Jill Turney is an award-winning Freelance Illustrator with more than 25 years of professional experience in the graphic arts and publishing industry. She completed a 4-year training program plus 1 year of apprenticeship from the Institute for Textile Print Design. Whether you need a designer to take on a whole book, develop a snappy logo or packaging graphics or an illustrator to create spot art, pattern designs, one-of-a-kind stamps or stencils, Jill is up to the challenge.
How long have you been an illustrator?
I’ve been an illustrator for about 4 years.
What kind of illustration do you specialize in?
I create illustration and surface patterns that are predominately stylized for the children’s market.
How would you describe your style?
My work is whimsical and friendly. I like to blend hand lettering with hand painting as well as illustrating with other craft techniques like appliqué, rubber stamping, lino cut block printing and paper cutting.
Did you always know that you wanted to be an illustrator?
No, actually, I was a graphic design major in college which led me to a career in book design. I worked as a children’s book designer and ultimately an art director at Klutz Press for 18 years. I was fortunate to work with many talented illustrators over those creatively rewarding years.
When did you decide to become a freelance illustrator?
I had the opportunity to hire some surface pattern designers for one of the book projects I was art directing while at Klutz. I was intrigued with their methods of creating patterns which led me to researching schools where I could learn more. I enrolled in a Berkeley based textile print design school. It was there I honed my pattern creation, painting and illustration skills. After graduating from that program and after leaving Klutz, I began developing my own illustration style and launched my freelance company, Jill Turney Design in 2013.
Can you describe your process when creating new work?
My process differs a little when I’m creating art specifically for a client or if I’m creating my own art for licensing.
For client work, I’ll start by talking with them about what they’re looking for. Then I’ll create a mood board. Once the mood board is presented to my client, we’ll narrow down the look. Next it’s the sketch stage. I’ll usually provide 3-4 sketch layouts to the client. Once the sketch is approved, I’ll move on to the final art. Usually this involves some hand painting and lettering which is then scanned and refined on the computer. I make sure the client is involved throughout the whole process. I love collaborating because I feel my work benefits from the creative ideas of others. I tap into my many years of art directing to put into play what makes a successful working relationship between a client and an illustrator.
For my licensable work, I start with my sketch book, a theme in mind and some ideas for an end product. From the sketches, I’ll draw more detailed motifs at the size that I envision the final art will be. Then I’ll choose a color palette. I love mixing paints and hand painting so more often than not, I will hand paint the images with gouache and ink. I am also a big fan of crafting so sometimes I’ll do paper cutting, appliqué, rubber stamping or using other craft mediums depending on what strikes my fancy for that particular theme. Everything ultimately ends up on the computer so I can refine it and put it in to a mock up of the end product.
What type of projects are most exciting to you?
I love projects where I can start from scratch with an idea from a client and develop that idea all the way to a finished product or line of products that allows me to use all my creative skills.
What are some of your favorite projects to date?
My absolute favorite project(s) so far has been on the Renegade-Made craft and activity kits for kids. My client, Nicole Jakob, had an idea to create a product line to promote covert altruistic activities for kids to carry out in their local “hoods”. The project encompassed developing, designing and illustrating 4 brand spanking new products as well as creating the brand look for her company. Nicole has a similar sense of humor as mine and is a fabulous collaborator so we had a great working rapport throughout the process. My husband, Steve Kongsle, is also an illustrator and he and I both worked on this project together (and we’re still happily married!)
One of my other top fave projects was illustrating a book for Maggie Oman Shannon. She is an ordained Unity minister and author of six books, many of which talk about how creative crafting can bring benefits into one’s life. She needed an illustrator to work on a number of vignette illustrations for her book “Crafting Gratitude” (due out in October 2017). It was a perfect client/artist match given our mutual love of crafting. I was able to develop a whole new personal style of illustration for this project with ink and watercolor.
Are you self-taught or professional trained?
I would say mostly self-taught. I did learn a lot about painting, color and layout through the textile design school I attended but used those skills to build my own body of illustration work after graduating from the school.
How did you start your illustration career?
My illustration career grew kind of organically out of my graphic design business and from networking. I started applying surface pattern, illustration, and hand lettering into the projects I was doing for my graphic design clients. They liked the extra stuff I was offering and kept coming back for more. And in turn, they were recommending me to others in their networks.
What do you hope the not-too-distant future holds for your art career?
I am in the process of developing my art licensing portfolio to showcase on the Art Licensing Show website. It’s my goal to get my art in front of the eyes of art directors and manufacturers for licensing opportunities.
Do you have any exciting, upcoming plans that you would like to share with us?
I was just contacted by my client, Maggie Oman Shannon, who wants to hire me to illustrate her next crafting book. I’m looking forward to working with her again!
Currently I’m working with my Renegade-Made client on her next kit in the product line.