Artist Spotlight: Jessica Durrant
This year we’re launching The Craftsman Collective, a curated selection of artists that span the vast possibilities of artistic expression. To showcase some of these exceptional individuals, we created the Artist Spotlight series. For this spotlight, we talked with Jessica Durrant, an illustrator specializing in the fashion, beauty, and lifestyle genres.
Her dreamy, evocative work is inspired by music, film, fashion, architecture, vintage illustration, Scandinavian design, and her travels. In 2014 and 2015, Harper's Bazaar named Jessica a fashion illustrator to follow on Instagram.
Over the past several years, she has crafted gorgeous illustrations for clients such as Target, Sephora, IKEA, Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo, Ebay, Starbucks, Nature Made, and Lancôme Paris (to name just a few). Jessica has also collaborated with Chanel, Oscar de la Renta, and Elie Saab. Recently, her work appeared in Season 2 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. In addition, Jessica is currently creating an art coffee-table book that will be full of her favorite paintings and the stories behind them.
Jessica’s warmth and passion for her craft are just as inspiring to us as her artwork. We hope you enjoy the interview.
What drew you to art? How does it allow you to best tell a story?
I have been drawing since as early as I can remember. I always loved drawing nature, women, and fashion. I believe the things you are most passionate about and attracted to—even at an early age—will stay with you your whole life.
Staying true to what inspires me and what I feel connected with most allows me to create more meaningful, layered, and deep artwork. When I create from that place, the artwork just has a completely different aura to it. And the audience connects to it more. That’s why I think people can usually tell when you are being real with them and your work. When we create from a place of truth, that makes the artwork so strong that the viewer will pick up on it and see the magic.
What themes do you see repeatedly come up in your work?
I love to combine the personal symbolism that I find in nature with my fashion illustrations in a somewhat mysterious way. I like to hint at things. I never feel the need to be literal. Great art allows for a bit of mystery and intrigue. I love injecting reflections into my work and making it more emotional. That's always my aim.
Tell us about your last magical experience—either one you created or one that you experienced.
There really have been so, so many. I think the magic of manifesting what you desire and dream into existence is one of the coolest things you can do. I have done that with brands I wanted to work with, brands like Target, Sephora, Starbucks, and Chanel. I would just continually do affirmations, willing these experiences into my existence. It’s such a truth to first believe in yourself and your work. It’s like a magnet for people to come into your life.
What do you think is essential to your creative process?
For me, it’s about being true to my life and what I am going through. I have to be authentic to make something that is lasting and good. When I look back, I see how that authenticity has helped me make my best artwork. When I create from my heart, it allows for deeper connections with myself and others.
What work are you most proud of?
It’s a piece called “Trees as Veins.” It was a breakthrough piece for me. It was about the darkness that I was going through. Creating when I’m feeling negativity or struggling is always key for me, because it’s part of me healing and dealing with my own adversity. It was dark, but it was beautiful. And it felt like I was finally hitting it out of the park. The piece showed what I’m capable of, so I could never again deny my talent.
Out of the brand work that you’ve created, what has resonated most with you?
It changes a lot, because there are always new depths and layers to what I get to do. Recently, it’s my earlier artwork getting onto Season 2 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel for scenes they shot in Paris. Seeing my work there, it was undeniable to me that I was doing exactly what I should be. It showed that my art can be anywhere. It can adapt to different settings, scenes, and ideas. I felt honored to see that earlier work—work that meant so much to me, work created in a small bedroom studio during a hard time in my life—gracing the screen in one of TV's best shows. But it takes time. I made that piece in 2011. It was on TV in 2018. You have to strongly believe in your work, because no one gets to where they are overnight. You have to keep going even when doors close on you. And have faith that the work will only get stronger along the way.
(Editor’s note: You can read more about Jessica’s art in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel in her blog post.)
So where can we see more of your work?
At my website, www.jessicadurrant.com, on Instagram (@jessillustrator), and now in IKEA stores globally! IKEA recently picked up two pieces, one that is already out in a two-pack with another artist and another that will debut this summer. The one already out is “Blue Girl,” and I’ll be sharing the story behind it in my upcoming book.
Thank you, Jessica. It’s been amazing to get to know more about you and your craft. We look forward to working with you.
Thank you so much for the thoughtful questions and for sharing my work. I appreciate the love and support!
If you’d like to learn more about The Craftsman Collective, please reach out to us. Want more artist insights? Check out our inaugural spotlight featuring the talented visual storyteller Kimberly M. Wang. And to see what else we’re up to, connect with us on Instagram.