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Mark English

March 5, 2023


Mark English‘s work has been a staple of the Illustration industry for decades. The Society of Illustrators inducted him into their Hall of Fame in 1983, and he continued to work in, and influence the market for years after that. Sadly, this giant of illustration passed away a couple of months ago. I thought I would showcase some of his work here today.

Mark was born in 1933 in Hubbard, Texas. He attended the Hubbard High School and graduated in 1951, after which he enrolled into the University of Texas and was then drafted into the military during the Korean War.

In 1954, Mark married his first wife, Peggy Ann Littlejohn. In 1960, Mark graduated with honours from The Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, with a BFA in Advertising Design.

After gaining work experience in advertising agencies for the automobile industry, Mark and his family moved to Connecticut in 1964.

He began an illustrious career, working with publications such as TIME Magazine and Sports Illustrated among others in the corporate, pharmaceutical, music and postage industry.

In 1977, Hallmark Cards offered Mark an Artist-in-Residency to teach classes to its creative staff in Kansas City. It was there that he met his second wife, Wendy Buskey, and they married in 1983.

In 1995, Mark retired from illustrations and began to paint for galleries in earnest.

He had quite an usual departure from his previous illustrative and quite photographic style.

Combining elements of cloth, paper and motifs to help construct his decorative collages. Using a variety of subject matter such as people…

… bird life…

… flowers…


… and horses.

Wonderful compositions and subtle dashes of texture and colour to help identify both the subject and the flow of movement. Look at the colours in this beautiful work.

Often Mark makes the viewer search for the animal in the work.

Stunning paintings and harmonious colourations.

However his most prolific work concentrated around landscapes. Playing with geometric shapes, layering colours and texturing throughout.

In 1995, he and his son John co-founded the Illustration Academy, an art and design workshop catering to students and professionals.

From 1999 onwards, Mark’s work and paintings were exhibited in galleries across the United States and in London.

Beautifully serene landscapes.

Mark’s last exhibition was in 2019, in the Sager Braudis Gallery, in Columbia. He has had a tremendous influence on multiple generations of artists and hopefully his work will continue to delight, inspire and shine out from blogs like mine well into the future. How many of you readers knew of his work already ?

If you liked Mark’s early work you may also admire the work of Mac Conner.

Taisto Kaasinen

February 27, 2023

Taisto Kaasinen (1918–1980) was one of Finland’s leading ceramic artists in the 20th century.

He was the son of Viljam Kaasinen and from 1941 married to Airi Lija Valtonen. Kaasinen first studied art on his own and then privately for Erkki Koponen and Uuno Eskola . He was trained as a ceramicist at the Arabia factory 1946-1952 and was employed as a ceramic artist at Upsala-Ekeby in 1952. He returned to Arabia in 1961 where he has his own studio in the art department. He participated in the exhibition Artium Exposé in Gothenburg in 1953 and in several exhibitions in Uppsala.

He was part of the Nordic tradition aiming for warm-hearted, humorous, and sometimes subtly ironic design.

My favourite piece is this cat, such a great character.

He became a prominent designer of animal and people figurines with rounded shapes and kind expressions.

Taisto’s artistry is represented at the numerous museums in the Nordic countries.

He even depicted Knights of Old and Knights of Bold !

Also using flat ceramic-relief artforms as well as more 3D sculptures.

‘People’ (the name of the sculpture above), is located on the Hermanni Parish Hall in Helsinki and was made by Taisto in 1967. It depicts five people of different ages, holding each other by the hand to form a chain which symbolizes unity within the parish and involvement in the different stages of people’s lives.

I love his range of 2-D and 3-D friendly ceramic pieces.

Beautiful Nordic Ceramics. If you enjoyed this, check out the work of Mari Simmulson, Stig Lindberg and Lisa Larson.

Evaline Ness American Mid Century Illustrator Part 2

February 20, 2023

Welcome back to part 2 of my post about the life and work of Evaline Ness (April 24, 1911 – August 12, 1986). Please look back one post to see part 1.

Evaline was noted for her ability to work in a variety of media and her innovative and unique illustrations that interweaved text and pictures to create a story that captured a young child’s attention and imagination.

This talent is especially evident in her own written works with their girl protagonists and subtle stories that have a backdrop of ‘feminism’ and present ‘real’ characters learning about all of life’s pleasures, problems, and pains. Because printer’s ink is flat, Evalines’ constant concern was how to get texture into that flatness. The primary challenge in illustrating children’s books, she believed, was how to maintain freedom within limitation. Some of the techniques she has used to combat these limitations include woodcut, serigraphy, rubber-roller technique, ink splattering, and sometimes spitting.

