Today we’d like to introduce you to Jessica Miller.
Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I’ve always had a passion for art, even as a young child. I cried when my mom signed me up for club soccer. Please don’t make me play sports, I want art lessons! Naturally, I continued to pursue art into early adulthood. Even though I’m a native Angeleno, I attended Boston University for college and graduated with a BFA in Graphic Design. BU provided an excellent foundation in traditional art, I took two years of painting, drawing, and sculpture before even touching a computer. I graduated in 2008 (height of the economic recession) so it was not an easy task to find my first design job. After working a few odd jobs, and applying to countless companies I landed a Graphic Design Internship at Disney Consumer Products, which essentially started my long-standing career in toy packaging design.
I worked for numerous toy companies over the years, bouncing around between freelance and full time creating style guides, packaging, branding and even dabbled a bit in product design. Once you get started in the toy industry I’ve found it’s hard to leave.
In 2017 I landed a contract position at Hasbro, designing Disney Princess fashion doll packaging. Working at Hasbro was a dream and the Disney Princess brand suited me well. Pink and sparkles seemed to run through my veins. I truly loved working there and contracted on and off for a few years.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Life is never a smooth road, is it? I’ve had many struggles and successes along the way. This brings me to part two of my personal journey! In 2019 I became a mom. I took some time off but knew I wanted to go back to work in 6 months. I was due to go back to work at Hasbro in 2020 but it just so happened to be the week of the COVID-19 shutdown. I received a call that they weren’t hiring any contractors and I would not be returning. I was devastated. I was a new mom, forced to stay inside my house with no creative outlet. It was probably one of the lowest times of my life.
I had some spare time while my daughter slept so I started digitally drawing on my sister’s old iPad, just a hobby to pass the time. I started taking numerous Skillshare classes to help me navigate the drawing app Procreate and became hooked on trying new brushes and learning new drawing techniques. I joined the online art community and created an Instagram account, @JessMillerDraws, devoted to all my art. I became fast friends with artists from all over the world that shared my same passion. I took part in numerous design challenges, one in particular “Inktober” in which you draw a new prompt every day in the month of October. I relished drawing spooky Halloween art in my flat graphic style. Unbeknownst to me, art directors were discovering my drawing account and following along. In early 2021, American Greetings reached out saying they admired my art and asked if I’d like to illustrate a greeting card for them…um YES! This was one of my first illustration freelance jobs and the start of my illustration career.
From August 2020 my drawing Instagram account has grown from 0 to 66K+ followers and I’ve had the pleasure of creating art for brands including Mattel, Los Angeles Times, American Greetings, Penguin Random House, Minted, Gofundme and many more. People are flabbergasted when I tell them I started illustrating less than two years ago. But what they don’t know is the long winding road I had to take to get there. People often ask me how are you so prolific in such a short time? I tell them that I’m unleashing 14 years of pent-up creativity! I have a strong passion and drive and a thirst to simply just create. Sometimes you don’t know the direction you are truly meant to take until you’re forced to take turns, explore new avenues, and start fresh.
Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I’m a Graphic Designer and Illustrator and I specialize in hand lettering, surface pattern, and character design. My style is infused with bright pops of color and layered textures, inspired by nature, retro artwork, and vintage package design. I also have a natural knack for Marketing and I love connecting with other artists. My bold and graphic art and background in toy package design really set me apart from other artists. After drawing every day for two years I’m starting to recognize consistencies in my work and I’m beginning to see a distinct style emerge.
Can you tell us more about what you were like growing up?
Growing up I was painfully shy. I couldn’t look adults in the eye when they talked to me and much preferred to play alone in my room. Somewhere along the way into my teenage years my personality bloomed. I became much more extroverted. Although I don’t like to be center stage, I do prefer the company of others and feel energized after large social gatherings.
- Website: www.jessmillerdraws.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jessmillerdraws/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jessmillerdraws
- Other: Etsy shop page: https://www.etsy.com/shop/JessMillerDraws?ref=profile_header