FK chats to Jessica Singh the amazingly talented artist behind The Finders Keepers Spring/Summer 14 flyers! We can’t get enough of Jessica’s amazing artwork, let alone her fabulous Tumblr page. To purchase your very own ‘Jessica Singh’ head over to her online store.
How would you describe your style of artwork and how has this evolved?
Colorful, eclectic, spiritual, whimsical. My artwork has evolved a lot over the years. I started off when I was very small being really into craft and making things. In high school I got more into drawing as part of my TEE art class, and at the time was really obsessed with Japanese animation and video games which really formed the basis for out-of-this world female heroines. This was around the time I discovered drawing digitally with a tablet pen. In the past year or so after a move to Berlin my style has evolved so much and is really lining up and getting closer to how it is inside of my head, if that makes sense. Lately I’ve just been finding joy in using gouache & drawing by hand.
What is your background and when did you start illustrating?
I’m originally from Perth and both my Mother and Grandmother were very creative. I remember my childhood being mostly making things, my grandmother is American and was always painting classic American folk art, drying flowers from her garden and whipping up things on the sewing machine. My mother is extremely talented at painting, drawing and colour mixing. I think this whole spirit of making kind of formed me. My love of drawing / making has always been there, but I started getting the idea of becoming an illustrator in my high school art & design classes. My brother bought me a tablet when he was on holiday, and from there I just started drawing stuff I loved and posting it online. Before that I was literally drawing stuff with my mouse.. sad times. Anyway, I received a great response from posting online when I was around 17 years old, so I’ve been doing it ever since! I got quickly used to sharing everything I did.
After high school I studied fine art at Curtin University in Perth and found it wasn’t exactly my jam. I moved to Graphic Design at the same Uni, but it didn’t really satisfy me. I found Graphics too formulaic and Fine Art not formulaic enough! So I applied for the Illustration course at Central St Martins, London. It was the best decision ever and I learnt a lot about my art and myself while studying there. I graduated in 2009 with a BA of Graphic Design (Illustration major).
What inspires your work and where do you head for regular inspiration?
I think there are a few major themes of inspiration. First of all holistic/symbolic spirituality; crystals, tarot, constellations anything other-worldy and esoteric. I love spiritual and religious imagery, particularly imagery of goddesses. Secondly I adore any type of cultural influences and folk art / craft of all different cultures. Ceremonial costume and embroidery. Kitsch & vintage objects. Japanese, London & Berlin street style. In terms of the ‘feelings’ spectrums of the drawings, I draw heavily upon music & lyrics. Music is the main thing that connects me to the headspace where I can draw.
For regular/more modern inspiration I keep up to date with all my favourite creators kind of separately (Illustrators, fashion designers, graphic designers, interior design, pop culture). I haven’t found any one place/blog to go that consistently incorporates all my interests, but I do like Boom, Dazed Digital and Bullett Magazine. I love scouring tumblr as well. But generally if I find something I like I just save it into this huge folder on my desktop called Inspiration!
What materials and mediums do you enjoy working with and exploring? What other areas would you like to explore or expand into?
I used to be more enamoured with just drawing on my tablet, but lately I’m entirely addicted to imperfectly painting in gouache in my sketchbook. Now I’m finding that the tablet takes so long to achieve things and that by hand is best, which is a complete reversal to how I used to work. I adore drawing with my Palomino Blackwing – seriously this pencil made me fall in love with pencil again. They are hard to get a hold of here in Berlin! My ultimate goal is Art / Creative direction, but in the meantime I’m interested in branching out to illustrating on fashion photography, textile / homewares / clothing print design as well as more spirituality based projects.
Describe your workspace and surroundings and what your creative process is.
Since moving to Berlin I’ve been working from a home studio and enjoying it quite a lot! Basically I just work on a giant table, and I try to keep it as empty as possible so my brain has space to think. I used to have a shared studio space in Melbourne and it was incredible, but working in total isolation is definitely working for me these days. I have to be in a specific type of zone to make the best work! S o that means a clean desk, music that I’m really connecting to, and probably coffee. Usually I get a quick snapshot idea of what I want to draw and then I just make it. I usually start with the linework but lately as mentioned I’ve been going more back and forth with scanning in my gouache paintings and mixing them together with linework. This is completely dorky too but sometimes I like to take dance breaks between work… not even gonna lie.
What advice would you give other artists/illustrators starting out?
I would say all the cliche things like – be yourself, only do what makes you happy. Just make sure you are doing it because you can imagine doing nothing else, that you absolutely love & adoring drawing/painting/dancing/whatever you love to do! If it’s a chore to you, you will never have the motivation to keep going. And what’s the point then? Be honest with yourself and just DO WHAT YOU LOVE and the rest is seriously the easiest ever. When you find that thing that makes you lose track of time, or feel alive just run with it and don’t look back. And mainly, be positive. Just keep going, keep making, work hard, share everything you make and stay humble.
What kind of clients have you got to work with, and what have been some of your favourite projects?
The best projects are the ones where you and the clients have the same vision and style. This year obviously I was super delighted to design the artwork for Finders Keepers SS14 Markets! It was a lovely job because we shared the same kind of vision with vivid colour and summer fruits. When I was living in Melbourne I adored riding my bike down to the Exhibition Building and loved that it’s such a great way to discover and support local talents.
One of my other favourite projects was creating a shop window for Miss Brown Vintage for Perth Fashion Festival 2013. I based my window around a recent trip to Tokyo and the Cherry Blossom / Tanabata festivals. I had so much fun taking over my parents garage, painting a huge backdrop, stapling astroturf, designing luggage tags, making mini clay sushi and frantically wrapping foil around foraged sticks. I adore projects where I get to execute so much more than just drawing & painting, and a chance to focus on all the little details
What aspirations do you have for the future and what would be your dream project?
I have a problem where I want to do it all and feel like I have not enough time to do it! I think mainly my end goal is to move from illustration towards Creative Direction. I’m very much interested in the larger picture, large ideas and small details, it’s just at the moment illustration is a quick, accessible way to get things out of my brain. I’d really love to also start my own business. I don’t know whether it would be fashion, design, styling, consultancy or a combination. In terms of a dream project I just look forward to collaborating or working with anyone who’s on the same wavelength! Until then I will keep drawing and painting and exploring!