We recently sat down (virtually) with the delightful Jo Breach from Jigger Jagger and talked about her creative process, where she grew up and what inspires her.
When did you start work as an illustrator/designer?
Firstly, could you tell me a little bit about yourself? Where did you grow up?
I was lucky enough to live in some amazing outback landscapes, like Alice Springs and Darwin, as a young child. I spent quite a bit of time travelling and camping in the remote parts of Australia between Perth and Alice Springs. The incredible colours and shapes of the Australian landscape have really influenced my aesthetic.
When we first started a family, my husband and I renovated an old stable to live in and an old shearing shed as my studio. Recently, we moved back to Melbourne’s inner north, which has such an incredible, vibrant, multi-cultural community. It’s a fabulous place to live and design - and drink coffee!
I started designing textile patterns in late 2016, in the lead up to launching my clothing label JIGGERJAGGER. Design is my favourite part of the job, so I’ve given the rest of it away to focus solely on my passion.
Could you tell me a bit about your design style? Have you always had this style or has it evolved/changed over time?
My design style consists of bold florals in large-scale pattern repeats, as well as geometric and abstract designs in bold colours. I’ve always loved colour and I’m really interested in the positive impact it can have on people’s lives.
When I was younger, I spent a lot of time trawling op-shops, collecting vintage sewing patterns and admiring vintage textile designs. Since then, my style has evolved to include a love of mid-century design, architecture and art, perhaps in equal measure to my love of the natural environment.
Talk me through your creative process.
I start each design by drawing individual motifs on my iPad with the pencil, then arranging a mock-up of how I want the final repeat to look. I’ll have a play around with colour palettes until I’m happy with the rough draft. Then I bring individual motifs into Photoshop to create the final print repeat on the Mac. Sometimes designs finish up exactly as I envisaged, other times it morphs into something else entirely. If a design just isn’t working out, I’ll leave it and let the idea mull around in the back of my mind and come back to it another time.
Have you always been involved in this industry? What did you do in another life?
I studied design straight out of high school, but decided to change direction after a teacher told me that my designs were too eccentric! I decided to follow my love of the natural environment instead, and studied environmental management at University of Queensland. I spent 15 years as a spatial analyst in the environmental sector before returning to my first love: design.
When and how did you meet Nerida Hansen?
While working on the production of my JIGGERJAGGER SS19 collection, my search for the perfect fabric and printer led me to Nerida. I was on the hunt for a soft, draping cotton with good colour saturation and Nerida’s cotton sateen was the perfect solution. Nerida loved my print aesthetic and asked if she could licence some of my designs for Nerida Hansen Fabrics - and of course I said yes!
Talk me through your typical day.
My work day varies so much, but it typically starts when I get home from walking my two young children to school. I often stop along the way to take photos of flowers, foliage or the habitat of an interesting plant. I may start drawing a new print on my iPad, or finishing off a print on the Mac. I may be updating a lookbook ready for a new release, or answering emails. It will usually involve coffee!
What inspires you and why?
My inspiration for pattern design usually comes from the natural environment, typically flowers and foliage, but seen through a lens of art, design, literature and music. I find that there is so much inspiration in the everyday details of life that my biggest problem is trying to draw an idea before I lose it and get the next one!
What would be your dream project?
I feel like I’m doing my dream project right now! I’m really enjoying seeing what all of the amazingly talented makers are creating with my fabrics. This is the first time that I have focussed solely on pattern design and I am absolutely loving it!
That said, I would love to see some of my pattern designs on homewares, wallpaper and stationary at some stage in the future. And, of course, it would be fabulous to do a print collaboration with one of my favourite fashion labels like Gorman or Marimekko!
What is in the pipeline for you?
I’m currently working on a very exciting collaboration with Nerida Hansen to release sewing patterns for some of my most popular JIGGERJAGGER garments, as well as launching another new collection of my print designs on Neriada’s gorgeous fabrics.
At the same time, I’m working on a whole bunch of new print designs and feel like I have really opened the flood gates, now that I have allowed myself to focus solely on print design - fun times ahead!
What advice would you offer to those that are starting out as designers/illustrators?
In many ways I feel like I am just starting out myself, but I think, as with many creative pursuits, it is very important to stay true to your own unique style, to put yourself out there and really believe in yourself, and to keep going - you never know what might turn up around the next corner!
Splurge on JIGGERJAGGER fabrics from Nerida Hansen Fabrics at www.neridahansen.com.au.