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Based in the heart of the United Kingdom, Essex, there blooms a unique artist with a penchant for print and textiles. Her name is Jess Louise, a designer deeply inspired by the rhythms of the natural world. Her journey to the arts is not a straight path, rather it is shaped by many years of exposure to different fields, with a detour into childcare before finally finding her true passion.
Background and Training
From an early age, Jess Louise always had a keen interest in all things creative. Her initial foray into the world of art began with a foundation in Fine Art & Photography, which she undertook at Colchester Sixth Form, earning her A Levels in these disciplines. However, her career veered towards childcare for eight years, offering a divergent but valuable perspective.
Despite this diversion, the allure of art persisted. It wasn’t long before she returned to her first love, enrolling in an Art Foundation course at Colchester Institute. This course was a pivotal moment, leading her to discover a wide range of creative practices available within the industry. Here, she fell in love with printed textiles and designing repeat patterns, a passion that became her career’s focus. This epiphany sparked her transition into a degree in Fashion and Printed Textiles, marking her official entry into the field of textile design.
Jess’s creative process is intrinsically intertwined with the natural world. Every aspect of her design work draws from her encounters with nature, from peaceful walks in the countryside to observing the nuances of changing seasons. Her inspiration also feeds from her experiences at garden centres and botanical workshops, such as the one she attended at Beth Chatto’s Gardens.
It was at this workshop that she discovered the profound beauty of botanical design. She was struck by the possibilities of printing using each leaf’s naturally held pigments without the use of synthetic inks. Since this awakening, she has delved deep into eco-printing, bundle dyeing, and creating natural dyes, inks, and screen-printing pastes. Her love for botanical design and commitment to sustainability led her to favour the use of natural resources, pigments, and fabrics in her practice whenever possible.
Methodology and Process
Jess’s preferred methodology for producing her art pieces is an intricate and thoughtful process. She elegantly combines hand drawing and impression printing with digital techniques, using digital drawing tools like Procreate and Photoshop. She takes a meticulous approach, starting with drafting initial designs, then painstakingly refining them until they meet her standards.
Once she’s satisfied with her design, she naturally dyes her fabrics, choosing materials like natural linens or hemp for their environmental friendliness. The finalised designs are then hand screen-printed onto these fabrics. This painstakingly careful process ensures a tangible connection between her and her work, resulting in pieces that celebrate their inherent beauty and small, unique imperfections. She has a particular fondness for impression printing, which allows her to create prints from nature in their most organic form, using natural pigments. Sustainability remains the cornerstone of her practice, governing all aspects of her work.
Current Projects and Favourite Artwork
Jess recently completed her 3rd and final year of a Fashion and Textiles degree. Her final project, “In The Garden”, represented her ongoing dedication to sustainability. She dedicated herself to the world of gardening, focusing on the theme of rewilding and its potential benefits on biodiversity. To maintain the authenticity of her project’s theme, she only utilised natural resources and hand screen-printed her entire collection using natural pigments on hemp fabric.
Her favourite piece from the collection, “Wilding”, is a hand screen-printed design which she developed into a repeat pattern using Photoshop. It was then printed on tea-dyed fabric using her natural pigments, resulting in a rich, dark green. This design not only decorates small cushions but has also been converted into wallpapers in various colours.
Looking ahead, Jess is keen to extend her footprint in the world of art and design. Although she has yet to exhibit her work, she is motivated to do so in the near future. She closely follows current art trends, such as sustainability, eco-design, botanical design, and the world of natural dyers, to keep herself updated and ready for fresh creative opportunities.
While she has no specific future projects planned, she is keen on exploring natural botanical processes to continue developing her artworks and repeat patterns. She’s not just looking forward to creating more collections, but she is also eager to apply the knowledge and skills she has gained throughout her artistic journey in a professional capacity.
Jess is open to potential employment opportunities within print studios. She sees it as a chance to immerse herself more in her craft, gain new experiences, and learn from other experts in the field. Moreover, she is also interested in undertaking freelance projects that align with her unique design aesthetics and commitment to sustainability.
Jess’s commitment to continuous growth and her openness to new ventures highlight her passion and determination. Her versatile skills and unique artistic approach make her a promising addition to any creative team or project, whether it is working collaboratively in a print studio or crafting bespoke pieces for freelance projects.
Advice for Aspiring Artists
For those aspiring to pursue art, Jess advocates exploring, experimenting, and utilising natural materials whenever possible. She encourages others not to fear the unknown, urging them to take known processes and transform them into something new. Through rigorous experimentation and trial-and-error, she has developed a naturally printed fabric collection, proving that following a sustainable approach doesn’t have to sacrifice the contemporary relevance of artwork.
Jess recommends looking to Liz Spencer (@thedogwooddyer), a natural dyer who offers monthly workshops and tutorials. Botanical Colours also provides valuable resources for understanding natural processes, colours, chemicals, dyeing, and more. Furthermore, she suggests two books that have significantly influenced her practice: ‘Make Ink: A Forager’s Guide to Natural Inkmaking’ and ‘Natural Palettes: Inspiration from Plant-Based Color by Sasha Duerr’.
Jess Louise’s journey offers a testament to the transformative power of art, demonstrating how it can awaken our connection to the natural world. Through her creative endeavours, she not only captures the beauty of nature but also reminds us of our responsibility to nurture and protect it. Her work is a call for artists to experiment fearlessly, to seek inspiration from the world around them, and to embrace sustainable practices in their craft. Jess’s story is an inspiration for artists and individuals who seek to weave together creativity, love for nature, and a commitment to sustainability.