Spotlight: Illustrator, Jesse Brown

Time flies when you’re having fun and it’s hard to believe that we have been based in Bethnal Green for four years after relocating from our previous home in Old Street. We are delighted to have kept in touch with many dear friends from our Clerkenwell days including our former neighbour, Jesse Brown. As the first exhibition of his beautiful and quirky illustrations opens  we caught up with Jesse to talk about his plans.

How did you discover your passion for illustration and graphic design?

I always loved drawing as a hobby. My favourite books as a child were by illustrators like Mervyn Peake (Letters from a Lost Uncle, Rhymes Without Reason), Jean-Jacques Sempé (Little Nicolas) and of course Quentin Blake. It wasn’t until relatively late in life that I understood it could be a career option. I’m still not sure it is!

Stork with palm trees

There is a distinctive hallmark to the work at your design company, Bevan Howard. Who is behind the brand and what is the philosophy?

As a graphic designer,  I try to incorporate as much illustration as possible into projects, whether it’s for brand identities, campaigns or stationery, which means I get to do more drawing. The studio works a lot with restaurants and hotels where the customer experience is the most important thing. Our aim is to add a little bit to that experience, to make the customers smile.

Beetle with Cocktails

We have been long admirers of your work. How did you develop your distinctive style?

My main objective with each illustration is to make it fun and colourful. I want to make people happy when they see the work. I love drawing animals and the natural world, trees and foliage. I work quite fast, so the results can be quite messy, but sometimes that results in nice little accidents. I often try the same picture several times, until one comes out that I like!

Illustrator, Jesse Brown

Where do you get your inspiration from?

At the moment I get a lot of inspiration walking through Regents Park on the way to the studio, which is beautiful in every season. I also love going to London Zoo with the kids, trying to draw some of the more exotic creatures they have there. I try to observe little scenes from everyday life; people walking their dogs, going about their business; also vintage books, childhood memories, family holidays.

Monkeys with cocktails

How have you enjoyed staging your first exhibition?

So far it as been a fairly painless experience, but there were a couple of very intense weeks of painting, fitting it in between work for clients. It was a huge relief to get the paintings to the framer. Since then I have been concentrating on the admin side of the exhibition; printing flyers, gearing up on social media, inviting guests and ordering the bubbly for the first night. It’s been a bit of a labour of love, and I really don’t know how it will be received, but it feels like an achievement to have got this far!

Peacock with statue

What are your plans for the future?

I have really enjoyed putting the exhibition together, and hope to do an annual show, either solo or with other artists.

I will continue working with my design clients, which I really enjoy, but I also want to continue pursuing the illustration and painting thing, and see where that leads me.

Cat in English country garden

You can see Jesse’s beautiful work at the Nancy Victor Gallery, 4 – 10 October.