Her first illustrations for publication in a children’s book were for Story of Ophelia by Mary J. Gibbons (Doubleday, April 1954) —using “charcoal, crayon, ink, pencil and tempera”. Not, I feel, her finest hour illustration-wise !

Kirkus Reviews said, “Evaline Ness’ colour pictures of elongated, human-looking animals express in their flimsiness, a searching quality.”

Evaline considers her illustration career to have officially begun in 1957 when Mary Cosgrove, editor at Houghton Mifflin, approached her with the manuscript for The Bridge by Charlton Ogburn. Jr. Originally, Ness refused the offer, thinking the profit would not produce enough income for her to live on. Cosgrove persisted and eventually Evaline agreed. She used offset printing techniques for the production of The Bridge. Ness pushed her silkscreen illustrations beyond the page margins and integrated text outside strict boundaries. The Bridge received much acclaim and Ness decided to leave commercial illustration and only focus on book illustration. In the following years, Ness’s use of mixed media and experimental materials garnered accumulated attention from a wide audience.

According to Charles Bayless at the bookshop Through the Magic Door, the 1960s were a time of experiment in illustration for children, with some fashion for “drawings with sharp, angular figures, muted colors and representational or cartoon-like styles”, which helped Evaline to thrive. “Macaroon” from 1962 shows this to be true.

The first story Evaline both wrote and illustrated was “Josefina February” (Scribners, 1963), after visiting Haiti for one year. It was set in Haiti, about a girl’s search for a lost burro, with a series of woodcuts.

Evaline was known for her variety of styles and techniques in her artwork.

Look at the many different styles here in some examples from her illustrations.

There’s a rich diversity in her work, perhaps that helped make her art so desireable to publishers.

I still am really drawn to the more simplistic two or three colour work.

Here’s a few examples of her magazine work from the early fifties.

Her three Caldecott Honor Books were published 1963 to 1965: All in the Morning Early by Sorche Nic Leodhas, A Pocketful of Cricket by Rebecca Caudill, and Tom Tit Tot: An English Folk Tale retold by Virginia Haviland.  She herself wrote the Caldecott-winning Sam, Bangs and Moonshine (1966), about a fisherman’s daughter, illustrated with line and wash drawings. “Sam” (Samantha) tells lies or “moonshine”, which finally endanger her pet cat “Bangs” and a neighbor boy; she learns responsibility for what she says. (see post 1 for illustrations).

Late in life Evaline experimented with cut-out colouring books such as Four Rooms From The Metropolitan Museum of Art To Cut Out and Color (1977).

Her last illustrated book was The Hand-Me-Down Doll by Steven Kroll (1983) —using pencil, watercolor, ink and charcoal.

Evaline died in 1986 in Kingston, New York, then a resident of Palm Beach, Florida. What a colourful life and a talented artist.

Evaline Ness American Mid Century Illustrator Part 1

February 13, 2023

Evaline Ness (April 24, 1911 – August 12, 1986) was an American commercial artist, illustrator, and author of children’s books. She illustrated more than thirty books for young readers and wrote several of her own. She is noted for using a great variety of artistic media and methods.

As illustrator of picture books she was one of three Caldecott Medal runners-up each year from 1964 to 1966 and she won the 1967 Medal for Sam, Bangs and Moonshine, which she also wrote. In 1972 she was the U.S. nominee for the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Award for children’s illustrators.

Great mix of printed patterns and pen and ink to create both texture and depth.

Evaline was born Evaline Michelow in Union City, Ohio and grew up in Pontiac, Michigan. As a child she illustrated her older sister’s stories with collages cut from magazine pictures. She studied at Ball State Teachers College 1931–32 to become a librarian, then at Chicago Art Institute 1933–35 to become a fashion illustrator. For a while she was also a fashion model.

She adopted and retained the name of her second husband Eliot Ness, married 1939 to 1945. She had previously married one McAndrew, and she married engineer Arnold A. Bayard in 1959, who survived her.

