Jennifer Argo

From mathematical patterns to organic structures, the intricate graphite drawings of this Glaswegian illustrator balance acute observation with the explorations of form and connected systems.

Tell us a little bit about your style. 

My work is less about trying to develop a distinct and recognisable style and is more concerned with finding the most appropriate medium to communicate the things that intrigue, fascinate and inspire me. Illustration provides a creative outlet that allows me to explore and express the ideas that I have about the natural world and the dynamics of anthropological change. The forms I create are an amalgamation of organic and geometric patterns and structures throughout nature, which I re-appropriate as interpretive visual representations. I draw organisms and patterns that exist at both infinitesimal and universal scales as a metaphor for the timeless and infinite nature of the connectivity I see. It’s about trying to convey peaceful, optimistic imagery as a hope for a more ecologically and socially cohesive future. 

Describe your process.

I spend a lot of time outdoors observing and then recording the forms, movement, light and patterns that captivate or intrigue me. I read literature inspired by philosophies on ecology, the wild, physics, mathematics and geology; books like The Poetics of Space, the written works of Buckminster Fuller, and Flatland. I visit second-hand bookshops for research material; books that describe and present geology, space and natural sciences that I then draw upon for a theme or idea. I draw inspiration from macro and micro worlds; molecular tissue; neurological dynamics; community interaction; basalt and crystalline formations; organic structures; natural tensegrity and space.

What inspires you so much about natural systems and patterns?

The aesthetic quality of the natural world has ‘learned’ to be that way by adapting and evolving incrementally in response to immediate and long-term changes in the environment. At a time when the impact of human behaviour and its potential effect on our planet is being hotly discussed, along with the role of design as a tool for addressing these concerns, I feel passionately that an examination of the forms, functions, systems, processes and patterns within the natural world may hold some, if not all, of the answers. My illustrative pieces promote the idea of connectivity and collaboration in a harmonious and natural way, while my sculptural work creates an opening-out of context to a broader perspective of time and space through referencing universal geometries and interconnected patterns.  

Tell us about your project with product designer David Ross

I was one of ten artists commissioned to create bespoke designs for a new self-assembly lighting product. The theme was pond life, I approached the theme with the recognition that a pond is a habitat for all manners of life and a catalyst for different forms of mutually supporting social networks. No one element exists without the other. The drawing continues an ongoing illustrative investigation into recurring patterns within the natural world as a visual metaphor for the social networks required to create self-sustaining and perpetuating communities.

How would you describe the illustration scene in Glasgow and how do you fit into it?

I work across a lot of disciplines with different types of creatives. I have recently been involved with a creative collective Saltmarket that seeks to promote emerging Glasgow-based creatives. It has helped instigate a collaboration with architect, artist and urban designer Baxendale (Lee Ivett) who I am currently working with to create a shared sanctuary space within an urban garden in Glasgow. It will take the form of an installation at the entrance of a nature reserve to encourage use of the space as a social environment, as well as ongoing workshops in 3D design processes. I have previously collaborated with sculptors, fashion and product designers, but am unsure whether I belong to a scene. Glasgow fosters a lot of creative engagement across a variety of disciplines and I hope to continue to be a part of this; I just want to create beautiful work.