Artist Jill O’Connor is a self-taught pattern designer and illustrator residing in England. Her art is hand-drawn with colorful and quirky designs full inspiration from nature and her travels. In addition to art, Jill is embarking on the adventure of growing a micro chilli farm with “23 different varieties of chilli pepper and 236 young seedling plants!”. We see some chilli art in Jill’s very near future!
"My advice is to live through your heart, have gratitude every day for being here and do what feels right to you - nobody else knows what that is other than you."
Where is home?
Home is in the Cotswolds in the UK. I live at the bottom of a huge hill that is home to a wealth of wildlife. In fact, the area has been declared an area of special scientific interest because of the interesting wildlife including badgers, foxes, stoats, wildflowers and rare orchids.
What is your creative weapon of choice?
Well, it has to be the pen, I love drawing in pen. I have many many pens.
What advice would you offer to fellow artists?
My advice is to live through your heart, have gratitude every day for being here and do what feels right to you – nobody else knows what that is other than you. We can achieve anything if we work hard, put in the hours, learn it, take courses, ask for help, believe in yourself, experiment, play, help others, share and have fun. Whatever it is we create is a reflection of ourselves and that is the most exciting and beautiful thing about being an artist.
Share with us your journey from a 9-5 job to full-time artist.
I’ve only been designing for four years and drawing with a pen for two! Art was not on my radar until I quit my 9 to 5 job nearly ten years ago in search of a more creative and wholesome life and without a plan other than to sell everything I owned and fly to India on a one-way ticket. I was living the wrong life so I stepped out of my old life and into a new one overnight!
India awakened a deep desire to create something although I didn’t know it was going to be surface pattern art until some years later when I realised my wealth of creative experiences and learning (horticulture, performing arts, music, photography, lived with the locals in Thailand to learn their cuisine, building with cob, NLP, Crystal healing and should probably stop there . . . .). I suddenly realised that bringing together all these amazing experiences has brought me to where I am today as an artist.
"Acceptance as to where you are right now as an artist, being kind to yourself and 'ditch the perfectionism'. Perfectionism can cause paralysis. Breaking this state requires discipline of the mind."
Please share the story behind your favorite artwork on Redbubble.
My favourite artwork on Redbubble is my ‘Camels on holiday’ – I love the ridiculousness of camels going to somebody else’s desert for a holiday. I had such fun designing the pink cactus landscape.
What’s been the hardest lesson you’ve learned while creating a successful art career?
Acceptance as to where you are right now as an artist, being kind to yourself and “ditch the perfectionism”. Perfectionism can cause paralysis. Breaking this state requires discipline of the mind.
What role do you feel artists have in society?
I feel artists help people connect with their emotions, which is particularly important in today’s society which has become somewhat disconnected from our true selves. Whether it is a silly alpaca lifting your heart through joy or a thought provoking piece highlighting profound meaning, art creates a deeper understanding of ourselves and how we interact with the world around us.
If you weren’t making art, what do you think you would you be doing now?
I would definitely be a garden designer – or maybe a botanist if I’d paid attention at school which I didn’t! I grow so many plants in my garden which is my inspiration for my florals. Drawing from real life and being able to pull the flower apart to see how it’s put together is just so exciting, I love the bugs too.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given as an artist?
‘Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle’. We are all developing as artists, so always be true to yourself, enjoy the process and love where you are as an artist right now.
What artwork are you excited to work on next?
Well, I’m excited about my ‘animals on holiday’ theme – maybe Giraffes trailblazing in Scotland or badgers go skiing. So silly! All suggestions welcome . . .