Where are you from originally and where do you live now?
I grew up on Mount Desert Island, but lived in Portland, Maine for most of my adult life. My family and I moved back to MDI three years ago. It's quiet in the winter but gorgeous all year long.
Mount Desert Island is a pretty special place and obviously a big source of inspiration. Do you think your work would be quite different if you lived somewhere else... say up in the mountains or in the desert out West?
I think my work is always influenced by the places I get to visit - this past winter I was able to take my first trip to the Bahamas, for example, and I am still thinking about the color of the ocean there. And I love to study botanical forms and rocks anywhere I am.
This series of collages is the first you've done in a while. What other kinds of work have you been making lately?
Lately I've been doing a lot of larger format freehand paper cutting, which I love to work on. And some drawing and painting, too. I also bought a laser cutter this year and have been slowly learning how to use it - mostly engraving and cutting thin wood so far. Doing the collage work for this show was a lot of fun for me, though - I love to have a variety of mediums to work in.
What goes into one of these pieces? In other words, what is your process?
It's a messy process! I start by thinking about the colors I want to use in each one. I have drawers in my studio that are sorted by color that each include scraps of paper, bits of old paintings, old gocco and silk screened prints, etc. I also work on paper cutting forms I want to include, and on drawing + painting patterns and forms, too. Once I've assembled the rough raw materials, I lay out the base layers for each piece, adhere them and let it dry. Then I carefully start thinking about how to include the other layers - this is the part that takes awhile, because I fool around with the layout for a stupidly long time. When each layer is adhered, it needs to dry before I keep going so I can see how it will really look. I love to do collage in a series like this one, because I like to include small bits of the same elements across the series. (One reason I don't do collage all the time is that my studio can pretty quickly become a total disaster - but creating them is a total pleasure.)
Jennifer's poster for the NYC's MTA.
You've seen your work grace book covers, a subway ad, iPhone covers and textiles. Where else would you love to see your work someday?
I'd love to do more books or editorial projects in the future. Starting to work with my laser cutter has gotten my mind humming with ideas about doing larger scale installations and functional art, too. And I love collaborating with other artists on projects - I just finished working with a fine furniture maker who asked me to create papercuttings that were vectorized and eventually enlarged quite a bit and cut out of bronze with a waterjet cutter and inlaid into some gates. It was awesome.
You've been a seller on Etsy since 2007 and have shown at Nahcotta for a long time too. What was it like promoting and selling your art online back then. How has it changed?
I've never liked or felt comfortable promoting my art, to be honest. When I joined Etsy in 2007, it was a good time to jump in to the art category there because there weren't nearly as many other artists. A lot of the opportunities I've been offered over the past six years have been because people saw my work on Etsy, which I felt (and still feel) so grateful for. I have trouble knowing how to promote my work these days in a way that feels right for me - I don't really use Twitter, for example - I'm not sure I've never really figured it out. I like to post process shots on Instagram sometimes, and I do use my business Facebook page to post occasional updates on my work, because I figure people have opted in to hear about it, and can always opt out. If there is a magic formula for letting people know what you're up to in a way that feels simple and true but isn't spamming them, I would love to know what it is.