I recently came across Jessica Sharville’s work after a friend pointed me in the direction of her Instagram account, and was not disappointed. Jessica is a Brighton based illustrator and printmaker. After graduating from Plymouth University in 2008 with a BA Hons in Illustration, Jessica has continued to elaborate on her aesthetic and motif whilst expanding her clientele in Brighton and further afield, as well as gaining experience in design and photography at the side of her freelance work along the way.
Jessica describes how she came from a creative background from the offset, which paved the way for her crafts to be engrained in her every day life. Her work is feminine yet occasionally incorporating a dark twist, with images of large eyed soft female faces and figures embellished with almost sickly sweet pastel colours, entwined with more sinister themes – girls seething with attitude adorned with tattoos and horns whilst cradling skulls. With this brazen and bold style, it makes sense that her most recent clients boast Bison Beer, designing the can for their pale ale, as well designing and painting a mural at the recent Tap Takeover event at the North Laine Brewhouse which housed as the centre for the successful beer festival held across numerous pubs throughout the city.
Jessica cites various interesting sources for inspiration; from tattoos to Islamic art and Kalighat paintings. She explains how the extensive rules applied to Islamic artworks greatly appealed to something within her – often the work is flat with little sense of depth, adapted by Jessica in the almost matte-finish to her choice of colour and how her illustrations are positioned in each piece. Traditionally Kalighat paintings are completed quickly, and sold by street artists as souvenirs outside of temples in Kalighat. Jessica explains how reading the history of this particular school of art, as well as seeing first hand distinguished pieces at the V&A, inspired her to speed up her tempo and find more confidence in her line work when drawing people.
Jessica uses numerous methods with her illustration work – lino and woodcut printmaking are consistent elements, however she tells how her most dependable practice is pencil or pen illustration, with colour adapted digitally to create a clean finish for her commissions. Alongside her freelance work, Jessica also organised an illustration art fair in Brighton called Fair Play – covered previously by Brighton Creatives! This runs every month and encourages illustrators to put themselves forward through a creative open art fair environment in an industry which can be challenging. She also teaches lino printmaking workshops across Brighton.
I got in contact with Jessica to find out more about her work.
Hi Jessica! We love your work at BC. Can you give our readers a bit of background to yourself and your work?
I grew up in Edenbridge in Kent – our house was full of music, art and graphic designers as my Dad ran a design company from home. He was a sign-writer originally then an airbrush illustrator before he became a graphic designer, so I was surrounded by great books, pencils, pens and paper which meant I was set on being an illustrator from a young age. Through my teenage years I was heavily into music and my path changed as I was absolutely set on being a music photographer, I pursued this whilst still drawing and went to do a Foundation in Art and Design to decide between photography and illustration, eventually deciding on illustration, but was distracted by photography along the way; I went on tour with a few bands helping out and taking photos. After 10 months I decided I should finish my degree and I applied to Plymouth University. Since then I have juggled jobs to support my illustration career, moved around to a few different places until I settled here in Brighton. I now work half of my time as a freelance illustrator and the other half as a studio manager at Tattoo Workshop. Moving to Brighton really changed my life creatively and I have been obsessively creating work since.
I was intrigued to learn you’ve been inspired by Islamic art and Kalighat paintings. Can you reveal to us any artists or pieces in particular who set the tone for your aesthetic?
I was lucky enough to go to the Museum of Islamic Art at the beginning of last year in Doha and that really changed my work. I love the detailed pattern work which sits along the static portraits of the people rich enough to have these portraits done. The heavy eyes and exaggerated features of religious iconography has always been a big influence on my work but something about the poses, hair and faces of the islamic art I saw really influenced me.
You teach printmaking workshops across Brighton. Can you give us any more details incase our readers want to indulge?
I’ve been teaching workshops in Lino Printmaking for the last year in Brighton, it’s really fun teaching people and creating work with people whether they are creative or not. I have a couple of workshops coming up soon – First one is on may 25th 6pm at the Longhouse Cafe in Brighton, then my next one is on July 6th 6pm at Hive cafe in Hove.
A favourite piece of yours and why?
My most recent Lino cut which is called ‘Tibetan Drumming’ is one of my favourite personal pieces as I started learning to play the drums when I was having a difficult time a few years ago and it was great having something to focus on. I did it as a homage to that with a Tibetan edge to it. I’m hoping to do more work like this in the future.
Can we take a peek of your workspace?
Thank you Jessica, check out her website here.