Creatives Unlocked – Johnathan Montelongo

About me: 

I’m a graphic designer specialising in editorial and branding, currently moving into web and product design to create engaging, meaningful and intuitive experiences for users. I work as a freelancer and enjoy the flexibility it provides and the array of clients and coworkers I collaborate with.

I moved to Hillside in Weston at the end of 2017 after spending 10 great years in Bristol, but realising it was time to leave. Since arriving here with my partner, Jacq, we haven’t turned back. Our friends, family and amenities in Bristol are still accessible, but we now have the dramatic North Somerset coastline on our doorstep and didn’t have to commit a crime to get it! 

Top three places and spaces in WsM that bring:

Culture & creativity: The Stable, Loves Cafe, The Old Town Quarry

Entertainment: The Brit Bar, the Odeon cinema; outdoor productions by Theatre Orchard

Well-being: Prince Consort Garden to Uphill along the seafront; Worlebury Fort; Ashcombe Park 

Can you let us in on a secret about Weston?

It’s not only a lovely place to visit, but to live and work as well. Affordable too. For now…

Name your five favourite places to eat, drink and have a great night out?

Loves Cafe has a great day and night scene and serves delicious veggie fare within a tastefully updated, former auction hall. They also put on gigs with a no-talking policy, a trait of intimate Sofar Sounds performances that I love. The food and atmosphere in Demetris Taverna Greek Restaurant is also great, but book ahead or be prepared to wait for a table; they’re popular for good reason. Papa’s might just be the best chippy in existence.

The new Cineworld is great for blockbuster movies, but for cheap date-nights in a characterful, Grade II listed cinema, the Odeon is hard to beat. £4 for a film is like time-travel back to the 90s.

For craft beer lovers, The Black Cat and The Brit Bar make a nice mini crawl, with a fun jam night happening at The Brit Bar on Fridays and normally a decent free gig on Saturdays.

That’s more than five, but doesn’t that say something?

What most inspires you about your life/work in Weston?

As a freelancer I have a degree of flexibility to construct my days to suit how I want to live. With an abundance of accessible outdoor spaces, it’s easy to get outside, stretch the limbs and get lung-fulls of fresh air before settling down to work. Hilly, leafy parks, steep and meandering woodland paths, and far-reaching coastal views towards Wales and The Atlantic are all on offer, and all are within walking distance from my front door. I then return to my home studio or visit the hotdesking space at The Stable co-working suite in Grove Village with fresh ideas, plans for the day and a renewed sense of confidence and purpose.

What’s your big wish for the town?

Like many UK towns and cities, there are neglected corners. Some of these feel like ‘no-go’ zones. While I personally don’t feel like I’m missing anything by adjusting my route to avoid any areas that might feel like this, it challenges the overall reputation a place sends out to skeptics, potential visitors, businesses and investors. This is justifiable in some places, of course, but it’s more unfortunate in Weston’s case. It’s already a great place with many positive initiatives and community-spirited people, so my biggest wish is that everyone who lives in and visits the town would take more pride in it. I think morale would lift, followed by a sea-change in perception.

If you were to stroll along the prom with one person from any walk of life, past or present, who would it be and why?

My partner, Jacq, family or friends, or even my own thoughts or a podcast. I generally do what I can to live in the present and enjoy the moment; that’s why we moved here. I don’t think I’m offending anyone that came before me by excluding them. They were looking after the place before me, just as I am for future generations yet to tread the same tiles!