I first came across the work of Jessica Hogarth at this years’ New Designers at The Business Design Centre in Islington. She was exhibiting in the One Year On section and I was immediately drawn to her stand when I spotted the gorgeous Coastal Cottages wallpaper that she has recently launched in her NOTHS.com shop. However, there were lots of really lovely products on the stand that really caught my eye.
Raised in Robin Hoods Bay, a picturesque fishing village on the North Yorkshire coast, Jessica’s work is strongly influenced by her home town with its atmospheric narrow streets and smuggler past. Her use of bold colour combined with playful illustrations make for a collection of quirky yet sophisticated designs that come in the form of screen prints, tea towels, mugs, greetings cards and now wallpaper.
I wanted to find out more about Jessica and her designs and luckily she agreed to do an interview for the blog. Here is what she had to say.
You studied for a degree in Printed Textiles and Surface Pattern at Leeds College of Art, graduating in 2010 with a First Class Honours degree. What made you choose that course in particular and what did you like most about it?
JH. I stumbled across the printed textiles course by accident when researching fine art and contemporary art courses. I was drawn to the emphasis on drawing and print, and the idea of creating work that didn’t necessarily have to be conceptual. The course seemed incredibly geared towards preparing you for a commercial job upon graduating (which it certainly did) and the opportunities to have contact with the industry through exhibitions and live design briefs was invaluable.
I liked everything about the course, if I could do my three years again I would! The tutors were incredibly supportive and we could focus on whatever we wanted, whether that be embroidery, hand printed techniques, natural dyeing fabric for manipulation or my personal favourite – digital print.
What skills do you think you learnt on the course and how do you think they will help you in your career?
JH. We did a business module in the second year, which I do think has benefitted me since. Little bits of knowledge I picked up doing that has made me more aware of the importance of selecting a target market and certainly the accounting side of things. We were really encouraged to seek work placements once we got to second year. My experiences doing those gave a great insight into the ‘real’ world of design and helped me to focus on perhaps a particular sector of the industry I wanted to focus my work for. Everybody’s work was so different and we were encouraged to follow our own path. This has made me realise that as long as you work hard you can succeed; there is a place for your style whatever it may be, it’s just finding the right market for it.
Have you always wanted to be a designer?
JH. No. I actually began a classical music degree but after one semester decided to leave, with a view to pursuing a design-related course. I definitely think I made the right decision, but I still love listening to music, I just don’t actually play an instrument anywhere near as much these days.
You spend a lot of time gathering research for your work and this often involves sketching trips that provide you with inspiration. Can you tell us about these trips?
JH. I love visiting new places, and am incredibly inspired by architecture. Whilst still at university a friend and I visited Sweden for a week. I took hundreds of photos and carried my sketchbook everywhere with me. The information gathered then fed into my first module of my third year. I really find that having first-hand experience of something, where possible, makes me feel so much more inspired. Similarly, a specific research trip to Paris with a college housemate provided us both with the material to go on and create a highly personal and detailed final portfolio. The views of buildings for example aren’t always how I want them on existing pictures online, so when drawing from home, I like to have gathered my own information first.
You have said that Paris is somewhere that really inspires you. What is it about the City of Light that you love so much?
JH. I don’t know what it is about Paris, but I just find it so endearing, interesting and romantic. I have been many times, each visit with different people and for different reasons, and every time I love it more than the last. The ornate iron work on the buildings is absolutely stunning, the pastries are to die for and the atmosphere in the quaint restaurants and bars is so relaxed and comfortable, what’s not to love?
Are there any other cities that you would really like to visit that you think would inspire you to design new products?
JH. A friend and I are planning a trip to New York next summer, which I am incredibly excited about. Although I love drawing old and traditional buildings, the high-rise buildings in urban environments have a big influence on the geometric prints I produce. I am really keen to visit Venice too, and actually spend some more time in London exploring and drawing.
You were at New Designers a few weeks ago in the One Year On section. What has happened for you since you first exhibited at New Designers back in 2010?
JH. When I exhibited at New Designers for the first time, I made a number of contacts in the design industry. One of those resulted in me getting a job in a Manchester-based studio. We designed for interiors, and I spent my days drawing and colouring design layouts. In May 2011, I made the decision to leave with a view to setting up on my own. Many hours were spent in my old part-time job last summer whilst I took the time to research and test the market at home with my coastal-themed cards. This year has seen me launch my first range of products at the British Craft Trade Fair, begin to build up a list of UK stockists, and now I am working on a number of freelance projects.
Can you tell us about your product ranges for the home?
JH. Yes, my product range includes limited edition screen prints, greetings cards, tea towels and bone china mugs. I am now testing the market with a wallpaper design too. All of the prints have been inspired by a blend of Parisian Life and the historic buildings and seascapes that litter the British coast. I love to draw so the body of work is incredibly illustrative and makes use of bright and fresh colour palettes.
What can we expect to see from you in the future? Do you have any exciting plans you can tell us about or new product ranges?
JH. I am hoping to spend some time developing new prints, for paper products in particular. I feel like there is more to explore within my Parisian, animal and coastal-themed mini collections, and I am looking forward to working on some new material. I am exhibiting at the British Craft Trade Fair again next April, so will have a new range of designs to launch then and who knows, maybe an entirely new product I haven’t sold yet! I am really enjoying exploring the market and trying out new ideas. I was considering having lampshades at my launch this year, and in the end decided against it, but this is definitely a product I want to consider further.
I am hoping to build my list of freelance clients, and look forward to sharing some of my recent collaborations in the coming months. Freelancing provides me with the opportunity to see my work on all kinds of different products, which definitely keeps my job exciting and fun.
I am going to Prague in a few weeks so look out for some new drawings and images being posted on my blog soon!
Thanks Jessica for taking part and we wish you the best of luck with your new products.