Interview with illustrator Jill Deering and printmaker Gillian Henderson

Interview with illustrator Jill Deering and printmaker Gillian Henderson Jill & Gill on Floralesque

There are some images that you see and they instantly bring a smile to your face. Well, when I seen the Jill & Gill Troll prints that is exactly what happened and I knew that I would love to share them with you. You may have already seen them mentioned in my Irish Design Gift Guide as this is one brand I think everyone should know about!

Jill & Gill is a brand that combines the skills of two very talented individuals. Jill Deering is a sketch artist and Gillian Henderson is a print maker and picture framer, both based in Dublin. Togeather they have created one of my favourite Irish Brands. I love that their pieces are high quality, well thought out but also fun. The attention to detail in their work is amazing and I think that is one of the things that makes them stand out from the crowd, as well as their clear passion for Jill& Gill. I am beyond delighted to be featuring them on Floralesque.

Interview with illustrator Jill Deering and printmaker Gillian Henderson Jill & Gill on Floralesque

I love that the two of you came together from two different backgrounds to form the brand, can you please tell us about how Jill & Gill came to be?

We first worked together back in October 2015 on 2 screen prints for Jill’s solo exhibition (one being Jills infamous ‘Cow’ illustration which Fia cafe are now printing on their coffee cups) after Rubio who owns Hang Tough Framing (where Gill works) suggested that Jill expand her illustrations into prints, preferably screen prints and put the two of us in contact.

Jill came to the studio and printed through both editions with me and we hit it off from there, you couldn’t shut us up, you still can’t!
It was back then we chatted about doing other projects together but nothing to the scale of what Jill & Gill is today. When we screen printed Jill’s cow illustration, the detail of the hair came out so well – we both could see the possibilities back then.

Jill & Gill is only a recent brand/company started back in late April of this year. We took the opportunity to work together again when a commission for Interior Designer Sara Moore of Tall Boy Projects popped up. Sara wanted a print of Bosco for a new Dublin pub ‘Bar Rua’ of Grafton Street but funny enough couldn’t find one. We went into that commission originally as a collaborative project between Jill Deering and Gillian Henderson but finished it setting up a business partnership Jill & Gill.

Jill – have you always had an interest in art and design?

I went to college in NCAD straight from school back in 2002 and studied graphic design – I’ve always loved art from a young age, illustration has always been my main interest but I never used my time in college to fully explore that area, as it was always about design work on the laptop, which was great but if I was to go back in time, I think I would have chosen Fine Art instead. Gill has the better eye for layouts and colour – I know what will work as a drawing and with the combination of detailed pencil work and Gill’s skill for printing – we always can make something that’s handcrafted from the get go, look like a digital print.

Interview with illustrator Jill Deering and printmaker Gillian Henderson Jill & Gill on Floralesque

Many of your pieces have a retro yet modern feel to them – where do you find your inspiration from?

I guess both us having the same birthday (no joke!) and being born in the 80’s – our love for retro was an obvious bond!
80’s toys were the first idea that came into both our minds and Trolls with their crazy hair was the perfect challenge.

Gill had just started working with neon coloured ink and our timing couldn’t have been better, as shortly after we launched our first edition Troll prints MAC cosmetics released a new collection of Troll make-up and then we found out that the Troll movie was coming out! So funny enough it turns out we were really on trend…ha!

Our next print is a little less retro, more timeless, we are in the middle of working on a print of fashion icon and legend Iris Apfel. We are super excited about this print, we can’t wait to start printing it over Christmas, its been in the works since August and will be our biggest printing challenge to date!

We will be posting teaser images on Instagram soon…so keep an eye out!

Interview with illustrator Jill Deering and printmaker Gillian Henderson Jill & Gill on Floralesque

Gillian – Screen printing is such an interesting medium, how did you get started in it / what attracted you to it?

Like Jill, art and design have always been a huge part of my life. I studied 3D Design at Ulster University and graduated in 2010. I’m at my happiest when I’m making and working with my hands. Screen printing for me started off as a need to get back to this hands-on approach. I was working in a graphic design company back in 2012 and was just not content with designing and printing everything digitally, like Jill said, ‘it was all about design work on the laptop’. I saw that Black church was running workshops and signed up! When I started working in Hang Tough my interest in print just exploded, seeing so many different styles of print come through the workshop on a daily basis, I just wanted to know everything so I signed up for more courses in both print and textiles and things just grew from there.

Interview with illustrator Jill Deering and printmaker Gillian Henderson Jill & Gill on Floralesque

Can you please tell us about your recent collaboration with Helen Devine?

We met Helen via Instagram back in July (actually, that’s where we meet most of our fellow peers these days..lol) when we came across her illustration, we both turned to each other and said: “we need to print this!” We sent her a message to see if she would be interested in working with us and found out later that Helen was actually wondering how she could go about screen printing him herself, happy coincidence.

Usually, we wouldn’t use another illustrator, but sometimes you see something that’s just so fitting with what you do, and although we’re not just illustrators, we’re printers too – we both had the strong urge to work and collaborate to make this print happen. Helen popped to the Irish Design Pop-up shop we were part of back in August where we all finally meet in person.

We are delighted now that it’s out in the world and currently on sale at AprilandtheBear.com. There’s also a great little video of us printing ‘The Orginal Hotline Bling‘ on our website, worth checking out.

Is there someone in mind that you would love to collaborate with in the future?

We have met so many incredible artists and designers since we’ve started Jill and Gill, it’s opened our minds to so many ideas and possible opportunities of who we could work with or collaborate with. Our next dream venture would be to work with a fashion designer. This is something we’ve been thinking about for while now and more so after our involvement in the Irish design pop-up shop back in August alongside, fashion and accessory brands Manely, Edge Only, Mulholland Jewellery and Martha Lynn Millinery. It was such a confidence boost to be a part of, especially as Jill & Gill was only just beginning for us. We’ve remained in contact with all the girls, Emma Manley and Jenny Huston owner of Edge Only, in particular, their ongoing support for Jill & Gill has been amazing.

