Frankly, The Folksy Magazine

Meet the Makers… Jam & Ali from Hello DODO

by Emily. Average Reading Time: about 5 minutes.


How did you get started as designer-makers and is it a full time job?

We met at university back in 2004 where Ali studied analogue photography and Jam studied graphic communication with typography. After graduating we never intended to collaborate but a combination of pent up creativity and both sharing the same sense of humour eventually got us thinking about what we could do. Screen printing seemed like a half way house between our skill sets, despite us both having very limited knowledge of the process.

We taught ourselves how to screen print from home and it definitely wasn’t easy! But we quickly fell in love with the process of pulling each print by hand, the tactile nature of it and the unique finish of each piece is really magical. It does feel amazing now to look back at all we’ve achieved in the last year.

At the moment Ali still works full time and Jam is a freelance designer so all of our spare time in devoted to hello DODO.

Talk us through your collection.

Our main products are our screen prints but we’ve also produced a quickly expanding tote bag range, digital prints, great greetings cards and badges. We wanted to create a shop jam-packed with bright, fun and clever products that are also affordable. The one aim of hello DODO is to make people smile!

Tell us about your practice and making process.

First we come up with and finalise our designs, this is a fun bit! Then we get them printed on to acetate, coat a screen in light sensitive emulsion, wait for it to dry, place the design on the screen under our exposure unit and sit there twiddling our thumbs waiting for it to burn before washing the design out…this is the long and tedious bit! BUT then we get to print, this is a fun bit again!

Do you have any tools unique to you 

The main thing we couldn’t do without is Preston, our homemade printing press! He’s basically a sheet of MDF with two screen print clamps screwed on. We do all our printing on the kitchen work surface amongst the breakfast cereals and bottles of orange squash as our flat is tiny. Our squeegee is also one of our prized possessions and one of the most fun words to say!

How does it work as a partnership between you?

Being a couple and living and working together in a small space we talk about hello DODO constantly… be it discussing a new design whilst one of us cooks a curry or listing what supplies we need to order whilst cleaning our teeth. We’re probably quite boring! Often we come up with ideas separately but will then work together on the style of the design. Fairly often Jam will unveil a new design he’s been working on whilst Ali was at work…she’ll then spend an hour pointing at bits that need moving or tweaking until HUZZAH! The design is complete and 100% better and Jam has to grudgingly admit that!

Where do you draw your inspiration?

Our inspiration comes from pretty much anywhere! Animals feature quite often in our designs and living by the seaside in Brighton has also been a big influence. Our ‘Here Come The Gulls’ design is half about Brighton seagulls and half about that annoying song that’s always on TV adverts! We do love a good visual pun or a neat typography trick that you don’t spot straight away (see our ‘Fancy A Cuppa?’ design!)

How do you manage your time between making and the other commitments in your life?

We feel very lucky to be a couple working together because we actually look forward to having a ‘day off’ which we can totally dedicate to DODO. Most of our evenings are spent discussing ideas or social networking…it’s very rare that we have a day off completely! It can be really exhausting juggling a job and a business but we both love working on hello DODO and it’s exciting to see it grow.

What’s the best thing you’ve seen on Folksy this week?

We love this ‘Bite Me’ Shark plate by Brighton Crock!

Hand drawn “Bite Me” plate – Brighton Crock £15

Do you have a craft hero?

Alan Fletcher! An absolute legend in the design world. Fletcher’s playful mind and his simplistic, fun and clever approach to design has been a big influence on us. We highly recommend his book ‘The Art of Looking Sideways’, it will keep you entertained and intrigued for the rest of your life!

Do you have one great tip for other makers?

The most important tip we could give someone would be to really take some time to plan properly before launching. We spent an entire year working on our brand, learning our craft and fine-tuning our initial product range before showing a single person what we’d been working on! For many MANY months things just didn’t go right and we really had to adopt the mantra “If you still don’t succeed for the hundredth time, try try try again…” It’s tough but so worth it in the end!

Also never underestimate the power of social media! We have gained many sales (and friends!) from being really active on twitter and facebook.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

Ooh! Uum.. we’ll be married by then! (we have recently got engaged and are planning a crazy DIY crafty wedding!) We’ve got HUGE ambitions for hello DODO and so in 5 years will have moved in to other products ranges and will have magical stockists all over the World! Ali will also have quit her rubbish full time job and we’ll hopefully have a studio and not just a kitchen work surface! :o)

Have a good old nosey at Jam and Ali’s work in their Folksy shop Hello Dodo.