Jessica Exall is an illustrator and puppet maker from the sunny countryside of Kent. Her work is about bringing out the beauty and uniqueness in living things, that others may not consider beautiful. She is interested in nature and enjoys finding the bizarre and strange in wildlife and documenting it with inks.
Can you describe how you make images?
I work quite quickly; I start out by painting a silhouette of an object in water, then I drop inks and paint on to the page. I never really have a picture in my head of what the image is going to look like. I enjoy playing with different medias and watching how they react to one and another in an image, how certain colours create different patterns as they bleed into the wet page.
I use an ink pen to scratch into the water paper to create lines and textures.
Do you keep your style consistent or is it something that is always developing?
I think I always keep the style consistent within my work, I don’t think it has changed much over the years.
Sometimes I have to change it for a project to adapt to what clients want. Being able to easily change my style to suit a project has been beneficial in getting me work.
Where do you take inspiration from, beyond the work of other artists and illustrators?
I take inspiration from where I live. I live in the countryside and our garden is always filled with rabbits, squirrels, pheasants, green woodpeckers and sometimes Lapwings from the bird reserve over our fence.
My partner is an Ecologist who specialises in birds; he has had an impact on my work. I find myself doing a painting or making a puppet of birds he has pointed out on walks. I enjoy hearing the history and folklore of British Wildlife and find that inspires me to make work.
Is where you live an influence on your work?
I live in the Kent countryside surrounded by fields and small streams. I think the wildlife around where I live has definitely had an influence on me.
What is your ideal working environment?
My ideal working environment would be a place with lots of windows to let in light. A massive table, big enough to fit all my paints, inks, books and sewing machine.
I can’t work on my own in silence, for some reason it distracts me. I like to have music or a documentary on in the background while I work.
I like working around, or with other people. I enjoy looking at what other people are doing and bouncing off ideas with other ‘creatives’. I think a joint studio space would be my ideal working environment.