When Esa and Lisa met in a Stockholm rock club in the early 2000s, they never thought that, one day, they would make handcrafted products together. Today, under the name Jollygoodfellow, they run a creative agency and sell products through nearly 30 retailers from Tokyo to New York. When they met, Lisa studied arts and crafts at Österlenskolan, and had thoughts about becoming a volunteer abroad, and Esa worked as a graphic designer at an agency in Stockholm. But something drew them together, and already after a second date they discovered that they shared a common interest; handcrafting.
– We tried out screen printing together the second time we met, which was extremely fun. It became a part of our relationship from that moment on, says Lisa Tanttu.
Careful choices and motivational motives
After a few years together in Stockholm, the couple moved to Malmö, in South of Sweden, to continue working on their hobby. At the same time, Lisa, who was a recent graduate from Konstfack University of Art, Crafts and Design, worked as an art teacher and Esa freelanced with various projects. The name of the agency, Jollygoodfellow, was thought of during a time when skulls and “cool stuff” was seeing popularity, whereupon Esa and Lisa wanted to stand out and instead have something witty or almost silly.
– One might think of the birthday song at first, but the name also has a double message, just like all of our motives. We make sure that everything we produce is made of carefully selected materials, and therefore we see the products as “good fellows”, says Esa Tanttu.
The motives, which Esa and Lisa screen print on posters mostly, but also on t-shirts, bodysuits and bags, they make themselves. They can be based on photographs, which later are processed digitally, but also sketched freehandedly. Esa and Lisa always strive to make simple, everyday motives, which also can be ambiguous and have an underlying political message.
– The bikes, which are our most popular motives, we developed to celebrate the bicycle as transportation. Another example, is an image of a forest with the text “we’re open”, which we produced to celebrate the Swedish legal right of access to private land, a fantastic legal right that many people tend to forget, says Lisa.