Welcome to My Design Alley. A design blog celebrating design in many forms - from interior spaces to new products, stores and interviews with designers both local and from around the world.

The Two of Us | Nathan + Jaynie Johnson

The Two of Us | Nathan + Jaynie Johnson

Beyond their design studio, Blacklist, Nathan and Jaynie Johnson share a life together. From when they first met in a caravan park in their late teens to where they are today raising a young family, their journey together has led them to a create a business which they've moulded with creativity, passion and a lot hard work. At Blacklist they create beautiful artwork, stationery and journals in their unique signature style. They share with us the secret to their successful union, the perils of not being able to ever really switch off entirely from work and the utter joy of loving what they do each and every single day.

Hi Nathan and Jaynie, can you tell me about when you first met? Jaynie: We met at a caravan park on the NSW South Coast, I was eighteen and embarrassingly sunburnt!

Nathan: We met again a few years later and started dating a few years after that - we were married 12 months later. 

How did the journey come about to work together? Jaynie: We started a kids vintage clothing label a few months after we were married, selling to some stores and also at Paddington markets. 

Nathan: Working together on Blacklist was never something we had intended on doing, but it happened really organically a year after I had started the design studio. It was once our daughter Willow arrived and Jaynie finished up full-time work, that we thought more intentionally about the store side of Blacklist.

“It seemed that people were liking what we were producing and so Jaynie worked on developing the products and introducing them to new people.”
Truth Is Beauty  Art Print by Blacklist.

Truth Is Beauty Art Print by Blacklist.

What are your roles at Blacklist - who takes care of what? Nathan: Being a small business our roles are so varied. I look after the Creative side and Jaynie manages the business side. In saying that though, we work very collabratively with each other, and our team, on all of the concepts and collection curation. There really are so many jobs each day that need to be taken care of. It is constantly evolving and rarely stays the same very long. 

“Nathan is the beauty and I am the brains!” 

What’s the best part about working together? Jaynie: There’s so many things we love about it! The best thing about it though would have to be working with my best friend each day.

“Getting to hang out with each other and getting to create the kind of life we want for our family together is an absolute gift.”

Where do you both go for inspiration - is there any shortage? Nathan: There is never any shortage, although there is a HUGE shortage of time to seek it out. We are currently feeling the real need to go away for an inspiration trip, these are always helpful. For now though we are ‘making do’ with visiting our wonderful local gallery Hazelhurst, nature, travelling back down to where we met regularly to be in the ocean and wide open spaces, art and fashion books and spending time with friends. We are lucky to have very inspring friends. 

Jaynie, what do you admire most about Nathan? His constant humility - he sees and treats everyone he meets either as an equal or as more important than himself... that was very difficult to only list one!

Nathan, what’s Jaynie’s finest quality? Her passion. In everything. 

Desert Mall  Art Print by Blacklist.

Desert Mall Art Print by Blacklist.

What’s one design element you always return to at Blacklist? Nathan: Typogrpahy, particularly hand-lettering. Over the last little while with the style being somewhat ‘popular’ we tended to steer away from it as much as we could, but we’ve recently made a decision - we do it because we love it.

“Typography conveys emotion and we endeavour to create emotive pieces - so we are running with it.”
  I Love You  Art Print by Blacklist.

 I Love You Art Print by Blacklist.

Do you ever find it difficult to disconnect from work when you’re away from your studio? How do you switch off? Jaynie: Yes, we never completely disconnect. We have pretty much given up on the idea of not thinking about it. We love what we do so much that it doesn’t bother us to think about it. We used to feel bad for thinking about it all the time, because in our culture ’the juggle’ is always a common ideaology. We have made a decision not to subscribe to it, we just enjoy what we are working on, we enjoy being with our kids, we enjoy our ‘down time’ but when we are, if work ideas enter our mind they are welcome to join in too. I think the day we stop thinking about our work is the day that we would start working on a new project. 

 What do you love most about what you do? Nathan: Creating meaningful pieces that remind people of the places and people who are special to them. 

Kick, Push  Art Print by Blacklist.

Kick, Push Art Print by Blacklist.

Do you ever disagree on design decisions? Jaynie: We actually never disagree on design decisions, we have a very similar aesthetic. We actually rarely disagree - but if we do it is usually about stock quantities when we are in production. Nathan is always optimistic and I am a bit more of a numbers gal.

“We are lucky - we’ve learnt that the most important thing in our lives is each other, so a pantone swatch and notebook size isn’t worth the fight.”

What’s your proudest achievement? Jaynie: Staying happily in love whilst raising young children and growing a business.

Nathan: Working with an amazing team who are so talented and help us grow.

What’s in store for Blacklist in 2017? Jaynie: We are launching our first Wedding Stationery Collection, which we have been dreaming of for a couple of years now. We have an amazing new collection for the little ones of design lovers. And other than that we will just keep creating. We always laugh that we are the most unlikely business owners as our only plan is to have no plan, we like to let life surprise us. It seems to have worked for us thus far. 

“This year we are all about consistency and simplicity. We are often asked ‘how to grow a business’ and after (almost) 9 years we would have to say consistency is key.”

Thank you Nathan + Jaynie! | Blacklist @blackliststudio | @blackliststore

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