INTERVIEW: Illustrator Jade Spranklen

jade sprinkle sprankenstein

Jade Spranklen is an illustrator and 2D animation director known as Sprankenstein. Her wildly imaginative, free-flowing and often spooky style has become a trademark that’s easily recognisable on sites like ASOS and adorning anything from Doctor Martens boots to skate decks. Jade has been working as a freelance image maker for the past few years and recently joined us at our first community talks event as one of our inspiring speakers, sharing her journey as a UK-based creative with our young audience at Google Campus.

Now, we’re catching up with her to ask her about her collaborative projects with the likes of Sony, EMI and a host of impressive British galleries, as well as her self-directed illustration and animation projects. Sprankenstein approaches each and every piece of work from her own unique perspective and we love her playful take on every theme, narrative and message, from feminism to folklore. Here’s her story so far, her tips for young illustrators and why she loves living outside of London…

What does your work explore and who do you create it for?

It really depends on if it’s client based or personal. Any self-initiated projects tend to steer towards dark themes, twisted fairytales and folklore. I recently created a collection of work based on Russian Magic Tales for my first solo exhibition called Pushkinstein where I really explored the styles that I have always loved working in; fine lines, detailing and monochrome. In terms of commercial work, I’ve created images for the likes of Kygo, Selena Gomez, Clean Bandit, Tate and Turner Contemporary, Virgin and Dreamland in Margate on the south east coast.


You’re based in Margate; how does this affect your work?

I moved out of London over a year ago and I now work from a studio called Fire Eye Land. There’s a real mix of creative disciplines here, and I feel very lucky to be surrounded by such incredibly inspiring people and to have them as close friends too. The Margate community is unrivalled in making you feel supported and safe professionally as well as personally. The studio I work in is a space I share with three of my good friends, we call it BABE CAVE.

There’s Whinnie Williams AKA Poodle & Blonde, who’s currently designing her own interiors range alongside her Margate location house; think Tim Walker meets Wes Anderson with nine rabbits and a recording studio. Also, Siobhan Hogan AKA Shopfloorwhore who is one of the most forward thinking fashion designers on the circuit today and has created clothing for the likes of Lady Gaga. You’ll never see anything bland in her work, which is all conceptualised and handmade in BABE CAVE. And finally, Amy Exton who is at the forefront of Set Design with her distinct, bold aesthetic. She’s a lover of colour and Americana style and has worked with Adidas, Years & Years and H&M. She’s also working on a Margate location house.

Tell us about how you got to where you are now…

I’ve always been a doodler since I was small, but never took it too seriously. I was a quiet little geek who loved drawing Dragonball Z characters in my school books. That’s as far as it went until I mucked up the academic side of 6th Form and had to pick up A Level Art. After that I never looked back. I started an Art Foundation at Hertfordshire, then did a degree at Portsmouth Uni.

My breakthrough moment was when I started to draw over people’s instagram photos. It gave me exposure that I had never been accustomed to and it all snowballed from there. I then got the opportunity to do similar work for brands like ASOS, Motel Rocks and Skinny Dip as well as animated versions of my work for a series of Sony x Kygo Music Videos.

What does the word ‘successful’ mean to you? 

Peace of Mind.

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Do you think women have more to go up against in the creative industries?

Absolutely. I always feel like I have to prove my worth more as a female illustrator and animator. Unfortunately, I feel this is also due to conditioning by my own brain. I tent to think that I need to justify why I should be hired for creative projects.

Tell us about some of your favourite projects to date…

My favourite project over the past couple of years has to be the album campaign I worked on for Benjamin Francis Leftwich’s record After The Rain. The whole experience was a dream from start to finish and we were all very happy with the final results. I got to bring back my favourite style of illustrating with fine lines and Japanese-inspired shapes and tailor each image specifically to the story that Ben was telling with each song. As well as coming up with a successful artwork campaign, it was great to build a positive working relationship with Ben and the Dirty Hit label team.

What’s your work/life balance like?

I think working in a studio with friends everyday means that my work and life merge nicely into one. I never really feel like I’m working when I’m in BABE CAVE. If work gets too much for any of us, we usually crack on the speakers and dance around like loons to Justin Bieber to shake off the cabin fever. Otherwise, living by the beach is always handy for breaking away from work and having a long walk or think. I’ve recently started skateboarding (badly) again which helps too.

jade spranklen

What kinds of challenges have you faced working for yourself? 

Motivation is the biggest challenge. I am such a ‘last minute’ worker. If it can be done tomorrow, then I will do it tomorrow. It’s a really bad habit but I’m getting better at managing my time.

What advice would you give your younger self? 

Things will get better. Try and turn that brain off once in a while.

Any tips you’d like to give young female creatives? 

I think it’s so important to progress honestly. Do what feels right to you, there is no point marching to anyone else’s drum, that rhythm wasn’t made for you. Work with dignity so when you look back you can hold your head high and know you never compromised yourself or treated people poorly in this cut-throat industry, even if they treated you poorly.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m investing a lot of time in Creep Club which is a range of clothing that’s just a bit weird and odd. I want to create something that weirdos like me can wear and really own it! Clothing that says it’s okay to be quiet, awkward and a side-step away from the norm. I also would like this to branch out in to zines and social events linked to Aspergers and Autism awareness, something I am working towards with a friend in Margate, Ted Rogers.

Where can we follow what you’re up to? 

I’m on Instagram, you can follow me and my projects at @sprankenstein.


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Words: Emily Beeson | @younggoldteeth