Conversations: Fashion Illustrator Jessica Bird
2 November 2018
We catch up with Jessica Bird in the stunning lobby of The London Edition. Here, amidst the sleek marble coffee tables and perfectly tufted green sofas, Jessica Bird sits elegantly on one corner of the Lobby Bar - drawing 15 minute portraits of London Fashion Week’s most stylish guests. 
Our conversation with Jessica Bird begins as she starts to gauge us too, envisioning the portrait that would come to be in a quarter of an hour. As she instinctively decides on shades and colours — we chat about the beginnings of her love for illustration, and the inimitable quality of her work. We also talk about her favourite spots in London and beyond, from her weekly visit to Columbia Road Flower Market, to the very specific joys of finding a truly special apartment this side of the Riomaggiore. 
Tell us a little bit about yourself what you do? What made you fall in love with art?
I’m originally from Scotland, but I’ve been living in London for the last four years! I studied Fashion Design at university and then worked for a few years as a designer and in press, before becoming an illustrator. I have always drawn. My mum encouraged me to be creative every single day ever since I was a child. When I got a bit older, I began shadowing my uncle, Stephen Bird, in his ceramic studio in Dundee during school holidays. I just loved the environment and community there.
Photo by Bart Pajak
Why fashion illustration? What is it like drawing for some of London’s coolest fashion designers? 
I guess it was just a natural progression. I had been life drawing weekly and using pastels and charcoal in my work here and there. My fashion background made me want to draw clothed bodies as well as nude ones! I love the direction that fashion illustration is moving to right now, because it’s become so inclusive and diverse in terms of style. There are so many amazing new fashion illustrators and everyone’s work is very different.
I’ve been very fortunate enough to illustrate for some incredible names in the industry and I feel very grateful that designers have had such a positive response to my interpretations of their collection.
In what ways do you push the boundaries and try to be ‘less ordinary’ with what you do/your company does?
I tend to draw more of a fashion portrait than a full body illustration which is what you may expect from a more traditional fashion illustration. I think its more about capturing the mood and the essence of a collection. I work quite quickly with pastels and charcoal, and I don’t get too concerned with creating something accurate or tidy. My work is  quite raw and spontaneous and I like that it can’t to be replicated, even by me.  
What do you love most about London? Is there anything in the city that motivates your creativity?
The opportunities! The people in London motivate me to be honest. You meet so many interesting people with so many interesting ideas, and there is so much creativity going around. It’s so exciting to be able to collaborate and work together, to be a part of different projects, and to inspire each other.
What trusted ‘less ordinary’ place in London do you find yourself going back to time and time again?
Columbia Road Flower Market
- every, single, week. Even if I’m not buying flowers, it’s just a lovely atmosphere, I love to look at what flowers other people buy, maybe have a beer outside at The Birdcage and a mooch around the cute shops.  
What are your ‘less ordinary’ hidden gems in London.Why do you think it’s special? 
Great Art
in Shoreditch. They just have the most amazing selection of art materials, I tend to get most of my materials from them - I really am like a kid in a candy shop in there. 
Which ‘less ordinary’ B&Bs, hotels or apartments have you discovered and fell in love with in other cities you travel to? 
I tend to use AirBnB now when I travel rather than a hotel - I was recently in Italy and stayed in the most beautiful apartment with a big balcony overlooking the Riomaggiore called the RioRooms. I’ve never seen anything like Riomaggiore - the colours were just so inspiring! 

The Birdcage Columbia Road Flower Market 
Interview by Hannah Tan-Gillies

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