Part of the beauty of maps is that they can be used in a variety of ways from navigation, to establishing ownership, to presenting information. Maps for the oceans are generally referred to as charts, indicating features in and around the water and seabed. At DSNM we are obviously chart experts and pride ourselves on being chart leaders, however, in this months’ blog we are absolutely delighted to talk about the beauty of charts with Jess Douglas – The Yacht Artist.

The Beauty of Charts

Journeying into superyachting

The story is a long one but as is the case with all great journeys, every step is relevant. Before Jess was even born her parents sold their house in the UK and decided to travel by sailing yacht through the med and ended up in Ibiza. Having travelled for a few years in this lifestyle they returned to Lyme Regis where Jess was born. When she was a toddler they set sail again, sailed through France, down to the Med and then lived in Ibiza until she was 13 years old.

Water in her bones

Jess grew up with and around boats and had water in her bones. Bi-Lingual in Spanish and English, Jess joined the Lyme Regis sailing club when her family returned to Dorset, she ended up attending work experience with the harbour master and joined the coastguard team as a volunteer.

First view of charts

It was during this role as a volunteer that Jess first learnt about charts and it made her incredibly interested in geology and coastlines. A Summer job as a harbour master assistant encouraged her to become a qualified fishing skipper for power boats, level 2, this allowed her to take the helm of a boat up to 16.5m and to take it up to 20 nautical miles out to see.

It’s not all about the sea …

Jess then went to University in Plymouth where she studied illustration at the University of Plymouth. After graduating, she took some time to go travelling on her own and started off in Ibiza, retracing old steps. Whilst in Ibiza, she sat down one day in the shade and sketched out a small yacht in front of her. The crew saw her work and were immediately so impressed that they asked for a copy. Whilst in conversation, Jess asked ‘how can I work on board a yacht like this’ and when they mentioned the qualifications required, she realised she already had some of them from her previous training and continued the rest with Flying Fish in Cowes.

Life as a deckhand

Once fully qualified, Jess flew out to the South of France and started dock-walking the well know Quay’s of Antibes. At 5’ 11” and larger built than the traditional female yacht crew at that time, she felt out of her comfort zone, however, determined to be a deckhand rather than a steward, she gained a few sessions of day work before finally being given the full time position as a deckhand on M/Y Blade in Cap D’Ail. Jess was finally loving life and had vision of staying in this lifestyle for some time. However, events in her family meant that she was only able to complete one season before having to return home to Lyme.

Jess Douglas – The Yacht Artist

Art on charts

After returning to Dorset Jess, struggling with artists block, took on a few different roles which did not satisfy her two loves, yachting and design.

Speaking to a fisherman in her hometown, she asked if she could draw his newly delivered 10m trawler and at this stage, her new hobby began. He bought the painting off of her for £200 and told her to promote it on the Facebook page ‘fishing news’. Within days she had multiple commissions. A commission from a fishing boat in Alaska asked her if she could paint his traditional trawler, but his special request was that it was on a well-thumbed chart of Alaska. Here began her unique style and her deep connection with charts, but where do superyachts come into it? She contacted an old friend who was still in the industry, and asked her permission to paint the yacht she worked on, for free, so she could have a Superyacht on her portfolio of work. 2 years on she has an incredible following and a waiting list until June 2022*.

The beauty of charts

Not only are these charts a real unique selling point to the art that she offers, they tell a story of the yacht, builds emotions around the journey of the yacht and begins to tell the life of the yacht.

Jess stated “I have always been fascinated in coastlines, geography, maps and orienteering as well as having a talent with art and illustration. The Major of Lyme Regis, my home-town, was in his earlier career a cartographer himself and we’ve discussed the art of charting a lot. The fact that charts have been drawn themselves is a beautiful place to start my creations. Art on art. I feel very lucky that this is my full-time job and encompasses my two loves”.

M/Y Okto

The cover image on this blog is of M/Y Okto which was commissioned by the crew for the captain for his birthday. The 66m yacht was launched in 2014 by ISA Yachts. Unusual with her jet black steel hull, this makes for a particularly striking commission.

To bring out the beauty in your chart, contact Jess. All paintings are totally bespoke and customised to the clients specifications.


Instagram @theyachtartist

Facebook Jess Douglas Artist

Email [email protected]

*It is possible to fast track this list but this comes with an additional rush fee.

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