This month’s gorgeous cover is the work of Hove-based illustrator Jessie Ford. When we spotted a particularly foodie-themed print of hers online, we knew she’d come up with something perfect to introduce our ‘larder’ issue. “That one was a personal project,” she says. “If things are a bit quiet, I’ll do some work that I really want to do, just as a project of love. Those are often the ones that tend to pick me up more work, because I really love them, and people can really see the joy in them. Since then I’ve been commissioned to do lots of work for cookbooks and foodie publications.”
Jessie began her career on the other side of the commissioning process: “I always wanted to be an illustrator and I got talking to a guy who put me in touch with his friend, who ran an illustration agency in London. I went to meet him and at that point he said, ‘we don’t really have any space for new artists, but would you like a job with us instead?’ So I went and worked part time with them; I got to meet lots of people in the industry, saw a lot of portfolios, got a good grasp of trends and how to promote my work. It was an invaluable experience. I was able to build up a portfolio and a network of my own clients, and eventually I was too busy to keep up the agency work and I went into illustration full time.” The company (Central Illustration Agency) went on to represent Jessie, and still does now, ten years on.
As an illustrator, Jessie has worked on an eclectic mix of projects, from fashion to editorial to packaging, for clients including The Guardian, Starbucks, Kiehls, Random House, The Wall Street Journal and, recently, luxury chocolate brand Godiva: “That was an amazing project,” she says. “I designed their Valentine’s range this year, which was about six different boxes in different shapes and sizes. They also had a box for White Day – a festival in Japan, the month after Valentine’s, which is traditionally a day that you bring chocolates and flowers and gifts in for your work colleagues and your friends. I’ve done lots of packaging work recently, which I love – it’s my favourite thing to do.”
This autumn will see the launch of Jessie’s latest children’s book – under her kids’ design brand Sugar Snap Studio. “It’s called ABC, What Can She Be? and it’s an illustrated A to Z of jobs for girls,” she says. “A is for ‘astronaut’, B is for ‘botanist’, C is for ‘chef’… Now I’m about to start work on the boys’ one.” You can see a selection of Jessie’s design work on her website or on Instagram.