ARTIST OF THE WEEK: JESSICA CHILDSMarch 8, 2017
Jessica Childs is an illustrator who has brought to life the colourful ‘Costa del Deptford’, which combines 80s Miami and Deptford through drawings and prints inspired by the local community. Childs explains how she became a part of The Deptford Project and why she was offered an arch space in Deptford which showcases her work.
UO: What is your background in art?
I realised when I was about 5 that I loved drawing. I was not typically academic so I channelled my enthusiasm into the subject. Later on, when I studied Graphics at secondary school it was combining traditional drawing methods with digital that led me to study Illustration at University.
UO: At what point did you realise you wanted to go into retail and make a career out of your illustrations and designs?
I’ve always enjoyed the scope of illustration and started thinking about putting my work onto product after hand illustrating plates alongside prints for an exhibition at the MMX Gallery in New Cross. The idea evolved into applying my work onto homewares and garments all in limited runs. I was also offered an Arch at the Deptford Market Yard around the same time so it all seemed to fit into place.
UO: What initially attracted you to draw illustrations that combined Miami and Deptford for your “Terribly British Innit” collection?
In the summer Deptford really comes alive, and its diverse mix of people all jammin’ in the market playing music and cooking jerk really evokes that holiday vibe for me. My friends and I always joke and called it Costa del Deptford. This also links to my love of that 80’s Miami aesthetic. To see touches of this juxtaposed with the mundane grey tones of London streets littered with fag butts, chewing gum and pigeons really amuses me and I really wanted to showcase and celebrate it.
UO: What is your creative process like?
I’ve always been heavily influenced by street photography so I’ll usually go out with my camera and draw from those photos. I then do initial drawings in pencil and continue digitally.
UO: How did you become a part of The Deptford Project?
I first got involved with the Deptford project in 2011 when I got a Saturday job serving coffee on the train cafe. I then started doing artwork for flyers, menus and events. Rebecca Molina, who ran the site, then offered me a studio space in the arches where I held pop up exhibitions until it all closed down for redevelopment.
UO: Your illustrations are heavily influenced by Deptford, where your store is based; what do you love about the area?
I have quite an emotional attachment to the area as it was the first place I moved to after studying and it’s felt like home ever since. I love Deptford’s social and cultural diversity, from the old traditional working class to the vibrant immigrant communities and then throw in Goldsmith’s down the road and you truly have a melting pot of people, shops and spaces. It’s a place for everyone.
UO: You were offered an arch space for ‘The Artist in Residence’ to show your illustrated collection. How did this happen and how has this London store developed your career?
The developer approached me when the site was being redeveloped and asked if I wanted to come back and have a studio/shop space in the arches again. I was quite surprised but jumped at the chance to come back. I feel really lucky to have been involved with the site and I wish I heard more stories like this where developers consider their future plans by acknowledging and involving the site’s past.
UO: How do you stay creatively motivated?
Deptford continues to inspire me and now that I’ve opened up a shop here, I’m able to immerse myself in the very things that are imperative to my work. Wondering around looking through treasures and junk in the markets along with people watching keeps me motivated.
UO: You work with a range of materials; which do you find most challenging and gratifying?
I’ve loved collaborating with other creatives along the way. For example, the garments that were made by my good friend Jenna Young. Designing the tracksuits has probably been the most challenging and gratifying part so far. I don’t have a design background but I found the process really fun. Having a vision in your mind and watching it slowly come to life was alien to me as drawing is so instant.
UO: Can you tell us about any future projects you are working on?
Last week I collaborated with the Albany young creatives who screened their first documentary in the shop, so I’m looking forward to continuing to utilise the space in ways like that. I’m also working on one-off pieces for the shop to contrast the products. So I’m doing some drawings, mono-prints and I’m also using clay, which I’m really enjoying. Lastly, I’ve begun talks for a potential project with the 999 club, one of the local homeless shelters, which I’m really excited about. The idea would be to produce a zine with the service user’s drawings and poems and then sell it in the shop, and the proceeds would go back into the shelter.