When you catch a glimpse of Jessica Crawford’s work, the first word that often comes to mind is “floral.” Indeed, so much of her work revolves around the natural beauty of flowers and fauna and it’s this aesthetic that has helped her to become the number one ranked pattern designer on Creativepool.
We caught up with Jessica this week to shine a spotlight on her talent and to gather an insight into her unique and vibrant world of pattern-centric design.
Where are you from and how did you get into the industry?
I’m originally from Stockport in Greater Manchester. It’s a town that was built on the cotton and silk industries but has since seen a lot of deprivation. It feels quite fitting that a lot of my work now ends up on fabric. There are still plenty of factories and the skyline is dotted with towering Victorian chimneys. If you have ever seen a Lowry painting it’s that in a nutshell.
I went to study Illustration and Animation at Kingston University, it was an amazing experience and a lot of hard work - it taught me the real fundamentals of drawing whilst giving everybody space to discover their own style. After graduating I moved back up north and completed an AVA software course that put me in a good position to start applying for roles.
Where are you based now and who do you work for?
I am currently based in South London surrounded by friends I made at art school! It’s great to have a community of creative people around you to bounce off (and sometimes lean on). After working in house for 4 years I now work solely for myself - a leap I took almost 12 months ago now - I have a number of clients I freelance for and also my own line of products under my company name ‘Ickaprint’ my prints are for sale at www.etsy.com/shop/ickaprint.
Explain your creative style and process
I always start with sketches and roughs based on the client's outline of what they require. I spend a good amount of time researching and pulling together imagery that I know is going to be relevant. Having roughs for the overall layout of a design is really helpful and a great way of communicating what direction you are going in with the client.
Once roughs are approved I will usually hand paint and draw the motifs in my home studio then pull everything together on the computer to create placement or repeat patterns and Illustrations.
Please provide one sentence about your spotlighted work on Creativepool
Hand-drawn floral pattern design created for Zara drawing on the British art and crafts movement.
How has technology affected the way you work (if at all)?
When I first went to art school I had never even thought of drawing on the computer! I spent 3 years practicing painting and drawing (with a LOT of life drawing classes!) I’m so happy that I did - I still use and am improving on those skills every day.
The course I did after graduating really put me on the path to feeling comfortable translating my hand-rendered images into finished designs. These days being comfortable on the computer is invaluable for me, whether it’s getting designs into repeat or mocking up packaging and products, I couldn’t work without it now.
If you could change one thing about the industry what would it be?
Although it‘s improving there is a certain stigma attached to being in a creative role - that it isn’t a ‘real’ job. Perhaps because of this and a lack of confidence, it can be hard for individuals to price their worth.
What’s your secret to staying inspired and motivated?
I don’t know if this is the same for everybody but I find everything inspiring! I love this planet and all the amazing things and people and quirks, I feel overwhelmed sometimes that there is so much beauty and not enough time to drink it all in. Drawing and painting is my way of interpreting the beauty I see around me.
If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?
I worked in the best fish & chip shop in the North when I was 16 and I love chips so there’s your answer!
What’s the work achievement you’re most proud of?
I’m usually most proud of my most recent work! I’ve just completed a huge design full of English birds and trees that was wonderful to work on, it will be across multiple products so I can’t wait to see it in action. I always feel very lucky when I get commissions I can get the paint out for!
How do you recharge away from the office?
I love the surprisingly green patch of South London I live in, it’s really diverse with really busy hectic areas a short walk from incredible ageing graveyards and parks. I love getting out soaking it all up. I have always done lots of yoga - as I spend so much time painting or on the computer it’s been super important for me to take time every week to move and calm my brain!
What advice would you give to other aspiring creatives in the industry who are looking for commissions?
Be true to what you think is important and what you like, it’s so easy when starting out to want to follow trends or do what’s ‘cool’ but by being yourself you are tapping into your unique qualities that will set you apart from the crowd.
What’s your one big hope for the future of the creative industries?
I hope to see more care taken to make the industries sustainable. I try to ensure my own products are as eco- friendly as possible but I am aware of what a huge polluter the fashion industry currently is. There are amazing steps being taken towards more sustainable fabrics and technologies and I really hope to see this grow!