Moving Masterpieces

Joya Logue is the beauty and brains behind her blossoming brand of Rajovilla, a unique collection of hand-painted watercolour clutches inspired by her Indian heritage. We learned about the creative elements which provide the context for her artistic life. In a world of fast fashion, Joya’s work offers handcrafted beauty and sentimental feeling for those seeking something special with an aura of wanderlust.

I enjoy creating something original, that a woman can carry into the world, a piece of art that tells a story or transports you to another place or memory.

Joya Logue

Watercolour Wanderlust with Rajovilla

When did you realize you wanted to be an artist? Describe the path to where you are now in your career.

I grew up loving art, creating with my hands and specifically painting. I used to spend weekends as a child watching my grandfather oil paint. I also loved science, and followed my love of science through college, receiving degrees in Biology, Chemistry and Psychology. I shelved my passion for art for many years as just a hobby. After deciding to leave a career in the sciences for my family life, I decided to pursue art and design. I explored photography, painting, fashion design and product design.

After some time, I developed a series of watercolor patterns inspired by my Indian heritage. It became my vision, to bring my watercolor designs to life through textiles and fashion, and make it into wearable art. This is how the Rajovilla clutch collection came to be. I enjoy creating something original, that a woman can carry into the world, a piece of art that tells a story or transports you to another place or memory.

Has your creative style evolved over the years or have you always been drawn to playing with water colours? What other mediums do you enjoy working with?

Some of my earliest memories of art began with paint. I have always been drawn to watercolor, as I find it delicate, yet as one layers colour,  very intricate. Other art mediums I have explored include: oil pastels, clay, embroidery, fabric and yarn. The fluidity and movement of watercolor always draws me back.

When did you begin painting your collection of clutch handbags? Describe the artistic process behind making the clutches, from sketch to final product.

A few years ago I began to paint daily in my sketchbook, and what emerged were several organic patterns that I could visualize on textile. I spend a lot of time dreaming up designs. I love to sift through family photographs from travels to India, my collected books, vintage textiles and Indian collectibles. I also think of the collection as a story, a series of memories or current musings. Obviously, I feel a strong connection to my Indian culture, everything from the colors, people, traditions, to the nostalgic sounds, tastes and smells, both from the past and the present.

My creative process begins with traditional mood boards. I collect the colors, images or objects that inspire me and begin to paint. I go through several rounds with color and pattern ideas, and try to decide based on how it makes me feel, and what I would want to carry as an accessory. Typically I can envision the entire design in my head before I begin. I try to do as little digital editing as possible to really allow the artwork to have a hand painted, imperfect feel. I like it to feel as authentic as possible, as if I painted directly onto the clutch. Most of my designs are painted to scale and in entirety to allow me to really see the clutch before it is on fabric. I then scan the finished artwork and send it to be professionally printed onto linen canvas using eco friendly inks. Once the fabric is printed, I hand cut and sew each clutch myself, finishing with an engraved wooden label and handmade tassel. Each clutch takes several hours of work from start to finish, as it is a true labor of love.

Your artistic palette has quite an array of different colours. How do you go about choosing these colours? Do they reflect a certain mood or attitude when you are working on a project?

My color palette is influenced by a combination of organic materials, colors and patterns in India, fashion trends and simply, my preferences. I find that India is so colorful, and in addition to the bright colors, are the beautiful muted tones set against the exotic landscape. The clay pots, metal tins, the foliage, the dusty roads, even the vintage signs for example, all play a role in my inspiration for color. My clutches are for the color seekers, as well as those who love neutrals and simple tones. They are made to mix and match with prints, or stand alone as a statement piece.

Your Instagram is full of beautiful images that leave your followers, us included, dreaming. Do you approach your daily life as you approach your art? Or how do those approaches differ?

Thank you for the compliment on my Rajovilla Instagram feed. I have always loved photography, and I enjoy capturing the beauty in my everyday, mainly simple moments.  I find Instagram a great tool for sharing inspiration and my art process. I do approach some of my daily life like I approach my art. I seek out beauty, art and nature with my family. But as a busy mother of three boys, my daily life can look very typical: soccer practice, cooking many family meals and spending time together at home. I like to enjoy the present moment, and many days capture what is inspiring to me that day.

Who are some artists that you like to follow on Instagram and why?

My favorite instagram art feeds are photographers @vutheara @elisehanna (who both drew my attention of their photos while in India) and textile designers like @marybethbergtoldmulcahy  and @antoinettepoisson .  I love my friend Jillian’s colourful feed @jillianinitaly  and Natalie Walton’s @dailyimprint which features artists and creative around the world daily! And all the wonderful, inspiring museums from around the world. So many wonderful artists sharing their work, I could go on and on!

Your website mentions that you pull inspiration from travelling, and also your family home Rajo Villa in India. Can you elaborate on this? Do you still visit there as regularly as you did during your childhood? Describe a recent memory.

