Jessica Mack is just one of many creatives coming to Denver for the growing arts and fashion scene. Having studied in San Francisco and lived all around the globe from San Diego to Australia, Mack is helping Denver fashion gain exposure through her colorful fashion illustrations.
Drawn to bright colors, whimsical topics and fashion insulation, Mack mostly works in watercolor and ink. She features a wide range of topics creating everything from live runway imagery to more traditional animal illustrations and even designing Starbucks’ newest Holiday cups. She recently attended Denver Fashion Weekend, where Mack drew inspiration from the local designs presented throughout the three nights. Having seen these images for ourselves we wanted to sit down with Mack and learn a bit more about her artistic history, her adjusting to Denver and her take on DFW.
“I only picked up a paint brush for the first time a few years ago when I took a creative painting class with a friend. From that moment I was completely hooked.”
Mona Lucero Illustration by Jessica Mack
303 Magazine: How did you get into fashion illustration?
Jessica Mack: I only picked up a paint brush for the first time a few years ago when I took a creative painting class with a friend. From that moment I was completely hooked and now I draw and paint every day. It took me a while to find what I was really passionate about, I tried watercolor landscapes, mixed media journaling, charcoal, and then started drawing and painting more people and discovered that fashion illustration was really my thing. I particularly love crazy designs in bright colors and patterns, or ultra-feminine pieces with flowing lines.
303: Have you had any formal training? If so where and how was the experience? If not, tell us about being self-taught.
JM: I did one semester of a Fine Art Masters, majoring in Illustration, at the University of Art Academy in San Francisco — all of the prerequisite classes were charcoal still life studies, then oil still life studies etc. And while I have to admit I learned a tremendous amount about perspective, and how to see light and shadow, I was very impatient to get to the subjects I was really interested in. So I put the Masters on hold and just started painting and drawing the way I wanted. Although watercolor and ink are my mediums of choice I still experiment a lot with different materials and styles. Sometimes they work out, sometimes not so much, but I do enjoy the process.
303: Tell us a bit about your illustration process.
JM: My process changes depending on whether I have a brief I’m following for a client, or working from an idea that’s in my head. But often I’ll do a bit of research online, look at images for inspiration, different poses etc. Then I’ll sketch out a rough draft, either on my iPad Pro or in my sketchbook. Then once I’m happy with the draft, I’ll transfer it onto watercolor paper and start layering colors and tones to build up the final image. I quite like well-defined lines, so often the last step is using waterproof fine-liners to add details.
“I’ve had NYC fashionistas reach out to tell me they didn’t know Denver had its own Fashion Week, and tell me how great the shows looked, which is exciting!”
303: How has the Denver audience responded you?
JM: I’m fairly new to the Denver area (having moved from San Diego, and Australia before that), so I feel like I’m still getting established here, but so far the response has been fantastic. A lot of my online audience are based in New York, and with my recent coverage of Denver Fashion Week(end) I’ve had NYC fashionistas reach out to tell me they didn’t know Denver had its own Fashion Week, and tell me how great the shows looked, which is exciting!
303: Tell us about your experience at DFW and the Denver fashion scene overall.
Mack: I am really excited about the Denver fashion scene, and I think DFW is a great way to bring attention to the local talent we have here. I felt like each show was exceptional and exciting, the attendees were friendly and conversational, and while it was professional and well put together it was much more inviting and fun than some of the stuffier shows I’ve been to in the past. I’m five-months pregnant so my biggest challenge was finding something to wear!
303: Which show or shows, were your favorite at DFW and why?
Mack: Ooh, that’s a really tough question, all the shows were so amazing! If I had to narrow it down I’d say Femme Fatale Intimates, for their provocative but feminine designs, Anthony H for the ultra modern but perfectly mixed structure and flowing lines, Rachel Marie Hurst for the feminine patterns and romantic designs, and from the Hair Show I loved The Parlour for their simple color palette but striking shapes, structure and scale, Ansley Meredith for her sophisticated but completely wearable styles, and Beto’s great theme and execution.