Tell us about yourself... My name is Jess. I have a wonderful husband. I am a freelance designer from Toowoomba who used to live in Brisbane, but now we live in Lismore NSW. I'm a bit of a gypsy at the moment so that's kind of cool not living in the one place for a long time. I'm making the most of what is around me for a change - I find in Brisbane you kind of get used to doing the same things all the time. Here it's been good to just explore - there's so many nice natural places, national parks, beaches, good coffee shops, so it has been fun to do that. Coffee is an interest and as well as brooch collecting. I like to hoard away brooches, I've got about 30 of them that aren't my design - so I appreciate other people's work as well as creating my own. I binge watch tv shows - I'm watching White Collar at the moment and so that's pretty fun.
Whats your favourite colours? I love greens; teal, mint, emerald.
Who are your favourite artists? I follow a lot of people form different creative fields for inspiration and just because I like pretty things: Tabitha Emma (graphic designer), Samantha Hahn (water colour illustrator), We Buy Your Kids (digital illustrator), Each to Own (jewellery), Laura Blythman (collage illustrator), Lauren Carney (illustrator), Sconnie and Jam (jewellery and illustration), I could go on forever!
What inspires you to design? Different things, I just recently got a vintage bike so I made a vintage bicycle brooch. My sister is obsessed with ducks - so I thought maybe others might like them too, and my obsession for coffee has inspired the porta-filter and tamper, and I also get inspired looking at Pinterest.
What started your love of design? It was in year 9 english that we had to make a magazine and although it was concentrating more on language I found I was more excited about the look or design of the magazine. The year-9-me wanted to be a magazine editor at Vogue - then I saw The Devil Wears Prada - and that dream died. I thought - I don't want to be part of that. My love of brooches combined with my design skills has led me to create business from both my loves.
How long does it take you to make a design? It's really hard to pin-point a certain timeframe because I start off inspired but then I might hit a wall. With the duck for example it took me what seemed like forever just on his feet. They looked weird and so I spent a lot of time just tweaking them, whereas the rest of the duck took me about 20 mins.
What tools do you use? I do have a design pad but I find it's more accurate with the pen tool in Illustrator to create shapes and curves. You can make whatever really, you can create shapes by adding shapes together. The pathfinder tool is the one of my favourite as well. You can make anything into a brooch.
Can you explain a little about the making of your brooches and your earrings? The Process of designing my jewellery normally starts with me narrowing down all the ideas I have floating around my head, I have to figure out which ones will work. To do this I make some quick thumbnail sketches and find a composition that works well for laser cutting. The design must be only two colours wood and etched wood. The detail can't be too fine or it will be hard to see. I then scan these sketches into adobe illustrator and trace them with the pen tool. I do a couple of test prints and refine the design until I am happy. Then I send off the designs to Vector Etch who do all the laser cutting. The earnings are designed to match the brooches but because they are small have a less detailed design.
What is Jaffa Cat Designs? Primarily a graphic design studio but now days graphic designers do a lot! Logos, flyers, layouts, websites, pattern design, illustration and now jewellery design, there's a lot hats I wear but I love it all.
Where did the name Jaffa Cat come from? I actually had a cat called Jaffa. She had orange and chocolate coloured splotches all over her and she was really cute.
Why is it important for people to hire designers? Well there are a lot of cheaper options out there like Fivver and I think the danger with that is that it isn't really original. Designer's on Fivver quite often steal a design from someone and plonk your logo on top of it, and there has been a lot of people getting in trouble with copyright from that. When your getting your logo or a flyer designed, you want your business to be unique and shine through and I find that that's hard to do unless you have someone who's creative enough to see what makes your business unique and is able to express that in a really small simplistic icon that can be recognised very easily.
What design school did you go to? QANTM College, Brisbane. It was an accelerated 2 year degree which was full-on crazy! And I did get to work in a magazine like the year-9-me dreamed of which is nice but I find freelancing has more variety and you have a lot more control over what you do. So to me there's more interesting design work to do when you freelance. Also I can work where ever there is an internet connection and work whenever I want. For example I can work late at night if I'm feeling inspired and I can sleep in. I like that part.
What's the best thing about working of yourself? The flexibility is defiantly good - if you want to meet up with a friend in the morning or if you had a late night and want to sleep in you can, so thats a big draw card for the freelance lifestyle.
What would you say to someone who wants to get into design? Defiantly go and get a qualification, research what they are going to teach you though. I went to a college that also taught gaming design subjects which defiantly wasn't an interest of mine. It was still a good course but there were a lot of compulsory topical classes like game design which I really wasn't interested in. I want to make pretty things not things that shoot people. College has defiantly grown my skills the most. If you can't do a course just look online, there are so many people who put their work on Bechance or Pinterest and their own websites, and you can try and observe what they do and be inspired to create your own work.
When is your new website being launched? It's almost finished just putting the last few touches and giving it a polish! Due to launch in mid June.
What new products do you have coming to your Etsy store? To start with it will be laser cut wood brooches, earnings and collar tips (basically brooches for your collar!) which will launch along side the website in mid June. After I will be exploring the wedding and event market by designing cake toppers and table decorations.
What are your dreams for Jaffa Cat designs? What does the future look like for you? It changes ever day - I see something and I'm like, "I wonder if I could make that a viable part of my business", but if I actually did all of those ideas I would have no time for anything else. It's hard to say, though defiantly something creative and I think something people would use themselves, typography - signs or pot holders that people could use in their houses. As well as graphic design because I still love doing logos and flyers and things like that.
What's behind the need to create beautiful but also useful things? I love creating something tangible that you can hold! Seeing something you've made in the real world is the biggest rush. Until the brooches I've only used paper and fabric as design mediums, now I can add wood to that list. I think if I ever pass someone in the street wearing one I will fall over!
You can find out more of what Jess has created by clicking the links bellow, thanks for reading!