Think of your favourite animal. What does it look like? How does its muscles curve or how does it stand or how thick is it’s coat/plumage?
In a world of animal fetishization (think cutesy owl/horse/fox and flamingo tees/makeup bags/phone cases), Gowling’s work is real and depicts reality instead of just cuteness. While it’s great to worship our fauna friends, I wonder how often we really picture them in their natural habitat deep in the grip of Mother Nature? Judging by her work, Jessica Gowling thinks about these details too. You instantly know Gowling’s work because while her art is exact, detailed. The animals, birds and reptiles that exist in her tableau are real – like they’ve leapt out of a the pages of an Audubon book or Attenborough documentary, sometimes with whimsy, most mostly without. You can tell her love for the natural world and the creatures that inhabit it is unparalleled.
I first encountered Gowling’s art in Invermere, B.C. at Black Star Studios and later at an auction for a wild salmon rehabilitation non-profit. It was only fitting that her art portfolio is called Nature’s my Friend. Her brand is distinguished. She collects vintage books and naturalist texts to study and recreate the creatures from Canada and beyond. I believe my first Gowling purchase was a small moose print and then a set of magnets, screen printed moleskin journals, the list goes on.
A graduate of the Alberta College of Art & Design, Gowling lives in a small Kootenay town with her husband and cat. Her studio has been featured on Etsy’s blog and she is a regular at Western Canadian crafting circuits. She’s a gal with a big laugh, big heart and huge talents that conveys her critter love so beautifully. Meet this week’s f*#king awesome jobber: Jessica Gowling from Nature’s My Friend.
Jessica Gowling, Artist, British Columbia
So how did you get that f*&king awesome job? Can you describe what your job is and what it is that you do?
I am the artist behind Nature’s My Friend, a handmade brand of art, accessories and housewares that bring the outdoors, indoors. I sell my work online, in galleries and at handmade events/expos.
Did you have to give anything up to get here?
I initially studied a different degree; due to the switch, it took me 6 years to acquire my post-secondary expertise (too long!). I also have worked many part-time jobs, while pursuing my creative career, to help consistently make ends meet.
What has been your inspiration along the way?
To live life that is powered by passion, creativity and fulfillment. I think too many people waste their lives working hard for someone else’s dreams; I decided a long time ago, to chase my own, despite how challenging that road might be.
In three words or less, what’s the best part of your job?
Making and sharing
In three words or less, what’s the worst part of your job?
Not yet full-time
What did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was young, I honestly wasn’t sure. And sometimes I’m still not sure. I think it’s okay to always want to evolve and learn more.
What is your drink of choice?
Canada Dry Ginger Ale. (it should be water; I’m trying to train myself).
Where was the last place you traveled?
North America: Vancouver, BC. International: Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
What’s on your playlist right now?
Honestly, anything upbeat; helps to keep the productivity pumping.
What are your top three reads vis a vis your career (books, magazines, manuals, podcasts)?
Any advice for someone who’s looking to lock down their f*&king awesome job?
Just do it! Work hard to build the life you want and be willing to make sacrifices, as nothing worth having ever comes easily.
What does the future behold for your f#*king awesome job?
Meeting more nature adoring people who will follow and support the brand. Expanding my handmade product line to include jewelry and apparel.
I want to insert a HUGE caveat here AND now. I did not come up with this column name, my favourite, now deceased magazine – Readymade – did. It was one of my favourite columns in the DIY mag. I hope to emulate their ethos here (the questions are from my brain with a bit of audience testing from friends/family). As an introvert and general lover of the human race, I am inspired by people who LOVE their jobs. So I thought I would dedicate some space on the world wide web to profiling people who have f*#king awesome jobs: who they are, how they got there and what advice would they give others.