April and the Bear Blog

Getting To Know You Part 2 – Jess Tobin

It’s been two years since we caught up with Jess aka Irish Artist Novice Jess on the blog and its been two years since we began selling her deadly artwork in April & the Bear. It is a joy to have Jess’s pieces in store – she is an all round super talented lady and one of the nicest people you can meet. 

We sat down with her to get an update on the past few years, what inspired her latest, super popular ‘Born & Bred’  series and lots more!

What has been your career highlight so far?

I swear the biggest and most awesome thing to happen to me was when I was in primary school, winning a Philips moving sound ‘ghetto blaster’ for an art competition in the Herald. My Dad helped me research all of the colours of each of the birds in the picture, I painted it very carefully in watercolours and WON! I thought we were the coolest family on the beach in Wexford that year, rocking up with Steel Pulse blasting from our giant boom box. A very proud moment for young Jess Tobin. As an adult it was people getting enjoyment from my work and painting my biggest wall on the Green way in Waterford.

Can you talk us through where you get your inspiration from for your art pieces?

For my my wall pieces, they are very often inspired and dictated colour and composition. I love colour, especially unusual colour combos. I also love the challenge of trying to capture a strong look in faces so I tend to design pieces that include an interesting and engaging facial expression. Doing high contrast, flat colour is something I quite enjoy so that tends to feature heavily lately. The best designs have come from messing about, when I am relaxed and not trying too hard, letting the creativity bubble up on its own. For my illustrations it tends to be all about keeping it light. Putting yourself out there artistically is scary so I guess initially as a way to protect myself I kept it light so that it didn’t feel so serious. That stuck and now I do it because I have fun creating illustrations of sayings that make me smile. When I draw, its all about capturing the strength of an expression on a face, something that draws you in and makes you want to know what they are thinking. My drawing tends to be the opposite of the illustrations, darker, more intense and very often frowny.

What is the best piece of advice you have received?

I can’t think of one single piece of advice, I am always learning from other artists and people in general. I guess the advice I try my hardest to listen to, and I say hardest because I do find it very hard, is not to be too hard on myself. I am a fan of Zen Buddhism and I try my best to be in the moment, also very hard to do but worth trying.

Where did the idea for your latest ‘Born & Bred’ series come from, is there a story behind the prints? 

The idea came from Jonny Barr, the owner of East Village Cafe in Clondalkin. We are mutual appreciators of each others work. He has two of my prints in the cafe and I drink litres of his coffee. A lot of people have gotten an interest in my illustrations because of East village so as a show of appreciation I offered to do a commission. He chose the expression Born Bred and buttered. I wrestled back and forth ideas and settled on a the idea of doing a cheeky faced lil girl holding some bread. It brings us back to youth and roots I think.

What advice would you give any budding artists wishing to get their work seen?

Be true to your own style, do art regularly to develop your style and skills, be discerning about what you choose to be associated with and network like a made eegit, don’t be afraid to stick your neck out, people wont know you exist until you tell them! Most importantly always be open to learning.

Can you tell us more about your street art and what has been your favourite piece to work on so far?

I love getting to spend hours at the wall, the ups and downs that a piece has to go through before it starts to look even close to good. Lately I have gotten back to collaborating on fun walls with Vanessa Power (Signs of power) alongside Holly Pereira. Painting with the girls keeps me upping my game because they are so good. With the collaborations it lets me try completely different things and be really free with the concepts. I think our Botox one was a great success, it was such a laugh creating this uber girly super pink piece inspired by vintage Barbie advertisements. In terms of my favourite piece, I think it would have to a piece I did in the Hit the North Belfast, a few years back. I tried something completely new for me at the time & it worked (ha ha I was shocked). I was really happy with how it turned out, it turned out better than I thought it would. It was the first time I designed a piece specifically for a wall. 


Latest Netflix Obsession…

None at the mo, I’m open to any recommendations. The chef show was a good one recently oh and street food. 

Favourite Place in the World you have visited…

Too hard!! today – I will say Copenhagen. 

Favourite Irish saying…

I will in me hoop (no joke)

Favourite street in Dublin..

Capel street

Favourite Movie…

The Goonies is the first that comes to mind s lets go with that.

Favourite thing to do in Dublin..

Eating out and going for coffee

Pop into our store in Rathmines or go online at www.aprilandthebear.com to see more of Jess’s incredible work! 

Header pic by Matt Lysaght.

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