The beauty of believing in yourself


Sometimes friendships are born out of a simple email. You never know who could be behind the other side of the internet and every move you make should be considerate of this. Kindness will always pay off. When designer Lois O’Hara dropped into design blogger Emma Jane Palin’s inbox, little did they know that they would be joining forces for a future of colourful projects, and a few laughs along the way.

Lois is a Brighton-based artist and designer and has just designed the UK’s first art basketball court in Brighton, with other work including a colourful crossing across the seafront, a takeover of Shoreditch-based lifestyle store W.A.Green London and a number of mural projects. Emma is a freelance writer and design blogger. She has been championing young designers on her blog for over three years. They met up at Shoreditch House for a photobooth session and a catch-up for She is Fierce (The Rebels Issue), proving that quality relationships can come from simply saying hello.


EJP: Remind me, how did we actually meet?
LOH: I approached you!I was like hey look at my work, do you like it? But I remember stalking you and fell in love with the way you spoke about other designers and upcoming creatives so that’s why I got in contact!

EJP: Oh yeah! And then I did a quick interview for you on my blog, right?
LOH: Yes then we had that interview.

EJP: I remember thinking "This girl is on to something. She's barely even graduated and she's already approaching people for press coverage." I always like people who go that extra mile. Actually, I'm not even sure if you had graduated at that point. I feel like I need to relook at that interview now and see how far you've come.
LOH: Yeah that’s one thing I learnt at university - the importance of getting your work under people’s noses! But that works for me because I’m a pest anyway, I get on my own nerves! I was so happy when you wanted to interview me. I suppose if you hadn’t done that, we wouldn’t have stayed in contact and had this great thing! That’s what I love about being freelance, you meet random people and occasionally spark genuine connections.

EJP: Aw, you get on my nerves too, but in a loving way. Hilariously, I've just looked back on the interview and you told me about the basketball court. I think anyway.
LOH: Did I?! I always had that in the back of my mind, way before I put it into action.

I think if you speak about things as though they are going to happen and intensely focus on them, alongside passion and hard work, it usually does!
— lois o'hara

EJP: You say "I am currently working on an exciting project which will involve me painting on my biggest canvas to date”. I'm assuming that's about the basketball court.
LOH: Yes, it is! I think at that point, I had probably only received some kind of interest and maybe no funding whatsoever. But I think if you speak about things as though they are going to happen and intensely focus on them, alongside passion and hard work, it usually does! I want to thank you again for arranging a paint sponsor.

credit: rob burton

credit: rob burton

EJP: Amen to that. And it's your drive and motivation that really got me on board with following your journey. It's important for me that when I see genuine talent and commitment that I support where I can. Working in my industry has a lot of perks but I always want to put them to good use. When I saw that your were fundraising for paint, I knew I could be of service and hey presto, it worked! Valspar were a great match for you and I think that's what good public relations is all about.
LOH: I admire how supportive you are! Us artists who really want to be seen and do well, need people like you to encourage us along the way. Valspar’s paint is so good and the colours are so vibrant. They were really supportive.

EJP: The fact that they got involved with the colourful crossings project was also great and I think that one's got to be your most instagrammed to date, right?
LOH: Yes, it sure is! That project was a 2 week turnaround which is great for Brighton Council and the crossing was labelled “the most instagrammed art installation of Brighton’s summer” - there was even a wedding that took place on it!

EJP: Amazing, I didn't even know that. Those are my kinda wedding photos! I think it's massively important that more councils get on board with this kind of thing. It brings such a positive element to places and encourages people to get involved. So often there's someone that doesn't really get it in the position of power.

LOH: Yeah I agree. That’s half the battle most of the time, trying to get the council to understand your vision and how great public art projects can be for the local community! I’m hoping to do another court, so it should be slightly easier now I have evidence of the first! When I drive past the court, there are so many people playing on it now and there wasn’t before so that’s a big tick for me.

EJP: Absolutely. It's all about getting people back into these spaces. I've even been starting conversations with my home town. My mum works for the council there and she always tells me how many people in the office love my Instagram. The other day I said "Well you do know I could help bringing some colour to Slough if you like?" And she's initiated it with them and they kinda sound like they're into it. I think people are waking up to the fact that the simple things can have a big impact! Obviously I'll be bringing you in, should they go for it!
LOH: That’s amazing! I believe colour can improve mental health, encourage physical activity and bring communities together. The basketball court is now actually safer to use. The more people that are aware of this and the more colourful public art projects, the better!

EJP: It's a pretty amazing project, I have to say. You can see the effect it has had on the area for sure. I think you've done a great job on it. Onto the next, eh? I feel like we've actually wound our networks together in the last few months so god knows what we'll be working on next. There have been some strange universal crossings, that's for sure.
LOH: Absolutely! Yes, onto the next! I agree, I think we have a very natural connection and inspire each other. Two female hustlers onto world domination!

EJP: Haha, absolutely. It's so important that we stick together. I remember when I met your mum and she said "you're so different yet so similar". I really liked that she picked up on that.
LOH: Yeah mums always know the truth! I suppose we are into different things but I think we both channel our focus in the same way and have the same passions in the world of art and design.

EJP: Yeah. For sure. Democratising the world of design. That's the mission!
LOH: Making waves all over the world…


tell them we sent you…

follow lois: insta / web

follow emma: insta / web

Emma and Lois are featured in The Rebels Issue