Work Hard

5 minutes with: Jane from JEM Illustrations

We caught up with Jane from JEM Illustrations, a watercolour pet portrait artist from Gateshead. She started her business last year and thanks to a lot of effort, her business has flourished.

Written by High Life North
Published 06.07.2020

By Laura Kingston

Tell us the background to you and your business, how did you get into it?

I’ve always enjoyed painting, from a young age my favourite pastime was to draw little animals! My Mam has a whole suitcase in the loft filled to the brim with doodles. I began painting professionally a few years ago, after posting a picture of a fox painting on my personal Facebook page a friend got in touch and asked to buy it. I thought there could be other people who may want to buy my work so I set up JEM Illustrations, the rest is history.

Tell us more about how your business has flourished during lockdown?

I really panicked at the start of lockdown as I assumed that business would totally dry up. I couldn’t have been more wrong, I started to run competitions for free portraits which increased my following by quite a large amount- this, teamed with the fact that people could no longer pop to the shop to pick up a gift for a loved one saw my business flourish.

What do you think is the key element to growing your business?

I think dedication is key. People always throw the phrase around ‘If you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like working’. Totally untrue, it is very hard work. From the initial commission phase of discussing the clients exact requirements, to then sketching out the piece, before eventually painting the portrait (the fun part!) to then packaging up and running down to the post office- it is time consuming to say the least. Don’t even get me started on admin- that takes up at least 50% of my time- who knew you had to have a background in accounting and office management to paint dogs! It is a real labour of love, but you know, there is no better feeling than the feedback I receive from clients. To see how emotional and overjoyed they become upon seeing their four legged friend brought to life in art, it really makes my day.

What are your plans for the future?

I have so many aspirations for the future, I’d like to get myself along to as many fayres as possible, I was due to attend the North East Dog Festival this year, but that has been postponed to 2021, I also plan on attending Crufts. I’ve written a short children’s story about robins, so I’d like to get round to painting some illustrations for that and hopefully get this published (any publishers reading this, hit me up!) Before lock down I began running watercolour classes, so I am very hopeful to start these back up in the next few months.

What are your North East favourites?

Hands down my North East favourite is our Northumberland coastline. I don’t think there’s anywhere in the world more stunning, I love Alnmouth and stopping off for fish and chips at the Hope and Anchor (dog-friendly hotel too).

About JEM Illustrations

Jane is a watercolour artist based in the North East of England.

​She creates bespoke watercolour portraits of beloved pets. From horses to hamsters and detailed wildlife studies, Jane captures the life and personality of each animal at the tip of her brush.

Find out more by visiting her website.

Instagram: Jem.Illustrations

Facebook: JEM Illustrations
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