- Can design be personal, exclusive, and accessible all at once? At Lik + Neon, it can. Emilie Shane takes a look inside this colourful space and explores the wonderful world of artist/designer Laura Gee.
Admiring bespoke wood objects while trying not to disturb sleeping cats isn’t something you can do in any shop. It is what you’ll get to do when visiting illustrator Laura Gee’s new exhibition, The Object of My Attention at Lik + Neon. At the private viewing, cats by the names of Oskar, Makita, Browser, and Bobby had no trouble snoozing with all the people around them who were happily drinking, chatting, and admiring Laura’s illustrated products.
Lik + Neon is the raddest shop space you’ll come across, with a bright orange exterior and ceiling sculptures made of plastic milk bottles. ‘Ping bang kazaam! – in comic book style’ is how Janice, the shop owner, would describe the space. In other words, it’s all about ‘new concepts, products and ideas.’ Located just off Brick Lane it is right in the centre of creative London. Stocking about 90% London local designers, Janice seeks out designers and art collectives who produce limited edition or one-off pieces, including t-shirts, tote bags, prints, and other knickknacks.
Laura Gee studied illustration at Manchester University, where she says she got a solid fine art background. Since leaving uni she has translated the skills she learnt into more product- based artwork, which is exactly what she has done with her work for Lik + Neon. The illustrations are so versatile- they feature on greetings cards, canvas banners, and hand crafted wooden sculptures. The biggest feature of her exhibition is the sculptures, made specifically for Lik + Neon, which bring her humorous characters to life.
Describing her work as ‘emotive, playful, outspoken, and honest’, in her illustrations Laura creates adorable relatable little characters, whether they are happy sad, animal, or human. Many of Laura’s illustrations feature text, which come from her own thoughts; there’s a print that says ‘introverted fun and it’s all mine’ alongside a doodle of a happy little guy. Other text illustrations sound like personal mantras, such as ‘lift up your heart’ and ‘start today’, which, as little wood sculptures, make perfect little motivational desk ornaments.
Laura draws from her own imagination, but narrative forms, like folk art and poetry, also influence her. The writing of Anaïs Nin is particularly inspiring to her. Laura told me a bit about her process when illustrating. She is forever doodling, keeping a visual diary, which she refers back to and lifts the illustrations she likes best to develop into commercial art pieces. This makes Laura’s artworks very personal, as she describes it; ‘it’s just me… I draw from my emotions’.
If you want to catch Laura’s exhibition, it’s at Lik + Neon, 106 Sclater Street, until Saturday 30th November. Prepare to be delighted.