19 July 2022
Tombow Talks to: Jessica Smith
Where did you study and what some of your first jobs?
I studied at Falmouth University in Cornwall, UK! It was the best place to spend 3 years and Cornwall will always hold a special place in my heart. Some of my first jobs with my agency were little licensing jobs where my designs would be bought for greetings cards. Even these tiny jobs were so so exciting for me as it made me realise that I could do the thing I loved as a job!
Did you always know you wanted to be an illustrator?
No I actually didn’t! When I was studying for my art foundation I had no idea what illustration really was! It wasn’t until I went to university and saw other people doing what I wanted to do that I realised it was something I really wanted to try and make work. When I discovered how diverse and fun it was it really spurred me on to chase that dream.
What does a typical ‘day-in-the-life-of-Jessica-Smith’ look like?
I don’t think I really have a typical day, I’m not very good with routine, which is definitely something I need to work on! I do try to mix things up each day though to keep it fun and interesting. I like to mix admin and creative work each day because I find it hard to have a whole day doing just admin! I try to take photos for my social media in the mornings though and that’s something I keep consistent. My studio gets the most sun in the mornings and make my photos look best!
The last two years have been challenging for business of all shapes and sizes. How has the pandemic affected your work and how have you had to adapt during these times?
The last two years have been incredibly challenging in so many ways. Sales have dropped and picked up and dropped again, its become so unpredictable. I had a few jobs drop off or get postponed too which has been hard but I’ve had to adapt and think of new ways to bring in work and money. I started doing some workshops which people have loved!
You use simple shapes and bright colours in your work, how did you develop your style as an illustrator?
I think it just took a lot of practice. Finding a medium that I was really comfortable with really helped me too. There are so many pieces of work that I made when I was at university that didn’t feel like me, and I think when you do something that feels like you, you know that’s it.
Pinch-me career moment?
100 % seeing my work on Kate Spade billboards all over London last year!
What inspires your creative process?
Mostly just things around me, people, plants, nature and colours. If I see a colour palette I like when I’m out I’ll take a photo of it in case I want to use it in an illustration. I use a lot of reference photos too for landscapes and people!
How do you use Tombow products in your work?
I use Tombow in my sketchbook and when I’m drawing out and about. I love how the markers cover an area so easily and quickly which is perfect when your drawing moving things or animals too. I also love using them to add shadow over other colours, pencils or paint!
Pen or Pencil?
Favourite thing to draw?
If you could have dinner with three artists (past of present) who would they be?
Mr.Bingo, David Hockney and Banksy.
Favourite Gallery or Museum?
The Natural History Museum or The Hayward Gallery
What should we be watching on TV right now?
If you haven’t watched Stranger Things, DO IT, the new season is out now!
I do absolutely love London, but I’m a countryside girl at heart!
Best advice you have ever received?
To start sharing my work online. This is the best thing I’ve ever done. It got my name out there from the very beginning and I’m so grateful to be able to do this.