Mia Meets… Jessie Russell Donn

Interview by Mia Kingsley

I have known Jessie for a decade now and since I can remember she has always been a brilliant artist. This interview presents some of her amazing work and views, we chat about what ‘Illustration’ really means, living in London and what the future holds for Miss Russell Donn, which I can assure you will be very bright. Meet Jessie… 

When did it all start for you? Have you always been into creating and drawing?

I think it was when I realised how huge my dads nose was. Ive drawn it about a hundred times.

Your currently at Brighton Uni, what are you studying there?


What are you really into at the moment, style or subject?

Over the past year my work has been very photographic. I have made a lot of photo books, I love creating a narrative. I think i will always love documenting everywhere I go and making stories however i just drew lots of lonely boobs which I think could take me in a new direction. I used to paint a lot of animals and at the moment I am starting to really enjoy painting again. I bought a pumpkin as well, I’m pretty into that.

Would you say growing up in London influenced your work?

Definitely, I don’t know any one from London who doesn’t love London. You can see it in there EYES as well as there work. I wouldn’t be nearly as cynical if I wasn’t, I get far too happy in Brighton. Its not healthy.

What exactly does the term ‘illustrator’ mean to you as an artist?

Illustration is never about drawing. Illustration is about things and about communicating a message in the best way possible, illustration is just a type of language. Everyone in the world is different and therefore digest and respond to information differently. The job of an illustrator is to find the best way to tell as many people a story or an idea.

Who or what has inspired you the most up to this point artistically?

I take photos all the time, I love pavements. I like looking at things that people would usually walk past on the street. I think objects are always beautiful in someway, they feature heavily in my work. My photography doesn’t include people because I enjoy creating a sense of a person without them actually being there. However my drawing and paintings are very figurative.  I saw George Condo’s exhibition ‘Mental States’ two years ago and decided that day that he was the best painter in the world. I saw his sculptures at frieze and i think I still love him. I watched King Vidor’s film The Fountain Head based on Ayn Rand’s novel which I would advise everyone to watch. It made me instantly want to make work and draw.

You mentioned you love narrative, what was the last piece of narrative that really grabbed you?

A few months ago i discovered the Jewish folk tale of Lilith, a ‘lusty she-demon’ who ate babies.She was Adams first wife, before eve, and was banished when she refused to lie under him while they had sex. I thought she was absolutely amazing and became obsessed with her. As a student I have the freedom to create work about subjects that I think are important and my Lilith book highlights the misogyny and inequalities present today that are similar to those years ago. The photos in this book represent a modern equivelant to the story of Lilith and the ‘Slut Shaming’ that we not only have to observe but participate in and experience on a day to day basis.

What was the last exhibition you attended that really intrigued you?

I was in London for a few days and cycled to the new(ish) Bermonsey White Cube and watched a film by Sarah Morris called Bye Bye Brazil about Rio De Jeniro. Its a beautiful, vibrant piece of cinematography but also very subtle. There is a bit where a lady gets a nose job and you get to see the knife go in to her septum. It was great because I’ve been to Rio and its always cool seeing place you recognise on TeeVee !!

Where would you like your artwork work to take you in the future? Do you see it as a career path?

I love design and think it is essential, everything we use has been designed. I also love contemporary fine art and museums fascinate me so combining the two would be my ideal. I think I want to go into curating and one day work for one of my favourite non commercial galleries.

Whats next for you Jessie? Any exciting projects to look out for?

Right now i just want to get painting and back into drawing. Theres talk of some fashion projects with a few very stylish friends. I also have a love story in my head about about aliens which I am in the process of filming.

Amazing! Thanks so much! We look forward to seeing more of your brilliance in the near future 🙂 

If you liked Jessie’s work here are some links, check them out!!!

 Instagram: jessierusselldonn

Next week I will be interviewing Charlotte Rutherford, a fantastic fashion photographer but until then for more ‘Mia Meets…’ or more Mia Kingsley XXX


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