May 14, 2018
Designer Details

Austin Artist Jess Engle Talks African Upbringing, Influence & Technique

Artist Jess Engle carries a piece of her upbringing wherever she goes. Largely raised in Africa, the artist's worldly roots can be sensed in her free-thinking aesthetic. The daughter of diplomats, Engle lived between Ethiopia, Malawi, Togo, and South Africa as a child, absorbing the continent's mixed cultures.

Jess Engle
Jess Engle Watercolor

“I was a very day-dreamy, visual little girl,” she recalls. “I can still vividly picture the colorful, geometric patterns of Ethiopian clothes against white backgrounds.”

From Linear-style ink drawings to vibrant watercolor washes, the now Austinite found comfortable footing stateside, studying creative advertising at the University of Texas. She relies on simple lines, rich hues and organic shapes to capture and convey life in every form – influences formed, in part, during years abroad.

“Africans have a strong culture of crafts. There, markets and handmade goods speckled almost every road. And since everything was handmade, all was imperfect – no two things were ever the same,” she continues. “I thought that was beautiful.”

Those observations, says Engle, continue shaping her creative process years later.

Jess Engle Quote
Jess Engle Painting

Moving between techniques including traditional acrylic painting and even digital on occasion, the art places much stock in method. “The process is as important as the outcome. If you don’t enjoy creating, your final product in flat. Lifeless.”

Working with our Product Development team to produce pieces that align and complement our aesthetic, Engle has created over 40 works of art exclusively for Four Hands. She finds inspiration in creation itself.

“Art is like breathing for me: I have to do it. Creating is how I relate to people and to the world around me. It’s how I process my own emotions and thoughts. Inspiration,” she continues, “comes from whatever I fill my life with, and noting beauty in as many parts of life as possible.”

Jess Engle Full Painting
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