In 1938 Eliot Ness was already famous as a former United States Treasury agent. (As leader of a legendary team nicknamed “The Untouchables” he had worked to enforce Prohibition in Chicago, Illinois.) Now he was the recently divorced Safety Director for the city of Cleveland, Ohio, with a new team of Untouchables (men who cannot be bribed). By April 1939, when he cleaned up the Mayfield Road Gang, Ness and Evaline McAndrew were an item in Cleveland, where she was a fashion illustrator at Higbee’s department store. After their marriage (October 14), they remained an item because she would “keep house—and her job”, and because they went out with a female bodyguard for Evaline. A friend of the couple once said that “Evaline liked being Eliot’s wife when he was a famous and influential public official. She liked his prominence, power and fame. He loved her, no question about that. He always called her ‘Doll’.” After a 1942 scandal ruined his standing in Cleveland, the Nesses moved to Washington late that year. Evaline studied at the Corcoran College of Art and Design 1943–45 and taught art classes for children there.

After divorce she moved to New York City and worked 1946 to 1949 at Saks Fifth Avenue as a fashion illustrator.

Around 1950 she traveled to Europe and Asia, concluding in Italy, where she spent 18 months sketching until her money ran out. I

In Rome she studied at Accademia de Belle Arti 1951–52. Back in the United States, Ness found no work in San Francisco, so returned to New York and “assignments doing fashion, advertising and editorial art”. At some point she studied with the Art Students League and she taught art to children at Parsons The New School for Design 1959–60.

Check back in to check out part 2 of Evaline’s story next monday.

Fishink Ceramic Sale

February 11, 2023

Hello Everyone, I hope this finds you well. Just a quick post to say that I have my first Ceramic Sale starting over on my stories on Instagram at 9am UK time today. you can find it here

I have over 100 new pieces, many of which are the largest ones I have created to date. Please have a browse and message me there if there is anything you would like to purchase. Many thanks Craig

Here are a few examples of what is available : ) Happy Browsing

Clarke Hutton Mid century Illustration

February 6, 2023

Stanley Clarke Hutton was born in Stoke Newington, London, on 14 November 1898, son of Harold Clarke Hutton, a solicitor, and his wife Ethel, née Clark.

In 1916 he became assistant stage designer at the Empire Theatre.

About a decade later he took a trip to Italy, which inspired him to become a fine artist. In 1927 he joined the lithography class at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London. He studied under A.S Hartrick, replacing him in 1930-1968 as the instructor in lithography.

As soon as he took up his post, Hutton began to experiment with using the autolitho technique for book illustration. His aim was to develop a process that would make it possible to produce affordable, colour illustrated books for children. Here’s a few of the covers he created.

For many different publishers and on a wide variety of subjects.

This is the story of Noah.

He later worked with Noel Carrington at Penguin Books to develop the Picture Puffin imprint.

He used the same technique on Oxford University Press’ Picture History series. He illustrated about 50 books in all, for publishers in the UK and USA.

The Story of Tea.

Wartime in Britain.

Life in other parts of the globe.

Also some of his geometric work from the sixties.

A more Surrealist feel.

His paintings, figures and lanscapes, were widely exhibited.  He died in Westminster in 1984.

Leaflet promotions by London County Council.

Such a wealth of talent, don’t you agree ?

Any images that grabbed your attention today ?

Kenneth Rowntree

January 29, 2023

Hello to one and all, I hope this finds you well. Today’s wonderful artist is the legendary Kenneth Rowntree.

He was an artist, designer and teacher who worked in Britain from the 1930s through to the 1990s. Born the son of Howard Doncaster Rowntree, and educated at Bootham School, York. Kenneth was part of the extended, and famous, Quaker Rowntree (confectionery) family. His immediate branch of the family were shopkeepers and business leasers in the Yorkshire seaside resort of Scarborough – where they owned the town’s department store. There’s some interesting background family history here…

The Rowntree Family

He studied at the Ruskin School of Art, Oxford and went on to the Slade School of Fine Art. At the Slade he met Eric Ravilious and Edward Bawden, moving to north Essex to work more closely with them. They became known – with others – as the Great Bardfield Artists. Here’s one of Bawden’s painting from around the village.

In 1939, Kenneth married architect Diana Rowntree (née Buckley) with whom he had two children.

He painted beautifully tranquil depictions of life around him.

During the Second World War, he worked for the War Artists’ Advisory Committee. He was one of more than 60 artists commissioned by the Government and financed by the Pilgrim Trust to record the face of England and Wales before development or wartime destruction changed it.

Amazing to have these scenes catalogued in such a way.

Capturing scenes of devastation and celebration both.

