smArt Talk: An Interview with Jillian Anderson of Jillian Nichole Illustration
Are you excited to meet a new artist? If you remember, the purpose of this series is to learn together about art and creativity. I'm calling it smArt Talk because these women are smart artists and women.
So let's get started by introducing you to Jillian Anderson of Jillian Nichole Illustration.
Jillian is a gem--the shiny, rare kind. Jillian has a way of making everything seem magical and beautiful with her maximalist heart, rich colors, and zest for life that shines in everything she does. She is also generous in her time, resources, and praise, and she makes everyone feel good about themselves, which is a gift.
Also, you may recognize one of her patterns, which was recently in the Golden Coil competition Top 10 (out of 900 entries!) and you'll be able to buy a planner or notebook with her pattern on it soon!
Can you tell us about your background and how you first became interested in design?
I never really thought I would be a designer - I honestly didn't really know it was a thing. However, I have loved art my whole life. My parents would get me coloring books and markers or colored pencils almost every year and I would spend hours and hours coloring. One year, I even dressed up as an artist for Halloween! I never really thought of being an artist as a career possibility, however, and so I didn't really take any art classes in high school. But no matter how much math and science I tried to force myself to do, I'd always find myself doodling on my homework or my notes, and making anatomical diagrams in anatomy class was my favorite part of the whole year because I got to pull out my art supplies and draw. Somehow, art always came crawling back into my life. Though I was never able to pursue art in school further, I ached for ways to be creative. I've done a bunch of different types of creative arts. I even built myself a loom at one point so I could try my hand at weaving! However, nothing ever brought me as much joy as simply drawing and painting. Learning how to take that love of creating artwork and put it onto surfaces has been the most magical experience, and I'm so thrilled to be able to be a surface designer!
Tell me about your art practice–what got you started, what tools or techniques do you use, what makes your work special?
I enjoy using a variety of media in my art practice - but these days, I mainly work digitally on my iPad - either in Procreate or Adobe Fresco. The art I make generally has an end purpose - I usually create art to use in a pattern, and I don't usually make art "just for fun" anymore - but all the art I make is fun to me so it's not a sad thing! Even when I'm "working" I am enjoying what I'm doing. The art I make is usually extremely intricate, heavily detailed, and very FULL. I think what makes my artwork unique is the sheer fullness of it - it is maximalist to its core.
Where do you find the most inspiration for your designs?
I think I find the most inspiration for my designs in nature. I am just obsessed with flowers and plants and insects and animals - I love watching nature documentaries and I follow a bunch of nature photography accounts that I find so incredibly inspiring. I'm also super inspired by stories - folktales, fairytales, myths... I love dreaming up beautiful scenes to accompany the stories I read. I also find I'm very inspired by other artists! I follow so many artists and love seeing new color palettes and art and illustration styles. I spend a lot of my time looking at other artists' artwork and it always gets me itching to make something myself.
In addition to your patterns, what other things light you up?
I think I'm kind of like a kid in a lot of ways. I find that I have the capacity to get excited over the smallest things much like a child might. I am absolutely lit up by thunderstorms, fall leaves, the first blossoms of spring, delicious food, my daughter when she dresses like a rainbow and dances in a shaft of sunlight, being on a paddleboard on the lake, the feel of warm sunshine on bare skin after winter has passed... I am honestly so excited by all of these things and I truly enjoy being alive.
Tell us about your newest collection. What was your process like in creating it?
My newest collection is actually a redo of my first (real) collection I ever made (I say "real" here, because I had made two others before while taking an online course and they weren't anything I would feel like showing the world, lol!). I had made this original collection a year ago and I have a fondness for it, but I feel like I could do it better a second time around. I got some feedback on the original collection that there were certain things that could be improved, so I'm happy to redo it and improve it. My art style and skills have increased since I first created it, so I think I could really create something amazing this time around! I have been doing a lot of artwork that resembles block printing lately, and I find I really love working in this style. I get to use texture, which is somewhat new to me, and I am really loving the way it's looking.
What does your workspace look like? Big or small, what works for you?
My workspace is an old, ugly corner desk by a window. It's small and jam-packed full of stuff from computers and electronics to art supplies to art prints to shipping materials to books. It's honestly very cluttered and I can't wait for the day when I can have a full studio to spread out and have a place for everything!
What’s your favorite color palette right now?
I have two favorite color palettes right now that I keep coming back to over and over. The first is full of foresty greens with some peachy pink and gold accents, and the second is full of blues with purples and gold. I find myself especially drawn to periwinkle right now as well. I just love that color!
Who was the last person that inspired you and why?
I am constantly inspired by so many people and artists! I find myself inspired daily by the beautiful women of my design group (of which you, Lisa, are one!).
Finish this sentence: Wouldn’t it be cool if…
Wouldn't it be cool if we could all just live our dream life and money weren't an issue?
What is the most important thing you’ve learned from your work?
I think the most important thing I've learned from my work is to just keep creating. Even if it looks bad, finish it. If I need to throw it out, throw it out. And then try again or make something else. Just keep creating because eventually your artwork will get to a place you feel good about! And then, the cycle will start again - so just keep creating.
Thank you so much, Jillian, for sharing with us! You can find more of Jillian's work here: