Day 6 – Jessica Phoenix
Jessica Phoenix was born into an artistic family from Massachusetts in the States. Jess now resides on the West Coast of the USA and creates vibrant, colourful illustrations with amazing precision.
Are you a self taught artist, or what studies did you do to get where you are today?
Both my mom and dad studied art and are creative, so I’m sure a good portion of my skills came from them! Art was definitely my favorite subject growing up, and I knew I wanted to make some kind of career out of it, so I decided to go to the Rhode Island School of Design for college. I’m certain that I am where I am today because of my time spent there.
What tools, programs and apps do you love or cannot live without?
Tracing paper, a scanner, and Photoshop!
Your art provides inspirations to so many others. What or who inspires you?
Color, above all else. All of my work is about creating something colorful and vibrant. I also love pattern design. I think a well-composed pattern is so exciting. The way the pattern repeats or how the elements fit together is always so fun to see, and how it guides your eye through the colors and shapes. I love the problem-solving of making patterns.
Can you describe your process including how long a piece of art or photography takes you from concept to complete?
I start by making a tiny thumbnail sketch of the idea I have, then I’ll move onto drawing the piece larger. Some drawing end up more refined than others. Sometimes it’s very much just a loose gesture. Then I take out my tracing paper and proceed to draw every petal, leaf and stem with an array of markers. It doesn’t matter what color they are – I’m more interested in the texture of each one. I make a B&W high res scan of the shapes, and then cut and arrange all the pieces in Photoshop, applying and adjusting color as I go along. This way, I have complete control over the colors I want to use. Some pieces happen very intuitively and quickly, while others I have to go through 2 or 3 different color versions before I’m happy. If I plan on selling or showing the piece I’ve created, I then send a stripped-down version of it to my printer, who makes lovely giclée prints for me. Once I receive them back, I will paint gold and neon elements onto the piece with acrylic and gouache, to make the piece shine and pop. Then the piece is done!
What part of your process do you love the most?
Applying the color in photoshop is the most fun for me. Creating that perfect balance of colors within the piece. I also really love getting to paint a print I created for the first time. That’s when I get to see the piece as I truly intended it to be. Sometimes I discover that painting that print is super hard, which has caused me to “retire” some pieces of mine 🙂 But most of the time, everything comes together really smoothly.
If you weren’t an artist, what do you think you would be doing for work?
I really have no idea! Art has been such a huge part of my life for so long, I can’t imagine doing anything else. I can’t even think what other types of jobs there are! I suppose I would just want to do something where I was completing several small projects in succession. Problem solving. I am not someone who enjoys to noodle on things for a long time — I’m interested in finding a solution and implementing it as well and as quickly as I can. I enjoy using my intuition, and getting to work at my own (rapid) pace without interruption. So if there’s a job that fits all of those qualities, that might be for me!
Who is the most fascinating or inspiring person you have met or worked with?
I have never worked with her, but I’ve recently become friends with Moorea Seal. She is an inspiration power-house, and I love how she encourages women to seek what they truly need/want out of life and to give them tools to try and implement it. And she’s a blast to hang with/talk to, so that’s always good.
Name an underrated artist
I recently came across a pattern designer whose work I just LOVE: Ellie Green. I think she just graduated, but her work needs to be out there. So vibrant and fun!
Also, I’m not sure if she’s an artist, but through Instagram, I’ve interacted a bit with a woman, Diana, who runs a fun blog called Unusually Lovely. Her photos, colors and compositions are so great. I’m secretly rooting for her IG feed/blog to hit it big because I’ve always enjoyed it (and one her cats is a doppelgänger with mine!)
What artwork of yours are you most proud of?
I will always be partial to my piece ‘June’ since I feel like that is the first true piece of mine. It embodies what I love to do, and a lot of it just works! It’s also pretty popular 😉 I also really love my piece ‘Twilight Garden’ since it’s so complicated, but balanced. I originally designed it to be a huge piece, and I recently got to paint it at the size it was meant to be: 20×28. It looks so good, I never want to paint it small again!
What’s next in the professional pipe works for you?
I have some fun collaborations going on right now, that I can’t reveal just yet. One is a book cover and the other… involves thread 🙂 I have no big plans for my work, but I just want to have more opportunities to work on fun projects. Last year, around this time, I was contacted by Urban Outfitters to turn a piece of mine into some wall art. More of that would be great! I’ve also been contacted more and more to just illustrate things for books and magazines, which I didn’t expect to happen with my art. I love that people are seeing my style and wanting to see me apply it to non-floral items.
Bonus fun questions
What is your pet peeve?
What is your current favourite album?
Right now, I’m loving the new album by The National, Sleep Well Beast.
Apart from art, what is your favourite thing to do?
Hanging out with my husband and friends while making and eating really good food and drinks.
If you could tame any animal and have it as a pet, which one would it be and why?
My husband is obsessed with the crows and squirrels in our yard. He feeds them peanuts every day. I think it would be great to have one of them as a pet… though our two cats probably wouldn’t make life easy for them!
Website: Jessica Phoenix
Socials: Jessica Phoenix on Instagram
Images used courtesy of Jessica Phoenix © Jessica Phoenix