Last September I moved into the Artist's led Jamaica Street Studios in Bristol's vibrant Stoke's Croft, famous for their yearly open studios where the public get a rare glimpse into Artist's creative spaces - (this years is 22nd-24th September, if your keen to get it in your diaries!)
After 6 months settling in I wanted to show you round my current set up and introduce you to the illustrators I share my space with...
My new studio space at Jamaica Street Studios, photo by Alice Hendy.
Currently, I'm sub letting the space from the amazing Bristol muralist and artist Zoe Power whilst she's off on maternity leave for a year.
If you've been following me on IG for a while you'll know I left my beautiful spot at Hillside out in the countryside last Spring after a wonderful few years there during the pandemic. Beautiful though it was, I was looking to be back in the city centre, somewhere where I could cycle to instead of driving all the time, and MOST importantly (after the pandemic) reconnecting with other creatives and Bristol.
Being so inspired by nature, I weighed up for a long time whether being back in the city centre was the right place for me, but I've come to appreciate that inspiration comes in all forms and it's not just about your surroundings, and I've totally landed on my feet sharing an awesome space with fellow illustrators, Dave Bain and Jess Knights.
L-R: 'Hug' by Dave Bain & illustrations for Bath city farm by Jess Knights.
I tend to break down my time between working from home and in the studio. I use home to work on the admin side of my business, which means I can keep the studio as a more focused creative space to paint and draw. It's taken a while to figure out what works best for my practice, but I think what I've realised in the last few years as a creative, is it's all about balance. You often need to channel different energies for different parts of your business and having a designated space for both is really useful.
For me, having a studio puts me in a different headspace, one that is less screen orientated and more creative, it's where I can get the headphone on and the paints out. It's also where I am also able to chat to other Artists about projects and ideas, or more often than not sympathize about the ups and down of freelancing. When for the most part you work on your own, it's incredibly important to not feeling alone in those tough moments.
Samples for a woodland mural.
Sharing with Dave and Jess has already been so inspiring, and I've learnt so much being around two other professional illustrators. We are all really diverse with our styles and approach, and all at different point in our careers so it's always interesting getting their perspectives on work, from the creative side to conversation on SEO- having a studio is endlessly valuable...
When the idea came up a few weeks ago to do a blog about the studio I jumped at the chance to ask them a few questions about their practice.
Here's a bit more about them both...
Dave is a professional illustrator with over 15 years experience in the industry and if you are Bristol based you will definitely recognise his bold, energetic, colourful, style from murals around the city. He's also at the heart of the Bristol illustration scene organising the AOI meet ups and working as a mentor (including to me), getting to share a space with someone with so much experience and insight in the industry is a real privilege.
Dave in the studio.
Jess uses mixed media - paints, pens, pastels, collage and design software to create her unique style of illustration. She has a focus on food, nature, health and wellbeing across her illustrations, as well as running creative workshops via Yuup across Bristol. I love the energy Jess brings to her career, spinning lots of plates, I find her work ethic so inspiring!
Jess Knights (photo courtesy of Yuup)
What are you working on right now?
Jess - I’ve got a personal project on the go this week! I’m writing about and illustrating an article about my experience with an autoimmune condition that I was diagnosed with in my early 20s (Coeliac Disease). I want to raise awareness of the condition and hopefully by pitching it to prospective clients it might lead to work with health and wellbeing organisations in the future.
Dave - I'm part way through a commission for the NHS's Arts Programme. I've designed a a series of artworks for a staff training wing on their Bristol site. I'm really excited as I not only get to paint a series of murals, but also create some physical pieces, painted on wood.
What's your dream collaboration?
Jess - it’s so hard to name just one project idea! But I think my dream project has stayed the same for the last year or so. I would love to work with an environmental / social / health and wellbeing organisation on both the strategy and design of a whole illustrated campaign - including painting a large educational mural in a flagship location with creative content like maps, online content and printed materials and that all tie in.
Dave - Oh, where to start!! Recently, I've been toying with various narrative ideas, so would love to take that somewhere. I'd love to illustrate a beer can too - that's on my hit list.
Best studio lunch- fav spot on Stokes Croft to grab a bite to eat?
Jess - I love Emmeline and Biblios because they do great dietary options for my Coeliac disease. A bit further down the road is Artist Residence where I hold my monthly creative workshops. They are a hotel and so serve an amazing and varied seasonal menu all day long.
Jess and Dave have also written their own blogs about 'studio life' and had their chance to ask me some questions about my practice too, you can read what they had to say using the links below;