The Artist Spotlight is a series in which I interview artists, designers, and makers that have contributed to and collaborated with Unicorn Crate. I hope these interviews will serve as an inspiring look behind the scenes!
Its no surprise that most of us bookish types also love losing ourselves in the magical realms of art as well as books. If you love artwork that features fairy tale creatures and enchanting settings you’re going to love this Q & A!
Jessie Barber of A Woodland Fairy Tale is a self-taught watercolor artist who loves to paint fairies, dragons and foxes. She loves reading and hiking and lives on a small horse farm that she manages with her fiancé.
Her art has been featured in Unicorn Crate twice so far (and will be again soon), including the stunning custom throw pillow cover you see below.
Thank you so much for answering a few questions! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself as an artist? What is your background and how did you get into the type of illustration that you do?
I’m completely self-taught (except for some high school classes) and I got into this type of illustration because I’ve always loved fairies and dragons and such, as well as nature and animals.
I’ve been creating art since before I can remember and always knew I was going to be some type of artist when I grew up. When I reached my early twenties and was trying to figure out the direction I wanted to take with my art, combining the fantastical with nature and animals seemed to be what called to me the most.
What is your favorite medium to work in? Any favorite colors to work with?
Watercolor is my favorite medium and pretty much the only thing I work in right now. I love so many different colors but I think green might be my favorite along with maybe purple.
Much of your art full of fairy tale creatures. What are some of your favorite fairy tales?
This is a hard one! I grew up reading so many different fairy tales it’s hard to choose. I’ve always loved East of the Sun and West of the Moon as well as different renditions of Beauty and the Beast (incidentally also my favorite Disney movie!).
Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier is one of my all-time favorite books and is, I believe, based on the fairy tale The Wild Swans. Cinderella also has a special place in my heart because growing up, Ella Enchanted was one of my favorite books. I probably read it more times than I can count.
What do fairy tales mean to you?
I love the imagination that is involved in fairy tales and that they can transport me out of my everyday life and be a bit of an escape from any hardships that I might be dealing with.
How would you say your art has evolved since you started?
I feel my technical skill has evolved greatly, and is still evolving, along with my use of color. I also feel I’ve evolved in the sense that I try to only paint what feels inspired in me and not what I think other people want to see.
What is your process like when you work on a drawing or painting? Do you see the whole image in your mind first, or does it evolve as you work?
It’s usually something that evolves as I work and I just start with a general idea. For example, I will have the idea of a certain pose I want my fairy or dragon to have and I will start drawing that, but I won’t know exactly how I want the background to be or what kind of other characters or creatures I might want in it until I’m in the middle of drawing.
Do you listen to music while you work?
Yes! Almost always!
What artists would you say have inspired your own work?
This is another hard one because there are so many fantastic artists out there who inspire me every day. Amy Brown’s art was one of the things that initially inspired me to want to pursue painting fairies as well as the flower fairies of Cicely Mary Barker. Stephanie Pui-Mun Law’s art I am completely in awe of and I have also always loved Brian Froud’s work.
What else inspires you / how do you stay inspired?
So many things inspire me: music, books, animals, nature etc. I stay inspired by taking long walks in the woods and looking at the art of other artists.
What has been your favorite piece of art to create so far?
It’s hard to choose but probably my painting “The Oracle.”
I absolutely adore the custom artwork you did for the throw pillowcase featured in the April ‘Animal Companion’s box. Do you have any animal companions of your own, and if so do tell us all about them! 😊
Yes I do! I have a tortoiseshell cat named Sadie who is counted as one of my best friends and who loves to hang out in my studio with me while I paint. When she’s not curled up in my studio, she’s either lying in the sun on our porch or having kitty adventures all over the farm where we live.
I also have a pitbull/boxer mutt named Dakota who is super high-energy and also loves romping around the farm. She’s my best companion for most of my hiking and outdoor adventures!
What is the best book you’ve read so far in 2019? Or/one you’re most looking forward to this year?
I just finished Circe by Madeline Miller and it is definitely my favorite book so far of 2019. I highly recommend it.
Love Circe! What are you excited to create next? Any fun projects planned for the future?
No specific projects in the near future, I’m just focused on creating personal work and really fine tuning my style and technique.
Where can people find your work?
Most of my work can be seen on my Instagram @awoodlandfairytale, and prints and originals can be purchased on my Etsy shop.
Definitely go and follow her work, unicorns! You will not be disappointed.