small, and everyone knows everyone, so you don’t want to get a reputation for being difficult to work with! This doesn’t mean being a pushover, though, or working for free, because I absolutely believe in respecting and valuing yourself as a creative — and that means sticking up for yourself. Instead, it means that when you do have to fight your ground (for a fair payment, against unfair deadlines, and the like), it’s best to be as polite and friendly as possible. Most people I’ve encountered in the industry are absolutely fair and lovely.

What's In Your Toolbox: Lorna Scobie, on Design*Sponge

How do you combat creative blocks?

When I’m stuck for ideas I go back through older sketchbooks and see if anything I’ve drawn in the past inspires me to create something new. Sometimes I see a way of working which I’ve not used for a while, or a character I’d like to use. That’s why I try to draw in my sketchbooks all the time — at least every day — especially when I’m not working on any specific project. I also really value the advice of my family, friends, and boyfriend, so I will often message them to say HELP I’M STUCK or show them some possible options for a design.

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Where do you like to look or shop for inspiration?

Pinterest is my go-to place for inspiration for things like color palettes and just generally making me want to whip out the colored pencils and start drawing. I also like looking at real-life things! One of my favorite things to do is to take a sketchbook and a load of paints and colored pencils to somewhere I can sit and watch people (but not in a creepy way). I love overhearing snippets of conversations or seeing how people interact with their dogs on walks, and try to draw it as it happens. Museums, zoos, parks and beaches are great sources of inspiration, and I find that being forced to work quickly keeps my work spontaneous and can lead to new ideas and ways of working.

What's In Your Toolbox: Lorna Scobie, on Design*Sponge

If you could peek inside the studio or toolbox of any artist, maker, designer, or craftsperson, whose would it be and why?

Everything Mogu Takahashi has created is amazing. So many incredible sketchbooks — Mogu’s work is so effortless and intriguing and I’d love to see everything they’ve ever created.

What's In Your Toolbox: Lorna Scobie, on Design*Sponge

What’s on your inspirational playlist at the moment?

Lianne La Havas, Bob Dylan, and always Rachmaninov. The new album “In Colour” by Jamie xx is also great.

What's In Your Toolbox: Lorna Scobie, on Design*Sponge

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