This Is Me: Lilli of Lovenskate: ‘of course a lot of tea making happens at regular intervals’

The lovely Lilli Cowley-Wood has been keeping things organised and rad at Lovenskate, the East London based screen print skateboard company, for the past 5 years. Working alongside owner Stu, she’s learnt a lot from the screen print master as well as drunk a lot of tea and got rad. In fact, she helped us choose our first skate deck the other week. Creative in her own right, here’s some ‘behind the screens’ chat on her life, her loves and Lovenskate…

I’ve worked at Lovenskate since I graduated from Uni in 2009. I design and print my own textiles too. I’m obsessed with animals and have worked on projects with ethical taxidermist Jazmine Miles-Long.

I knew about Lovenskate years before I started working here through Matt Ransom who was a friend of mine from back in Brighton when we were teenagers. He always wore Lovenskate shirts and I was hooked on the graphics from the start! Years later Matt now rides for Lovenskate.

I actually met Stu (owner of Lovenskate) in person through Richard ‘French’ Sayer in my last year of Uni. I interviewed French for my dissertation, asking him questions about his art work as I’ve always been a huge fan. French is really good friends with Stu and told me I needed to meet him as I was studying screen printing and wanted to go straight into working at a print studio once I left Uni and Stu was the guy to talk to about an internship. So I did just that!

Initially I started off purely printing, all day everyday. After about 2 years we employed another screen printer to take on the increasing work load. So gradually my role has now morphed into more ‘studio coordinator’ where I book in the jobs we print for other companies, deal with clients, get artwork ready to be exposed onto screen and generally help to organise the work load and future projects and trips.

Stu is usually working on graphics and layouts for Lovenskate tees, boards, stickers and all sorts. When he’s not designing and coming up with genius puns he’ll be printing the boards. It’s taken years to master the technique and tricky ways of hand screening decks. To watch the layers of ink being printed and built up screen by screen is such a beautiful and labour intensive process.

The guys will usually go for a quick lunch time roll at Victoria Park bowl which is just up the road from the studio. We all make sure we get some fresh air from the inky and fume filled studio! And of course a lot of tea making happens at regular intervals.

I absolutely love my job. There are an incredible amount of hugely creative and interesting people in the skateboarding and art world, with amazingly original and exciting ideas and projects and talents. I feel really lucky to be a part of it.

We have a wall at the studio where we pin all the letters and drawings and photos we get from people. I opened a letter this morning actually from a guy called Pete asking us to send him a zine and some stickers, he wrote some really lovely things.  It really means a lot to us to know they’re liking what we do and they inspire us to create more.

Pete wrote in his letter “It never ceases to amaze me some of the rad stuff you guys come up with!!! Lovenskate is all about having fun, and just generally enjoying skateboarding which always gets me stoked.” I think Petes words generally sum up how I feel about Lovenskate too, and that’s what I love about working for such an awesome company. Cheers Pete!

Pretty much everything we do at the studio is hand done, the printing, the art work (apart from a few tweaks on the computer). I love that we’re keeping a really traditional old school method of production alive. It really feels like you’re putting blood sweat and tears into it sometimes. But the end results are totally worth the efforts.

Stu has always been so supportive of my own projects too and has taught me everything I know about screen printing. As well as a massively inspiring mentor and brilliant person to work for, Stu is one of my best mates. I feel incredibly lucky, as I know not many people can say that! He is such a character and a really creative and funny person to be around.

We’ve done some really exciting live screen printing and art projects and have got to travel to some places I never thought I’d get to go. We work closely with Vans, where we take along our printing equipment and set up in store or at their skate and music events. We’re really grateful to be supported by such a huge brand who are helping Lovenskate to grow.

I use the studio to print my own textiles in my spare time, which is a huge perk. I also haven’t had to buy a T shirt for the last 5 years as we print so many!

We recently got to go to Hong Kong and China, which was mind blowing! It sounds cheesy, but even with such a language barrier, it was really easy to communicate through the workshops we were part of, purely from the excitement and enthusiasm everyone had of skateboarding and screen printing and being creative.

I wish I could say I could skate! I’ve definitely given it a good go. All the talented skateboarders around me make it look so easy! But I have struggled to get to grips with it myself.

I think when you do something you should give it a good go and not be scared to hurt yourself. But I definitely feel like I’m not a natural on a board and that I’ll end up breaking my wrists and not be able to screen print?! I have a little cruiser board that I have fun on. But when it comes to learning tricks or dropping in, my fear and lack of confidence holds me back.

I’m surrounded by so many brilliant female skaters and I’m planning to go to Lovenskates’ Lucy Adams weekly ladies only skate sessions this summer to build up my confidence. I’m determined to get better and not be scared to take a few falls!

I love drawing and making. I’ve normally got a project on the go which involves designing repeat patterns to screen print. I end up making dresses, cushions, chairs and all sorts. I’ve worked closely with an ethical taxidermist who only uses animals who have died naturally. We share the same appreciation of animals and have done some pretty unusual projects together. Jazmines animals are brilliant as I get to draw them up close and use the illustrations as part of my designs.

My friends and family are really the most creative and interesting people I know, I couldn’t ask for better! Seeing the people around me work so hard using their hands and traditional methods really makes me happy to know these skills are being appreciated.

And of course skateboarding itself massively inspires me, the people themselves and all the photography and art and event projects that comes with it. The things that people build to skate as well. I love the amount of effort that goes into DIY spots.

Jellico is my new little dog I recently adopted from the rescue centre last month. He’s completely lovely and I’m totally obsessed with him! He comes everywhere with me, to work, to the pub, on massive walks. He’s settling in to his new life really well and absolutely loves working at Lovenskate. He fits right in! Perfect studio addition.

As far as my plans for the future go, I’d like to be a little more experimental and adventerous with my own projects. As my screen printing knowledge widens, it opens up more possibilities for the types of printing and art work that can be produced. I can’t say too much just yet but we have some really exciting collaboration projects coming up too with some brilliant skate companies and artists.

Lilli blogs at Stuff of Dreams and check out her website.

Also see more on the radness that is Lovenskate.


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