Q&A with Illustrator and Designer Jessica Russell Flint
o How did the collaboration with Romilly Wilde come around?
I was so thrilled to be asked to design a mask for the WILDE launch in London, fortunately Susie loves bright colours and quirky images so this was a great project to work on.
Susie called me out of the blue and I immediately agreed to do it. I love organic skincare and I'd heard of the brand and it seemed like a perfect match for JRF.
o Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started in the design/illustration world?
My whole family were really creative so growing up we were always just playing with pens and paper, making weird plates out of clay and my mum was a fashion designer so we were forever sewing random pieces of fabric together!
I actually went to University to study Geography at Exeter Uni because I wanted to do something I had to force myself to do and get practical skills I could apply to a normal workplace, as I was always drawing or painting in my spare time I knew it was something I'd go back to one day...
After working in the advertising industry from grad scheme to business director I started selling some of my art on the side and it kind of went from there. I had done a course at Central St. Martins in illustration and this just lead the way. Harrods picked me out to design some Christmas decorations in 2016 and part of the "cocktail themed" collection I added in the silk eye masks with pom pom trims. These were so popular that we continued to sell them and now they've become one of our staple pieces.
o You’re known for mixing British heritage themes with contemporary colours and bold designs – talk to us about the process from start to finish with your work.
Um.. I honestly don't know how the process started but there sort of is one, now. I use ink and quill pen to produce line drawings of loads of interesting images. I have a big bank of these. I get inspiration from everywhere - there really isn't anything particular but I've always been a huge fan of Mexico, Mexican art and also tend to draw from animals and jungle. Nowadays each season we pick a theme and from selecting the images we'll use to the colour palette we just kind of piece it together from there. Each product is designed for individually. Sometimes i'll use textures from painted pieces of paper or other times I will photograph sand or foil.. whatever works. It's a process of experimentation.
o Where do you draw inspiration from with your bold, exciting designs?
Literally anywhere - exhibitions, travelling, art, animals..
o What does your motto ‘Life In Colour’ really mean to you?
To me, this is just a way of living a little bit more outside of the box, never trying to fit in with the Jones' - to really enjoy life and embrace new things. We had such a creative upbringing, my parents were great fun and a lot of people enjoyed our house. I guess it's a way of expanding who can enjoy this world and encouraging people to think a bit differently.
o What’s your favourite thing about what you do?
Every day is different. Meeting lots of different people, sometimes being a creative, sometimes being a business woman, juggling so many things, working with manufacturers, photographers, models, suppliers, buyers - testing different materials and working on multiple projects. I'm never bored!
o Talk us through a typical day for you.
I'm fairly productive in the mornings. My baby is still having a morning nap after breakfast - after dropping my son Frankie whose just turned ten months old at nursery around 9:30am. I walk to work with my dog Betty, which takes about 45 minutes over Hackney Marshes. En route I will check my voicemails and call back any suppliers, customers or buyers. Sadly, my days are so short at the studio at the moment (due to baby needing to be collected by 5pm) lunch is usually a packed lunch at my desk...catching up on emails. The day at the studio is usually very much desk based, stock management, uploading new imagery, team meetings, planning for new seasons. Then I leave work at 4pm, collect Frankie, do supper and bath time with him. Usually he's asleep by 6:30pm and then it's time to crack on with any creative work! I enjoy spending time painting and drawing in the evenings. My husband and I always have an hour together over supper around 9pm, we take it in turns to cook and then from 9-11pm its work then bed. And next day...repeat.
o What’s your favourite memory while you were coming up with the eye mask and bag with Susie Willis, founder of Romilly Wilde?
We developed quite a few ideas to begin with. Susie actually inspired me to design a range of love hearts prints and although we didn't end up using this, it summed up the vibe and the quirkiness. of her mind. I really had fun with this concept and creating a mask with fresh imagery and using palms and floral images as well as big lips and the awesome WILDE lettering.
o When coming up with the concept for the eye mask and bag, talk us through the process for this. It’s a really unique theme – how does the design link to the idea of ‘Wilde Dreams?’
We discussed a huge amount of ideas and initially explored almost six different themes. We picked our favourite elements of each theme in the end and mixed them in. I think the "WILDE DREAMS" meaning can be taken in two ways, one in the very organic, wild and natural fundamental element of the brand which I feel was depicted using the palms and cactus plants and then "wild" in it's contemporary form, in spirit and in fun; I think the colours and the bold lettering encapsulates this part. An energised and natural spirit with a great sense of joy and fun!
o What’s your one piece of key advice for other illustrators and designers out there to make their work stand out?
Be true to yourself and make sure you choose a style you can stick with. You carve a style from within not from copying someone else and the only way to make your work stand out is to make others feel something that you want them to feel.
o The eye mask reduces fine lines during sleep – how does this work?
Silk has natural hydrating properties as well as being a lot finer and soft to sleep on than cotton or other materials. You're naturally not allowing the skin to rub on coarse cotton as well as the added benefit of hydrating naturally with silk.
o What’s your favourite Romilly Wilde product and why?
The Eye Believe Eye Serum - I love the metal applicator which is cooling and massaging - you really feel you're giving your eyes the best treat. I seriously am addicted now and my eyes have felt so much fresher since using this product.
o How important is it to have the right materials e.g. silk when creating something like an eye mask?
1000000% - Its always tempting to use cheaper materials, especially when budgets are tight but I have learnt that cutting costs doesn't actually help. To make something you're proud of or that works it's totally important to work on the foundations. It's something I have to continually force myself to keep on working on, as I'm naturally impatient sometimes I will just make quick decisions and i'm learning to be patient with the sampling process. For example, it took us two years to develop our umbrellas - and I'm so pleased we took the time, as we barely ever get a return due to the quality!
o The bag is perfect for travelling, so what are your go-to travel essentials?
Sunglasses! I can't live without sunglasses... suncream, I have pale skin. Good moisturiser. Always. (and my make up ... can't live without some good concealer, mascara for my naturally pale eyelashes).