meet art wall artist: jen hewett

March 18, 2010

If you're in search of some feminine mystique, search no more. Jen Hewett has the heart behind these lady-like creations, and today she is offering some thoughts on inspiration and art-making.

(AW) Your blog is a cozy little place--in a recent post you featured a video of "Ira Glass on Storytelling" and the process of creating good work that I absolutely loved. Could you talk a bit about your own process as an artist? How did you start up?

(JH) I've been making things for as long as I can remember, but really only started thinking of myself as an artist very recently. I would skirt around the word, calling myself an illustrator or a crafter; sometime in the last year, as I made a serious commitment to my silkscreen work, I decided I could call myself an artist even though I'd been one all along.
In 2000, years before I became a printmaker, I started a wholesale stationary company and ran it for three years. I did all the illustrations, managed the marketing, traveled to numerous tradeshows, packed every single order - you name it, I did it. After three years, I was completely burned out and broke and decided to close it. A buyer came along, and I continued to do illustrations for the line. That fizzled out and I got a "regular" job, pretty much leaving my creative side behind for a few years.
On a whim, I took a silkscreening class and became hooked. I think it appeals to me because it has a very artistic, right-brained aspect, as well as a very operational, left-brained side. Coming up with an idea and then executing it as an illustration is often a long, difficult process for me, but once I have an actual illustration, the process of making my transparencies and then printing the design is a very joyous one.
Most of my creative work is like that - a lot of futzing and obsessing with some small disappointments thrown in. I have to get all of that out of my system. It's quite often not until I've completely given up on a design or illustration that I can see the direction I'm supposed to take. Being an artist isn't easy. Most days, my illustrations aren't brilliant; I have to do them anyway for the good stuff to start flowing out of me. But when the good stuff starts to flow, I feel amazing. And that feeling is what gives me the energy to keep going.

(AW) What is your idea of artistic success?

(JH) I would like to get to the point where my work supports me. I have a day job which I like quite a bit, but I do wish that I didn't have to relegate my creative work to evenings and weekends. In addition to that, though, I want to keep growing. I don't want my work to look the same for the rest of my life. My skills now are so much better than where they were a year ago; I can only imagine how much stronger they'll be in five or ten years. And the more I work and put my work out there, the more opportunities seem to come my way.

(AW) Much of your work seems to have a feminine theme--your Michelle Obama paper dolls, pink pumps--how do these subjects come about?

(JH) I admit it - I love clothes. However, I'm also incredibly frugal, so I'm not much of a clothes-horse. When I draw, I get to "own" a piece of clothing or a pair of shoes I wouldn't necessarily buy for myself.

Much of my inspiration just comes from the things I see every day. I love color. I'm lucky to live in a place like San Francisco that is vibrant and teeming with visual inspiration. The fashion show that is my daily Muni (bus) commute to work is pretty fun, too.

(AW) Where do you like to create?

(JH) I turned the second bedroom of my apartment into a studio. It has a huge, five-window bay window that looks out onto the street. It gets afternoon light. When the weather is nice, I open my windows and enjoy the sun and breeze. It's really a lovely place to sit and draw (photo here). I also just set up a print studio in the unused dining nook of my place. It's a really cozy, little room. It has no windows, but it does have a skylight, and the vibe of the room (not to sound too California) is just perfect.

(AW) What's something that makes you happy? What inspires you?

(JH) Oh, too many things to count! But here's a good start:
-My sweet, spunky little dog, Jake.
-Really good food (I cook a lot and also volunteer at the neighborhood farmers' market--I can't wait for summer to come along so I can make ice cream again).
-My neighborhood, which, despite being in a big city, has a nice, small-town feel.
-Biking around San Francisco...there's something really amazing about commuting on a bike. I feel like I'm somehow more connected to the world when I'm on my bike or on foot.
-Community - I feel like I'm a part of so many different communities. I'm involved in my neighborhood, I've met so many incredible artists in the past year, I have a wonderful group of friends, and I work with some pretty amazing people.

Anyway, I think that inspiration doesn't suddenly appear. You have to look for it, be open to it. Creating, being inspired - these are active, instead of passive, activities.

(AW) So true. Sometimes being open to our own ideas is intimidating! Thanks, Jen.

Jen's print, "Fishnet Legs, Red Shoes," is hanging in the Kitchen wall on Art Wall. Her Etsy shop is a collection of screen prints, watercolors, and linen odds n' ends. For her vintage finds, check out Jen and Jake's Vintage Shop on Etsy. She also curates a blog, which features frequent appearances of Jake, her charming canine side-kick.


The Rotary said...

Great interview, it's nice to hear how people got to where they are now.

And I found a new shop to love :)

JenRem said...

I seriously love your blog. I'm onyl of those folks that just keeps stopping by here and there to catch-up on everything you've posted. But I just can't get enough. Just added myself as a follower. :)

snoweflake farm said...

lovely work and interview!

lindseybee said...

oh my gosh! I love the shoe bags! great post:)

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