Friday, May 8, 2015

Artist Spotlight - Jackie Holmes

Tell us a bit about yourself: Did you go to school for art? Are you self taught?
Firstly I like to say a huge thank you Annie for this fabulous opportunity to be featured in your artist spotlight.

Like most artists I've been drawing since I was a wee tot and would often lose myself in imaginary little worlds I'd create. However my mum was less than impressed when my creations spread to her carpet and my clothes. Never the less I pursed my dream to art collage and studied Pre-foundation in Art & Design followed by a Diploma in Display & Design.

I went on to build my career as a Visual Merchandiser & Display Designer working for large retail companies planning and designing their retail interior spaces including developing fixtures, props, layouts and styling guidelines for merchandising. This included not only styling for their interior spaces and window installations but road shows, press shows and in-house magazines too. In that time I was lucky enough to work on several really exciting specialist projects that developed my skills way beyond my expectations culminating in my appointment to Head of Visual Merchandising.

After sustaining a back injury I returned to studying. I had always held a love of illustration from my early days absorbed in my childhood books so went on to study a Diploma in Children's Illustration. Having spent several years researching, learning, and developing my work & skill set further I finally launched Cheeky Monkey Studio last October. 
Do you work in just one medium? Several?
I work in several medium and love experimenting with new techniques and styles. A lot of my pieces are predominantly watercolour, coloured pencil, pen and ink or pastel but sometimes I mix a bit of all of them into a piece including a bit of gouache or oil pastel. I'm a bit of a magpie when it comes to art products, I have a wish list as long as my arm of bits I'd like to experiment with, just to see whether it can enhance or bring a new aspect to my work.

I have several different types of  watercolours from pans, tubes, water soluble pencils and work them in different ways depending on the finish I want. Quite often I have a clear idea of how I want the finished piece to look but I test different medium & colour palettes on photocopies of the original artwork before I colour up a final piece so I can play with how I'm going to layer colours & mediums and which techniques I want to use. I keep most of those photo copy tests and scribble copious notes on them even if that technique & palette might not get used in that piece there's always little nuggets & gems to hold onto for future pieces. 

I've also been learning Photoshop and have shocked myself with the amount of digital skills I've gained in the last year with the help of some fabulous online resource. Building my own website and working with a print company to produce my own products has also helped enormously to grow my confidence in utilizing and understanding it. Currently I mainly use it for some finishing and preparation to product so I've a very long way to go to release what I know is its vast potential. While the digital concept and the new aspects it can bring has its place I think for me traditional mediums will always be my first love.

What inspires you / where do you get inspiration from?
Anything & Everything!!!

The natural world is one of my greatest loves from flora to fauna to wildlife. I can spend hours watching wildlife which is probably why I love drawing animals more than anything else. Studying their behaviour, environment and how they interact with the world around them brings out their characteristics and that's something I love to capture in my work.  I've been lucky enough to have some truly amazing wildlife experiences even capturing some on camera. From close encounters with baby badgers, rescuing hedgehogs, watching a blue penguin hatch to being covered in orca whale blow as it breached right beside our boat.

It's not just visual things that can inspire me It could be a snippet of a phrase, a word, a Chinese takeaway menu (yep really!) to reading something wrong and making myself giggle. If I'm ever stuck for inspiration I just take time out with my library of books, sift through my numerous photo's or flick back through my sketch books and I soon find an idea waiting to be explored.

Wherever I am my camera & sketchbook are always to hand for when inspiration strikes.

What are you working on now?
The two main projects I'm working on at the mo designs for the mug line in my shop and promotional cards for mail shot.

I started work back in February on the "Little Acorns" Spring/Summer collection featuring a whole bunch of the cutest squirrels. I'm slowly  launching a varieties of products featuring them including a brand new product line of mugs. I was thrilled to have such a huge response to both the mugs and the squirrels that I'm now working on more designs including a complete seasonal set for the squirrel's.

It's been very exciting developing the promotional cards. I've worked on and off on them for a while now as I always have several projects on the go at once. They've changed a lot from my original plans and I'm really glad I didn't rush them. I feel they have evolved and developed with me as I've launched and grown Cheeky Monkey Studio. They're at their final prep for printing stage then I'm ready to unleash them on the world and show what me and Cheeky Monkey Studio has to offer.

Anything else you would like to share with us?
Originally I had never planned to open my own online shop but after doing lots of research I thought it would be a good way to be able to showcase a small selection of my illustrations to potential clients as viable product and to also learn more about my target audience and what they would want.

Little did I realize just how much work it would involve doing it all on my own, but the knowledge I have gained from producing my own products has been invaluable. From learning the processes of production, sourcing suppliers, trialling products, market research, customer focus groups to even number crunching (my least favourite part!) every step of the process has brought new learning experiences.

While it has at times been challenging, a defiant huge learning curve, it has taught me so much not only about the process but about myself too. I have always been plagued by self doubt and lack of confidence but by taking myself outside of my comfort zone and challenging myself to tackle things I would have never dreamt I was capable of, has shown me I have much more strength & ability then I ever realized. I may not always get things right but if I keep trying I'll gain more knowledge and a better understanding along the way.

It is still early days yet for both my shop and my business as a whole but seeing my illustrations on a product is a huge buzz and knowing they give others as much joy as they give me is incredibly rewarding. I am still learning and evolving every day and I gotta say it's one exciting and scary roller coaster of a ride but it's one I am sure glad I got on! 

Are you an early riser? or night owl?
Defiantly an early riser...once I've hit my second cup of coffee I'm motoring!

What is your favorite food?
Mmmmm favourite food.....i guess if I'm being naughty then it would be either hubby's homemade wheat free coffee cake, it's to die for! Or Wotsits, they are cheesy puff crisps (potato chips) kinda like Cheeto's. I'm completely addicted to them so I don't buy them that often as they don't last two seconds in my sticky mitts.

You can find Jackie:

My Shop:

If you'd like to contact me or to license any of my work:

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