Name: Jessica Wallace (formerly Jessica Hurley/HURLeYgirl), Mrs. Wallace, Jess, the Red Menace, currently: GirlWhoDrewYou
Location: I work out of Las Vegas and Southern California–but I’m originally from Boston, Massachusetts.
Number of Years in Business: I have been doing caricatures professionally since 1989, both independently and for other companies. But this past April, I finally ventured out completely on my own. I figured after 21 years, it was time to work for myself. But it all began in Faneuil Hall, Boston, with a wonderful company called FUN Enterprises. They were kind enough to take me in and make me the artist and business woman I am today. From there I went to Las Vegas, where I drew at the Excalibur and the MGM Grand. Next, I moved to Southern California, where I drew at Six Flags, Magic Mountain and eventually Universal Studios, Hollywood–for almost a decade. After that, I returned to Las Vegas to draw at the Top Of The World, at the Stratosphere and lastly, in the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood. I have drawn many interesting people, some of the more memorable–Steven Tyler of Aerosmith; Akihito, the Emperor of Japan and Kat Von D of L.A. INK.
Website: So, recently I launched my caricature website and on-line store. There you can see several samples of my work. And read about all the different ways caricatures can enhance your wedding or event.
Blog: I do not currently write a blog on a regular basis. But I do have an on-line clothing store: cafepress.com/girlwhodrewyou . There you can buy everything from baby clothes to reusable shopping bags, all with my original illustrated designs.
Facebook: I have a fan page on Facebook: Girl Who Drew You . I would love to have everyone who reads this “like” it; just because it’s the easiest place for me to let you guys know what events are coming up and about any specials that I’m offering. But if you’d like to “friend” me, you can find me under Jessica Wallace.
What did you do prior to this? Not really prior–more like simultaneously. I was an ice cream server, grocery bagger, supermarket cashier. Concession stand, box office and usher at a movie theater. Musicland employee, collection agent, vault manager. Babysitter, nanny, Sunday school teacher. Gift personalizer in a children’s boutique, sign painter, shower door etching designer. Disc Jockey, florist, party planner. Cartoon kiosk manager, cookie shop manager, photography studio manager. Henna tattoo artist, face painter, antique photographer. Caricature kiosk owner, t-shirt designer, sneaker designer. Video store manager, secret shopper, apartment building manager. Baker, cake decorator, ice cream truck painter. House painter, set builder, theater prop designer. Graphic designer, childrens’ book illustrator, logo designer. Comic book artist, special effects make up artist and personal assistant. But through it ALL, I have been a caricature artist.
If you didn’t do caricatures for a living what would you be doing instead? If I didn’t have to work, I would live in Waikiki, Los Angeles and Boston–four months a year each; with a vacation home in Las Vegas. I would still be doing caricatures–but for free. And I would do a lot more swimming and jet skiing. I would definitely travel more, attend more Halloween conventions and probably write a few books. If I did have to continue working at something other than caricatures, I would want to work for SWATCH or URBAN DECAY as a designer. Or on horror films as a special effects make up artist.
What are some of your hobbies? I love taking photographs. At least 25 a day. And on a special day, up to a thousand. I love going to the movies; and I am very sad about the demise of 35mm film and the changeover to digital projection. It’s just not the same. I have many collections including a bat collection, a vintage lingerie collection and a collection of antique Polaroid cameras. I also enjoy going to the drive-in, drawing pin-up girls, and designing/creating costumes. Halloween is my favorite day of the year (I begin preparation in early September) and also my wedding anniversary. And if I could live in the water, I would–I love swimming!
What is the craziest wedding experience you’ve ever had? My own! Even though I had wonderful friends from Boston and Los Angeles here to help me with all the last minute tasks–I insisted on making almost everything for my wedding myself. I made all the linen napkins by hand, all the favors and most of the decor. The morning of the wedding, at 4am, I was decorating the 50 person banquet table with movie stills. And an hour before leaving for the chapel, my best friend and I were still sculpting the cake topper!
What is the best wedding experience you’ve ever had? The best was the very first one I ever did. It was at the top of the Prudential building in Boston. I was asked to sit next to the bar at the wedding reception and draw the wedding guests. Everyone enjoyed my work, tipped me and the groom gave me $50 for a cab! At sixteen, you think to yourself, “This is the life! This is the job for me.” I will never forget it.
What is your inspiration? When I was in high school, in the 1980s, I couldn’t get over my teachers’ haircuts. That is what made me start doing caricatures. Once I began I couldn’t stop. A two hour train ride to college each day gave me all the faces I needed to practice and eventually feel confident. Personally, I am inspired by my husband and my friends…I draw all of them, every spare minute I have. Professionally, my inspirations are Al Hirschfeld, Doug Sneyd and Glen Barr. I strive to make my work as recognizable, beautiful and unique as theirs. My goal in life is to make people happy with my drawings. There is no better feeling than giving someone one of my caricatures or comics and seeing them smile.
Name an exotic location you’d like to visit soon. Although I don’t know much about any of them–I would have to say Fiji, Bali and Bermuda. More realistically, Hawaii is next. In 1997, I won a special effects make up contest; the prize was a trip to Waikiki. I’ve been dying to go back ever since.
Why do your clients choose you over some of your competitors?
Many artists I’ve worked with over the years are super talented, but truly resent drawing for other people as their job. I am the complete opposite. I LOVE drawing for people. I love the wedding reception/event/celebratory environment. Drawing to the music, seeing everyone dancing, happy, celebrating their special day, all inspires me to do the best drawings I can possibly produce.
Also, there is a certain trust brides have in me once I’ve told them I have twenty-one years of experience. I am versatile in style and medium–I can caricature in marker, airbrush and pastels. I am very outgoing, hard-working, professional and reliable. All of that adds up to satisfied clients and in turn, happy brides.
Who or What was your favorite drawing of? When I was three years old, I was in a downtown restaurant with my mother. It was in the early seventies, when cocktail napkins were still made out of stiff, red and white checkered paper. Just before we were about to leave, an older man approached us, and handed me a napkin with a ball point pen caricature of me on it. I think that was it. The moment it was decided that this is what I would do. To have someone, in minutes be able to capture my personality in a few minutes, on paper, forever (or at least the two decades it hung on my grandfather’s bedroom wall)– was amazing. For him to be able to make me feel special, pretty and worthy of his time, seemed to me, an amazing gift to give people. It wasn’t so much the drawing, but more the way HE saw me. And I can say in all honesty, that every drawing I’ve loved in my entire life, has reflected that…an honest portrayal of personality.
What is the best piece of advice you can offer a bride and groom on their wedding day? Don’t try to do everything yourself. Use your budget wisely–hire an event planner. Make sure that they make sure that everything is COMPLETELY finished the day before your wedding. Relax. Have a spa day. Write yourself a letter (or an email) about your last day being single. Enjoy the people who traveled to be with you for your important day. And most of all–remember that no matter what happens during the wedding, YOU WILL BE MARRIED TO EACH OTHER. And at the end of the day, that is all that matters.
Anything else interesting you’d like to share? I recruit a lot of people to sit for me. After I talk to them and show them their drawing, they are always surprised at how lovely they look. I think it’s important that brides who are thinking of hiring a caricature artist know that I realize that this is your wedding. These are not goofy, buck teeth, double chin, unflattering, theme park caricatures.
These are drawings that will capture the beauty and happiness of your special day. And a memorable wedding favor that your guests will treasure forever. For more information and to read testimonials from my actual clients, please check out my new website at: girlwhodrewyou.com
Caricature of Juliet and Angelica done by Jessica Wallace at the Wish Upon a Wedding Las Vegas Launch Party.