Drawn always to art that features strong colour and line, I was immediately attracted to the work of Canada based illustrator, Jessica Fortner.
Jessica is a prolific and busy artist with a focus on editorial, advertising and children’s illustration. Her client rosta is impressive, including Architectural Review, the New York Times, Washington Post Express and Green Source. She has also been featured on Juxtapoz, Ammo Magazine, Digital Arts, and Pork & Mead.
Jessica contributes to FormFiftyFive and is also co-founder and editor of art and design magazine Squidface & The Meddler. I invited her to do an interview, and she kindly took time out of a very busy schedule to answer some questions for me….
Name: Jessica Fortner
Business: Freelance Illustrator
Location: Toronto, Canada.
Tell us about a bit about yourself and your background.
I was Born on The Bayou and live in the city (Toronto). I went to school for printmaking and sculpture at OCAD (Ontario College of Art and Design).
What do you do..how do you describe yourself?
I’m an illustrator. I do some art for myself, but rarely describe myself simply as an “artist”.
What is your working methodology, favourite tools and mediums?
I’m always trying to push the part of my work that involves fleshing out the idea. That’s mostly scribbles, but really it’s the truly difficult part. The largest chunk of time is spent drawing, inking and colouring in photoshop, but a lot of that is just the long unfolding of getting the idea down on paper. I don’t use anything too fancy for tools: pencil, ink pens, photoshop.
What are you currently working on?
I just finished an album cover for the Spanish band MVH (Misterioso Viaje Holanda). Had a lot of fun working the letterforms M-V-H into the illustration. I’m really into typography, but have been slow to do any of my own.
I also recently finished a series for Harvard Business Review about monetizing big data – was really weird and abstract, but turned out to be a very liberating project. Matthew Guemple – the Art Director – was really cool about trusting my concepts which, to be fair, were quite trippy for the subject matter.
What are you most proud of?
For the first two years out of school I was doing sculptural illustrations. If you dig around online you may still be able to see some. They were elaborate sets of sculpted characters (similar to stop motion animation scenes). I’d photograph those to make a single photo illustration. It was really time consuming and huge effort for each image. I love those pieces, but they were very limiting. Every illustration had to be very concrete – a character or two in a setting.
I wanted to do more abstract work but my drawing/painting skills were really rudimentary. Still – I dropped sculpting literally overnight and committed myself to developing as a drawing illustrator. It took some commitment, but I’ve been doing it now for 2 years and am way happier for it.
Who or what inspires you?
Mountains, architecture, movies, the internet, music, my dog, science, crafts, it changes all the time…
When not creating, what do you do in your spare time?
I adopted a dog from the Humane Society several months ago. She’s a sweetie and a hell-raiser. She’s got a bundle of emotional hang-ups, so it’s been a full-time job training and taking care of her. It’s really worth it though – going for long snow hikes in the Don Valley with my dog Dakota and my boyfriend is my favourite pastime these days.
What do you hope to be doing in five years time?
Same thing but from a Mountain-situated home base. I have my eye on Vancouver Island.
What advice do you have for up and coming creatives?
Advice is tough. If I could go back now I’d rely less on digital – staring at screens is brutal on the eyes and the soul.
And finally…just for fun??
Pink or Turquoise? Both
Maltesers or Haribo? Maltesers
Wine or beer? both (though not usually in tandem)
Boots or trainers? Seasonally dependent – have my eye on sneaker boots!
A walk in the woods or the beach? both – preferably on a rocky British Columbia beach shortly after emerging from the woods.
Book or a film? both – but better to read the book first and have it ruined by the film later (with the exception of the Shining for which the film is undeniably better).
Vintage or new? Vintage.