Recording Britain, as this project came to be known, covered a total of 36 counties. Kenneth Rowntree concentrated on capturing the essential character of old buildings and interiors in Bedfordshire, Essex, Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Wales.

Ravilious had been one of Rowntree’s tutors at the Ruskin School, Oxford, in the early 1930s and was to remain the single most enduring influence on his design work, with the two men sharing a particularly fascination for letter-forms.   This fascination is evident in a number of the glazed ceramics Rowntree made whilst at the RCA and also in Alphabet (c.1957) his roller-printed glazed cotton design for Edinburgh Weavers, which, with its delightful vignettes, is an unashamed homage to his mentor’s pre-war Wedgwood Alphabet design.
His tribute to Ravilious’s memory with the wallpaper he designed for his own use in the house in Ruvigny Road, Putney, (above top right), to which he and Diana moved in late autumn 1949, in which he juxtaposed enlarged versions of Ravilious wood engravings with engravings by the late eighteenth-century master of the genre, Thomas Bewick, thus creating an elegant eighteenth-century papier peint effect.

After the war he joined the Royal College of Art as head of its mural painting studios. He designed book covers, such as that for King Penguin and created “A Prospect of Wales”.

Kenneth contributed 20 watercolours to the book, covering the landscape and buildings that inhabit it. The painter Clive Hicks-Jenkins has this to say about it.

In 1951 he completed a major mural, Freedom, for the Festival of Britain and two years later painted scenes along the processional route of the Coronation, with the Queen later acquiring some of his works.

In 1953, he painted scenes along the processional route of the Coronation, with the Queen later acquiring some of his works. In 1959, he was appointed to succeed Lawrence Gowing as Professor of Fine Art at Newcastle University; it was one of the most progressive art schools in Britain, where the teaching staff included Victor Pasmore and Richard Hamilton. He held this post until his retirement in 1980.

It was at Newcastle that he became receptive to various modernist idioms, such as assemblage and constructivist forms, and incorporated them in his own work. He repainted the scene of an outdoor table and dishes, over and over again, everytime slightly changing it’s location and use.

I can’t help but wonder if he had been inspired by Ravilious’s earlier Tea at Furlongs painting from 1939 ?

Amongst many other achievements, Kenneth Rowntree worked with the architect Ernő Goldfinger to produce coloured glass panels in Goldfinger’s Alexander Fleming House (now Metro Central Heights) in the Elephant and Castle. He also created many portraits.

But he’s possibly best remembered for his country scenes.

I particularly like this scene set in the woods of a church. You really feel the crisp autumnal leaves and slightly cool breezes.

In the 1960s Rowntree was elected Professor of Fine Art at University of Newcastle, where he remained until his death in 1997.

Dong Kingman Part 2

January 10, 2023

Welcome back to part 2 of my post about the artist Dong Kingman. Check out Part one from last week and we’ll start today with some coastal views (probably from the 1940’s)

Such great perspectives and rolling land and seascapes, coaxing the viewer’s eye to travel to the very edges of the canvas.

1954 was a year of dramatic changes. Hollywood director James Wong Howe‘s film short “Dong Kingman” was released, Dong’s wife Janice died, and U.S. Department of State International Cultural Exchange wanted him to tour the world as a cultural ambassador.

He put himself into this work whole-heartedly and returned to the USA to publish the 40 foot scroll chronicling his visits to the worlds cities in the pages of LIFE magazine in February 1955. In 1956 Dong married journalist Helena Kuo, and the following year he began his lifelong association with Hewitt painting workshops, traveling to exotic locations once or twice a year teaching watercolour workshops.

You can see how much lighter his work has become.

By the time his first book The Water Colors of Dong Kingman, and How the Artist Works was published in 1958, Dong Kingman was a household-name. That year Kingman moved from Midtown to Wildenstein (1958-69) where he broadened his international reputation with successful exhibits in New York, London and Paris.

Dong had met many people in the entertainment industry through the years and some of his friends were now employed in the art departments of film crews. He added his touches to films such as The World of Suzie Wong (1960), Flower Drum Song (1961), 55 Days in Peking (1963), and Sand Pebbles (1966). His friend Emil Kosa, Jr. was also on the art team of Sand Pebbles, providing the matte paintings for “special visual effects”.

A few early sketches.

