Meet quilling artist Jessica Janiak
By day, Jessica works as a print designer at a luxury womenswear brand in London. Meanwhile during her commute Jessica can often be found working on her latest quilling project. We spoke to the ambitious crafter behind the cover of Creativity's March issue to find out how she achieves her work-craft life balance.
What first inspired you to pick up a quilling tool?
I have always loved using something as simple as paper to create interesting and complex 3D sculptures. It was my niece's birthday and I wanted to do something special for her. She is Disney mad, so I researched Disney paper art. I came across a quilled Disney logo and I absolutely loved it! I wanted to find out more about the technique used to make it and stumbled across the world of quilling! My first attempt was the Disney Princess Castle featured on my Etsy page.
Who taught you what you know?
In terms of quilling, I’m still relatively new to it. Thus far I’ve learned everything via help from YouTube, Google Images for inspiration and a trial-and-error approach.
Your quilling style is fresh, contemporary and modern compared to many traditional quilled pieces. How do you get inspired?
I’m inspired constantly by everything around me, bold shapes and bright colours. I particularly love the negative spaces created from 3D shapes. I am continuously creating 3D relief paper art and when I discovered quilling I was introduced to a world of new possibilities! I take inspiration from the traditional art of quilling but I try to think of new ways of drawing with paper.
What’s your top piece of quilling advice?
I would say my top advice would be to try not to be too regimented with how you want the finished piece to look. Have an idea of what you want to achieve but be quite fluid with the process. I find that most of the time I change my plans and placement half way through. Also, it’s important not to get too daunted on where to start or what looks good where, you’ve just got to go for it!
You have quite a long commute from Birmingham to London everyday, how do you manage to find time to fit in your craft work?
On the train! I spend a lot of my time commuting. I’m the crazy woman quilling on the train table at 7 o’clock in the morning! I make such a mess around my fellow commuters, with my quilling board, tools and glue often spread out right across the table. I actually find that when I’m not distracted by homely comforts I manage to get a lot done! I plan what I can get done on the train the next day and I pack my bag accordingly.
What inspired you to open your online Etsy shop, Tilly Viktor?
I enjoy making projects for my friends and family, and somebody recently suggested I sell online. I had a quick look into it and found Etsy. I lost hours looking through all the amazing crafts and I thought it would be great to be able to join the crowd!
How did you decide Etsy was the right platform for you?
After having a look at various different sites I settled on Etsy as I personally found it to be the most attention-grabbing. It’s a much bigger site than some of the others and there is far more competition, but I like a challenge!
What advice would you give someone wanting to take their craft business to the next level and start selling to a wider audience?
My main advice would be to just not give up. Start by selling to friends and family and promote via social media; it’s imperative to be persistent. There will be setbacks and the business may not grow as quickly as you would like, but if it’s your dream then just go for it and stay positive. Try to see other similar shops as inspiration and not competition.
Pricing your crafty wares can be a tricky business. How do you tackle it?
It is very tricky: this I find to be the hardest part. I try to judge the price on how long the piece takes me, but quilling is very time-consuming. It would be extremely expensive if I calculated by hour. I try to find a reasonable compromise, both for myself and for my customer.
We LOVE the quilled cover you created for the March issue (68) of Creativity magazine. What’s been your favourite commission to date?
Oh this was definitely my favourite! It was exceptionally time-consuming but once I saw it photographed in situ on the cover I was so so proud - I thought it looked amazing. I have a copy of the issue and show it to everyone who visits me!
What’s next for Tilly Viktor?
I would love to take Tilly Viktor full-time. This is my ultimate long-term goal. I think for any crafter, pursuing their hobby as a full-time job is always the end goal. I’m also in the market for a stockist. I am currently pursuing some leads… so watch this space!
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