art:. Jonathan Edwards + Pete Fowler, DunneFrankowski, London

If one could dream in coffee cool(u)rs, I fancy the above futuristic nocturnal color wheel. Suspend thought, and journey along with two artists and their curator – Bruno Vincent – from their data inspired adventure. This is Jonathan Edwards and Pete Fowler

smdlr: I’d like to begin with your personal coffee routine?

bruno vincent: I started 2012 with a horrendous addiction. Two pints of drip filter woke me on my nightstand, two more pints of stovetop and then over to DunneFrankowski in the afternoon where I often drank another few pints of their brew. After going on the wagon for 6 weeks, which was a painful and strangely sleepless experience, I am now limited to a cappuccino first, followed by a cup of filter in the afternoon. I have gone from their best, to worst customer over the course of a year.

s: In your conception of the event, what ruled the emotional aesthetic in terms of curating artists to be part of the exhibit.

bv: The concept was to produce a data lead exhibition that was geared toward the emerging specialty customer, rather than the established coffee geek. DunneFrankowski wanted the data they had collected to be the backbone of the event, but as a young café, the aesthetic needed to be approachable, exciting and if you looked close enough, educational.

s: Did you have any ideas in mind of the data you wanted the exhibit to present or was this a collaborative idea between you and DunneFrankowski.

bv:  Protein, the creative agency that hosts DunneFrankowski, established their chromo data capture at the start of the Protein/DF collaboration. This collects and organizes every coffee sale and presents it on a daily basis. Rob Dunne simultaneously started collecting one bag from each and every coffee they cupped or brewed. My task was to present it in an engaging way.

s: In an industry that at times struggles with finding the balance between presenting its passion without overburdening consumers with information, how important is this visual illustration of coffee and its process and information –  as presented in this collection – important to the furthering of creatively educating consumers.

bv: Educating the new breed of customer is essential to independent coffee industry, but that shouldn’t mean an intimidating array of facts, temperatures, profiles and varietals… DunneFrankowski start all their beginners classes with “Coffee is a fruit…” and it was this simplicity that drove the balance.

s: Can you share what you feel the value of art within the coffee shop space is?

bv: Additionally, as the one who conceived this concept what would like to see more of it when comes to the combination of art and coffee data in the future.

To steal another DunneFrankowski line, ‘Coffee is a social leveller’. There are few places where the time, comfort, and appreciation of life are set so clearly in an establishment. To have a place with these traits and no art of some kind would be a crime. As for what i would like to see more of, as long as it is innovative and non-intimidating in terms of coffee geekery and it pleases the eye, anything.

View the data video here. Purchase art from the artists here.

smdlr: It’s very nice to see your work among a cartel of artists to celebrate Protein’s one year anniversary. Can you share how you became acquainted with DunneFrankowski?

pete fowler: A friend of mine, Bruno Vincent, introduced me to them as he’s been part of several projects they had and he was one of the main organizers with this art show. I love the space and what they do.

s: How did you approach your illustrative aesthetic to the theme of DunneFrankowski’s anniversary? And, how did the artistic expression embodied in this piece come to you

pf: My work has always been developing and at the time I made this piece, I was influenced by the paintings done on my iPad with the Brushes app. I also wanted to make quite a rich and complex image that reflected the amount of coffee, the quality and the dedication that the lads bring to what they do. I chose the vast amount of coffee they’ve made since they opened shop and personified it into the character Mr. Espresso, drinking through a small mountain of coffee.

s: I mentioned that your piece struck a chord with me. The reason why, I believe, is that one, it captured the play of coffee.  It also evoked a feeling of fancy, as illustrated in the hues of the colors used as well as the setting of being surrounded by physical coffee cups which really would be a dream of most of us. And, probably could occur if we compiled all the coffees we consumed in a year, in one place around us. Given that, can you speak about your choice of color and actual materials to create this fancy and play while yet maintaining a cosmic futurism to its feel?

pf: I drew the image out in pencil first, then scanned it into illustrator to build a vector file. I deviated from the original drawing quite a lot, as I usually do with this process. The colours used reflect my interests in certain palettes at the moment but I wanted a hazy, soft look to some of the piece, letting the sharpness of Mr. Espresso pop out. I wanted an almost dream like quality to the artwork and the colours I think, help that a lot.

s: Does this character have a reference in you. Or is it an everyman/woman so to speak in coffee,that consumes coffee?  And, given that monsterism is a theme of your work, is there any subliminal visual commentary on the monstrous consumption of coffee your subject has within your piece, although he’s far from dressed as a monster, and instead well groomed.

