It was Rock My Style’s Deputy Editor Lauren that introduced me to Jessica Durrant’s amazing water colour designs on Etsy last year. I love her modern yet elegant style and the fashion illustrations in particular are absolutely beautiful, it’s all I can do not to buy them all.
I’ve always been fascinated by artists, I can’t draw for toffee so it’s a skill that makes me green with envy and somewhat awestruck in equal measure. I thought it might be interesting to interview Jessica on her increasingly successful career and as she’s the generous sort, she is also giving away a print of choice to one lucky reader, details of the competition can be viewed in the right hand column of this feature.
Hi Jessica! as you know Lauren and I both have some of your illustrations already, I would love to know when you discovered this was your passion, and when you decided to branch out and make this a full time career?
I loved drawing since I was a kid really. It was something I loved to do, and never felt like I had enough paper to scribble and doodle on. I studied illustration in college at Southern Utah University. I knew I loved fashion illustration but didn’t really pursue it until a few years out of getting my degree. I decided to make that change slowly but surely into getting back into a creative life. I was very fortunate that people responded so positively to my work. As my progress evolved I began doing it full time thanks to Etsy, and the usage of social media and blogs that spread my work.
You are originally from Vegas and now reside in Atlanta – both of which seem very glamorous to us! What are the best things about your birth city and your current home town?
Well I wasn’t born in Las Vegas, but I spent my formative years and a little over a decade living there. I’ve actually lived in eight different states all over the USA. The best thing about Las Vegas is The Strip of course! ha ha, so many great shows, concerts, restaurants and shopping. Because I lived there for so long, I never see Las Vegas the way others do. To me, it makes me happy to land there…but not giddy to gamble my money away. Atlanta is a great town for it’s natural beauty, and the people are wonderfully nice and open in the South. I also am a convert to sweet tea and grits now. Southern food is awesome!
How many illustrations do you design say, in an average month? and where does your inspiration come from?
I probably paint at least 5 times a week, if not more. I would say out of all the sessions of painting, I probably paint 4 new things a month that I post online. I try to keep open to whatever is inspiring me at that moment in my life. I don’t want to paint the same things, and I want to be authentic. That certainly keeps things fresh for me.
How do you organise your diary with regards making time for creativity and the more standard business side of things?
I generally try to think of my time in thirds. One third for shipping art, one third for creating and working on commissions, and one third for emails and other business related work. (I hope this is making sense mathematically…forgive me I suck at math). I’m lucky I can find that balance because if not, I would have to fire myself!
Do you ever (much like I sometimes suffer from “writers block”) have times when an idea just won’t flow or you have to think of an alternative?
I certainly get commissions or freelances that I have trouble being as creative and clever as I want to be. Sometimes the best thing to do is walk away from the work and do something else. Go for a walk outdoors, take a bubble bath, read a book, watch an art documentary and many times the solution will come and I will be unblocked.
Do you have a favourite design?
My favorite pieces is Trees as Veins. It was the first piece I did that I really painted from my subconscious, and was almost a bit afraid to share. I’m proud of it, and I don’t normally say that about my work.
What is your best seller?
World Map No. 6, the vivid greens and dripping paint on this map seem to be a favorite among my audience.
Are there any new projects you are working on currently? I’ve noticed some beautiful illustrations of lingerie on your instagram feed recently……
Right now I’m actually getting ready to travel to Australia and Fiji. I’ll be doing volunteer work for arts education in Fiji for six weeks. So I’ve tried not to take on any intense deadline orientated commissions since I’m leaving in a couple weeks. I’m open to be inspired while I am there and can’t wait to see what will happen with my paintings as a result of visiting there. The lingerie series was just a spontaneous go at painting another form of fashion that I love. I have been fortunate enough that many times when I paint what I want, many times the images are picked up by magazines, blogs and licensing deals…so I never know where an illustration will go. I just try to have faith that if I put good work out, I will be able to continue doing this for a living.
Your work has been featured in some very established publications such as Elle Brazil and our very own Living Etc, do you still get as excited seeing your designs in glossy magazines as you did when you first started out?
Getting into magazines is probably one of my favorite things! Maybe it’s because I love magazines. I hoard magazines really and always have. It’s surreal to think that I have been able to get my paintings into magazines around the world. It only motivates me to continue creating and hopefully connecting with people around the world through my art.
As with anyone running what is essentially their own company there are certain set backs and a lot of hard work involved, we would really appreciate it if you could share any seemingly negative experiences and how you coped/moved forward?
I could give you a laundry list of negative experiences. And I want my followers to know that just because I do have my dream job, doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Having your work on the internet means you will have people who will criticize your work, might not like you, or even rip you off. I’ve developed thicker skin, and I’m glad. It was a lesson I needed to learn. You also will have jobs that you might not meet your and your clients expectations. You’ll receive rejection and sometimes fail. But everyone does. Don’t let one bad job or client turn you off from creating and moving forward. I try to learn as much as I can from the negative experiences.
A bit of nosey to finish (!) what are your top five daily essentials in terms of tools?
Top five tools for painting would be my Princeton liner brush, my flat angled brush, black india ink, music, and coffee. That’s how most days get off to a roaring start!
Name: Jessica Durrant
Education: Studied illustration at Southern Utah University
Favourite Work: Trees as Veins
Bestselling Work: World Map No.6
Head on over to Jessica’s Etsy store and tell us what is your favourite design in the comments box below, one lucky reader will win the print of their choice.