Rosanna Webster’s creativity has been nurtured since a young age. Encouraged by parents who met at art school, in a home full of her dad’s paintings, art books and prints, a career in the creative industry was inevitable.
Initially starting an English Literature course at Sussex university, she quickly felt drawn back to art, applying to study illustration at Brighton. “It was such a fun, inspiring time,” she says. “Brighton itself was the best place to be a student.” After university, Rosanna tried her hand at a variety of careers in the creative industry. She interned within set design, photography and production (“a mixture of good and bad experiences,” she says) but “eventually came back around to illustration in the end.” Since late 2020 she’s been on the roster at Jelly London, where she works as visual artist working predominantly with collage, with clients include Amazon Music, Mulberry, and Nike.
As well as her passion for art, something that she has carried with her since a young age is a love for nature. From her university days spent on Brighton beach, to lockdown in St Leonards, Margate, and Majorca, she has always been drawn to the coast. “My mind feels better when I can stare out to sea.”
Nature is clearly a source of inspiration for her, often juxtaposing floral imagery with the models in her collages. With much of her artwork being created on a screen, Rosanna relaxes by travelling and exploring outdoors, finding ideas and visual references, and “trying to counter those hours spent sat at my desk!” On her travels and in spare time, she is constantly capturing her experiences on camera. “I shoot on film and love the tactility of my camera and the anticipation of getting photos developed. It always feels really satisfying.”
While technology plays a big part in her projects, Rosanna is also interested in making more tangible pieces – art for windows, installations, packaging or print. “Work that you can move through or touch with your hands. I’ve always felt more connected with the work I’ve created that I’ve been able to see and experience this way” Despite this, she describes making her compositions come to life through animation as her favourite part of the job. In fact, she's just started making moves into animation with the help of Jelly's 'Futures' initiative.
Much of Rosanna’s career so far has been in the fashion world thanks to a chance event. A friend of a friend who’s a photographer asked her to work together on some music artwork (which actually fell through), but they got on so well they went on to collaborate on various fashion projects together. “I loved it and from there that sort of set me on a bit of a path,” she says. “I sometimes wonder what I’d be doing if this hadn't happened!”
A project that she feels really helped develop her style was her work with Dior early on in her career. “It opened up a new world of working within the luxury world and this pushed me to elevate the look and feel of my work.” Though collage is not often seen in luxury advertising, Rosanna is passionate about using it in her art. “I think when people picture collage as a creative field it is still often seen as a bit twee or ‘crafty’ – to me the world of collage is really exciting and fresh but I think it can often still have a bit of a fusty reputation.”
Whatever its reputation, Rosanna’s collages have been used by some of the biggest designer brands, including Louis Vuitton, Stella Mcartney, Givenchy, Fenty and Mr. Porter, as well as magazines and newspapers the New York Times, Harper's Bazaar and Twin Magazine. Rosanna’s career has accelerated fast, from working at an Urban Outfitters store to support her interning endeavours, to creating a digital look-book for them later the same year.
On a broader industry level, she’s passionate about the way illustrators entering their careers learn to know the value of their craft. One of the most important things Rosanna has learnt is how work should be priced and how to communicate and set boundaries with clients. “We were not taught this at university at all and were released into the industry super naive,” she says. “Soon after starting my career I was told to join the Association of Illustrators — they really helped me get to grips with how to conduct the business side of being a freelancer and the team they were an incredible support. I couldn’t recommend them more highly! They really are angels.” As a result of that experience, she’s keen to work towards enforcing a basic level of pay and working rights for younger people trying to get into the industry. “Working for free shouldn’t be an expectation,” she says.
In her spare time, Rosanna often works on personal projects. “I love that this feels lower stakes - I can create just for myself without external expectation or rules,” she says. As well as indulging her joy for creating, Rosanna finds that she learns a lot from these personal pieces. “Each project pushes me to grow and adapt my style. I think I can be quite critical of my work so I am always eager to try to get closer to my goal with the next project. I want to create work that feels beautiful, that invites the viewer in and to make them feel something.”
Within the professional world and outside, Rosanna is always creating and finding new ways to push herself and her art. As it was in her childhood, she continues to mix and collaborate with other creative minds, including all her “brilliant creative friends” and her art director husband. “I feel like I’m always surrounded by creative energy and ideas.”