Jayde Perkin on the cathartic and daunting process of illustrating a memoir

Following several mini comics on her personal life experience, I'm Not Ready is a long-form memoir by the illustrator discussing a particularly difficult period in her life with comforting honesty.

11 March 2020


“I may not have realised it all the time, but in hindsight, my work was leading up to making this memoir for a really long time,” illustrator Jayde Perkin tells us while discussing her recent release, I’m Not Ready. Published after Jayde won the ELCAF x WeTransfer prize in 2018 – a grant of £3,500 for artists to develop and print a book – the book is Jayde’s first long-form memoir, but pulling from her own personal life experiences has been a long winding theme throughout her work.

Jayde began self-publishing her material a few years ago now, mostly as short autobiographical comics when her mum sadly passed away in 2016. Translating her feelings into illustration became a space for Jayde “to make sense of my grief” and while it was at first purely for herself, “the support was amazing and they began to garner quite a lot of praise.” Winning the WeTransfer grant then added momentum for Jayde to shift these shorter stories into something a little longer, spending the rest of the year writing, “consolidating all the fragmented bits of writing I’d been collecting, writing a lot of new material, and creating mostly brand new artwork,” she tells us.

The act of writing and drawing a memoir was also in equal parts “cathartic and terrifying at the time,” Jayde continues, even though being so openly personal in her works was a regular practice of the illustrator’s. Still continuing an organic approach which can be spotted in her earlier work, “I tried not to overthink it, and instead be as raw and as honest as I could be,” she tells about the process in more detail. Centring her work around herself came with unique challenges too, such as “a lot of self-doubt, a lot of moments of thinking, ‘oh no, I’m being so self-indulgent’ and ‘nobody is ever going to want to read this’,” Jayde admits with her trademark honesty.


Jayde Perkin: I'm Not Ready process

Yet – unsurprisingly to us – since its release at ELCAF last year the illustrator’s openness has struck a chord with readers, also winning the Best Graphic Non-Fiction award at Broken Frontier’s awards. “The response,” adds Jayde, “has been truly amazing and humbling, and everyone has been so supportive and kind.”

Within the book itself Jayde’s illustration style, which largely uses watercolours for minute details such as facial features all the way through to landscapes, can be found illustrating these personal stories, filling each page from top to bottom. For the illustrator herself it’s simply “the fact it’s a real, tangible, tactile, proper book,” that she adores about I’m Not Ready. “It’s printed really beautifully on paper which almost resembles the paper which I paint on, so works really well.” In terms of content, it's as the book winds to a close that readers can find Jayde’s favourite sections as it “goes a bit meta, discussing the challenges of making this comic, within the comic,” she explains. Developing this approach as she “wasn’t sure originally how it would ‘end’,” the illustrator admits that on reflection, “I’ve somehow managed to tie everything up, bring us to the present day, and offer a sense of closure maybe, I don’t know.”

In putting her personal story, thoughts and feelings out on the table for all to read, Jayde hopes that those who have, or are, going through similar situations to herself will gain comfort from I’m Not Ready. “Grief, by nature, makes us feel alone. So, if I can help to make someone who grieved, or is grieving, feel less alone then that’s wonderful.” Keen to also point out that the memoir is not solely about grief, but “about the ways grief can manifest itself in our day-to-day, sometimes through addiction, or our relationships, or the complicated relationships we have with ‘stuff’ – whether its physical or emotional,” Jayde explains.

In its open nature, the book is also a relatable story about “moving from place to place, leaving bits of your heart in different cities, with different people,” she points out. In a wider sense, the memoir “keeps addressing this question of ‘where is home?’, or ‘what is home?’, and I think that’s something we can all identify with. This fluidity of life, this fragility of life, and ultimately the importance of friends.”

GalleryJayde Perkin: I'm Not Ready

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About the Author

Lucy Bourton

Lucy (she/her) is the senior editor at Insights, a research-driven department with It's Nice That. Get in contact with her for potential Insights collaborations or to discuss Insights' fortnightly column, POV. Lucy has been a part of the team at It's Nice That since 2016, first joining as a staff writer after graduating from Chelsea College of Art with a degree in Graphic Design Communication.


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