Being able to doodle is an important skill for us, so we can quickly express ideas, explain things to each other and also to our clients. However, actually being able to draw and illustrate are another thing entirely. We’re pretty certain Jes was born with pencils for fingers and that’s why we love her.
1. Illustration is a powerful form of visual communication. How and when did you realise it as an output which you could use to channel/communicate your ideas?
Probably the answer every illustrator gives, but I’ve always drawn and created characters and stories. If it’s in you to draw, you draw.
I was always drawn to the work of John Burningham, Quentin Blake, Tove Jansson, Maurice Sendack and more recently Carson Ellis, William Grill, Jon Klassen, Bjorne Lie and JooHee Yoon. I wanted to create amazing worlds as well – I’m still someway off, but it’s what I strive to do. Doing a Masters in Illustration gave me confidence (I did Graphic Design at Uni) and I’ve found there’s a real camaraderie among fellow illustrators in giving advice and support when you’re starting out. I just think being able to visualise what’s in your head, in a way that captivates other people, is such a cool thing.
2. Could you describe a time in your past where an event has literally driven you draw? Be it a positive, negative or other type of experience.
Boredom haha – you’re never bored if you have a pen and a scrap of paper!
3. How do you embrace ever changing technology within your art? eg. social media platforms, specific digital tools or applications etc…
I still use pen and pencil, as well as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.
I also show my work on Instagram, Behance – the usual suspects – and of course my website. There’re so many social media & portfolio platforms that it can be quite a chore to keep on top of everything – I’m not naturally very good at self-promotion, so would love for someone to take over that aspect from me!
4. We all follow a creative process. Can you tell us about yours?
Most of the time it starts with lots of initial sketching, to try and smoke out an idea. Then I flesh out the more promising ones into inked line drawings and scan them in.
At the moment I prefer hand-drawing onto paper, rather than straight onto a computer, as I prefer the feel of a nib against the surface, though tbf, I haven’t tried any of the latest tablets/screens. I use both a Japanese fountain pen with waterproof carbon ink – best drawing pen ever – and Japanese brush pens.
I’m also very fussy about the paper I draw on – my sketchbooks have to be a particular brand as the smoothness and brightness of their paper is just right imo.
Finally I work it up into a finished piece with a mixture of Illustrator and Photoshop.
Recently I’ve been using watercolour and gouache, though so far, it turns out that my skills in these is limited to paintings of baked goods…
5. What would be your dream project?
To co-write and illustrate a children’s picture book, or graphic novel. I have so many embryonic ideas but need someone to help me craft them into something coherent, and it would be great to collaborate with someone.
6. We know you work as a designer a lot of the time. How does your craft as an illustrator feed into the more corporate/commercial aspect of design that you do on a daily basis.
I’ve managed to incorporate illustration into a few recent projects, and of course, there are many overlaps in how you approach work, for example in terms of developing an eye for colour, composition etc.
7. It’s normal to consciously or subconsciously reference the things that surround us; music, people, places etc. What influences what you create?
Music has a very strong influence in what I’m drawing, as does aspects of my childhood. I like dark, ancient forests and slightly malevolent places.
8. What TV, book, film or other character do you most relate to and why?
I reckon I’m a mixture of Lucy and Charlie Brown from Peanuts, with a dash of Marcie thrown in – I have Lucy’s stubborn and bossy streak, Charlie Brown’s self-deprecation and Marcie’s quietness.