August 8, 2011

where I get creative { an interview with Jesse Breytenbach }

This week I welcome Jesse Breytenbach. I have been following her work for almost three years now. She is a wonderful artist in every sense...

Thank you Jesse for this great interview!!!

Tell us a bit about your background.
I studied Printmaking, and started drawing comics, at university. After I graduated, I was lucky enough to get work illustrating for a new publisher. For a while I was the only illustrator working for them, so it was pretty much a full-time job. Eventually I needed to get my hands dirty, and started printing again.

Describe your Creative Space.
It's spread over a few rooms in my house, though I do try to confine it to specific areas. I've just moved my studio into a smaller room, so things are still a bit disorganised. (It can take me years to find the perfect solution.) But I do have a lovely big window, where I was able to hang an old bedspread that used to belong to my great-aunt. I've kept it for years, waiting for the right window. I have 2 desks, one for my pc and one for drawing, sewing, linocutting and everything else. I also have piles of boxes and trunks; because it's a small space, I can't leave things out when I'm not working on them, so each different task has it's own box, with all the tools I'll need. It makes it a bit easier to switch from one thing to another.
I print at my kitchen table, and I store fabric wherever I find an empty corner.

Describe your typical Creative workday.
It varies a lot. This week, for instance, I left home every day for most of the day, delivering stock to shops and ordering supplies, but there are weeks when I don't leave the house at all. I usually wake up around 8am, have a giant cup of coffee, and check email and blogs. I check the list I made the night before, and try to plan the order in which to attack things that day. I'm usually drawing or printing by 10am. Sometimes I forget to stop for lunch, sometimes if I'm stuck on a project, I have lunch at 11:30.... Around 4:30 my dog demands a walk, and then I tidy up, go shopping, and have supper. Then a bit more work, and by 10:30 I'm knitting in front of the tv.

Two things you can't live without.
My lightbox - a friend made it for me years ago, and I use it all the time. A tiny chisel I inherited from my father - without it I wouldn't be able to cut any of the fine detail in my printing blocks.

kitchen table
view from my printing space

Do you have any routine or rituals in your work habits?
I'm not sure if procrastination counts as a ritual, but it seems to be critical to me. One more cup of tea, one more blog post to read, one more load of washing, and perhaps I should clean the bathroom quickly? I've always worked best to deadlines, and I think procrastination is a way of creating that tension when there aren't any clear deadlines.
When I'm printing, I always lay my tools out the same way. Printing can be very messy, so I need to know exactly where everything is without having to look.

How do you keep focused while working?
Deadlines! But I like solving problems, and drawing is mostly just that. I change my prints often, too, trying a new colour or layout, to keep things fresh. As an illustrator doing sometimes repetitive work to tight deadlines, I've had to learn to find pleasure in every part of the work. Sometimes this is the hardest part of the job, specially at 2 in the morning in the middle of winter. Then it becomes a matter of enjoying the simple things, like the way the ink sits on the paper!

What is your primary source of inspiration?
I always seem to go back to plants.

What part of your work do you enjoy the most?
It's different on any given day. When I'm drawing I want to be printing, and vice versa, but I think my favourite part of any project is figuring out how to do it.

What are you working on now?
I have a few new projects: a printed bag, some new button designs, and a couple of old products that I've improved. As soon as I'm completely happy with the prototypes I'll have them for sale in my shops. I'll be illustrating a book cover next week, and getting some of my drawings ready for release as digital prints.

Jesse's Blog
Jesse's Website
Jesse's Shop


  1. So enjoyed this chat with Jesse and a look at her delightful creative space!

  2. What beautiful prints! I love the fact that she uses her house in entirety as her creative space. I also love that hutch.. so so original. Wonderful interview Anabel!

  3. Lots of inspiration here! I love her color pencil drawing!

  4. Love that table Jesse, and so nice to see your sweet face and that fluffy friend of yours.

  5. Wonderful interview! It's so nice to meet Jesse :)

  6. what a lovely interview, always so great to see other peoples work spaces.

  7. What a fab interview! Always lovely to put a face to a name and get a peek into a lovely artists studio.


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