Sit Down With Our July '21 Featured Artist

Jess Kirkman

Instagram / @manifest.jess
Website /
Featured Artist / July '21 ScrawlrBox

Jess Kirkman is an award winning artist and designer who specializes in alcohol inks, resin and encaustic mediums, using them to create abstract universes and feel-good art.

After graduating with a BFA in Communications Design from Syracuse University, Jess worked for top names across the branding, publishing and advertising industries before making her way to lead the team at Taco Bell Design as their Executive Creative Director.Jess balances her career with her passion for art, painting for hours every morning before her 9-5 starts. Her main goal is to spread creative learnings, insights and inspiration to her instagram art community.

Every piece she makes is infused with good vibes that she hopes will make the world a better place, little by little.

How did your journey to becoming an artist begin?

I’ve always known I would be doing something creative as part of my life purpose. I had super supportive parents who helped nourish my creative desires early on and set the right precedent for how I approached my journey.I think there is something to say about not putting too much pressure on your art to be your ‘career’. Art is an expression of the soul and if you try too hard to monetise it, the inspiration will not flow as easily.

Where do you look to for inspiration?

Nature inspires me daily. From the colour schemes (think sunsets and forest floors) to the fluidity of the ocean, there is an endless flow of inspiration to be had from looking at nature. I’m also on Instagram a lot looking for amazing artists to follow and support. Other creative minds always help push me to be better and more exploratory.

What is your favourite medium to work with and why?

I work mainly in alcohol inks because I love the natural fluidity of the medium, but also because inks force you to go with the flow and let go. This has proven to help me let go in other areas of my life, as well.

How would you describe your art style?

My art is flowy, fun and always a little bit different. I know most artists strive to have a specific ‘style’, but I get a lot of enjoyment out of trying new techniques and new styles.

What has been the most challenging part of being an artist?

The most challenging part of being an artist is the constant comparison to others that arises. Imposter syndrome is real and effects all of us. I have to give myself some serious pep talks sometimes in order to get pumped to create.

How do you structure your day as an artist?

I work a 9-5 job like so many others, so my ‘artist’ life is usually in the mornings before my day job starts. I try to sit in the studio every morning for a little, even if I don’t get much accomplished.I tend to lose inspiration as the day goes on, so mornings are usually my time to create.

What is the most enjoyable thing about being an artist?

Art is play. And as an adult, I’m trying to play more and more instead of taking myself too seriously. I love having an outlet to bring more play into my life.

When do you know a project is finished?

Knowing when a piece is ‘finished’ is a gut feeling for me. When I’m feeling satisfied, I usually walk away from a piece and then come back to it in the morning to see if I still feel the same way. If so, the piece is done. If not, I tweak a little more. That being said, I often go to far and overwork pieces. It happens. The best thing you can do is create more art and practice being ‘finished’.

Do you ever title your work? If so, how do you come up with a fitting name?

I love naming each piece based on what inspired me or the frame of mind I was in when creating. Whether it be a song lyric from something I was listening to or a name of a strong Greek goddess, the names of my pieces can come from anywhere.

Favourite music to listen to while working?

I have an expansive taste in music so what I listen to while creating totally depends on the mood I’m in. Sometimes I want upbeat, pop music that I can sing along to, and sometimes I listen to jam bands and let the music take me away.

In your opinion, what tool should every artist have?

I’d say the most basic tools when you’re in a pinch are a sketchbook and a pen/pencil. As long as you can sketch or write out an idea when inspiration hits, you’re covered.

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