Bristol-based illustrator Ana Jaks reveals how a personal challenge resulted in her illustrating and enlivening a local shopping centre
up until 2014, everything I created was handdrawn or hand-painted. then came the Wacom tablet. Where I’d previously spent hours practising my techniques on paper, sheets of wood or spoons, I now become fixated with learning how to create everything digitally. my career has definitely benefitted from the countless hours spent trying to navigate different software, and days have been saved once I discovered I could change the colour palette of an entire project for a client without having to start over! But last year I decided that I wanted to challenge myself.
GETTING THE PROJECT
When I moved to Bristol last september, after completing an artist residency in a primary school, Facebook commissioned me to create the visual identity for its House of us event. it was totally digital (bar a seesaw that they wanted me to paint by hand) and was a chance to put my digital skills into practise.
I worked alongside a paint technician, who got me all the right paints, taught me how to care for brushes and supplied everything I needed. Naturally, after managing to complete two projects involving paint that the clients didn’t hate — and with a basic knowledge of materials — I decided it was now part of my profession and something I could (naively) offer.
Now desperate to make the leap into mural painting — or anything outside the constraints of my laptop screen — I started contacting businesses in Bristol and tweeting that I was available for work. almost instantly, the Galleries shopping centre asked me to come in for a meeting, and within a month I was asked to transform the upper level of the centre.
I felt as though I’d managed to blag myself into a situation I wasn’t capable of doing, but I wanted to expand on my current skill set and the Galleries gave me the platform to do so, which both terrified and excited me.
The Galleries made it clear that it was essential for this project to feel representative of all people that used the space; diversity and inclusivity were important, and we wanted all people, regardless of age, race or gender, to look at these illustrations and feel represented.
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