Q&A with illustrator, Jacqueline Colley


Jacqueline Colley runs a very successful online store full of the most gorgeous illustrated products. She has her work stocked in Oliver Bonas and her client list includes: Ohh Deer, Twitter UK, Derwent, Quarto Publishing, Mollie Makes, Kate Spade and Oasis fashion!

She's a super driven lady with a heart of gold that sprinkles around the soundest advice about the freelance rumble, because it's not easy, is it? I caught up with her to find out more about her life as a creative - she’s defo got this hustle thing nailed!

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How would you describe your work?

My work is feminine playful and infused with colour. I love to create intricate repeat patterns that are fun to explore with your eyes and that feel unexpected!

I also have a printmaking side to my work where I create artworks for interiors either as risograph or silk screen prints. For these I work quite differently as I'm thinking about creating pieces with meaning that people will want to treasure for a long time!

Can you explain a little about how your side hustle become your full time job?

I studied Graphic Design to be sensible and vocational but I drew my way through the degree and ended up with a portfolio of illustrations. This got me a job as a printed textile designer at H&M girls wear and I continued working in High street fashion for 6 years moving into Ladies wear before going freelance in order to find time to develop my own illustration style. When I was in-between jobs instead of driving myself crazy worrying about when the next job would come, I'd create my own products and sell them. This balance continued for several years with trend led textile work paying the majority of the bills; flowers one week geometrics the next. I'd often work in house for previous employers including Oasis as I had a strong sense of their handwriting and could create a collection for them in a few days. This is how I ended up illustrating the prints for their collaboration with London Zoo. Over time the ratio slowly shifted so that I was spending more and more time on paid projects in my own illustration style rather than textile design! Now I'm feeling super lucky as I'm only working on illustration commissions or new products for my shop!

What do you love most about being freelance?

Having the time to develop my ideas it's such a luxury so much of my experience was dominated by textile design that wasn't always to my taste but developed my skills. Now I get to indulge in my own style and ideas, at least some of the time!

Has your work taken you to any amazing places?

In 2018 I was invited, with a few illustration influencers by Caran d'Ache to visit their factory in Geneva and see how their products are made that was an insane experience that reignited my love of pencil crayons! The stories are still in my highlights and I wrote a blogpost with images of inside the factory which you can see here.

What's been your biggest achievement so far?

I consider my biggest achievement to still be self employed 5 1/2 years later, it's the best and scariest decision I ever made to leave my decent full time job!

Read Jacqueline’s tips on 5 years of freelance!

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When I was in-between jobs instead of driving myself crazy worrying about when the next job would come, I’d create my own products and sell them.
— Jacqueline

Have you got any advice for creatives who are putting themselves out there?

Yes! I think it's so important to get in a habit of sharing your work both online and in person, if you're not sharing it there is no chance of making the connections you need to move forward. Also collaboration is a great tool, I used to do regular markets with other small indie makers and we'd often collaborate on products together, prints, jewellery, pins and then the promotion would share our audiences and grow our followings, I still do it now as it's so fun to collaborate!

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Jacqueline is one of our brilliant mentors in this year’s Collective