Jonathan Lo: Founder and Editor

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  • Jonathan Lo joined Pinterest a couple months ago and I immediately fell in love with his pins. After a few weeks, curiousity got the best of me and I reached out to him for an interview. Jonathan is the principal and founder of J3 Productions - a multidisciplinary design studio and consultancy as well as the editor of HappyMudane.com. He acted as the creative director for Poplife Magazine, contributed as a regional editor for Apartment Therapy.com, and has been featured as an on-air expert on HGTV’s “Small Space Big Style. I hope you enjoy the interview! Also, be sure to check out Jonathan’s fantastic pins!

    Jonathan, it’s great to meet you. Maybe you could start by telling a little bit about yourself.

    Sure! I live in Irvine, California, which is located in the suburban wonderland more commonly known as “Orange County” or “the OC”. I am the founder and Creative Director of J3 Productions (j3productions.com), a small design and marketing agency. Our clients are primarily in the retail, fashion, lifestyle and decor industries. I also have a blog called Happy Mundane (happymundane.com) that I started back in 2006. It’s been a great outlet to document my personal mundane musings, as well as anything that I find inspiring, which in turn, I hope, might inspire others as well.

    I love the tagline on your Happy Mundane, “there’s beauty in your dishsoap”. What kinds of things do you find inspiring?

    Paul Smith has a great book that’s titled “ You Can Find Inspiration in Everything (and if you can’t, look again!)”. I find that statement so very true. Inspiration is everywhere. There’s definitely a ton of great resources out there, like blogs, magazines, museums, and stores. But there’s also a multitude of sources right in front of you. At the grocery store, on the sidewalk, on a truck passing you by on the freeway, from a song on the radio, to the way the shadows form on your wall in the morning.

    Lately, I’m finding a lot of inspiration from different people. Some of them I’ve met in person, some of them I’ve read about. It’s inspiring to hear their stories and see their aesthetic or point of view. I find it’s not so much where you live, as it is about how you live. That being said, however, I also find a ton of inspiration when I travel. Getting out of your comfort zone makes you see things with a different set eyes and a new perspective. I love how even though we’re looking at the same moon at night, it looks so different when you’re in one location, as opposed to another.

    How did you start J3?

    J3 kind of originated out of desperation. I got my start in the biz working in the So Cal surf/skate apparel industry. I was the Art Director for one of the largest OC-based companies at the time (mid-to late 90’s). The company was growing very fast- to the point where it was almost too fast. Things then started to sour both internally and financially for the company. As Art Director, I worked not only with the apparel designers, but also a lot with the marketing/PR department. I was really good friends with the VP of Marketing. One day, we got an opportunity to do a shoot/campaign that was for one of our licensees. It was done on location, and no one else from the company was involved. We had so much fun doing it, an idea sparked that perhaps we could do it for other people as well. We were both unhappy due to the political climate that was occurring at the time in the company. We eventually decided to jump ship and give it a go at trying it out on our own. Our motto was (and still is) “no evil please.” It started out as a partnership, but due to unforeseen circumstances, my partner had to drop out a year or so later. However, I decided to continue on as sole owner, and it’s been a wacky crazy ride ever since. 2011 will be our (lucky?) 13th year in operation.

    Are there any projects you are particularly proud of?

    In late 2009, we decided to create a limited edition “zine”, just as a fun project for ourselves. As much as we love and value our clients, the work is not really “ours.” We wanted to do something just for us, so we created “At Your Leisure.” It’s simply a visual train of thought, a collection of graphics, images… just a lot of eye candy.

    We also include little features on people/friends that “live what they love” and showcase their creative spaces and homes. Each issue has been a pure labor of love. We work on it whenever we have a spare moment in between client projects. We recently completed issue #2, that has a theme of “Vision.” (shameless plug- it’s available to purchase on our website: http://j3productions.com/zine) It’s a limited edition print run of 500 copies, and each one is hand signed and includes a little surprise gift. We are currently working on issue #3, due out later this Spring.

    How do you use Pinterest?

    Oh man, I must admit, I am a little late getting into Pinterest, but I am quickly trying to make up for lost time. I remember reading about it on several blogs, but didn’t really investigate it further until recently. I’m always pulling tear sheets from magazines and pulling images off sites to use for inspiration or for research. I would throw them in folders on my computer, but then always forget where I found them. As a blogger, this can become an issue (since it’s blog etiquette 101 to credit your sources!) Pinterest lets me “pin” whatever I’m fancy-ing and I love that it saves the url. I also love the “boards” aspect, having your pins all visible together, and also being able to “re-pin” things. I’m discovering so many new blogs, artists, things and sites that I would never have known before!

    But the best thing for me, is being able to “virtual shop”. I don’t blog too much fashion on HappyMundane, but that’s not saying I’m not interested in fashion. My “personal stylin” board is probably my favorite board to pin in. I can pin all the looks and pieces I like or am currently coveting. It serves as my virtual fantasy closet!

    Thanks a ton Jonathan. I’ll keep following your pins!