Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Jessica Fortner

Check out Jessica Fortner, an illustrator who lives and works in Toronto, Canada. Her artistic method and medium can be described as sculptural photo-illustration. She constructs characters and sets, stages them and photographs the scenes to produce the final illustration. Her work offers a unique aesthetic, sense of humour, and approach to visual storytelling.

How did you start working dimensionally?

What I love about being a sculptural illustrator is the freedom to incorporate many different elements. Often illustrators draw or compile images in photoshop to create an image, but because there are still so few sculptural illustrators there are still many different avenues to explore. You can get a very unique look and feel that often can't be found in drawn images.

What or who has influenced the way you work?

These days, with access to the internet, there are so many things to find inspiration in. There are so many fantastic artists, designers and illustrators out there it's hard not to be influenced. Some of the artists that I admire are: Tara McPherson, Elizabeth McGrath, Chris Ryniak, Mars-1 and Kathie Olivas to name a few. The list could on forever. It was my introduction to Chris Sickles' (from Red Nose Studios) work that made me realize that I could put all the things that I love into an image.

Please describe your working process?

I start by making a sketch. In the sketch I try to work out composition, mood and perspective, especially if I will be compositing the image in Photoshop (which I sometimes do). I often like to keep my characters posable to be able to try a variety of poses when composing an illustration. That's why I tend to sculpt the head, hands, feet, and other extremities in clay while keeping the joints bare. The body is built on a flexible aluminum wire, then various fabrics and stuffings are used to fill out the body without making it too rigid to pose. I use a variety of materials in my illustrations to create textures and a realism that I can't achieve just by sculpting. It helps give a natural feel to the pieces.

What do you enjoy the most / least about working dimensionally?

Mostly I love being able to mix up many mediums/techniques in a single project. Because of the way that I choose to illustrate ideas, it is important for me to have a wide range of skills; from drawing to sculpting, sewing, pattern-making, photography and digital media (programs such as photoshop/illustrator). I need to know the capabilities of many materials in order to achieve the look that I want. This has it's disadvantages but it also makes every illustration new and keeps me excited about the process. I'm constantly learning new things.

Jessica Fortner
Sculpture and Illustration
images and content © Jessica Fortner


  1. Jes, your work is beautiful! Such a unique style. love your use of fur!

  2. Jessica, i really dig the colors and composition of the furry friends piece. Nice work. Also i like the play with mood in each illustration.