July 9, 2013


SAM JACOBS Creative Director / Co – Founder of Jellymon – Shanghai office

LIN LIN Managing Director / Co – Founder of Jellymon – Beijing office

What do you use black markers for in your day-to-day activities ?

S : I wouldn’t say I use them daily but when I do, it’s either for destruction of club toilets, doodles while i’m on the phone or writing on envelopes and responding to fan mail, etc.

LL : I don’t use black markers every day either, but I do like to bring black markers on holidays. I take the paintings off the wall in the rooms that I stay in, draw on the wall behind the paintings, then put the paintings back on the walls.

What black markers do you prefer to use at the Jellymon studios when producing design and artwork ?

S : Poscas and Zebras. Poscas are my favourite. They look great, paint amazingly and I like the ritual of starting up a new one – shake it up, squish it down and repeat – the ink starts to stain and spread through the spongey nib.

LL : Poscas, Zebras and Pilots. I like to shake the markers, actually I shake all kinds of pens. I like to hear the sound they make. Shaking a marker is like leaving blank pages in a book, it gives some space to breath and imagine.

Where is the best place in Shanghai and Beijing to find markers ?

S : In Shanghai there is a street called Fuzhou Lu which has loads of art supply stores. There is also a tiny Tokyu Hands on the top floor of the Isetan department store store, but one marker in there costs 2 million billion RMB.

LL : Ironically I live in the culturally deserted area of the Chinese culture capital – Beijing. I always buy loads of markers when I go travelling. I go to the stationery shops on Mei Shu Guan Jie when I get desperate, but there are a lot of fake black markers from there that write grey. I hate it when that happens, it’s like getting a muffin without the top.

You previously produced Jellymon edition product as part of a collaboration with heritage Chinese brand Shanghai Watch Company. Are there any heritage Chinese marker companies you would like to create product with ?

S : I don’t know of any Chinese heritage brands. Please if you are a Chinese marker heritage brand, contact us, we would love to work with you.

LL : I have yet to find any heritage brand markers, because markers haven’t been around in China kong enough to earn the “heritage” title.

What characteristics and features would a bespoke Jellymon marker have ?

S : It would be a giant ball of solid marker 60 feet tall by 60 feet wide. I would roll it down the street covering everything in ink. Only then would I be truly be happy.

LL : I have small hands so I would like a thinner marker body, that still creates thick lines. I would want it to look like a mini harmonica so people can’t tell I will draw with it.

What nib, ink and branding qualities do you like in a marker ?

S : I love bullet tips; sharp sleek sexy deadly. I also like square tips for drawing moustaches on my cats. Branding is my favourite aspect of markers. I love the way there is some sort of hidden language that has evolved in marker design. There seems to be certain schools of marke design theory – the Zebra style twin-tip fat to thin, Posca chunkies, weird graf ones like Biggie 50’s, to sleek and fashionable Sharpies. I don’t know the rules but I know there is something going on there.

LL : I hate chisel tips. I like both oil and water based paint markers.

China is known to manufacture a large quantity of bootleg items inspired by other popular brands. Any notable black marker bootlegs that you’ve seen in the marketplace ?

S : I’ve seen plenty of shanzhai ( bootleg ) Zebras. That seems to be the most popular bootlegged brand. I’m sure you can get some amazing fake Hello Kitty markers and there is probably a Markerland theme park somewhere in China.

LL : Bootleg markers are everywhere, every brand that you can think of and brands that you’ve never heard of before but still seem familiar.

Any special projects you are involved with we should keep an eye out for in the year ahead ?

S : We have lots of great projects coming up this year both on the personal and commercial side. We are doing work with a really amazing fashion house at the moment. They are doing great things in China and we are really happy to be helping them with their exciting plans. We have some really interesting self-initiated projects coming up too, i’ll let Lin Lin tell you a bit about that.

LL : We are developing the full vision of our Spoonful of Sugar brand in the East City district of Beijing just outside of the Forbidden City. We will keep you posted.