Environmental illustrator Melanie Johnsson recently collaborated with E.ON to create a series of heat-sensitive prints that transform when it could be time to turn the heating down. The launch comes as new research reveals over half of us Brits are unaware of the ideal temperature to heat our homes to, despite two-thirds of us reportedly saying we’ve been inspired to be more sustainable this year.
The limited-edition artwork is designed using heat-sensitive ink, which changes when temperature in the home exceeds the recommended 21oC. I caught up with Environmental illustrator Melanie Johnsson to see what inspires her work and how she’s becoming more sustainable in her daily life.
Q. What inspired your E.ON heat-sensitive print collection?
A. When E.ON got in touch with me to collaborate on this heat-sensitive print, I knew straight away that it would be a great way to highlight the fragility of our ecosystem, as well as show off the beauty of nature, animals and humans living together in harmony. I was inspired by this harmony and wanted to represent some of my favourite animals who all sport some crazy fun patterns. I knew when the temperature got too hot in people’s homes (over 21° to be exact), the black stripes, dots and marks would disappear from the animals and show that everything is interconnected…These animals need us to make the right choices in order to survive and thrive.
My process to create the print was the following: I started by sketching a lot of ideas in a notebook and then went on to paint my favourite compositions with ink. From there, I did a more refined ink illustration, scanned it, edited it and colourised it in Photoshop. I created a few colourways for E.ON to choose from and they ended up picking my favourite, the one with a green background! I really wanted the print to be colourful, fun and bring some joy to people’s homes as well as helping them be more sustainable.
Environmental illustrator Melanie Johnsson On Sustainable Lifestyle Changes…
Q. What are 3 lifestyle changes you have made this year to live more sustainably?
I am always looking at ways to live more sustainably, questioning my lifestyle habits and choices and making sure I can do my part to help preserve the environment we live in. I’m obviously a work in progress and far from perfect, but I enjoy trying to make the best choices for our planet.
I recently switched bank accounts, stepping away from a big bank (which does harm to our planet and its people) to Triodos Bank, which I’m re- ally excited and happy about. Where we put our money can have a huge impact on the environment and I’m glad mine is in good hands. Of course, working with E.ON has also taught me a lot about renewable energy and has helped me be more sustainable in my own home. How you heat your home and where you choose to get your energy from can have a huge positive impact on the planet and we all need to be more aware of it.
Another thing I did this year was buying less and prioritise buying from small businesses if I needed or wanted anything. It’s been rewarding to support independant and eco-friendly businesses when I know the owner will do a happy dance whenever they get an order.
To me, supporting the human beings and makers of good things is as important as preserving our eco-system. If we help each other thrive, especially during tough times, we will have a bigger impact and will make the right changes for our planet.– Environmental Illustrator Mélanie Johnsson
A third thing I did to live more sustainably was to switch to eco-friendly menstrual products. As an Ambassador for WEN and Environmenstrual, I got a chance to discover all the alternatives to traditional, toxic and plastic-filled period products. It’s crazy how much of those are flushed down the toilet and end up polluting our beaches and oceans. It felt important to me to raise awareness for the solution to this problem: there are many sustainable options out there and my favourites are the menstrual cups and period pants. I swear by them when I’m menstruating!
On Self-Care Habits…
Q. Could you tell us 3 daily self-care habits that you practice that help with your creative process?
My 3 daily self-care habits that really help with my creative process are: a good night sleep (over 9 hours), reading whenever I can during the day, and having a bath when it’s cold outside and I need a moment to relax. If I don’t get my 9 hours of sleep, I’ll try to have a nap after lunch. As you can see, my biggest self-care tip is to sleep!
On Tackling Climate Change…
Q. What role do you think creatives play when it comes to tackling climate change?
I truly believe we are all born very creative. That’s one magical thing about human beings. I don’t like it when people tell me they’re not creative because they think creativity equals being an artist. It doesn’t!
If you have original ideas or successfully come up with solutions to problems then you are creative. Very creative people (scientists, engineers, economists…) have been working on the issue of climate change for years and they’ve been uncovering sad truths as well as solutions and telling us what can be done. But unless you put artists, directors, illustrators or designers in the mix, it’s hard for most people to realise how big the problem is. That’s why I think visual artists and creators are essential because they can create powerful images that will get stuck in people’s minds and actually provoke them to make a change. We’ve seen the power of some amazing documentaries these past few years: Blue Planet, Chasing Coral, One Strange Rock, A life on our Planet…
So yes, I believe creative minds and especially visual artists can play a huge role when it comes to tackling climate change as we will need as much creativity and inventivity as possible to help preserve our planet and its ecosystems as well as its inhabitants.
I am also an advocate for intersectional environmentalism which basically means that taking care of our plan-et is undeniably connected to taking care of its people, no matter where they live, what they look like or who they are. It’s all connected. Environmental justice is social justice as well as racial justice. These ideas came from the minds of very creative people and this is why we absolutely need them.
On Sustainable Living Inspiration…
Q. What authors, speakers or teachers do you look to for sustainable living inspiration and encouragement?
I always listen to anything David Attenborough has to say when it comes to conservation and I’m glad his team recently opened an Instagram account for him, as this means his voice will reach more people!
When it come to stepping away from the damages of fast-fashion, I like listening to Venetia Le Manna’s ideas. She makes it clear why we should all give up on fast-fashion and support small indepedant businesses instead, to make sure people are paid and treated fairly.
Another woman I love to follow when it comes to sustainable fashion is Jazmine Rogers She’s made thrifting cool again! She also spreads a lot of joy, which is essential in our fight for a healthier planet.
When it comes to intersectional environmentalism, I love Leah Thomas’ work and her newly founded platform. It’s inspiring, educating and essential!
Finally, because I am a keen kite-surfer and surfer and care deeply about our seas, I support and follow the hard work that’s being doing by Surfers Against Sewage. They’re fighting hard to end sewage spills on our english coastlines and put an end to plastic pollution. I’m super inspired by their work and their lifestyle.
Special thank you to Mélanie Johnsson for taking the time to share a look into her colourful world. For updates from Environmental illustrator Melanie Johnsson and to learn more about her E.ON collaboration head over to her website. www.melaniejohnsson.com