Jessica Bird

Could you tell us a bit about yourself? What is your background?

Originally from a small village in Scotland’s Kinross-shire, I moved to Aberdeen where I studied Fashion Design at Gray’s school of Art. I didn’t go to art school intending to study fashion – however I had always imagined I would go to art school. There had never been another obvious path for me. I chose fashion design after my foundation year – I’d never really been exposed to fashion growing up but found a flare for it during my first year. I graduated with first class honours and the next day a friend called to say she was in Paris for a week long internship with designer Roksanda and they were looking for another person, did I fancy joining her out there? So I spontaneously booked a flight, flew out the next day and got my first real taste of the industry – I loved it! I then completed a series of internships in London, across press, sales, and design for various design houses including Roksanda, Jonathan Saunders, Hugo Boss and Joshua Kane.

I was working 9-5 at Hugo Boss then I would spend my evenings interning at Joshua Kane, who’s primarily a men’s and womenswear tailor – a super exhausting time but it paid off and Joshua offered me a job as a design assistant. I was with the brand for almost 2 years taking on the roles of Assistant Designer and Senior Press Manager. It was a very small team which allowed me to experience every aspect of the industry – from sketching designs, working hands on with the factories, designing fabrics from scratch, meeting press and dressing VIPs, creating and managing huge fashion shows, photoshoots, events…everything.

I left there in January 2017, travelled around New Zealand for a couple of months, came back to London, started working for Patrick Grant’s menswear label Etautz in Mayfair and drawing on the side to keep creative.

How did you make the transition from fashion to art?

I had been attending a weekly life drawing class in London while I worked as a designer just to balance out the crazy intense world of fashion. I obviously did life drawing at uni but it wasn’t until I started these classes that I noticed my style developing – bright, chalk pastel, spontaneous nudes. I was posting them on social media and people really liked them and wanted to buy them, so I decided to make some prints and created ‘Tits & Toes’ (@titsandtoess) which was originally just an instagram platform for people who were interested in my work to follow what I was creating. 6 months later I have my own website, with a online shop where I sell my prints and post them out all over the world!

And it’s not just nudes that you draw?

No, last year I became really interested in fashion illustration, and I began illustrating collections that inspire me, designers that I had worked for etc. I signed up to do a 3 day internship with The Fashion Illustration Gallery in London, who were holding an art fair. it completely opened my eyes to what fashion illustration can be – you tend to think of the typical Vogue style illustrations but the illustrations there were SO much more varied than that – some you could barely see the clothes, some you couldn’t identify even a body!

So that was really interesting and got me experimenting and interpreting fashion in my own style – loose, quick, carefree mark marking. I post them on instagram and tag the designers, models etc and I have had a really positive response! This past London Fashion Week I was invited to collaborate with two big design houses and live illustrate backstage at their shows, Delpozo and Huishan Zhang. Thats the dream commission for me, I get to be a part of the fast paced hectic industry that I love and see all the beautiful clothes but I get to share my interpretation and create something unique.

Is this your first exhibition?

No actually, but my first exhibition in Sept of last year was also in bonnie Dundee! It was a collaborative exhibition called ‘GOFIGURE’ at Gallery48 with two other incredible female fashion illustrators – Cecilia Carlstedt and Amelie Hegardt. I also created a set of 4 menswear illustrations for E.Tautz which were exhibited in the mayfair shop in November.

Have you always created?

Yes, my mum always encouraged me from a young age, she would make play dough from scratch for me everyday and sit and paint with me for hours. I used to take a wee sketchbook to museums and draw the stuffed animals or draw people from films I liked. I would spend days in WASP studios in Dundee with my uncle Stephen Bird, who is an amazing ceramic artist, we would throw pots on the wheel and paint and glaze bowls and little figures.

What is your favourite piece that you have created and why have you chosen it?

My favourite piece thats exhibited here is probably this charcoal line drawing of a woman- it was an outcome of a 2 minute pose at a life drawing class. I really enjoy the quicker poses as you have to commit to the marks your making, you don’t have time to labour over the drawing and I probably couldn’t recreate what I have put down on paper in those two minutes – it’s so spontaneous. It just comes out…the same with blind drawings where you only look at the subject you’re drawing and not your paper. I find some of my best and favourite works are those that have been an outcome of this kind of study. This piece from the set I did for Etautz, I had been labouring over a couple of other illustrations for a few hours was about to call it a night but thought i would just try one more quickly. I drew most of his features without looking at the paper, it didn’t take me long to complete in comparison to some of the other works and in the end it’s my favourite of the four and I was the first of the set to sell.

What inspires you?

Colour is very important to me, a huge part of my work. I’m inspired hugely by colour combinations and i’m forever taking pictures of everyday objects and compositions that are usually overlooked. I also look at fashion collections and i’m usually inspired by those who use a lot of colour or have interesting ways of using colour like Roksanda, Delpozo Jasper Conran, Gucci.

Do you have favourite artists? An art hero?

Egon Schiele has always been a huge artistic influence for me – his use of line is just so beautiful. Joan Eardleys work – especially her portraits of children. Rob Phillips is another artist who’s work I really admire, I discovered him through instagram and ended up working with him at the fashion illustration fair, so great to see the work in person after following his journey for so long!

What are your favourite materials/ tools/ equipment?

Chalk pastels, charcoal and acrylic paint. Anything fluorescent, especially fluorescent red and silver metallic materials – paint, ink, tape…

Is your art your fulltime job? What do you do outside of your art?

Not yet, maybe one day – it’s very expensive living in London so at the moment I have a part time job in sales to keep me afloat! I would eventually love to go full-time with it though and get myself a studio though! That’s the dream.

What are you working on at the moment?

I have a second commission for British cloth manufactures Fox Brothers and Co. illustrating their Spring cloth collection, a book cover for a travel writer, a piece for a bridal shop and a new home and i’ve been developing the live sketches I did for Delpozo into finished pieces for their marketing for AW18! So quite a lot happening at the moment, can’t complain!

What is creativity?

The way a person expresses themselves – it’s the outcome of a persons imagination, ideas and (without sounding cheesy…) soul.

How do you use it?

For me its a way to switch off and be totally immersed in something. You use creativity daily though in problem solving etc without realising. There are many things I do that I think are an outcome of having a creative brain, that I don’t necessarily notice until someone, who’s perhaps more academic or scientifically minded, questions it or does it differently.

Describe creativity in three words?

Spontaneous, freedom, therapy.

Where can we find out more about you and your work?

My website and online shop is – you can contact me through there too.

I’m on instagram @jessrosebird but I update my @titsandtoess instagram most regularly with new work!

Jessica Bird


IG: @jessrosebird @titsandtoess

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