ALUMNI // Interview with Contemporary Applied Artist, Jessica Langford
We grabbed a chat with alumni student Jessica Langford who studied Applied Arts with us here at The Northern School of Art. Since graduating, Jess has gone on to become a contemporary applied artist creating jewelry, ceramics, illustrations and glass work.
Hi Jess, your work is beautiful, can you tell us where you get your inspiration from?
Oh thank you! I find myself being inspired by unappreciated beauty, things others may not see as beautiful and using this to create something interesting. Each collection shows a strong path of inspiration. Recent collections have been based on the layers of the rocks in Staithes symbolizing the strong layers of a family, the lines and shapes created by a journey using tracking applications and the closing of Teesside steel works.
Why did you choose to study at The Northern School of Art?
There was never really ever any other plan. As part of my GCSE’s we got to visit the college every Wednesday so I already knew what a great college it was so I just couldn’t wait to start ….and never wanted to leave as you can tell! I love the new name. I feel like it helps portray the traditional craftsmanship underpinning combined with the contemporary new ideas.
Where are you and your business currently based?
I still have the same workshop I have always had in Middlesbrough in my parents garage which I share with Lucy Addison who I became friends with at the college and we are still best friends now. I love the North East and have never considered moving out the area. I really appreciate the great place we live.
What’s been the best thing about running your own business?
I think the best thing is being able to work how I would like. I find myself having creative blocks sometimes, really productive days and not so productive days and being self – employed gives me the flexibility so that is okay. I also love how I can get really excited about ideas and designs and not have to check what others think and get to make it all myself with my own hands and that makes me feel really proud.
What’s been the most challenging thing since graduation?
The financial side of what I do. When I decided to go down the route of having my own small business creating art I have always fully understood that financially it is may be less stable than other jobs however I have always been very happy to sacrifice it to be happy. I have never looked it as a way to get rich, as long as I can live and do what I love I am happy.
Did you enjoy your time with us at The Northern School of Art?
I have always loved the college and its friendly atmosphere, I spent time at the college during my GCSE’s, my college course, my degree and have worked at both Hartlepool campus and Green Lane campus as staff. I especially loved the way I was given the tools to really grow and experiment and find exactly what I wanted to do and my personal style.
What’s been your highlight of your career so far?
The highlights that stick out so far are being asked to stock in galleries I had visited as a student and dreamed of having my work in MIMA, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and The Biscuit Factory. It feels so surreal to imagine myself years ago to now and how what I really wanted actually has happened.
If you could give some advice to our students who are wanting to follow in your footsteps then what would it be?
Work hard, stay determined and try to show your own personal style in everything you make.
Have you got anything exciting in the pipe line?
At the moment I am incredibly busy with direct orders and creating pieces for some new stockists. Lucy and I plan to do some big new shows in the coming year which I can’t wait for.
Where did your passion come from?
I have always LOVED art so nothing else has every really crossed my mind. I have always planned to become an artist and I am so lucky that I now get to do it. During my career I also discovered a very surprising (for quite a shy person in the past) love for teaching. I love to pass on my passion to others and want others to feel as excited and inspired as I did and help them feel they can go for it and achieve what they wish.