Jesse Irwin Art
Jesse Irwin, a visual artist and entrepreneur, designs eye-catching enamel pins depicting native Australian flora and fauna, as well as Brisbane landmarks. These pins aim to both entertain and increase appreciation of environmental and social issues.
We caught up with Jesse to find out more about her practice and the inspiration for her designs.
When did you first decide to pursue Jesse Irwin Art? What inspired you?
Jesse Irwin Art started as a business a few years ago, when I decided that I wanted to make an enamel pin. I’d been seeing all my favourite artists on Instagram start selling them, and I wanted to figure out how to make my own. So I made a design based on my cat, the dearly departed Nick, and got it made into pins.
How has Jesse Irwin Art evolved over time and what has influenced its development?
The denizens of the Brisbane subreddit have been a major influence on my development as an artist! As well as my followers on my other social media on Instagram and Twitter. I’ve tried to listen to what people say they want to see from Brisbane artists, and then draw those things. That has led to a lot of Brisbane public transport, Brisbane landmarks, and lots of Aussie birds, in particular the ibis, brush turkey, and bush stone curlew.
Over time I’ve also made more designs that reflect things that I personally enjoy and find important, such as cats and autism.
Career highlights to date?
The Lord Mayor of Brisbane wore one of my pins to the Tokyo Olympics! Em Rusciano wore one of my pins to her speech at the Press Club, and referred to me as a “neurodivergent queen”. Stephen Bates wore one of my pins to his maiden speech to parliament after being elected to represent Brisbane for the Greens. I recently won “Best Energex Box of 2022” for the mural I painted on an Energex box in South Brisbane. I’ve been referred to as “the bin chicken lady” in the national media several times.
How do you prefer to work? Outdoors, with pets, late at night?
At home, with my cat Billy nearby. I use an iPad Pro to make my digital designs, and to draw the images that will become pins and other products. Throughout my time as an artist, I’ve been experimenting with other media as well. Recently I have been sculpting with epoxy clay and casting copies of my little sculptures in resin. I’m not very good, but it’s a lot of fun!
I also spend a lot of time at Clay School in West End, where I have a weekly ceramics class. I’ve found the class to be an incredibly valuable part of my week, and a fantastic way for me to practise working with my hands and making art for art's sake.
How does living in Brisbane influence your creative practice?
We have so many cool birds and animals, and they’re right here in the city for us to see! That makes it easy to get inspired to draw a new animal or bird, and to get reference photos for my next drawing.
You must be an avid collector of pins? Do you have any favourites?
I have too many pins… I have an A2 sized cork board that is almost full of pins, and that’s just the ones I’ve collected from other artists! I don’t have my own pins on display at the moment, as I don’t have a spare corkboard that’s big enough.
I have lots of favourites - I collected a lot of ginger cat pins when my darling Nick was around, and now that I have Billy I’ve started collecting brown tabby pins. I really love the pins that I got as trades with my artist friends online, because they symbolise the friendship for me.