This week we introduce Jes Hooper. When I saw her illustrations I immediately knew they needed sharing, she’s a very talented lady as I’m sure you’re about to agree!
Introducing Jes Hooper Pyography. Could you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about you and your Etsy shop?
Photo credit artist and photographer: Thom Undrell
I am a freehand pyrography (or “wood burning”) artist living in Brighton, Sussex. I am a self taught artist with an interest in animal behaviour and ecology. My material of choice is oak, and I work with local Sussex mills to source reclaimed timber that has interesting grains but would otherwise go to waste. I use large oak planks to create pointillism artwork, where I burn thousands upon thousands of dots into the surface of the wood that merge in the viewers eye to form complex images. I started wood burning in November 2015 as a hobby to lift my spirits during a lengthy time of unemployment. Having never been taught how to draw or burn, I posted my first attempts on Instagram to find there was a keen interest in my work and my art style. That month I set up my Etsy shop selling small wooden gifts, and just three months later I became a self-employed artist. Now in my shop you will find my original oak artworks and an ever increasing range of personalised home decor and gifts.
My artwork is also on sale at the Oriental Brighton throughout May as part of the Artists Open Houses exhibition, and at Thomas Rainsford Art Gallery in Brighton all year round. I also sell my artwork and take commissions via my website and I will be attending Kirstie Allsopp’s Handmade Fair at Hampton Court Palace in September.
Tell us a little bit about how and where you work?
For me, what started as a hobby quickly turned my already cramped bedroom into a chaotic workshop. Pine boards and huge slabs of beech were crammed under my bed, tree branch sections were drying (and often moulding) on all my shelves, and everything from wooden spoons to oak boards and various power tools were precariously stacked in piles on the floor. Essentially, everything you see in my studio pics was once crammed into my bedroom.
Then there was the problem of preparing the wood- I needed space for sanding. This literally involved me chasing small sections of branch around our conservatory floor with a sander. Fun fact: I have tiny hands! Holding a piece of cross section with one hand and a sander in the other is somewhat of an advanced skill I have yet to master. One day, as I was playing tag with another piece of wood, my dad walks in and gives me a stern look… I’ve covered our entire conservatory in a blanket of sawdust. That’s it I thought-game over. Two minutes later he comes back into the room, and nails in a make shift clamp to the floorboards to make it easier for me – my Dad is one in a million!
A week or two later, we were both hauling out the furniture, and setting up the space as my studio. It has changed my life! I now produce large pointillism pieces which I was previously unable to do for lack of space. I can store all my tools and materials in one place. I can organise everything so I know what stock I have, what pieces I am working on, what materials need preparation, and I have areas for wood drying and oiling/waxing final pieces.
This is all however only a temporary workspace. In the coming months I will be joining my boyfriend, a professional carpenter, and his work colleagues in their new carpentry workshop, which is a beautiful converted barn in the Sussex countryside. I’ll be surrounded by wood, machinery, and farm animals- what more could a girl want?
Your new work space sounds amazing… and idyllic. I hope you manage to get some work done rather than spending all day admiring the views!
What inspires your work?
My main inspiration comes from my experiences travelling and working as an animal behaviourist. When I select oak I look carefully at the grain. Often I will place a piece if oak board in my studio in full view whilst I work, spending days glancing at it to really determine what the grain would represent in an animal’s environment. I then burn an image of an animal into the grain in a way which represents it’s interaction with its natural habitat. For example, “Noggin dude” (two sea turtles) depicts two sea turtles surfing the current, as sea turtles in the wild use currents as a tool for migrating to their breeding and feeding sites.
What are you currently working on?
At the moment I am working on a special collection of limited edition giclee prints. I really wanted to make my artwork accessible to everyone, which is not always possible to do when each pyrography piece takes weeks (if not months) to complete and are one-of-a kind art pieces that cannot be reproduced. Prints on the other hand, are a great way to offer affordable artwork, making my artwork accessible to more people.
In the past few weeks I have been making a start on a collection of ocean inspired pointillism artwork on paper, to accompany my pyrography artwork. Like my pyrography work each drawing is comprised of thousands upon thousands of dots drawn freehand, which merge in the viewers eye to form detailed images. Each drawing is reproduced as a giclee print, the highest quality in fine art printing, all printed locally to me in Brighton to support the local art community.
How have you found your Etsy journey so far?
I am relatively new to Etsy, having set up my shop in late November 2015 when I started pyrography as a hobby. I have found Etsy is a great way to display art and craft and offers a unique opportunity to interact with people from all over the world. I love the way in which it is a personal platform which allows sellers to show not only their craft but their creative journey and their inspirations. I am still working hard to make my Etsy shop the best it can be, but the support from different Etsy teams and administrators is really helpful and I have found a supportive home in the online Etsy communities.
Any lessons learned so far that you would like to share with other Etsy makers or online sellers?
My biggest lesson learned so far has been product photography. I found taking pictures of my work was quite challenging when working from home as I had limited space and natural light. With practice and a lot of trial and error I now have pictures that I am happy with, though I am always learning and improving where I can.
Your favourite make so far?
My favourite make so far has been my seahorse art pieces, because I can create endless shapes and patterns working with the grain and different burning techniques.
Your best seller?
My best seller on etsy is my homeware range, with my personalised wooden utensil sets a particular favourite. I like making utensil sets because the small surface space presents a unique challenge in design and intricate burning. I also love to create personalised items because I get an insight into the person who the item is intended for, like being let in to a strangers life for just a moment.
Your Etsy crush?
It has to be “Pocket Moss“, a shop run by Zoee Nuage. Zoee make the most magically cute folklore accessories. Plus, mushrooms. You have to check out her shop to understand!
There are so many cute and adorable makes, I can see why you love it!
What’s your favourite Etsy purchase?
My favourite Etsy purchase so far is a lovely little coin purse made by TotesByWendy. I always find myself perusing through material wares. I can’t work out how to thread a sewing machine let alone make something!
Where can we find you on the web to come and say ‘hi’?
Handmade Fair: http://www.thehandmadefair.com/whats-on/shopping/jes-hooper
Thanks so much to Jes and please pop over and take a look at her lovely makes and if you can go and say hello on social media I’m sure she’d love to hear from you. Every little bit of support you give means so much to artists and makers! In the shop there’s lots more to see and it’s well worth a look!
Next Friday on Rose Filtered we will be featuring Amy Donoghue from Hope the Black Dog I hope you can make it!
PS if you’ve still got time we have something completely different over on the Leapup blog this week… we feature Laura Bittles from Ip Dip Design with her quirky, colourful designs, well worth a look. Enjoy!