Invisible Tactility by Jessica Bird


Interview by Patrick Morgan 

"Even if I am doing something a bit more controlled I will loosen up first with some blind drawings of the subject so that when I move onto the real thing I can take the essence and freedom of the blind drawings into that work."

PM Looking at your work, different approaches to drawing have really informed your work, like blind drawing or using a single line? How and when did you first incorporate this to your drawing techniques and how else do you keep your work fresh?
JB I had been taught this at art college as a drawing technique to loosen up in life drawing classes and I always found the results to be more interesting than my other drawings. I continue to use blind drawing or at least elements of it in all my work both life drawings and fashion illustrations.I think it works especially well in charcoal as you can vary the pressure and create complete unique lines as well as depth/form which I love. Even if I am doing something a bit more controlled I will loosen up first with some blind drawings of the subject so that when I move onto the real thing I can take the essence and freedom of the blind drawings into that work. I like to try different sketchbooks and materials to keep my work developing - sometimes all you need for a fresh look is a different colour or texture of paper.
PM Since winning the Fida awards have you worked on anything new and interesting?
JB Going into lockdown only a month after the awards I was a bit nervous about what it would mean for work but actually i’ve had some really interesting projects that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. With brands/media unable to produce photographic content with models etc they turned to fashion illustrators to realise their vision instead, which worked out pretty nicely for me haha. I was very lucky to have had a 6 page spread in Wonderland magazine in place of their normal fashion editorial shoot. I also illustrated the new collection look book for sustainable brand Riley Studio as they had to cancel their photoshoot. It was challenging working from my bedroom with minimal materials (I got a studio just before lockdown but decided working from home was safer) but i’m super grateful for the work and it’s great to see fashion illustration fulfilling its purpose!

"colour - the pigments are great and colour is really important to me."

PM What are the main tools and equipment, you can not live without to keep going?
JB It has been interesting to discover what those are, with less access to materials and art shops i’ve been making do with what I can get my hands on from nearby/online. My number one tool is willow charcoal, the thinner the better. I used to think neutral coloured paper but actually I wasn’t able to get hold of that during lockdown and I made do with white paper which previously scared me but it seems i’m over that now - phew. I use Unison Colour chalk pastels and Liquitex acrylic paints for colour - the pigments are great and colour is really important to me.

"The sense of community, it's been so inspiring to see people come together and come up with creative ways to get by and help others"

PM Have you seen anything interesting at the moment that's really inspired you?
JB The sense of community, it's been so inspiring to see people come together and come up with creative ways to get by and help others - that encouraged me to look at how I could put my skills to good use and do something positive. 
In terms of fashion, visually most recently it’s been Gucci’s Resort SS21 collection, photographed on the designers and staff and covered in post-it’s with styling notes - loved the unpolished creativity of it.   

"it’s been a good time for experimenting - I watched a great programme on Matisse which really inspired me."

PM Has lock down changed your approach to work or have you found something new that has been good for your creativity?
Yes definitely, it’s been a good time for experimenting - I watched a great programme on Matisse which really inspired me. Colour is really important in my work anyway but I loved the way he wasn't concerned with depicting colour realistically and I wanted to give that a go. Inspired by Fauvism I started painting some of my blind-drawn fashion drawings using pure colours that weren't in anyway influenced by the subject. It’s been really therapeutic to have a completely intuitive process from start to finish.
PM Do you have anything you would like to do more of and dream jobs you would like to win. or be commissioned for?
JB I would love to do more magazine work, there’s no better feeling than seeing your artwork in print. The dream job would be to work with a major fashion brand on a collection - it would be so amazing to see my artwork in a different context ie in textile.  
PM Anything big for next year? Anything you would love to share?
JB Things are all a bit up in the air at the moment with no live events being booked in still so nothing too far in advance but I have another editorial with a Japanese magazine coming out late August that I can't wait to share!