Sunday, 10 February 2013

An interview with Jessica May Underwood.

Theres something beautiful and elegant about wild and pencil lines on paper, when they swirl around creating a form it brings movement and excitement to the page. This is just one of the many reasons I admire Illustrator Jessica May Underwood’s pencil work.
Underwood brings rhythm and energy into fashion illustration with her line work and splashes of watercolour.
Working for a very impressive client base from the likes of Alexander McQueen, British Vogue and Harrods to A list singers and celebs such as Shakira and Katy Perry, her success is really inspirational to me as an illustrator myself.
Her achievements are motivating,, from seeing how she has traveled and progressed through her career, collaborating with high fashion leaders and moving to thriving art cities such as London, LA and New York.
I was given the chance to ask Jessica a few questions about her career as an illustrator in the fashion industry and her path towards her achievements.

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Above: A progress photo taken from Jessica’s instagram account.
As a creative myself, my choices in what I wanted to choose as a career path have changed a lot over the years, Did you always want to become an Illustrator?
No, i wanted to study English literature, or History, and then Fashion design, and then it boiled down and all of the teachers I have ever had were like ' go and study drawing now! ' so i was directed that way more than anything.

Would you recommend university to art students looking for a career in illustration?
Hmmmmm its a funny old subject this one... I mean the university subject. I shouldn't say this, i know things are meant to steer you , so you can't map them out too much. But I was mostly miserable during my three years there.. its a hard environment to be in, and I can’t speak for every artistic course, but i felt like I had labyrinths more I could have learned. And really been LECTURED on. But also... being an illustrator, and etcher, and image maker, I haven’t seen any better old studios than the ones in Saint Martins, and I loved the teachers in a practical way. Its really where you feel you should be.
For what reason did you choose Central Saint Martins as your university of choice?
I chose it because i got accepted ! once i knew what the school was and everything it entailed i had this clear determination to be a part of it i remember.
What made you want to work and live L.A?  Have you always wanted to move there?
Well... its still pretty new living here. But i see it as a separate thing to my work. Because i came out here and fell in love with the country, as a place. And then my work always ran as a different thing to that. Luckily i could pick it up and move it and work to get over here through my illustrations.
Where do you find your main inspiration from?
I get very inspired by happy places, memories, people i love being with, the beach, the canyons, museums, really great exhibitions will inspire/terrify me into working. I love those kinds of kick up the ass inspirations.
What’s your favorite medium to work with?
Pencil, really fine scratchy pencil

Did you have a lot of encouragement from family and friends about your work as you were growing up or were you very self-motivated?
My family have always been the best about drawing, very encouraging, and just the best actually . I have always turned to my family for reassurance even if it’s from criticism, they are always the best people to ask. Because it’s an honest and considered reaction.
Which fashion designers would you say you have gained most inspiration from?
Alexander McQueen, Boudicca, Theyskens Theory, Isabel Marant, hermione De Paula , Valentino, Vivienne Westwood, especially her old collections… I like to look back a lot, so I can’t really put one designer under an umbrella... more the feel of it all..... those are probably very obvious.. but I hope that says something...!
Out of all the people you have worked with in the past, who were you most excited to meet?
Katy England, working in house with her and Aliter Mackie has been one of my favorite jobs, for many reasons at that time, but she is a very brilliant person and her way of working makes every inch of sense to me.

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Image above : Collaborative project from New York. Byronesque vintage and life in perfect disorder colab. For more information visit

To see more of Jessica May Underwoods work visit the links below.
Instagram: @jessicamayunderwood

Agency website:

1 comment:

Carly said...

Thank you for sharing this :) xxx