For years Jessica Hill kept work under her bed, in her closets, in the family’s shed, but not anymore. Now it’s on her blog, in charity auctions, for sale at galleries and even on TV. Each of her pieces has dozens of different figures and creatures within it. They are her creations, but it is everyone else’s interpretations that make these unique creatures in her drawings what they are.
Today’s featured artist may live a normal life as a graphic designer in Nashville, Tennessee, but there is way more to it than a good cup of coffee and a great husband. Jessica spends her days outside of work creating art and designs on just about anything and everything she can find with her Sharpie Paint Markers.
Jessica has been at this for a long time. Since she was a kid, her parents and teachers encouraged her to creative outlets. Clearly all the art, music and creative writing classes paid off. Her unconventional art work features characters and figures that take on a life of their own. Each one is individual and each has potential to have its own meaning to the audience. For Jessica though it isn’t always what she draws, but where. Old calendars, chairs, used canvases, you name it Jessica will find a way to use it for her work. Using different materials makes the sky the limit. It helps Jessica get out her urge to create. When you are willing to use anything as your canvas there is nothing to hold you back.
Here are some other things that Jessica had to say:
Personal Style: I think my personal style is just fun and amusing, really. I don’t think about it too much. My work is usually associated with “street art”, which is cool with me. However, the word “obsessed” might describe my personal style, too. I tend to paint things over and over again. I draw all the lines freehand. I have to paint layers and layers of the same color to get a flat, bright image.
Where did these creatures come from: It just sort of evolved over time. Contrary to what some might think, I actually can draw more traditionally, but I always loved street art and skateboard designs. I did silk screening for a while and I loved the bright, flat colors. Also, being a graphic designer, I tend to like minimal things. But I am always thinking about color and layout, too. And again, I just keep myself amused. I think that’s also a large part of it. As for the monsters having one big eye and one little eye… I don’t know why I do that. I just like how it looks.
What are these guys’ personalities: I have never given any character a specific personality, but other people do. People are always naming them or telling me how they see them. I think that’s part of the fun for me… I just make characters that I personally find amusing. I like that they seem to appeal to a wide range of people from adults to kids.
How was it to get these guys on TV: It was very flattering and slightly embarrassing. I am always proud of my work, but I can feel my cheeks getting red whenever I get a little bit of the spotlight. Honestly, it’s just amazing to me how kind people have been and how much they’ve embraced my work. It’s just amazing and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.
Why Sharpies Markers: Well, I found that Sharpies markers let me draw on pretty much any surface. Also, I don’t have to worry about anything dripping, like I would with paint. All my characters have a black outline on them and I found that with Sharpie markers I have a lot more control over those lines. I don’t have to worry about dipping the brush in more paint and I know I can use it on any surface and it won’t chip or flake away when it’s finished. They are just awesome to use and they have such a wide range of sizes, so it just makes the pieces really look polished in the end.
Favorite Sharpie Marker: Right now I am loving the Sharpie Paint Markers. They give me really smooth lines and consistent black ink. It sounds a little silly, but lots of markers don’t always give you a smooth, dark line. They lose ink along the way and that can be frustrating. The Sharpie paint marker has served me well. I also use the extra fine markers for detail work, which is great. I would be lost without them.
Are you an environmentalist or is all this supplies another creative outlet: I wouldlove to say that I am an environmentalist, but it was really kind of accidental. Canvas can be expensive and you don’t always have access to one when you get an idea that you want to work on right away. So I started using things I had around the house and I liked how the different materials gave you different results. They all hold paint or ink differently, and I like that. Plus, sometimes I don’t have a lot of time to work on a project but I want to do some doodles. I will just grab magazines or old calendars and doodle for a while. It’s a really fun outlet for me and I find it really relaxing.
What’s your favorite recycled piece: It’s so hard for me to say… I really enjoyed filling in my old calendar with doodles. I also did a coffee can label for a local coffee shop here in Nashville and that was actually done on the back of a cereal box. I enjoyed that one!
My husband also brings home scraps pieces of wood for me that he will trim down into little squares and I can’t get enough of them!
Most spontaneous piece you’ve ever created: I think that being able to use what’s around does allow me to get my ideas out quickly. Sometimes I get the urge to draw all over photos that my friends will post on-line or email me. It’s like this urge that I just can’t resist and I have to deface it for some reason! It seems I have a problem with impulse control at times… so lots of the things I make are spontaneous. One day I started drawing my favorites movies on scraps of cardboard. Before I knew it, I had a whole pile of them!
Why do you think it’s important to give back: You know, I just think I am so lucky that people like my work. I don’t have a ton of money and I don’t have a lot of other skills. I am glad I can pitch in this way and help out some good causes. It’s just win-win. My favorite experience with volunteering is just meeting so many great people! I’ve met so many wonderful people through charity events. I also get to team up with other local artists and it’s nice to have a sense of community with all of them. It’s not competitive and I really enjoy that.
What is on your to-do list right now: Well, I have a show coming up in June that I am working on and some commission work to do after that. There is a festival in August that I have work in and I am booked for another show in December. I try not to get too much on my plate so I don’t get overwhelmed, but I stay busy!
If there was one place your art could take you, think DREAM job, where would it be: I gotta say, I LOVE my current job. It’s challenging and creative and I work with great people. I don’t know what my dream job would be, honestly. I just thank my lucky stars that I can make a living doing what I love. I know that there are lots of people who are not as lucky. I don’t know what else I would do if I wasn’t doing creative work. My mind couldn’t do anything else.