Jen has a gift for art

ILLUSTRATOR Jen Collins describes her bestselling lion design as a tote bag fit for a king.

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  Designer and  illustrator Jen Collins has expanded her range from cards and bags  to ceramics  Picture: Mark Mainz
Designer and illustrator Jen Collins has expanded her range from cards and bags to ceramics Picture: Mark Mainz

The playful king of the jungle comes in a bold yellow print on a navy background and it's hard not to like.

Animals make an appearance on many of the cards and prints she designs, from curled up sleeping cats to dogs and bears wearing party hats.

Trained at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee, Jen is now based in the South Side of Glasgow, producing a range of bright and colourful prints as well as ceramics.

They are all available to buy on her online Etsy online store, with new designs updating regularly, including limited edition screen and digital prints.

"When I was at art school I almost exclusively did digital work, but once I left I decided to do a 180 degree turn on how I approached everything," she says. "I still use my computer a lot but more for piecing together and tweaking things that I have already drawn. More often than not I will use brushes and ink now."

Her quirky postcards, greetings cards and notebooks all make a refreshing change from standard High Street buys. The very affordable prints, all priced below £20, make perfect gifts.

The latest additions to her collection are ceramics, monochrome rabbits, with ears pointing in different directions, sittings tigers and that friendly lion again, this time in 3D. There are also hands with fingers crossed for luck and rough, boldly painted ceramic pots.

"It was through mainly just wanting to try something different that I pushed myself to do ceramics, and also to slow myself down," says Jen. "When I draw I tend to be quite quick but this is not a process you can slow down. Some of the pieces have to be fired in the kiln three times.

Working at the Glasgow Ceramics Studio in the East End, she hand makes each piece from raw clay.

"It was a way to apply my illustrative self to something that wasn't paper, and that's been exciting," she says of her foray into ceramics.

Working with ceramics has also been an aid to curb her desire to perfect every line, she says.

"I struggled at art school with being too much of a perfectionist. Ever since then I've been trying not to perfect things and actually appreciate wonky lines and things that are maybe not quite proportionately right," she says.

"A lot of work I appreciate by other people, my favourite illustrators, their work is looser and more abstract. It's not so much that I want to achieve that, but I like to take something from the things I like and bring them into my work."

Jen says she likes to have fun with her drawings and doesn't feel the need to make a grand gesture with every piece of work.

That brings us back to the lion - one of the favourite things she sells in the tote bag, because the lion is so expressive.

"I like to think the work is relatable without being exclusive," she says.

Visit to see more of Jen's work


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