Inspired By… Jess Priest

Last week, illustrator and painter Jess Priest came into the Jacques Vert studio to do a print painting techniques masterclass with the designers. We caught up for lunch with Jess after the class to find out what inspires her…

The Jacques Vert design team loved their flower painting workshop! Have you always enjoyed painting flowers?

I’ve always loved painting and drawing. My Mum was a graphic designer, so I had a very creative upbringing. I went to Winchester School of Art and graduated in Fashion Print in 2000. The best piece of advice I had there from a visiting lecturer was, that if you could paint a flower, then you would be able to find a job in textile design. She wasn’t wrong and soon after graduating I found myself working for a top print design studio in London where I painted flowers all day long. Working in a textile studio is very fast paced, and under that pressure you soon find your own handwriting and develop techniques which work. I’ve always been in work off the back of a good old floral design!

How did you become a painting teacher?

The power of social media! I’d been freelancing from my home studio since having my daughters and been thankful that I could be at home with them. I joined Instagram a couple of years ago and started to put up pictures of my floral paintings and design work. I kept getting asked if I taught classes or would do some private painting tuition, so started to do a few workshops in fashion and textile studios. My classes have really taken off and through word of mouth and social media I’ve been able to keep teaching. I also have workshops in Marlow, Buckinghamshire which is where I’m based. These are open to everyone and take place about eight times a year. I’m really happy that Instagram has opened up a new direction for me, I’ve met loads of lovely people through teaching and its great to be passing on techniques and skills to people who want to expand on their skill set or maybe haven’t picked up a paint brush in a while.

What inspires your painting?

For me its about being very hands on with the mediums which I use. I don’t think theres anything like having a proper paintbrush in your hand and seeing a flower come alive on that white piece of paper. I love ink which is great for creating layers in my work, It really lends itself to capturing the feeling of delicate petals and foliage. I’m always trying different mediums and trying out new techniques to keep my work looking fresh. I will never get tired of painting a flower though, I’m happiest when choosing what to paint in the florists.

You also do printed textile design, who have you designed prints for?

Its been a varied customer base. I’ve had prints in a lot of High street stores such as M&S, Debenhams and Next as well as Anthropologie, Toast and Vera Wang.

How would you describe your day to day style?

I love a bit of sports luxe! There are so many gorgeous prints out there in sportswear. I like to keep things simple and pair a few key pieces with buys from the high street each season.

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