I think our next step is to show that we are up to the challenge, only recently Jill & Gill did some screen printing for Emma Manely as part of her collaboration with Insomnia Coffee (#MyManleyCup), we printed a two color reindeer illustration and the Manely brand hand embellished his noses of each tote bag and jumper for the Insomnia Christmas launch, the result was brilliant and has given us more reason to want to collaborate in the fashion industry.

Between Jill’s illustration and Gill’s knowledge of colour and print, injecting that into shape, pattern, and wearability could produce some interesting pieces collaborating with the right designer.

Interview with illustrator Jill Deering and printmaker Gillian Henderson Jill & Gill on Floralesque

Setting up a business has its challenges, what has been your biggest challenge to date?

To be honest, the growth of JillandGill was so organic from the very start. Without even realising it, we had collaborated with Tall Boy Projects to do the Bosco Print for Bar Rua and at the same time, we had already begun the work for our series of Troll prints – all within a couple of weeks. As that was all happening we found people around us thought we already set a business up between us, the Jill and Gill name was being talked about as a clever brand. We thought it was so funny, it’s just our names! The simplest of ideas are always the best and people find it hard to forget Jill & Gill 😛

So with all this talk going on around us, we said sure we might as well (we did give it a lot of thought but it felt right), so we set up Jill & Gill, I don’t think either of us had a clue as to what the following few months had in store for us.

We started in June and by August we were fully up and running with prints stocked online at www.jillandgill.com our first pop-up shop which was a great success in the Fumbally Exchange and we had started stocking in shops around Dublin.

It’s been crazy ever since. We’ve have gotten a lot of work in since the summer, something which we never actually factored in back in June, but then we also didn’t expect to be where we are right now until next year sometime, so in a way we’ve been playing catch up with our own timeline. Another challenge we’ve had to face is, Jill is currently on tour with James Vincent McMorrow so Gill is currently manning the ship at home, But thank god for, whats app emails facetime and the occasional Snapchat. We already have a full calendar of our own work to do which we have planned over Christmas so we can release new work early in the New Year, s right now can be challenging trying to keep the momentum going from all the great work we did in the summer and the balance can be off when one of us isn’t there, we really are better together 😛

Interview with illustrator Jill Deering and printmaker Gillian Henderson Jill & Gill on Floralesque

Has there been a stand out wow moment since you created Jill & Gill?

The print we did in collaboration with REPEAL Project in support of Repeal the 8th. It was something personal for us and we wanted to use our skills to give back. We honestly didn’t think it would get such a positive response. The best part has been meeting so many incredible people who have stood up and told their story, but also being able to show support to so many who don’t feel that they have that voice.
This print is our way of speaking out; visually, creatively and with conviction.

Would you have any advice for aspiring artists / designers? 

Be yourself, everyone else is already taken, sounds cliche but what we mean is, don’t waste your time imitating or copying someone else’s style. Be true to your own ability and process. It doesn’t happen overnight. Jill & Gill may look like we clicked overnight but individually we have been working on our own skills for years, if you had put us together 4 years ago nothing may have happened. It doesn’t happen straight out of college and even then what you did in college might not be what you find yourself doing a few years down the line and thats okay but it will still most likely stand to you.

When it comes to your brand keep it simple, don’t over-think it. Build on your skills, collaborate with your fellow peers.
Our growth as Jill and Gill has been built on the people we’ve met and worked with and by pushing each other and our abilities as illustrators, printers, and designers. Most of all stepping outside our comfort zone has stood to us the most.

Interview with illustrator Jill Deering and printmaker Gillian Henderson Jill & Gill on Floralesque

What does the future hold for Jill & Gill?

We’re looking for that next big challenge, we want to keep creating in our own right, but our big goal is to push ourselves as designers and collaborate in the fashion industry in the new year.

Long term-
Opening our own studio/shop where we can work, meet customers and run workshops is a future plan for us. We sometimes find when people see our prints, they don’t fully understand the amount of time and work that goes into each print, but when we explain how it’s all done – people suddenly take on a new appreciation of the work. A space where we can interact with the general public while we work would be amazing, not only being able to buy a limited edition piece but experience the process of Jill illustrating and Gill screen printing in house would just add so much more merit to our work. You see that a lot in Switzerland, all along the beautiful little streets in Zurich, workshops of handmade leather bags, silk scarfs or watches through the windows. You can literally walk in off the streets to the shop front and purchase what was just made – it’s brilliant. Ireland has such a rich history of craft, similar things have popped up in Dublin, we need to embrace the creativity that can be found in our city and support it.

You see that a lot in Switzerland, all along the beautiful little streets in Zurich, workshops of handmade leather bags, silk scarfs or watches through the windows. You can literally walk in off the streets to the shop front and purchase what was just made – it’s brilliant. Ireland has such a rich history of craft, similar things have popped up in Dublin, we need to embrace the creativity that can be found in our city and support it.

A massive thank you to the very talented ladies from Jill & Gill for doing the interview. A screen print can be such a fantastic way to update an area of your home or office and these prints would be such a fun addition. I personally am counting down the days to the Iris Apfel print!! She is certainly an icon of mine and it will take centre stage in my office.

I would highly recommend that you check out the Jill & Gill website and also their beautiful Instagram, Facebook and follow along on Twitter.

And I leave you with the video mentioned above of the Jill & Gill collaboration with Helen Devine.

All images kindly provided by Jill & Gill for use.

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