On this weeks Women We Love, we focus in on two of the most talked about design duos to come out of Dublin in the last decade- Jill Deering and Gillian Henderson aka Jill&Gill. One is a sketch artist and musician and the other is a print maker and designer. Both with a shared ambition to push the boundaries with their brand and create something truly beautiful and memorable.
Jill & Gill was established in April 2016 while collaborating on a print commission together, the business has grown organically, vibrantly and always with the approach that the work and brand is seen as collectible and engaging.
Today they are a forward-thinking and multi-discipline studio but they are also a brand that is based on exclusivity and craftsmanship, with every edition, print, apparel or client piece of work created a s a limited run. This exclusivity is what draws in bigger brands to work with them.
Over the past 2 years they have impressively worked on collaborative projects and commissions for James Vincent McMorrow, Currabinny, Smirnoff, Repeal project, Jameson and Brown Thomas. More recently they have set up Jill & Gill Apparel, a collection of garments that represent aspirational women through illustration, print and style.
I got chatting to the two designers, a wonderful creative duo and force on the Irish creative scene about their journey so far and what’s in store for the remainder for 2019 for Jill&Gill…
Firstly, How did each of you get your start in the Art world?
G: Art has always played a big part of my life. As a child my earliest memories are of my mum working on the Christmas windows of Arnotts, then as one of the hundreds of kids she taught me arts and crafts all through primary school.
I studied 3D Design (Product & Furniture) in Ulster University.
J: I went to NCAD back in 2002 to study graphic design – art was a career I always saw myself doing, but ended up leaving college having a very different outlook on art and if that was really for me – then took a completely different direction and went into music – had a career in that for 10 years, but Art found its way back into my life and it’s better than I could have imagined. It happened organically, the right way.
Secondly, how did Jill & Gill come about?
Jill & Gill happened back in 2016, we met because Jill was looking to screen print an illustration and Gillian was referred to her through Hang Tough. We met up, printed the illustration and got on really well, similar interests but also such appreciation for what the other could do. We decided to work on a print commission together for Tall Boy Projects and things just took off from there.
What challenges did you face getting your career off the ground? And what challenges do you still face if any?
G: When I left university I thought that to be a designer, you had to work for a big design agency in a city like London or New York. This blinded me to my own strengths that made me creative and it was frustrating which made being creative counter productive.
The biggest challenge was building confidence in myself as a creative individual here in Ireland. I still face this challenge but it’s less about confidence in myself, now it’s about promoting confidence in being an Irish designer and that being a possible career path for a younger generation here in Ireland.
Of all the shows you’ve put on and events you’ve worked at, which has been the most memorable experience and why?
G: Our first show, ‘The Iris Collection’ will always be the most memorable. We pushed ourselves beyond what we thought we could. It was a turning point, we had started Jill & Gill because we worked well together, there was synergy but working on this collection of fine art prints blurred the boundaries of what I could do and what Jill could do.
Our work isn’t just about collaborating together, there’s a huge amount of trust and honesty between us, this is what the Iris Collection represents.
Over the past 2 years you’ve worked on collaborative projects and commissions for the likes of James Vincent McMorrow, Smirnoff, Repeal project, Jameson and Brown Thomas to name a few, what or who would be your dream client and why?
I think the dream client is not really about who – but that they understand and get what we do as collaborative duo and want to incorporate that into their brand or business. If we could collaborate with anyone, we would love to have fun with the likes of Adidas, maybe get our hands on some trainers, get them inky and put our Jill&Gill stamp on them!
You recently set up Jill & Gill Apparel, a collection of garments that represent aspirational women through illustration, print and style, can you tell me a little bit more about that?
Our new Apparel collection is inspired by contemporary ‘obsessive’ Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. The collection is bold, colourful and obsessive in its aesthetic not unlike our own personalities.
It is made with respect, it meets demanding ethical standards and is based on exclusivity and craftsmanship, which is so important to us as designers and artists. As a sustainable brand, we work with suppliers that are associated with the Fair Wear Foundation, an independent organisation that encourages social best practice and equality in the fashion and textile industry.
We encourage our customers to make a conscious investment in our apparel. When it comes down to the design, it’s more than just a t-shirt or a sweater, it’s ‘A celebration through print, illustration and style’ uniquely illustrated and hand printed in Dublin.
If you hadn’t pursued working in the art world as a career what do both think you would have done?
G: I think I would have pursued a career as a vet or worked with animals in some way.
J: Music, it’s always been my other passion and I think i will always have to have that outlet in my life – and I’m lucky that I can still enjoy that and have it in my life in shape or form.
