The beautifully realised artwork of Jessica Roux will stir up warm emotions and memories in anyone who has had even the briefest relationship with nature. Whether you grew up in the country and spent your childhood exploring a nearby forest, or have had a lifelong fascination for flora and fauna, or even developed a passion for the wonders of hiking and camping in later life, Roux’s imagery will undoubtedly strike a chord with your inner nature-lover. Drawing from her deep affection for both history and the natural world, Jessica has developed an incredibly distinctive visual aesthetic, which utilises a skilfully subdued colour palette and bestows a sophisticated old-world beauty, lending her subject matter not only a terrific timelessness, but also a stirring aura of sublimity.
Jessica Roux is an American freelance illustrator. She has lived in the woods in North Carolina, the low country of Savannah, Georgia, the city of Brooklyn, New York, and she currently resides in the swamps of Gainesville, Florida. Jessica graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design in 2013 with a degree in Illustration. Since then she has worked with a long list of big name clients including, the New Yorker, the New York Times, Pottermore and Smithsonian Magazine. She has exhibited her work in numerous galleries including, Light Grey Art Lab, Nucleus Portland, Antler Gallery and Gallery1988. And she has earned accolades from Spectrum Fantastic Art, American Illustration and the Society of Illustrators.
WOW x WOW is thrilled to have a new limited-edition print by Jessica in our current ‘Room of a Thousand Doors’ group show. The artwork feature’s one of Jessica’s favourite animals, a baby wild boar, and is available for purchase here. We hope that you enjoy learning a little more about this wonderful artist in the following exclusive interview.
Hi Jessica, thanks very much for making the time to have a chat, we really appreciate it. To get us started, can you give us some background on what has lead you to this point in your professional life, be it your formal training, hard work, serendipity, etc.?
I studied illustration at the Savannah College of Art and Design and graduated in 2013. Right after, I moved to Brooklyn to start freelancing while working as an intern for the first year I was there. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was doing when I first started out – but I met a lot of fantastic illustrators in New York that helped me get started, gave me sound advice, and offered kind critiques when asked. I’ve always been a hard worker, and I like to achieve what I set my mind to do – so I think that drive and ambition helped out too!
We’re interested to hear about where you’re currently living and what you like about the area? What is the art scene like there and do you feel a part of that community? Are these aspects of your existence that are important to your creativity?
I currently live in Gainesville, Florida, where I’ve been for about two years. I moved down here when my husband got a job in the theme park design industry (he’s much cooler than me!). We’re actually planning on moving in the next few months, because he’s going back to school. There’s not many people who do what I do here, so it’s been a struggle to find my place in the community. I hope the arts are nurtured in this area in the future, so there can be a more positive space for those few here. That being said, I do love living in a place with lots of nature, and we grow lots of tangerines, figs, berries, persimmons, and peppers. We also see lots of owls, hawks, vultures, and even a swallow-tailed kite in our own neighborhood! Having all that surrounding me definitely influences my work, and it’s something I missed for the few years I lived in Brooklyn.
In what ways did your childhood and upbringing affect your relationship with the arts?
My parents nurtured my interest in art from a young age. There are some darling photos of my sister and I painting outside on our easels, and I was always drawing. My parents are both very creative, despite not pursuing the arts as careers themselves, although I don’t know if they even realize it! My mom does all sorts of things from ceramics to metalsmithing, and my dad takes the most beautiful pictures – we once made a darkroom in their house together, and he showed me how to develop photos. My sister is a fantastic poet, so we both ended up in the arts.
There is a wonderful old world aesthetic to your work. When did you first notice this making an appearance and what is it that continues to give you inspiration to develop this aspect of your imagery?
Thank you so much! I don’t know when it started, but I’ve always been attracted to really muted colors. Maybe it was because I wore way too much neon as a 90s baby, but more than likely it’s from being taken to lots of museums as a kid and just loving it. I’ve always loved exploring antique shops and finding old nature prints, decorative plates, and that sort of thing. There’s something really magical about finding a beautiful object or print that was once loved, and loving it once more.
Your love of nature is clearly one of your most dominant sources of inspiration. Talk to us a little about where that love stems from and how you approach incorporating it into your imagery. Do you have any specific feelings or memories that act as catalysts while brainstorming ideas?
I am so inspired by nature, and I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t! I loved being outside as a child, collecting sea shells or river rocks or fall leaves, and bringing them inside. When they’d inevitably break or get lost or shrivel up, I wished I had a way to preserve them and the memories associated with them. I try to capture a feeling that I had in the moment, along with the object itself, and I love adding in textures and little details. One childhood memory I go back to time and again is picking cicada shells off trees with my sister in the summer time – we were so fascinated by their clear yellowed shells, like little preserved memories themselves.
Sticking with nature for minute longer, what are your biggest concerns about our impact on the natural world? In your opinion where are we going so badly wrong and what would be the first thing you would love to see change?
I’m so heartbroken by the current state of affairs of the environment, especially living in the US at this time. It’s impossible to ignore the devastating environmental changes taking place, directly caused by humans, from climate change to pollution. We only have one planet, and we are responsible for taking care of it – not only for future humans, but for every creature that calls it home.
What has been the most exciting life and impact you have you witnessed any of your art take on once it has left confines of your studio? What kind of feelings do you have about letting your creations go and live their own lives in the big wide world?
I do a lot of work for clients across so many different fields and platforms, so it’s always a thrill to see my work out there in the world! I really hope people can connect to it in some way, and maybe it’ll make them feel better or less alone, even for a moment. I love hearing when someone connects to a certain piece and why they feel connected to it.
We’d love to hear you talk about a favourite creative experience and how it earned that status.
I recently had the honor of working on a few illustrations for Pottermore. I’ve been the biggest Harry Potter fan for as long as I can remember, and I listen to the audiobooks, watch the movies, and reread the books whenever I feel down. I’ve always wanted to illustrate for the Harry Potter franchise in some way, so it really was a dream come true for me. I don’t know if I can put into words how important Harry Potter is to me – I learned so much from that world, so having the chance to take part in it was nothing short of magical.
In order to get a better understanding of the personality of an artist, it can help to get a peek behind the curtain. Would you be willing to share a story from your own life, possibly one who’s memory you find yourself returning to for inspiration, or maybe just a tale about a hardship you’ve overcome which has helped define the person and therefore artist that you are now?
My dog Molly is my world. When I first got her, I was very depressed, and it was a really difficult period of my life. She changed all that – she is my inspiration and my favorite friend. She’s always there for me, full of love and joy. I can’t be sad around her, because she’s always playful and being the most beautiful dog, or she’s curled up asleep in the cutest way possible. I work from home, so we spend almost every day together. I couldn’t imagine my life without her.
If you could own one piece of art from any of the world’s collections what would it be and why?
I’d love to own an original Beatrix Potter painting of Peter Rabbit. As a child, I had a pillow with Peter Rabbit on it, and I took it everywhere! Her work and life inspire me still today.
What’s next for Jessica Roux?
I’ve been working on a few cool self-initiated projects, like a flora and fauna themed oracle deck I’m calling Woodland Wardens, as well as a calendar for next year. I work on those things on nights and weekends, and work on client work during the day (and also most weekends!) I’ve got a few exciting illustrations for books coming up, and I’m currently working on some beer labels for a brewery in Oklahoma called Heirloom Rustic Ales. I love working on a variety of different things, so I never get bored with what I have going on!