The 1960s were a whirlwind of painting and traveling worldwide. Dong’s unique multi-cultural persona, pegged early on as merging Eastern and Western styles made him a valuable asset to the USA in world relations. His influence on the popular culture of America through use of images of his paintings in movies, magazine covers, posters, and illustrations furthered the warming of relations between China and America that culminated in President Nixon’s historic 1972 China visit. A decade later in 1981, Kingman was the first American artist to be accorded a one man show in China since diplomatic relations between the two countries resumed. More than 100,000 visitors attended and the retrospective received critical acclaim from the Chinese media.

Through the rest of his career Dong continued traveling and painting the cities of the world. His high-visibility assignments through the years included creating posters for the Olympics and Pan Am, and numerous cover assignments for magazines like Time, Fortune, Life, and Saturday Review. He was invited to be a judge in the Miss Universe contest in 1969 and was proud to serve 20 years, sharing the stage with stars and celebrities of the day.

When Dong Kingman went on tour for the State Department in 1954 he realized cities were his favorite subjects and he spent the rest of his life capturing the lively essence of the world’s great cities. In 1997 “Portraits of Cities” was released chronicling the vitality and beauty of the world’s major hubs of civilization as seen through the eyes of one of America’s own watercolour masters.

If you look at Dong’s work year by year you can see his skills and style sharpen and shift. The muted grays and umbers and realism of his early watercolors gradually gravitated to brighter colours with scenes populated with characters and symbols drawn from Dong’s personal iconology and sense of humor. His late period paintings are brighter still with masterful abstractions in design using the white of the paper to expert advantage.







Dong Kingman passed away from pancreatic cancer in the year 2000 at the age of 89. His paintings hang in over 60 Museums and public institutions world-wide.

During his lifetime he won “virtually every major award for this medium” including the American Watercolor Society‘s prestigious Dolphin Medal and National Academy’s 150th Anniversary Gold Medal of Honor. His family keeps his legacy and good works alive through archival and arts outreach at

Many thanks to Watercolor Painting dot com for their information on Dong which has helped make this post possible. Which of his paintings caught your eye today ?

Dong Kingman Part 1

January 3, 2023

I first discovered the work of Dong Kingman work after spotting this San Francisco poster for American Airlines. Again because there is so much of Dong’s work to explore, I’ve split the post into two sections. A real travel feast for the eyes : )

Dong Kingman (1911-2000) was born in Oakland, CA of Chinese parents was originally named Dong Moy Shu. According to Chinese custom, Kingman was given his new name when he entered school. Hearing that he wanted to be an artist, his teacher gave him the name of King (scenery) and Man (composition). In later years he combined the two words into Kingman and following Chinese custom, he used the family name first and the given name second. He studied at the Ling Nan School in Hong Kong.

Dong returned to Oakland in his late teens in 1929. He attended the Fox Morgan Art School, held a variety of jobs and experimented with oils and watercolors. Soon he decided to concentrate on watercolors. At the time, Charles Burchfield, John Marin and George Grosz were the leading practitioners of the medium. During the Depression era decade that followed, Dong would emerge as one of America’s leading artists and a pioneer of the California Style School of painting.

I love his observational skills and layouts, as much as his use of colour and shade.

Here’s some of the work inpired by his China visits.

A 1936 solo exhibition at the San Francisco Art Association brought him instant success and national recognition. Reviewing the Second Annual Exhibition of Watercolors, Pastels and Tempera on Paper, sponsored by the San Francisco Art Association in 1937, art critic Alfred Frankenstein wrote: “Dong Kingman is bold, free and joyous as always. He paints with soaked light. He is San Francisco’s A No. 1 watercolorist at the present moment.”

Some of his early work here, really captures life on the streets of the forties and fifties.

In 1941 Dong earned the first of two, back to back, Guggenheim Fellowships which allowed him to travel and experiment with the watercolor medium. During World War II he joined the army and was assigned to the Office of Strategic Service at Camp Beal, California and then Washington, D.C. The nature of his duties allowed him to continue his career.

After the war Kingman settled on the East Coast, in Brooklyn Heights, New York, assuming teaching positions at Columbia University and Hunter College in 1946 for the next decade. His first one-man show in New York at Midtown Galleries in 1942 was well received in the media, including Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, the New Yorker and American Artist. M.H. de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco held a major exhibit of his watercolors in 1945. In 1951, Midtown presented a 10-year retrospective of his work. Time Magazine wrote, “At age 40, Dong Kingman is one of the world’s best watercolourists.”

A few paintings showing trains, railways and tram structures around the city.