It is so important that women inspire and allow each other to grow together through mutual support. What women in Ireland and abroad, do you most admire whom you feel inspire you today?
Sinead Burke is amazing. Following Sinead over the past few years has been so inspiring. Laura Callaghan, she is the perfect example of how illustration is a career path. Helen Steele is smashing it right now, we are both in awe of her drive and her creativity. Roisin Lafferty, director of KLD brings an exciting injection into the Irish Design industry and is soon to be President of the IDI.
What advice would you offer young women aspiring to fulfil a career in the art world?
Being creative in any industry is hard, failure becomes your friend but it’s also what makes you better yourself. Reach out to people who inspire you or you look up too. Use social media to promote you and work for you.
What mantras/mindfulness do you use to cleanse the mind of negative thoughts and keep positive?
Failure is part of the process, accept it and worry about the solution not the problem. Energy is best spent figuring out how to be happy not trying to run away from your fears. We always say feel the fear and do it anyway. You will be at least happy you faced it.
J: Yes what Gill said, to embrace failure – to learn from it – to be vulnerable in your life choices cause that’s brave and it’s empowering to know that you’ve tried everything with your best ability and doing it for you regardless of the outcome. It’s important to do the things that make you feel good, make you happy and what make you you!
Speaking of mindfulness, how do you split your time between working and your downtime?
G: We do all aspects of the business so we are both always ‘on’. We make time to relax when we can but as long as we are enjoying what we are doing then spending a little more time on the work is always rewarding.
Thankfully the job that we do is so much fun, yes there are moments where we have to do things that don’t come natural to us, but that’s with anything that becomes your career or your own business.
However we are mindful of down time and its spending it with our friends and family – that’s what keeps us going – they are the constant support and reassurance
What has been your proudest career moment to date? And what are your goals for the rest of 2019?
G: Creating a Jill & Gill window in Brown Thomas last April was very cool. We’ve been focusing on Jill & Gill Apparel.
J: Two for me, our first ever solo show, where we had people lining up around the corner to see our work and we were no one – and then for it to be a successful sold out show in a couple of days, mind blowing! And yes, the BT window was a huge dream come true – knew we had it in us, but never thought others saw that too.
What is your morning routine to get you through the working day?
G: Walk the dog before going to the studio is a must.
J: coffee…coffee is a must – I sit in my living room, no phone, no tv, just me and my dog and coffee and the silence – cause then our heads turn on when we get to the studio and it’s all go from then on haha!
Where are your favourite places to eat and drink in Dublin?
Bunsen, it’s our easy go to option and offers the best gluten free burger in Dublin.
New bar in Smithfield Bonobo is class, outdoor area is great and the bar is super dog friendly.
L’Gueuleton on Fade street.
Pot Bellied Pig for brunch always
Etto – sooooo good!
Delahunts – incredible food, and run by amazing Irish people.
What are your top three beauty essentials?
G: Blue shampoo (Grey hair don’t care), Facial Serum from The Burren Perfumery and Sleep!
J: I’m only learning this now as I’m getting older… haha but a proper skin routine, morning and night – I’m probably late to the game as I’m 35..36 very soon..but sure better late then never. I’ve long binned the makeup wipes now. Water too…it’s that simple and yes, sleep! Which we need to do more of haha
Favourite gadget and why?
We recently got an iPad pro with i-pencil so it’s been really fun using it within our work. It slightly speeds things up but we still rely and prefer pencil and paper.
And our phones, we show and connect with everyone via social media and its become an extension of us and how we showcase and explain our everyday to those that follow our journey.
Are you an early bird or a night owl?
G: I’m a little bit of both. I don’t really get going with regards work till later in the day, sometimes things might not kick in till 7pm and I could work late into the night. But, then I love to get up early and walk the dog.
J: Im a night owl, always have been – all my jobs have been night time and zero routine to them too. From working in Bars for years and also touring for years, I switch on from 6pm onwards and I don’t think that will ever change. Poor Gill gets grumpy me if we have early morning meetings haha
Your greatest food pleasure?
G: Japanese or Mexican.
J: Italian food. A really good Spaghetti bolognese, I’ve had plenty in my time and anyone who knows me knows its my fav dish – but the best one I’ve had is my mothers…nothing beats it!
If you could tell your 16 year-old selves anything, what would it be?
G: You will find your confidence.
J: Believe in your talents, they will shape you and make you.
Can you share any exciting plans you have in the pipeline?
We launch our new collection of Jill & Gill Apparel in July as part of Create 2019 in Brown Thomas. We are also running creative workshops at Kaleidoscope festival June 29/30th and fingers crossed a solo show / pop up shop during the summer months.