A designer, editor, art director, stylist — and a blogger — Jonathan Lo is all of these things. Jon’s ability to find beauty in simple things is the core to his blog Happy Mundane where he “celebrates the ordinary and the extraordinary, good design of any kind, and takes a moment to appreciate some things that get overlooked in the everyday.”. Based in Irvine, California (deep in the OC) Jon started blogging in 2006 and he continues to inspire us! Find out why:
Happy Mundane is clearly a giant box full of everything you love. You post about your inspiration, your style influences and the video for the song that’s running through your head — how would you describe your passions and how do you stay inspired to blog?
I’m not really sure why I’m attracted to the things I’m attracted to, but I know most of the things I love (or things I love to do) seem to all go back to an appreciation or quest for things I find visually appealing. Blogging has been a great way to share and document these things or activities. It also has also exposed me to things that other people love that I might never have found on my own.
Now, staying “inspired” to blog…well…I have to be honest — it can be tough at times. Sometimes “life” just gets a little crazy, or you get creatively “burned out.” Finding the energy or time to blog something can end up being difficult. However, even if I slow down in posting, one thing that has helped me is to take the pressure off the post itself. I don’t think every post needs to include a lengthy written commentary. Sometimes just a single image can be just as interesting.
One of my favorite features on Happy Mundane is mundane aesthetic where you post seemingly bland/boring subject matter — everything from the underside of a leaf, to a rubberband to an abandoned parking lot — and make it special. Do you have to work hard to find the beauty in the everyday?
I guess the hard part for me isn’t so much the “finding,” but more the remembering to take some time to really “look.” I think that’s one of the reasons I love to travel so much. Being in different locations and situations forces me to see things in new ways. However, I don’t necessarily have to go very far — just looking down at the street while walking my dog everyday has also brought tons of photo opportunities. One of my favorite quotes is the title of a book by fashion designer Paul Smith: “You can find inspiration in everything, and if you can’t, look again.”
Do you have any special tricks/tips/filters that help you make these pictures so attractive? Any recommendations?
I generally just use the camera on my iphone as it’s the most convenient. Instagram, Shake It, and PhotoStudio are some of my favorite filter apps I play with. One tip I like to do is to avoid the preset frames/borders often available in the programs. Keep it clean and simple and let the subject shine!
How would you describe the Happy Mundane/Jonathan Lo style?
A big hot mess? — but seriously, I appreciate all kinds of design styles, but when it comes to my own personal style — I guess I’d say it’s a nice mixture of equal parts simple, clean, graphic, and modern. However, throw in a dash of vintage, a sprinkle of casual elegance, and a good dose of wit and humor.
Could you give an example of a Happy Mundane post that surprised you —either by being crazy-popular, crazy polarizing or surprisingly lame?
I can never tell what the reaction is going to be on a post. Recently I blogged an image of grains of sand from the ocean magnified 250 times. It somehow got picked up by someone’s tumblr who has a massive following in the UK, and that in turn got re-blogged a bunch more times, even getting onto sites like Reddit. Traffic that whole week was through the roof.
One of the exciting things about blogging is getting reader feedback in the form of comments and email — do you have a favorite example of some of the feedback you receive?
Strangely, my blog doesn’t get that many comments, but I do get quite a bit of emails. I especially love when readers tell me how something I’ve blogged inspired them to do something and they share how it turned out. Also, I love finding that there are fellow bloggers near me. Living in suburban Orange County, I rarely come across local bloggers, but I know they’re out there! It’s always fun to meet new blog friends.
I’ve always thought of blogging as a substitution for ownership — it’s a way to claim something without actually purchasing it. Is this true for you? Or…
Oh yes, blogging has definitely helped save my wallet from financial disaster! Actually I’ve also been using Pinterest a lot lately. It has become an amazing tool to virtually “own” things. Just “pin” it!
What are your favorite sources of inspiration? Blogs, books, artists, etc.
I will always be a die hard magazine lover. There’s nothing that can compare to the feeling of being able to flip the physical page and being able to tear out an image or story. Even though many magazines in the US have folded, they seem to still be going strong in Europe and other countries, and I’m so thankful for that! Growing up in the ‘burbs, I’m also kind of a “mall-rat”, so I also find a lot of inspiration just walking around shopping centers and stores. I also love going to flea markets and antique malls. There’s always something new (well I guess technically “old”) and fun!
Dream Project: What project have you wanted to do but continue to put off?
I’ve been itching to completely redo my entire kitchen, but I’m not sure it’s worth it for the townhouse I currently live in. But at the minimum, I’d like to get new counter tops…one day…hopefully sooner than later.
You can see updates from Jonathan on Happy Mundane.
Images: via Happy Mundane