I wonder how many other folk were painting structures like these in those times ?

Other retrospectives, including Corcoran in Washington, D.C. and Witte Memorial Museum in San Antonio, were held for the artist. In the late 50s, Dong moved from Midtown to Wildenstein where he had successful exhibitions for over a decade in New York, London and Paris.

A few of his London paintings here.

Many thanks to Watercolor Painting dot com for their information on Dong which has helped make this post possible. Look out for Part 2 next week.

Lisa Larson World Exclusive Interview for Fishinkblog

December 24, 2022

Hello and welcome to all my readers and followers old and new. For my end of year post I decided to look back to 2017 to a brighter time and an interview that I really enjoyed doing with a lady I admire greatly, Swedish ceramist Lisa Larson. It read like this …..

Welcome to all of my visitors and whether you are a regular reader or a new visitor, I have a very exclusive treat for you today as I have managed to secure an interview with the wonderfully talented, Swedish Ceramist, Lisa Larson! I can hardly believe it happened myself and I’m still rather smiley as a result lol

Through a chance email, I received a reply from Lisa’s daughter Johanna. She just happened to be visiting her mum that week and very kindly offered to ask Lisa the questions I had mentally prepared (never thinking for a moment that I would actually get to ask them). The following post is a culmination of a few months work, ordering books and magazines and then the wonderful surprise of the interview itself… enjoy!

My first question went to Lisa’s daughter Johanna.

What was it like growing up with Lisa’s creativity around you.. I see that you have a graphics background yourself, do you think your mum’s encouragement has given you a love of the arts too ?

I grew up in a very creative home with two big artist studios connected to the house, and I also went along to the factory sometimes. I basically spent most of my time in a studio since I was a baby. I played with ceramic tools, or clay, or in the sandpit they used for casting. I was encouraged to draw and paint and knit and sew, my mum taught me how to throw clay. I went to art school but ended up specialising in Graphic Design and Illustration.

Here’s a fab selfie shot (below) of Lisa and Johanna.

Now my questions are directed to Lisa….

What are your first memories of art and drawing… were your parents creative and did they encourage your own creativity when you were younger ?

My father collected art and antiques and was a creative person. (My mother had died when I was two.) He encouraged me. He owned a sawmill and I could use the waste bits of wood to carve figures. I used to bicycle around and paint the farms around the area too, and sometimes sell the paintings to the owners, as was popular in rural Sweden. My father once gave me a load of blue clay and I made a life size portrait of the boy next door in our garden!  Another neighbour (perhaps the boy’s father?) was an art teacher and was the person that advised me to apply to the art college in Gothenburg.

Was it unusual for a woman to be a designer in Sweden, some fifty years ago ?
My sister and I both wanted to be fashion designers and made all our own clothes. She did succeed (Titti Wrange, Annamodeller)…

and I ended up being placed in the ceramics department in art school, and loved the material from day one.

I saw a great video of a gentleman on the potter’s wheel and you reforming one of the pots he had thrown into a female figure, and later into a family pot etc. Growing up (and perhaps today) who helped in your own creative journey and who’s work do you admire who may or may not have been an influence on your work ?

The ceramicist and thrower in the video is Richard Manz who was my assistant at Gustavsberg. He was a very skilled technician. Else-Kulle Petersson and Kurt Ekholm were my teachers at Slöjdskolan in Gothenburg. I was also influenced by my husband Gunnar Larson and his artist classmates, teachers and colleagues. Stig Lindberg was my mentor at Gustavsberg. He had hired me and became a very good friend and colleague. (more about Stig here.)

What was it like working alongside Stig, (another hero of mine) and was it his free thinking style and humourous work, that allowed and perhaps encouraged your own style to develop and be appreciated ?

Yes, Stig had a lot of humour and we were all influenced by each other at the factory. He was very encouraging to us new students. We were free to experiment and he would visit the studio every week and discuss our work, and sometimes pick something for production, like the cat he thought was suitable. He asked me for more animals in the same style to make up a series. It became my first, Lilla Zoo.

I was frustrated for you when I read the story about you not getting paid very much for the work that you did that helped make Gustavsberg so famous. Was your transition to a freelance artist part influenced by that frustration yourself and are there any regrets about ever going it alone ?

No regrets. I had worked there for 26 years. Stig was gone, it was different times. Time to move on.

How did the collaboration with the Japanese company come about ?