pf: He’s roughly based on me, as a lot of my characters are, then sprinkled with characteristics of other people I know together with a more fantasy like element. I named him Mr. Espresso and he’s a man of slightly advanced age, coffee lover, older hip cat with lots of stories to tell and a huge appetite for good, good coffee. He’s the guy who floats around, almost omnipresent, appearing at your favourite spot in the corner of your eye. I guess he represents the groovy coffee connoisseurs out there!

s: Ha! Can you share your coffee drinking habits?

pf: I have – on weekdays I get a coffee on my way to my studio – a double macchiato. Mid morning my friend Alex who works in the same building makes a double espresso. On weekends I make my own coffee with various ground coffee in a cooker top espresso pot, with a very small amount of milk, single skimmed usually.

s: Art within the coffee shop is of high importance to the culture curated here. Can you share what you feel the value of art is to the culture of a creative coffee shop like Protein?

pf: I believe that coffee has a connection to creativity and the innovative creations that the guys at Protein continue to produce, reflects the link between art and coffee. I think the people who frequent Protein look for more than just a good coffee and I think showing art there makes total sense to me.

You may see more of Mr. Fowlers’ work here.

smdlr: Can you share how you became acquainted with  the coffee shop and or with the creative coffee company, DunneFrankowski.

jonathan edwards: I was invited to take part in the DunneFrankowski show by Bruno Vincent (a great photographer) who I met through Pete Fowler. Illustration’s a really small world and Pete’s an illustration legend! He knows everyone. It’s such a great community. That’s one of the joys of the job. I’ve yet to visit Protein (I’m not based in London) but it’s on my list of things to do for 2013.

s: So, do you have a coffee drinking habit and would you like to share it?

je: Definitely. Unlike most British people I don’t like tea so coffee is my hot beverage of choice. A good cup of coffee is something that tends to stick in my memory. I went on a trip to Oporto in Portugal back in the 90s when I was a student and I’m still looking for a cafe au lait that’s as good as any that I had while I was there. The cafes are particularly picturesque there too so that all helps with the flavour!

s: How did you approach your illustrative aesthetic to the theme of DunneFrankowski’s anniversary?

je: I was given a statistic from the first year of Protein – 1526.5 litres of milk used – and was asked to create an illustration based on this information without being too literal. I interpreted this as a ransom demand from some milk-obsessed super villain. I’m very influenced by a lot of mid-century modern illustrators – Miroslav Sasek, Aurelius Battaglia, Ben Shahn, Abner Graboff, amongst others – and also a style that I associate with coffee shops -  vintage packaging, flat colours, limited palette, etc.

s: Your piece at once reminded me of the cartoon sketch lines of the late 90’s, the futurism of the Jetson’s, and a comedic flair akin to the Blues Brothers. I know these references are varied, but it evoked them all.  Can you share what drawing tools you used to create this futuristic yet vintage mood? And, what was the sketch to final drawing process like?

je: I work with brushes and brush pens. I like the quality of line possible with a brush – from a scratchy swirl to a thick inky sweep. I drew the character over and over again on cheap copy paper until I came up with something I was happy with then scanned it into my computer, printed it out at a much larger scale and traced it off using a lightbox. I then inked the A3 version using a brushpen. The finished drawing was then scanned and coloured digitally. I wanted to keep the image simple and have the line be the focus of the illustration.

s: I’ve read how character work is a huge part of your creative style.  I’m curious, does this character in your piece have a name? And, is he patterned after one of the shop purveyors or someone you know?

je: I’ve always created characters – for comic strips, vinyl toys and for the work I create with my partner, Louise (who works under the name Felt Mistress). My work always focuses on characters -the character in the illustration is a milk obsessed Ernst Blofeld wannabe with a penchant for mid-century Scandinavian furniture. He lives in a Case Study style house in the shape of a milk carton equipped with the world’s biggest fridge.

s: Wow, I love all of that detail and backstory! Art within the coffee shop is of high importance to the culture curated on Can you share what you feel the value of art is to the culture of a creative coffee shop like Protein?

je: I’m tired of chain coffee shops with the same photos on the wall – hands scooping coffee beans from a hessian sack, someone laughing while holding a coffee cup in a narrow Italian street, a close up of the reflections on a stainless steel coffee machine. It’s refreshing to see something interesting on the wall. Coffee shops are my favourite places to draw from life.

You  may view more of Mr. Edwards’ work here.






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