How This Illustrator Created Her Dream Career with a Non-Traditional Path: An Interview with Jade Purple Brown

For the artist, to make is to share the lens with which one sees the world. The lens chosen by Jade Purple Brown, an illustrator and art director, is alive with bold hues. Counting companies like Apple, Google, Refinery29, Chronicle Books, and Moroccanoil as clients, Jade writes that she creates to encourage “herself and others to be more optimistic and free.” In her figure drawings, women appear with strong stances, relaxed charisma, and a sense of looking forward. How does a creative mark both their style and career growth with this sense of forward movement? I asked Jade.

Hi Jade! Tell us about your background. Have you always been an artist?

I grew up in a small town outside of Chicago. Since I was young, I’ve always been encouraged to be artistic, with my colorful paintings and drawings always being celebrated by my family. In college, I studied Fashion Marketing & Management, because I originally wanted to pursue a career in fashion styling. I knew gaining a strong business background would be great for me.

While I was in the program they taught us the basics of Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign to create marketing materials and I quickly fell in love. With the help of online tutorials, I started using the programs in my own time to create wacky designs. From there, I slowly started to figure out that my true passion was art and design and that I had a natural talent for it.

I currently live in New York as a Visual Artist using graphic design, illustration, and art direction to create content for fashion, beauty, and lifestyle brands.


An artist’s color palette is often their calling card. What inspires yours?

I love working with juicy color palettes that make my mouth water and my eyes smile. A lot of the time my palettes are inspired by tropical getaways, 70s/80s interior design, and the fashionable women I see in New York City.

Your art features strong female figures, facing forward, standing tall. Does that end up influencing your posture inside or out as you continue to work?


The dynamic, confident figures I draw inspire me to show up fully in the world and be proud of who I am.


There are so many creative career myths floating around, from timelines of progress to what opportunities are available! What’s been the biggest myth solved in your career so far?

The biggest misconception I’ve busted is that you have to follow a linear path in order to be successful in the design world. I didn’t go to school for art and design, I learned pretty much everything I know from researching online and reading books, and I’ve never had an internship at an influential company. I practiced my ass off, and through a lot of trial and error, I was able to carve out a career that made sense for me.

I’ve learned that if you really want something, you don’t always have to take the traditional route in order to get it.

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On your website you mention that your art helps encourage yourself and others to be more optimistic and free. What was the turning point when you realized your art could do that?

Creating art has always been an escape for me. It gives me the opportunity to slow down and reflect, almost like a form of meditation. I try to create art that represents how I want to feel, even though at that very moment I may be feeling my down, dealing with a tough situation.

Whenever I finish a piece I always feel better than when I first started, which is a big reason why I enjoy creating fresh new things.

Getting positive feedback when I share my work online has also been very telling. It’s made me realize that my work could be healing and encouraging for others too!


Focus tends to be, well, not always the creative’s most natural-born strong suit, but it looks like a high value of yours. How do you put that discipline into practice, and how does it feed your creativity?

I’m always repeating the mantra, “Consume less, create more.”

It helps me focus on myself and on what truly matters to me, instead of using my limited time being concerned about what everyone else is doing. The more focused and consistent I am, the more goals I’m able to knock down. In the process, I’ve learned more about myself and in return, I’ve become a better artist and person.

As an illustrator and art director, what tells you when a piece is “done”?

I always look for balance within each piece. Once I’m at a point where if I add or remove an element and it makes the piece weaker, I know it’s time to stop picking at it and just let it be. But ultimately, if the piece makes me feels good inside and there’s nothing I would do differently, I know it’s finished.


What are you working on now?

Right now I’m wrapping up a visual identity project for an iconic retailer in the beauty industry. I’m also working a project focused around influential and inspiring women that will be released early next year.

What’s the next step for you? Are there any creative doors you hear calling your name?

I would love to expand the JPB world by beginning to create physical products. I would love to see my art transformed into playful home decor objects that have the ability to transform spaces.

Images courtesy of Jade Purple Brown

Melanie Loon

Melanie is a writer and artist in her native Los Angeles. Her words and abstract portraiture discuss communication, emotion, and movement. She’s always hoping the “movement” part includes seeing somewhere new, soon, and she’s more than game to read the dessert menu.