Drawn together by a love of art: llustrators Flossy and Jim
PUBLISHED: 11:54 30 January 2017 | UPDATED: 17:02 30 January 2017
Designs by Devon illustrators Flossy and Jim are about to take the world by storm, writes Chrissy Harris
Life certainly imitates art for creative couple Lynette and James Dare. These talented illustrators are tonnes of fun – just like their designs, which are about to take the world by storm. Their cartoon-style drawings are popping up everywhere and the couple have been working alongside top brands such as Boomf Marshmallows, Red Bull, Apple, Disney and Cartoon Network. As if that wasn’t enough, Lynette and James, otherwise known as Flossy and Jim illustrators have just appointed an agent to represent them internationally and have even lined up a book deal with a US film maker.
Who’d have thought such global domination all started from a tiny ‘broom cupboard’ sized studio in Dartmouth .
“It’s all so exciting,” says Lynette, who admits she can’t quite believe her luck. We meet at the couple’s Dartmouth studio.
“It’s such a fun job. Coming into work is like being five years old again. We get a phone call from somebody and it’ll be like: ‘I need 30 aliens by next Monday – can you do it?’ It’s getting to be a child everyday.”
“Maybe that’s why we’re so busy,” adds James. “I think a lot of people maybe take themselves a bit too seriously when it comes to things like this. We just went the opposite way and it’s worked. We are a professional service but, you know, we just unleash our inner kid.”
The couple spend their days laughing, drawing and eating cake, all while building up this successful illustrating and design business. As well as working for top firms and US film directors, the couple also create cartoon family portraits and have an online shop, selling their distinctive merchandise. It’s a dream come true for Lynette, 36, whose grandfather Hugh Humphreys was the cartoonist ‘Humph’ in the Daily Mirror newspaper.
“He was my inspiration and when he died it was the kick up the bum I needed,” says Lynette. “My whole childhood was spent drawing together in the garden and he always told me to do what makes you happy when you’re a grown up – and if you can make other people happy in the process, that’s a bonus.”
Lynette started Flossy illustrations (named after her great grandmother) after falling on hard times, to say the least.
She breezes through how she was living as a single mum in Swindon when she declared herself bankrupt and moved to Devon to start a new life with her children, Kai, 12 and Kaitlin, 11.
“It’s a bit of ‘woe is me’ start to the story, isn’t it? Well, it works on X Factor!” she says as she explains how she met James at South Devon College, while studying for an art degree - and everything fell into place.
“He was in the classroom next door,” says Lynette.
“Yes, we got talking and we had a special code where we’d touch our noses and meet in Room 5,” says James, 46.
The pair soon became inseparable and worked on their first big project together when Lynette was commissioned to paint a mural on the harbour wall in Brixham.
“It was quite a daunting thing for me,” says Lynette. “It was my first job after setting up my own business and, oh my God, you can’t get any more on show than that! I said to James: please come and help me. I don’t want to do it there with everyone looking at me.”
James came to her rescue, mainly to help field the “Oh look, it’s the next Banksy” comments.
“That joke got really old,” he adds.
“There were old men coming up behind me, trying to make me jump,” says Lynette.
“Funny, I didn’t get that,” says James.
Despite the challenges, the mural was a great success and Flossy illustrations soon became Flossy and Jim.
Then came the call from Hollywood. It’s all top secret at the moment but watch this space…
“We had to go out and meet him,” says James, a former lorry driver, welder and landscape gardener (“not all at the same time, though!” he says).
“It was so surreal. His kids were there, our kids were there and he was name-dropping Robert De Niro and Jack Nicholson, saying they’d seen the work. It was absolutely crazy.”
Little ol’ Devon must have seemed like a world away, but both Lynette and James, who live in Brixham, say they feel at home here and plan to hang around for a little while yet.
They have a shop in Cockington Court, Torbay and sell products from their Dartmouth base. The couple also have merchandise on display in a shop in Brixham, called Twit Twoo.
“Phew!” says Lynette, adding: “It’s busy but we both love it.
One thing’s for sure, life’s never going to be dull for Flossy and Jim.
In 2015, Flossy and Jim won the Excellence Award for Best New Business, and were also nominated for the MAD Awards Best Blog and the Torbay Social Media Awards. In 2016, they were nominated for Excellence in Customer Service, and for a Business Growth Award and Lynette recently won the top prize for customer service at the Venus Awards, which recognise and celebrate local women.working in business.
The couple say: “We don’t like to blow our own trumpets, but that’s pretty rad right?!”