Jenni Sparks is an illustrator and designer, most widely known for her intricately hand drawn maps. Originally from a small seaside town in South West England, she’s travelling the globe one city at a time and capturing the essence of each with her pen. From tattooed biceps, boxes of fried chicken and the infamous neons of Soho… her new series of enamel pins and key rings speak for themselves.
We caught up with Jenni after she spoke at our recent Pop-Up Event in Brighton to talk about her latest creative endeavours.
Why do you think lapel pins are so sought after now?
I think people are always interested in nicely designed things and people love art that is affordable – pin badges are tiny wearable pieces of art! People can also wear them to express their identity too, and they are more removable than say, an iron-on patch. A lot of illustrators and artists started producing them and larger manufacturing companies have made it easier for more people to make them now - previously you would only be able to make pin badges if you were purchasing a large order of them.
If you buy and wear pins yourself, which are the best ones you own?
I’ve had a couple of Malarky (the graffiti artist) pin badges given to me as gifts, I also got one from the amazing magazine She Is Fierce as a thanks for being in the magazine which was cool. I also bought one with the NTS Radio (an independent radio station in Dalston) logo on it, it’s really cute.
Which is your favourite pin or keyring of your new collection?
It’s got to be the Hackney one because that’s where I live! I also love the design of fried chicken and chicken shops. Out of the others though, I think I like the Soho one the best as I love the neon signs there, when I first moved to London I was obsessed with them.
Which location was the hardest to summarise in an image?
Definitely Islington! I think it’s because even though it’s a lovely place, it was very very hard to come up with something that would represent it as a whole in a funny way. I kind of wanted to draw a stack of money but I think some people might have taken offence to that. But you do need a lot of money to live there.
If you were to be represented as a single symbol and made into a pin what would you be?
Oh god, that is so difficult to answer! I’m gonna be simple and go with some painted nails, because I always have my nails done and it’s one of my fave activities to do when I’m bored.
What advice can you give to any illustrators trying to get their work out there?
Draw every day, no matter what! The reason I became an illustrator was because I loved drawing so much. If you practise every day you will eventually get good at it! In terms of getting your work out there, keep posting stuff on social media and have a regularly updated website. Eventually you will make contacts and you never know where they might lead in the future.
What’s next for Evermade and Jenni Sparks?
We have discussed doing some more large scale maps in the future which is exciting, however factoring them in can be difficult as they take so long to do from start to finish and my work schedule can be a nightmare! But there are definitely going to be some more coming soon!
So…on to a few quick fire questions!
What’s your go to Spotify playlist at the moment?
I have tons of playlists on Spotify, I absolutely love music, the weirder the better. I tend to veer between my ‘if i was doing a dj set’ playlist which is a mix of techno and world stuff, and my ‘feelin sassy’ playlist which is 90s/2000s R ’n’ B.
Which TV series are you really into this month?
I tend to watch a lot of stuff that people consider trashy, such as The Only Way Is Essex! Ru Paul’s Drag Race is always a classic though too. In terms of comedy I’ve been watching The Eric Andre Show and Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show, Great Job! – I love surreal comedy.
Finally, which is your favourite Evermade product and why?
I think it’s got to be the Hand Drawn Map of London, because that’s the one that started my career out as an illustrator! I also love it because that was a really exciting time of my life, having just moved to London and trying to work it all out, plus attempting to make it in a creative career. The map holds a lot of memories in there.
You can see all of Jenni’s fabulous pin and key ring designs here.