VIBES CHECK: JoLA - Talking Stencils, Spray & Superstition with the Suffolk Street Artist.

VIBES CHECK: JoLA - Talking Stencils, Spray & Superstition with the Suffolk Street Artist.

JoLA the stencil artist

JoLA had our attention since day one. Her colourful birds adorned with head dresses and neck jewellery have been a fixture on Shoreditch’s walls since ‘22, with magpies painted in multi-layer stencils and sparkly accessories changing from season to season. JoLA has remained dedicated to her craft, her messages of peace, hope and love are a delight to see in the wild, and like a magpie drawn to a shiny thing we just had to take a few minutes to speak with her…

What's your name (and more importantly how do you pronounce it?). Where are you from and where are you at?

It is very simple, sadly no exciting hidden meaning haha; it is the first two letters of my first and last name. I was born in Glorious Swindon Town, lived in London studying art before moving to Sunny Suffolk with my family. I continued my art work but dedicated more of my time to my family. 

How long have you been creating art as JoLA?

I have been producing work under my ‘new’ name since the beginning of 2022. I think it was a series of events: C*vid had arrived, I had just recovered from my third big spinal surgery, and then Putin thought he’d like Ukraine! It was a ‘all my buttons have been fucking pushed’ moment. I love the street art world and its gutsy, punchy messages. It questions us. Stops people in their tracks. It shouts loudly about injustices. It is quietly beautiful. A free gallery. The interactions with other artists. Working hard on a piece only for it to be obliterated the next day. Its constantly changing walls. I bloody love it all. 

JoLA the artist painting a boat

What are some events that lead you to the path of experimenting with stencils and street art? How hard was the medium of spray and stencil to master? When did you put up your first pieces on the street?

I remember exactly when I produced my 1st stencil and my first piece on the street: March 2022. I think I spray painted around 250 A4 posters on cardboard and delivered them at night to shops/businesses around Framlingham and Woodbridge. Obviously I’ve worked with many mediums over the years but I had no clue about stencils really, or spray paint (YouTube was a fabulous source of education), but I thought this was the quickest way to get my message of support out and finally find my voice!

One of the local businesses actually printed postcards of my  artwork with the Red Cross/ Support Ukraine QR code on. Can you believe that?! I think this gave me the confidence to head into London with spray painted pasteups, and eventually my stencils. It’s been almost 2 years since that first stencil, and I’ve popped pasteups and stickers in London, Manchester and NYC. I’ve painted in London (Shoreditch/Hackney/Penge) plus Cambridge, Belfast, Southend and Stockholm. With a little help my work is also in Lisbon, Scotland and Melbourne.

I’m really lucky to have a studio space. I work out designs/colours, pack my rucksack and head off. I feel connected.

JoLA in her studio. "I got you something" spray can and magpie

I love seeing you post scenes from your studio, has having a dedicated space elevated your work?

It has been so exciting but I’m not stupid enough to think I am anywhere near mastering any of it haha. I just grab anything that comes my way. Most days I am completely out of my comfort zone, but this is a good thing right? Don't just sit on your arse and be too comfortable! I absolutely love the interactions. I’ve met some truly lovely people, people who are so warm and generous with their time. I’ve also loved setting up instagram - although at times I find it overwhelming -technical things don’t come easy but it has opened up the world and connected me. Working in my studio used to be lonely but now I have a sense of belonging to something.

Your birds seem to be adorned with an ever expanding wardrobe of accessories, making your work on the streets highly seasonal (and dare I say fashionable!)

Why birds? I love their free spirits. Their stunning designs. In particular Magpies; I enjoy their myths: the collectors and keepers. I imagine them adorning themselves with jewellery and of course hats to keep them warm during winter. They are wonderful creatures for my voice.

Last question is the burning question we’ve all been waiting to ask: Do you salute magpies?

I always salute a magpie!!!


You can follow JoLA on Instagram here and check out her originals here.
Check out the Vibes Farm shop here.


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