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$1,000 in 3 minutes: The magic at illustrator Kerrie Hess’ fingertips

Kerrie Hess is one of Australia's most successful fashion illustrators. Image: Supplied

A scroll through Australian artist Kerrie Hess’ Instagram will reveal beautiful artworks of Grace Kelly-esque fashion, butterflies, macarons, blooms and Paris balconies. 

And instantly clear in the colourful feed is Hess’ talent, and her huge popularity. 

Facing Australia’s unprecedented bushfires, Hess announced 100 per cent of profits from her art prints and phone cases would for 10 days be directed to the WIRES wildlife rescue service.

Within three minutes, she’d raised more than $1,000. Within 24 hours, she’d raised $26,000, and within 10 days she’d raised $40,250 - a testament to the popularity of her feminine prints. 

Hess knew she wanted to be a painter when she was just five years old when she began attending weekend art classes. 

“I begged my mother to send me,” she told Yahoo Finance. 

Two years later, she made her first “proper painting”. A ballerina, which she signed, dated and framed. 

Now, her artwork is everywhere. 

Kerrie Hess’ ubiquitous work

Hess counts famous Parisian macaron brand Ladurée among her clients. Image: Supplied

The watercolour artist has collaborated with the likes of Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Harper’s Bazaar, Lancôme Paris, Vogue and even has a suite at the Langham Hotel in Melbourne named after her. Hess has also exhibited work at the famous Le Meurice Hotel ballroom in Paris. 

And her successful print and phone case business means you may have seen her distinctive work adorning handsets. 

But it hasn’t been entirely smooth sailing. 

Rejection: ‘My work was too feminine’

Hess has collaborated with major fashion magazines and brands. Image: Supplied

“Before I created my own print shop I sent my work to a company who sold art prints for artists on their behalf in return for a royalty,” she said. 

“I still remember the email reply from that company that stated that my work was too feminine and that they 'didn't believe there was any commercial opportunity for my work in the art print market'.”

Undaunted, Hess went on to create her own print shop.

“Since then art prints have been one of the most important parts of my business for over 10 years. And ironically the company that rejected my work is no longer in business.”

The lesson from this, Hess believes, is to find your niche and follow your gut. 

Time management tips

Hess has four time management rules. Image: Supplied

Juggling a print shop, clients, her illustrations and family means Hess has to “constantly” remind herself not to overload her schedule. “I know [that] will lead to burnout.”

Instead, Hess follows four time management rules: 

  • Only work on one thing at a time.

Multitasking just doesn’t work, Hess said. 

“I get so much more done when I focus on one or maximum two projects per day and no more.”

  • Leave emails until the afternoon. 

“Your emails are not your to-do list. I am also most creative in the morning so this really suits me.”

  • Don't overload your daily to-do list.  

The artist suggests putting down half of the things you believe you can do on the list. This way, you actually get them done, rather than becoming overwhelmed. 

“And build in 15 minutes at least between each one to move around and stretch,” she added.

  • Be kind to yourself.

Tell yourself you did the best job you could and that you are happy with your day when you go to bed,” she said. 

“This helps me switch off at night.”

The future for Kerrie Hess

Hess is known for her fashion illustrations. Image: Supplied

Hess launched her Online Masterclass in Painting last year, with plans to build on it in 2020. 

“It's really been the thing that I have felt the most passion for,” she said. 

“We launched the first Masterclass intake last year and now have students from over 42 different countries studying painting and fashion illustration online from their homes, all over the world.”

The class - which also connects artists through in-person meetups and private Facebook groups - has been the most rewarding thing Hess has done. 

“I think the joy of helping other people, rather than just a focus on my own work has been what I have enjoyed the most from this project,” she said.

“Honestly it [success] is just about feeling proud of what I am spending my time working on, and carving out time to enjoy it.”

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