Published for 365Bristol.com
In my Meet the Creatives of Bristol series, I scout the city for locals who work in a variety of creative fields. Whether they are at the early stage of their career, or are well-established, they represent the artistic city that Bristol is; vibrant, diverse and inspiring.
This time I caught up with Jess Ball, a 23 year old illustrator.
Jess has been heavily influenced by Bristol’s culture, her style inspired by the underground music scene, to the political views which the Bristol residents hold.
Her degree in illustration allowed her to continue her hobby, transforming it into a profession.
“The time I feel most comfortable is when I’m holding a pen. This has been the case ever since my childhood when I used to create my own magazines and comics and my dream job was to work for Pixar.”
Her work always begins with black lines, with monochrome, textures and a bold use of blank space. This follows the influence of artists such as Cleon Peterson, Robert Rauschenberg and work from the Bauhaus movement like the collage artist Aleksandr Rodchenko.
“The artist that has inspired me the most has got to be performance artist Marina Abramovic. After watching a documentary on Netflix called “The Artist is Present” about Marina I was amazed by her dedication to her art and her controversial subject matter. She pushes boundaries and makes you as the viewer fascinated yet disturbed by her art. It’s one of the reasons I like to choose quite controversial themes for my projects. I would really recommend anyone to watch the documentary and check her out.”
Jess’s work has been described as surreal yet minimal, the focus predominantly around human interaction with one another. Her interest in Psychology has always played a big part in her projects, as seen in her one about ‘The Male Gaze’, a social theory by Laura Mulvey that was published in 1975.
The idea of women as objects to be desired by men can be seen in her work, most specifically in the illustrations centred around female limbs. Whilst Jess believes women and men to be more equal today, she still feels that there is some inequality in certain areas – something that the satirical nature of her work highlights and critiques. The personal female experience combined with her research of theory, was at the forefront of her final university project.
Art acts to provoke and Jess Ball does exactly that. Her work is bold, impactful and unapologetic for it. From her black line work to her colour prints, the quality and ideas behind it make her illustrations visually important and meaningful in context.
Jess’s current project is focused around the Hip Hop scene of Chicago. She is creating promotional material for a documentary that will be out in the spring time of 2018 – watch this space!
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