Meet the Designer: Jessica Russell Flint

Q: Tell us a little bit about you and your business? What prompted you to 'go for it'?

I'd been working as an account director in the advertising industry for about seven years. Maybe it was the 'seven year itch', but I was stretched over far too many pieces of business, and it no longer felt motivating for me personally,  working as a cog in a wheel for a big organisation. I'd always camped more in the creative den but had worked hard to suppress this and become the typical high flying and confident "account woman" - which really didn't suit my natural skill set. I've always loved drawing. I'm a dreamer, a drawer, always doodling. So, I quit, went freelance, trained to be an illustrator at St.Martins, started working freelance as an account director as well as doing illustration on the side. It grew from there. Being trapped making decisions for or organising other people's brands felt wrong for me - but it was so much fun for the first few years and I learnt so many invaluable skills that I'd never have got if I'd gone straight into this.

 

Q: What is the toughest decision you've had to make in the last few months?

To spend money that I don't have in order to grow the business. To quit my lovely dollar earning freelance job and invest full time in JRF. To work from home and go mad, rather than invest money in a studio to save money for shows. To beg for cash through Kickstarter and sell my soul. To quit the gym (my lifeline) because i couldn't pay for it anymore. To sack my dogwalker to save money. To buy clothes from eBay. To sell my stuff on eBay. To cull my friends due to lack of time (and money to go out). You name it. Starting a business is tough.

Q: What's the thinking behind limited print runs of your art works? Wouldn't you increase business through greater print runs?

I've always felt that mass market art that is subject to large print runs actually devalues the art itself. I wanted these pieces to reflect where I was at the time they were produced and having limited print runs allows my portfolio to grow and develop without being tethered to or associated with a particular image from a certain point in time. Hopefully the value of the art will increase over time and represent a good investment for the purchaser.

Q: As a Londoner how do you tend to centre yourself living amongst the fast paced lifestyle?

Walking my dog Betty and and my very patient saint of a husband who is opposite to me, is rational, hates anything fast paced and likes to eat his cereal very slowly in the morning. (In fact, when I first met him, I was eating chocolate bars on the way to work for breakfast. He introduced me to the concept of eating a proper breakfast in adulthood).

 

 

 

Q: How lucky are you, and why?

I am lucky in every way, and I abuse it. I'm healthy (touch wood), well educated, I have a brilliant family, great friends, no major disabilities, no great tragedy (touch wood) and not offensively unattractive. I also had a bit of a head start given the fact I've got the same DNA as my grandfather Sir William Russell Flint who was a celebrated portrait painter.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Do unto your neighbour as you would do unto yourself. Thank you, Sunday School... 

Q: What three pieces of advice would you give to women contemplating setting up their own business?

First off, think about your audience. Try to understand them and their needs. Second, think about how to stand out from the competition. What is it that makes you unique? What's your USP - Unique Selling Proposition. Third, be nice to people - selling is about being a people person, not a car salesman. People like people.

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