Being passionate about sustainability is an understatement for surface pattern designer, Jessica Nielsen. Her prints are licensed by companies worldwide and aligning with her values ooze a green flavour. They are found on everything from packaging of organic snacks and natural cosmetics to durable fashion items.
We were head over heels to chat with Jessica about her creative endeavours, taking a stand with conscious partnerships and inspiring others to opt for a more positive and rewarding path. Read on to learn more about her from her conversation with our blog editor, Jacqui Taylor.
Hello Jessica, thanks for taking the time to chat (virtually). Let’s start with you. Where did you grow up and where do you live now? Do you think where you have lived has had an influence on your work?
I grew up in Málaga in the South of Spain. When I was 10 years old we moved to Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
My style isn’t so much influenced by the country I live in but by plants and flowers (from all over the world) I see and design movements and artists I admire. Although I think people might recognise my work as Dutch/Scandinavian.
How long have you been a visual artist?
I started out as a graphic designer and illustrator 11 years ago. Along the way I discovered my love for patterns and slowly I shifted my focus to patterns.Do you have a signature style? Have you always had this style or has it evolved/changed over time?
My signature style is one of bold and bright designs. Minimal, colorful and full of energy. There is a tension between elegance and rawness in my work.
I think over the years my work has become more my own (more ‘Jessica’ I’m not sure how to describe this) and I am not afraid to follow my own idea about beauty and interesting shapes. I aim to create timeless designs and not pay attention to fleeting trends.Talk to me about your creative process. Do you have any habits or ‘must dos’ to get you in the zone?
I must take walks in nature or visit a museum on a regular basis. These are my ‘life sources’ / sources of inspiration. I make quick sketches of things or shapes that catch my eye. Later when starting on a new pattern collection I go through those sketches and choose the ones I think have ‘pattern potential’.
It has been a challenging 12 or so months for everyone due to a global pandemic and a lot of uncertainty. What has changed for you due to COVID-19? And how have you adapted your work to manage during this time?
I work from my studio at home, my design process is quite solitary and most of my client contact is via email so for me not much has changed. I realise I am lucky to be in this situation.
I’ve noticed that you align yourself with companies with a sustainability focus and environmentally conscious, is this the direction you are heading with partnerships/collaborations?
Yes, it is! In everything I do (private life and professional) I try to be as conscious/sustainable as possible, it is part of my life and who I am. When collaborating with brands I prefer working with ones that also feel the urgency to be as sustainable as possible. Of course, not all brands I work with have chosen a sustainable path yet, but I try to inspire and advise them on how to ‘go greener’. It is hopeful to see more and more brands choosing to make sustainability a key value of their business but we need more and sooner. Because of my interest in this field I’m starting a garden design education this year and with that knowledge I hope to contribute to greener more liveable cities and to help preserve our ecosystems.
That’s great Jessica. We too are focused on teaming up with sustainable and environmentally conscious designers and businesses. Speaking of that, when and how did you meet Nerida Hansen?
Nerida contacted me earlier this year. I was familiar with her collections, she has an original and refreshing style which I really like. I was very happy to create this collection together and combine our love for bold and colourful designs.
What is the title of your latest designs for Nerida Hansen Fabrics? Discuss your inspiration for this body of work.
My designs are created very intuitively, it’s all about shapes and colours. When piecing the collection together with Nerida, the cohesion within the designs became visible, it reminded me of my childhood in Spain - colourful, sunny and slightly retro! Especially mosaic tiles (some with beach glass) are something I remember loving.
What is a typical day for you? What do you do outside of work?
A typical day is spent behind the computer or drawing on the iPad. Outside work I love to explore nature on my racing bike or go hiking. In the evenings I love to go to concerts or out for dinner (which I hope will be possible again soon!).
Who has inspired you the most to date and why?
Alexander Girard, a multidisciplined designer who created textiles, ornaments, restaurant interiors etc. and also worked for Herman Miller for about two decades (1950s/1960s). I love everything he made! The simplicity and joy in his work is super inspiring. I have a beautiful book about his life and work, when I’m stuck for ideas it’s one of the first things I leaf through
Jessica, you’ve worked on a lot of projects. What would be your dream job?
Like Girard I would love to design a restaurant. From the curtains to the menu to the plates… a ‘total design’.
What is in the pipeline for you?
The collection with Nerida is something I’m looking forward to (and sewing summer tops with the fabrics). A collaboration with a sneaker brand will be coming out this year and a collection of products with my designs for the biggest Dutch store chain. This year I started making original artworks & selling them, that is something I hope to have (make) more time for next year.
Do you have a mantra? What is it?
Never forget to have fun.
What advice would you offer to those that are starting out as artists?
Be curious, soak up inspiration (from anywhere and anything), work hard and never forget to have fun.
Kit yourself out in Jessica’s designs from her latest collection for Nerida Hansen Fabrics and splurge here. Her designs are also part of the new range of Organic Cotton Single Jersey that is currently available and proving to be very popular amongst our sewing community. Read the previous blog for any answers you may have for working with jersey.