I was originally contacted by a photo publishing company that wanted to do a photo project, and then they decided to produce some Lisa Larson merchandise instead (my photos probably weren’t that great!) and really wanted to launch the brand in Japan. My daughter was also enthusiastic about it and wanted to manage the brand internationally, and take care of all the new communications and new 2-D design tasks.

Below are part of the new Zodiac series due out in 2018,  planned future orders are already sold out!

Being trained as a textile designer, I think your scope for design onto fabrics has a universal appeal, I know that the Japanese company you work with has made tee shirts and tee towels in their ranges, but have you ever thought about creating furnishing and fashion fabrics for children as part of your product range. I would love to put drawings into repeat for you if it would be helpful : )

Thank you but that is my daughter’s job!  She has been inspired by my ceramic sketches and turned them into textiles, and she constructs the illustrations and the patterns for Uniqlo and other licenced clients. We have already worked with Ljungbergs Textiles and Boras Cotton in Sweden, and recently with Aswan curtains and rugs in Japan.

You can find more of the Japanese range of ceramics and kitchenware here.

Here’s one of the beautiful Japanese publications I discovered by Pie Books , great photographs.

Look at this cheeky chap awaiting some soup lol

Can you tell me a little more behind the story as to how your cat design came to be used by Baldelli and made into a moneybox ? I assume it was done with your permission ?

Not at all! It is total plagiarism! I first saw it in a shop window in San Francisco in 1966. When I asked what it was, I was told it came from a Danish importer. The shop owner said: “But, we do have a genuine Lisa Larson too”, and showed me into a back room!

Shocking to hear that blatent copying of designers work was happening mid sixties too. Some have the cheek to say it’s a compliment, but I disagree and if a company wants to compliment you on your skills and creative design, they should at least pay a royalty for using it !! Shame on you Baldelli and Bitossi.

I am delighted and also encouraged to hear that you are still designing and making now in your eighties (she is now 91 in 2022)… as an artist myself, I can’t imagine a time when I wouldn’t be still drawing and making new work. Do you have a list (perhaps even just in your head) of new pieces that you want to make and release to the world, as it were ?

Yes, my list is endless!

During my searching about Lisa’s work, I came across this fantastic company Scandinavian Retro who produce ‘Retro Klassiker’ magazine. Sadly it’s not available in the UK, but the very generous Editor in Chief sent me a complimentary copy and it is amazing….

132 pages just about Lisa Larson with photos of the majority of her ceramic work, what a delight. I just feel now that I need to learn Swedish or find a local Swedish friend to read all the text for me lol

The publication is excellent, concentrating on all the retro designs in textiles, fashion, ceramics, furniture etc from the mid century era. Sooo perfect for me.

I’ve read that the bulldog may be your most favourite piece that you have designed. Is that still the case and are there any designs that given the time you would perhaps do differently or work up again ?

I always try to make new and better things. I am never happy with my own work, until possibly much later on. Like when I said that the Bulldog was my favourite, was some 40 years after I made it!

Like you, I have a very quirky style of my own and often draw images of dogs and cats etc for use on fabrics and other textile surfaces. Do you think that your strong sense of humour has played a part in the style of ceramics that you produce ? Was that quirky style unusual in Sweden in the time that you were first making designs ?

Humour is important. We had a dog poster in the children’s room and I decided to interpret the funniest breeds.
I have always had my own style. I do not study other people’s style. (Other people copy me.)

I lastly want to say a vote of thanks for the joy that your work has given me. I’ve a family of three lions who sit in front of me on my desk that really make me smile daily, and for that alone, your work is truly priceless to me.

Thank you for your kind words

I want to say a huge THANK YOU to Lisa for answering my questions with such great consideration and honesty. Also to Johanna, without whom this interview wouldn’t have happened and for her lovely pictures. Lastly to Viveca Carlsson for generously sending me a copy of the wonderful Retro Klassiker.

I’ve a feeling there’s room for more of Lisa’s ceramics to come : ) Watch this space. Please share this post with your friends, leave a comment and sign up for regular Fishinkblog posts too. I hope you’ve enjoyed this interview as much as I have in making it.

So Lisa is now the fabulous age of 91 and her work is still gaining fans year by year. I have been buying pieces of hers when they come up at a reasonable price ! and plan to part with some of them next year and have a sale of her work on here so look out for that : ). Wishing you all a wonderful festive break and much joy, rest and recharge over the holiday season. See you in 2023 !