Five Minutes With: Jessica Bird | Riley Studio

Five Minutes With: Jessica Bird

by Hello Riley |

Spend five minutes with the fashion illustrator whose expressive and minimalist drawings gave a fresh perspective on Collection 07. 

Jess is a London-based artist and illustrator who shares our love for creating from waste. As soon as we agreed to work together on Collection 07, we sent her a set of fabric swatches, used packaging and other miscellaneous materials to layer into her final pieces. The results, as we've come to expect from Jess, were wonderful. 

Following our conversation from last year, we borrowed another five minutes from Jess's busy schedule to talk about these new works, learn about the meditative nature of blind drawing, and find out which was the most challenging to draw: plastic bottles, trees or onions?  


 Hi Jess. What exciting new projects have you been working on since we last spoke?

Hi! Oooh, I have been enjoying experimenting quite a lot and that’s opened some new avenues for me. I’ve been exploring still life and worked on some exciting interior projects with those - it’s always so fulfilling to see artwork in situ. I’ve pushed myself beyond my usual canvas and painted on vegan leather bags for another project. A few self set projects as well, one involving printing my drawings on recycled magazines that I found in the street and I just started a ceramics course, so I’m excited to see how my works translates into clay.


Can you share something with us that’s inspired you recently?

I went to see the Paula Rego exhibition at the Tate. Just incredible! I was particularly struck by the power of her “abortion pastels’ series, which helped change the law in Portugal after bringing attention to the dangers of making abortion illegal.


 Collection 07 was inspired by the theme of repair and reconnection to the natural world. How did you stay grounded and connected during the pandemic?

Like a lot of people I’m sure, I found solace in nature. I also found blind drawing (continuous line drawing where I am looking at the subject but not at my paper) very therapeutic, it becomes almost meditative because it requires all of your concentration for the hand eye coordination so for that time you are completely focussed.


For this series, we asked you to focus on simple line work. What is it about that style that appeals to you?

Similar to my last answer, most of my line drawing work involves some level of blind drawing, even if that’s just beforehand to warm up and encourage more intuitive looser lines.

Drawing is at the core of my practice, to strip it right back to a simple charcoal line means there is no hiding, you have to be able to say what you need to with minimal information. It’s a manual editing process - which lines are essential, which can be taken out, which should be thicker and darker, which are just light travelling lines as you move across the page.

I like the problem solving element of that, that’s what makes some drawings more successful than others.


Which were the most rewarding objects to draw: plastic bottles, trees or onions?

I hadn’t drawn any of these things before - so it was a learning process with each and I took something away from each but I think the trees were actually my favourite.


After working with Collection 07, which piece would you most like to own and why?

I LOVE the charcoal cord track pants, they seem like the perfect post pandemic transitional garment, too lovely to wear only around the house but bringing the relaxed fit/comfort as we emerge back into society - haha.


Special thanks to Jess. You can follow her on Instagram.

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