After earning her Bachelor of Arts degree at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Allison Earle went on to complete the Graphic Design and Communications diploma program at Lawrence College in St. John’s.
Allison worked for five years as a graphic designer and production artist with an advertising agency in St. John’s, before throwing her energies into developing – with design partner Lisa McKay – the richly detailed Jellybean Row house imagery.
A native of St. John’s, Allison has always had a fondness for the colourful row houses of downtown St. John’s, Newfoundland. In fact, her grandfather lived for years in a row house on Gower Street.
“The houses speak to me on many different levels,” she says. “Their bright, vivid colours appeal to the designer in me. The fact that many of them are heritage homes stirs a sense of history, reminding me of the generations of families who have lived there. And their Victorian features are so welcoming and friendly, it evokes feelings of home for me.”
Allison owns a black Labrador named Gimli, who was used as a model in some of the Jellybean Row images.
Lisa McKay joined the Jellybean Row team in the spring of 2006, when she began developing – with design partner Allison Earle – the series of images that comprise the Jellybean Row collection.
Lisa has lived in St. John’s all of her life, and has always admired the bright row house imagery in the downtown core. “It’s been a pleasure to draw upon my graphic and fine art skills to recreate the brightly coloured homes, for presentation in such a unique way,” she said. “I hang them on my wall with pride, and always keep two or three Jellybean Row pieces on hand to use as gifts when entertaining visitors, friends and family.”
Lisa has been working professionally as a graphic designer and fine artist for almost 20 years. By day, she creates stunning advertising and publication design for a variety of corporate clients. In her spare time, she creates fine art, in watercolour and acrylic, that celebrates the culture and landscape of her home province.
During 2006, Lisa was invited to participate in the Capital Project art exhibit, in which 21 high profile realist artists depicted historic scenes from St. John’s, from 1850 to 1950. The exhibit was well received, and Lisa’s contribution is shown below.
A seasoned public relations professional with 25 years experience in communications, Geoff Meeker is the director and majority shareholder in Jellybean Row. Geoff also has a background in concept development, project management, illustration and graphic design. He has founded several business ventures and sold one of them, a public relations consultancy, to the largest PR agency in Atlantic Canada.
“Some people are surprised that I have diversified from the supply of services into the manufacture of goods,” Geoff says. “However, when you look at the sum total of my abilities and interests, Jellybean Row actually makes perfect sense.”
Geoff says he has always admired the heritage row houses of downtown St. John’s. “Jellybean row, the generic name for these colourful homes, has been celebrated in fine art and handmade crafts, which is fine,” Geoff says. “However, I didn’t feel that it was being developed to its full potential. Handmade items have a loose, impressionistic style that didn’t capture the architectural features to my satisfaction. I thought ‘Why not create highly detailed art work, print it on a press and then plaque mount it so that the houses can be hung in a row, just like the real thing!’ When I learned that Jellybean Row was available as a trademark, I knew I had to go for it.”
Geoff approached designers Lisa McKay and Allison Earle, who agreed to partner with him in the venture. The original series of 10 images was launched in August of 2006, and a Christmas series in December of 2006.
“We’ve had great media coverage, including an article in Canadian Living magazine, plus amazing support at retail stores in St. John’s,” Geoff says. “In particular, we have to recognize the early and continued support from the Historic Sites Association, through their gift stores, and Living Rooms in the Murray Premises and Churchill Square. We also have been impressed by our online sales, to customers across North America, as well as internationally. Most online customers are ‘Newfoundlanders Away’ but we also have customers with no connection to this province, who appreciate the traditional Victorian look of the houses. Jellybean Row really does have universal appeal.”