My travels to India and Europe over the years have influenced my art. I kept journals over the years, where I would write, draw and paint about my experiences. As I grew older, I even took a photojournalism class while traveling in Europe, which led to another way of storytelling and journaling. With this collection, I am able to reflect and add this inspiration into my work.

Our family home of Rajo Villa is located in Northern India. Over a hundred years ago, my Bengali family travelled north from Calcutta and settled there for work with the East India Company. Many generations later, this is where most of my father’s family resides. As a child through young adulthood, I traveled to India yearly. Now, with a family of my own, busy work schedules and severe food allergies for two of my boys, my traveling has slowed down. As the children get older and grow out of their food allergies, we are looking forward to traveling more as a family.

As a mom of three boys, your days must be packed with family activities. Over the past few years, how did you forge your identity as an artist?

Yes, my days are full with three young boys.  Over the years I carved out time here and there to explore my creative interests. Many hours late at night after the children were in bed I would paint, sew, design and create. Now I have a studio space, which allows me to focus on my work and I have more time to dedicate to my work with the youngest now in school.

The biggest challenge I faced over the last few years is doubt. Questioning myself through this discovery phase, and then subsequently believing in my talent enough to pursue this art “hobby” of mine in a more serious way. But believe me, there are days where there is still doubt. Mostly, I hear myself saying: “Can I really make a go of this? Can this really be a career for me?” And then conversely this strengthens my work and passion for the art that I create. This doubt pushes me to do more and share more and ultimately is leading me to many small victories with my collection and freelance work.

When we think of art, it is often a stationary object being observed. By making handbags, your art becomes mobile. What would you say is the purpose, or message, if any, of the art you are producing?

What I love about tangible art, versus traditional pieces, is that it moves with you through everyday life. I seek this out myself in clothing, accessories, household items and stationery, for example, that tell a story, or express an artist. I feel I am not limited to a handheld clutch bag, and am looking into other tangible items for my artwork. These items are not mass-produced or found at every shopping mall.

Would you say that the aesthetic quality of a piece of art is what is solely important, or is it how it interacts and moves within the space around it?

Art is so subjective, so I would say both, or either! One enormous compliment I received about my art recently was that my art made this person “feel something” and “has so much emotion”. That, to me, was everything.

You work from a home studio. How have you set up your space to allow you to create on a regular basis?

I have a home studio space on the third floor of our 130+ year old Victorian home. It has the best light, a beautiful decorative window and just enough space to keep the sewing work away from the painting work. With my youngest son being only four, this is a tremendous help to have a dedicated space at home, although I do dream of a spacious loft for creating large paintings one day.

Describe a typical day for you.

We rise early, fix breakfast (I make a strong French press coffee) and take the children to school. My youngest goes to a part time Montessori school, and days when he is in school, I work at home in my studio painting, sewing and filling orders. When he is home with me, he plays alongside me while I work, cook and run errands. After school we stay at the school-yard for a good hour and the boys play with their friends. Then, once home, there is homework, soccer practice and a family dinner together. I typically return to my studio in the evening to work on additional freelance projects, tassel making and portfolio updates. The weekends include more family time, with walks to the farmers market, soccer matches, trips to museums, hikes, swimming in the summer and dinner with friends.

Do you like to work to music? If so, tell us what you’re listening to these days.

Yes, many days I like to work to music. I am eclectic in my music taste, and listen to a range of styles! I pick music by my mood or project even, from Kiss the Sky by Shawn Lee’s Ping Pong Orchestra, to Fantasy by Alina Baraz & Galimatias, or Khalghi Stomp by Transglobal Underground to Breathe into Me by Marian Hill. I love Marian Hill. Or I’ll just put on some John Coltrane or Ravi Shankar.

Where do you see yourself in 5 to 10 years? 

I see myself happy and content, watching my boys grow up together with my husband and traveling more.

One thing that has been pulling at my heartstrings is to bring more meaning to my work through philanthropy. I would love to partner with a charity, whose work is in India, to support women and girls. For example, I love the work Christy Turlington is doing through Every Mother Counts and another charity I would like to support is Girls Rising India. Just recently I supported a friend through Rajovilla, who was making a trip to India on behalf of Days for Girls, delivering sustainable feminine hygiene to girls and women who do not have access to this basic need.

I also see my art expanding, and would welcome collaborations for housewares like pillows, dishware and stationery, for example. And lastly, I would like to develop a series of fine art paintings featuring everyday women of India. I have begun working on this, on a smaller scale, and hope that one day it would be a full collection of work.

What advice would you give to a young, budding artist?

Practice your art everyday. Find the time to nurture that passion, even if you aren’t sure what it will eventually become. And share your work with others. Those three things have changed the way I feel about being an artist, and have given me the push to go forward.

Interview by Bethany  Trepanier // Photos kindly provided by Rajovilla // Shop the Rajovilla collection here

I find that India is so colorful, and in addition to the bright colors, are the beautiful muted tones set against the exotic landscape. The clay pots, metal tins, the foliage, the dusty roads, even the vintage signs for example, all play a role in my inspiration for color. My clutches are for the color seekers, as well as those who love neutrals and simple tones.

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