Jess lives in central Kentucky and enjoys gardening and spending time with her husband and family. She founded Rolling Donut Press, a small book publishing company, in 2016 and now runs the company with her Father, Jim Erskine.
How long have you been illustrating and what made you start?
I began professionally illustrating about 3 years ago when I began my small publishing company Rolling Donut Press, but I was drawing for about 12 years before that. I first became interested in artwork and illustration when I was about 10 years old and my dad introduced me to Hal Foster's "Prince Valiant" comics. From then on I was obsessed with all things medieval, and even more; illustration.
Where do you get your inspiration?
It depends on what project I'm working on at the time. For my bunny comics, I get a lot of inspiration from my husband Michael, and from my own awkward, messed up self. For Cooking With Cats I gathered a lot of fun ideas from my cat Morty, who is kind of a butt. For general artistic inspiration, I'd say I get the most from being outdooors, talking with my dad (who is also my business partner and full of brilliant ideas) and listening to various podcasts. But in all honesty, a lot of times I can't quite "get there" to be inspired, and that's OK. When I've hit artist's block, I try not to panic over it; inspiration will come back. Sometimes you can push creativity, sometimes you can't. But it WILL come back eventually. So if you hit a creative block find something else to do to divert your focus (take walks, do chores, put yourself in pleasant environments) and don't beat yourself up; it doesn't help. Yes, be nice to YOU.
Where is your favourite place to illustrate?
My favourite place to illustrate would probably either be outside on our back porch, or at my beautiful desk that my husband built for me.
What are your illustrating/colouring material essentials?
Good question! Again, it depends on what I am working on. For book illustrations, I like to sketch things out on bits of paper, then finish them on my iPad Pro. People always put so much focus on sketchbooks and filling every space in them, and I've seen the most beautiful sketchbooks, but for me there's too much pressure to draw something "nice" or "cool" or "interesting" when I sit down with a sketchbook. Too much pressure to draw well, and let me tell you; my initial sketches are absolute garbage. So I mostly make little sketches on stickie notes so I can throw them away if they're too bad. Haha! For actual artwork that I want to make to sell or hang on a wall, I tell you I cannot get enough of using Micron pens for ink drawings! I have several different tip sizes and they're excellent quality pens that don't smudge after they dry (it only takes a few seconds). For colour I recently discovered a love for watercolor. I found these brush pens that hold water in them and let you blend colors together without using too much liquid. I found them on Amazon for less than $10!
What’s the piece of work that you’re most proud of or enjoyed doing the most?
This one is way different from what I normally do, and I don't know if it's okay for your readers or not, but I did a pencil drawing of a girl with huge eyes and a pet Raccoon. I call it "boobs" and it's one of my favorites. I also loved doing my fully coloured winter Crunchy Bunny illustration. And my final favourite is another pencil drawing that is probably a bit too seedy to share.
Just be nice to yourself and enjoy the process. Colour and create if it brings you joy and satisfaction. You should never worry about being "good enough" or "interesting enough". The fact that you have a desire to put something into this world that wasn't there before, that is something special. Just draw, colour and create. And the more you create, the better you will become.