Men Who Make: Rob Jones from Romor Designs
Male designer-makers are often underrepresented in the Craft community. Here at the London Local Team, we pride ourselves on celebrating all kinds of people and we welcome every chance to challenge outdated stereotypes. So without further ado, meet Rob Jones from Romor Designs, one of our talented team members and get ready to swoon over his beautiful designs.
Hi Rob! What is your craft and how did you get into it?
I am a shibori textiles designer working with indigo and natural plant dyes to make a range of lampshades, homewares and accessories. Shibori is a set of ancient Japanese resist dyeing techniques for compressing cloth to create patterns using stitching, binding, folding and clamping.
Were you encouraged by friends, family and teachers as you grew up to pursue your love of art and design?
I went to school in Cornwall and had a very full creative learning experience. We did binka embroidery, knitting, making stuffed animals and even raffia lampshades (a pre-cursor of things to come!) My family always supported my creative efforts as a child. However, I was discouraged from doing art by one teacher, which is a shame as I dropped it at 14 and only came back to being a creative in my mid-30s.
Do you think there are certain crafts that are stereotypically defined as women's crafts and certain ones that are men's crafts?
I suspect that what I do, working with textiles, is considered more of a woman's craft - sewing, in particular. When I've done short courses at West Dean and elsewhere I have always been the only man. I teach these days myself and, whilst it is still mostly women, I do get a few men joining classes now. I'd say the same is true with jewellery as well. I seldom see men selling their jewellery work at craft fairs.
What do you think reinforces these types of stereotypes in the design world?
There are very few male role models doing these crafts and those that do, are probably quite invisible. I'm trying to change that by teaching and doing a lot of events but am often asked who makes the work. Quite a few people seem surprised I've done it all myself!
Was there ever a time that you were made to feel your craft didn't fit with your gender?
Not as such. I'm part of a local collective, the Muswell Hill Creatives and, despite being the only man in the group, have been made to feel very welcome and the same as everyone else, which is great.
What would you say to encourage other boys and men to study art or embark on a career in design?
You need to do a craft that speaks to you, that fills you with excitement for all the possibilities it has and makes you get out of bed in the morning. If that's sewing and dyeing or making silk flowers, that's fine. Just go for it and be the best you can.
What are your hopes for the future in the craft community?
I think there's been a big revival in craft in the last few years, which is fantastic. The creativity I see and the quality of people's work is really inspiring. I am confident it will continue to grow as people appreciate the value of the handmade over the mass-produced.
Are there ways we can be more inclusive?
Things like this blog post will certainly help!