Cactus Confessions: An Interview With Artist Jess Rotter

 
Jess Rotter by Jess Rotter

Jess Rotter by Jess Rotter

 
 

The work of artist and illustrator Jess Rotter if full of wry magic - a sparsely elegant desert landscape, a finely-detailed homage to a legendary 1970's folk singer, a walrus sporting a AC/DC tee – each piece possesses depth, humor and a kind of instant nostalgia.   From her wonderful T-shirt line Rotter and Friends, to her one-of-a kind album art for labels like Light in the Attic and Warner Brothers, her drawings - whimsical pen and inks, vividly rich watercolors - capture an ache for a simpler, more soulful, era. We spoke with Jess about music, art and inspiration.  

What first drew you to working in art/illustration?

I found that drawing opened up portals of imagination and trippy escapes. It’s a great way to explore your heart, tell stories, make conversation-always has been my favorite communication to the world from a very young age.

What are some studio essentials, objects, books, music, tools etc that you can't live without? 

Sakura Micron Pens size 008, turntable system, mountains of records,  picture books of all sorts, liquid acrylics in all different jewel tones, old WNEW FM shows from the past, weird crystals to set the mood, and my dog Charlie half eyed on the couch.

What other contemporary artists (working in any medium, art/music/design/fashion/photography etc) are you really loving right now? 

 
 

I love Chris Ware’s work-really gutting and magnificent. My friends are making amazing things and inspire on the daily: Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte, Autumn De Wilde, David Black.

 
Kate and Laura of Rodarte by Jess Rotter

Kate and Laura of Rodarte by Jess Rotter

Stevie Nicks Illustration by Jess Rotter 

Stevie Nicks Illustration by Jess Rotter 

 

What is your favorite all time vintage find? 

My yellow Neil Young “Rust Never Sleeps” shirt from 1978 with illustrated red suspenders. 

Music plays such a huge part in your work - can you make us a 'Jess R. top 5 most inspiring tracks' playlist? 

My pleasure! Sorry if this is dark, but that’s when the gems of scribblin’ come out to play:

1. Willy Mitchell and Desert River Band- Kill’n Your Mind

2. David Wiffen- Never Make A Dollar That Way

3. John Martyn- Don’t Want To Know

4. Roy Harper-Me and My Woman

5. Judee Sill –The Donor

Thank you Jess!

Check out some of Jess' wonderful work below. You can explore more Jess at www.jessrotter.com and follow her @rotterandfriends

 
Album art and children's book by Jess Rotter for Light in the Attic's "This Record Belongs To..."

Album art and children's book by Jess Rotter for Light in the Attic's "This Record Belongs To..."

Cover art by Jess Rotter for "This Record Belongs To..." children's album.

Cover art by Jess Rotter for "This Record Belongs To..." children's album.

Jess Rotter's Grateful Dead T-shirts, just some of the great styles in the Rotter And Friends line. 

Jess Rotter's Grateful Dead T-shirts, just some of the great styles in the Rotter And Friends line.