Jessica Van Hulle has a classy and classic style that she uses to create works both worldly and otherworldly. She creates sensual scenes with subculture themes that easily lure the viewer into her world. I was fortunate to be able to spend some time online and ask her a few questions about her style and craft.
Brian Baxter, Art Guide San Diego: Hello, and thanks for the chat! Your work embodies many classical elements, yet has a contemporary feel to it. How would you categorize your overall style?
Jessica Van Hulle: It’s my pleasure. Thank you for interviewing me. I prefer “Stylized Realism”.
AGSD: That’s a great name. How did you land on this style? Were you always headed in this direction?
JVH: Thanks! My style comes from a combination of traditional academic fine art painting and art history education and my life-long love of Science Fiction and Fantasy art. I have a degree in illustration and wanted to do book covers or concept art for games or films originally. I have ended up doing much more fashion illustration/design and fine art painting, but my core style is the same.
AGSD: I imagine you started with art early. When did you discover it was part of you?
JVH: Absolutely. However being an artist became part of my identity at around 8th grade. At 17 I moved forward with art as a career by trying to become a tattoo artist. I tattooed (just out of my house, not professionally) for about 5 years. To this day I still want to do a tattoo apprenticeship. I got even more committed to being a professional artist when I started art school, and I’ve been working on it for 20 years now.
AGSD: How did your interest in Science Fiction and Fantasy art come about?
JVH: I credit my parents. They both enjoy sci-fi/fantasy and they instilled in me a love for the literature, film, animation, comics, and art of the genre throughout my whole childhood and adolescence.
AGSD: Were they supportive of your artistic endeavours too?
JVH: Yes, always.
AGSD: Your art is full of beautiful and exotic scenes and characters. Do you have a story in mind when you start a piece?
JVH: Thank you! It depends. Sometimes I like to practice Art Therapy techniques on myself and do automatic/subconscious drawing and painting. But usually I do have a narrative, or at least a general feeling that I want to express. With my more recent political artwork, I definitely have a story to tell. I’m looking at art history, especially a lot of propaganda posters and advertisements from the 19th and early 20th Century. I recommend it. They clearly (if sometimes inelegantly) direct people to think or feel some particular way, even if they don’t read anything. Sound familiar?
AGSD: Very familiar. Your work invokes that feeling of a past era, or a stylized version of the past. What draws you to this style?
JVH: That’s a good question. Some of it is just my personal aesthetics. I have always loved the romance of rich and intense traditional oil painting styles. And the fine and decorative craftsmanship of past art movements and styles, especially Victorian, Arts and Crafts, Art Nouveau and Art Deco. I crave the emphasis on beauty and quality, as opposed to surrounding ourselves with mass-manufactured disposable garbage. Some of it is my interest in how people and societies both change and remain the same.
AGSD: You also do fashion design work. I imagine there is a great audience for your style.
JVH: Yes, I have been working in fashion since 2008. I’ve been fortunate enough to work at some large manufacturers and I always love seeing people out wearing my designs. As for my own clothing line, I always need more customers. Here’s a link (shameless self-promotion): https://www.theladyjessica.com/line/
AGSD: So, what do you have coming up this year? Where can we check out your work?
JVH: There’s the Tattoo Fan Art show at Mike Hess Brewing Co., 3812 Grim Ave, San Diego, California 92104. The show opened on May 3rd and will remain up for one month.
I’m actually looking to build a relationship with a well-established and professional gallery here in San Diego and/or the surrounding region.
In addition you can always see my work at: https://www.theladyjessica.com/
For the most up-to-date images, works in progress, and news, my Instagram is probably the best: https://www.instagram.com/the_lady_jessica/
If a particular piece really catches your eye, email me and we can arrange a studio visit.
AGSD: Any words of wisdom you would like leave with our readers?
JVH: San Diego has a beautiful, strong and thriving art scene. I’m so grateful for the exceptionally supportive and truly talented people here and I just want to encourage everyone to keep showing up, supporting their local artists and building this community even more.
AGSD: Thank you for spending the time! I look forward to seeing more of your exquisite work.
JVH: I really appreciate your thoughtful questions and interest. Thank you and I hope to see you and your readers out and about in our art community.
Brian Baxter, May 8, 2017