Ten Questions For Jessica R. Van Hulle
Jessica Van Hulle was born in the middle of the night in San Francisco General Hospital in 1979. She grew up in Orinda, CA, but frequently escaped to Berkeley and San Francisco. Throughout her adolescence, she extensively studied subcultures, psychology, mythology, and world religions and was an avid reader of science-fiction and fantasy books.
She majored in Illustration at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, with a focus on creating story and emotion in her sci-fi/fantasy illustration and her realistic figure painting.
She became a published freelance illustrator, while also exhibiting her fine art in galleries, in 2001 and received her B.F.A. in Illustration in May 2004.
Van Hulle is nationally honored for the fine draftsmanship and emotional richness of her art, having exhibited in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Seattle.
In addition to Illustration and Fine Art, Van Hulle added Fashion Design to her creative repertoire in 2007.
She has been designing sexy Halloween costumes, lingerie, and high heel shoes for several industry-leading international companies since then.
These experiences, artistic loves, and philosophical interests culminated in her launching her own fashion design, art, and lifestyle brand, “The Lady Jessica” in July of 2011.
What inspired you to be an artist?
It’s just something I’ve always done. Then when I was a teenager, I realized that it might be possible for me to make a living as a full-time professional artist by doing tattoos. I never got far down that road. I had an opportunity to go to Art School and I pivoted into Sci-Fi/Fantasy Illustration and Figurative Fine Art.
Do you listen to music while you work and what/or who do you listen to?
I actually don’t often listen to music while I paint by myself, I listen to audiobooks. They lower my anxiety and help me sit and paint for long periods of time. I do listen to music when I’m painting in a group with others. Then it is generally something upbeat and accessible, to keep people enlivened and not distracted. Depends on the crowd but it can be pop-punk, psychedelic rock, 80’s new wave, darkwave, reggae, rockabilly, and even 1940’s jazz if everyone is feeling
Do you think your environment, where you live, has an effect on the type of art you produce?
Not really. I think it affects the quantity of work I produce. For example, if I hate where I am, I just don’t produce. If I like my environment I tend to create more.
You have many styles and genres of art. Which one do you like best?
I really do. I’ve created several distinct portfolios because I do a wide variety of work. My favorite style is Realism with some stylization, in oil paint with nice brush work and chiaroscuro. My favorite genre is Figurative with some kind of mythical or sci-fi/fantasy twist, even if it’s just an unusual color. Photorealism offends me.
Is it easier for you to create if given an assignment or does it get in the way of your creativity?
It’s easier for me to work off of a clear idea or a design brief, rather than just sitting down and going. That being said, I also enjoy the art therapy process of doing a big crazy doodle and then “pulling” images I see out of it and refining them.
What long-term goals do you have?
I’d like to own a massive creative empire where I can just make beautiful and interesting things, come up with a huge variety of brilliant ideas, and have a reliable support staff implement them and manage production, etc.
What was the strangest commission you took on? Or the oddest thing you’ve ever been asked to create?
I don’t often take on commissions. But the oddest thing someone asked me to design (I’m a fashion designer too) was adult-sized baby onesies for – ahem – “baby play”. Needless to say, I turned them down.
What projects are working on now?
I’m working on a series of large-scale deity paintings. I’m working on a Ganesha right now.