Featured illustrator: Jacqueline Colley

Yesterday we shared the new poster and bookmark that our featured illustrator of the month, Jacqueline Colley, created for our book club book of the month, Encore. Jacqueline is a UK based illustrator and print designer who specializes in playful illustrations. I thought she’d be the perfect person to capture the words of Charity Tilleman-Dick who passed away from health complications last month and is the focus on this month’s book. She offers some wonderful advice and thoughts about her journey!

Interview with Jacqueline Colley

 What do you usually call yourself? Artist? Creative? 

I call myself an illustrator and Pattern designer, I worked as a Printed Textile Designer for 6 years before leaping into freelance illustration so Pattern Design is a big chunk of what I do! Though for fun I also love trying out new crafts, as well as paper cutting and embroidery!!

Do you think you have to go to school to become an artist?

I don’t! I remember feeling like my education started when I left art school and went to work at H&M, it probably helps to have on your CV for opening doors and getting opportunities. But really being a creative, is about making your own opportunities. So I don’t think a formal education is essential. Especially now there’s so many great courses like Make Art that Sells and Skillshare which can give you all the practical skills without the debt! I still regularly take online classes as they push your work in new directions and challenge you, it’s good to mix it up with new processes and ways of thinking!

What are you most proud of in your career?

I’m most proud of making my living as a freelancer for the past 5 years, I haven’t always gotten the balance right but it’s so amazing that I can be my own boss, choose what projects I work on and steer my own path. The challenge of making it work has led me to explore where I can take my illustrations in ways would not have expected. Plus it’s so fun to see my designs on stationery one week, a wall mural the next and clothing the next!

Did you always have an ultimate plan for your career? 

I’m terrible at planning and have always pinged about like a pin ball following my gut rather than a plan but in the last year or so I’ve gotten really into setting 3 month goals and then breaking those down into monthly goals which I put up on my wall so I don’t forget! I think it’s making me more focussed and productive! Long term goals I still struggle with though!

What’s a piece of advice that you’ve carried with you and who is it from?

I read an interview with Geoff McFetridge not long after going freelance and his advice was ‘Do as much personal work as you can’ That immediately got taped to the front of my computer and has been a very good reminder. Something about gifting yourself the time to make the work you want to, not just client work all the time. That’s the work that you then get clients asking for!

What piece of advice would you give to someone starting out in a creative field? 

Persevere! There’s so much of this 30 under 30 lists and pressure to have it all figured out at 20 something! Take it from a 33 year old who is happily still figuring it out and enjoying the process, it’s ok to take your time!

What artists/designers/creatives do you look up to? Both historical or present

I love Josef Frank, when I lived in Sweden I became obsessed with his patterns they are constructed so intricately which I love! I’m also a book hoarder I scour second hand book shops for vintage natural history books and reference books anything filled with visuals and illustrations!

What’s inspiring you lately? 

At the moment I’m obsessed with shells, coral and seaweed the colours, shapes and patterns. I’m getting married in July and the theme is ‘Enchantment Under the Sea’ so lot’s of fun crafting with cardboard and paint to make our vision come to life!  I’m looking at vintage botanical drawings of seaweed and getting inspired! 😀

Thank you Jacqueline for your words!

You can find Jacqueline Colley:

On her portfolio


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