I wanted to have this post up so much sooner for all of you because I am very excited about it (but the flu that won’t end has got me lagging behind)! Jennifer Lee is one of those people that you can’t help but fall in love with when you meet her. And when you see her artwork, you are even more swept away by her beauty. She’s an old soul with a huge heart and a passion for life. Recently, she helped me by sharing some trade secrets. She didn’t bat an eyelash and sent me so much more information than I could have wished for. Quite honestly, I’m thrilled to be able to share her thoughts and creations here with you on Joyful Roots. I know you will be inspired!
1. Please tell us a little about what you create.
I create vibrant, colorful, busy mixed media art! I’m pretty indecisive and energetic by nature, so mixed media fits the indecisive part of me nicely. I just grab whatever is within reach and incorporate it into what I’m making. I work kind of like an explosion, and my work usually reflects that: a bright explosion of color, doodles, bits of found paper, paint splatters, maps, you name it.
2. Can you tell us a little about your journey that led you to where you are and what you do?
Well, I studied art in college without knowing where I really wanted to go with it. I just knew I loved it and it felt right. Afterwards, I worked as a bartender and in various positions at a preschool, still not really knowing where I was headed. After pressure from various sources started to really get to me, I took a 9-5 “real job” at a medical company in 2010. I just felt like that’s what I was supposed to do. Truth be told, it was one of the most miserable times of my life. Tons of work, grumpy coworkers, a 45 minute commute… Not something I wanted to dedicate 40+ hours a week to. I did a lot of thinking at that job and at that desk, about what I really wanted. In the summer of 2011 I found some articles on Etsy’s website called “Quit Your Day Job.” These were interviews with people who used Etsy to sell things and were making a living off of it. It was like 1000 light bulbs turned on. I had been making art for fun the whole time, but never thought of trying to sell it. After taking a year to prepare, I left my job on September 6, 2012 and have not looked back.
3. What aspect of your work brings you the most joy?
I love sudden inspiration: when I’m taking a walk and an idea flies into my head out of nowhere, and it’s so powerful that I have to rush home and make it a physical thing. That moment when the thing I have created with my hands reflects the image I saw in my head is a magical one.
4. What is your most favorite project or piece that you have ever created?
Back when I was a poor college student, I needed an inexpensive idea for final project. I found some old record album covers at a used record store by my house and bought them for $0.50 each. Using whatever I had lying around my room (since I was poor and couldn’t afford to buy new supplies for the project) I started making mixed media collages on them. That is when my love for mixed media began and those four collages will always hold a special place in my heart.
5. Who are your role models or heroes?
I have so many for so many different reasons! But I am going to say my role models are the artists who have made a living doing what they absolutely love. Mae Chevrette is one of my biggest role models; she was the artist featured in the first Quit Your Day Job article I read. I also admire Flora Bowley for her brave and intuitive painting style, Anahata Katkin blows me away, Alisa Burke’s blog is insanely full of inspiration… the world is full of so many amazing people!
6. Do you have a motto or a favorite quote that embodies your work?
“No one lights a lamp in order to hide it behind the door; the purpose of light is to create more light, to open people’s eyes, to reveal the marvels around.” -Paolo Coelho
I am really big on wanting people to see and appreciate how beautiful the world is and life is, and not just cruise through it on autopilot.
7. Can you describe where your inspiration comes from? (Do you perhaps have a process or ritual that you use to evoke inspiration?)
One of my favorite things to do is take walks with my camera. When you have a camera with you, you are looking for beautiful or interesting things to take pictures of. When the only thing I am concentrating on is looking for beautiful things, inspiration flows freely and I might return home with 20 new ideas. Sometimes I think we should always walk around like we have a camera and are looking, even when we don’t 🙂
8. Are there any books or tools that you would recommend to people interested in your trade?
Internet internet internet! Surround yourself with people who are doing the same thing as you, or have done the same thing you want to do and succeeded. Read blogs. The internet is such an amazing tool that most of us have at our fingertips nowadays. Use that to your advantage! You could find someone who lives on the opposite side of the world as you who is doing the exact same thing and you can trade ideas and help each other out.
9. Can you offer one piece of advice to our readers who want to sell their creative work?
I’m going to go with the internet again on this one. There are so many websites like Etsy, Society6, RedBubble, etc to sell your work on. Then, take full advantage of social media. Start a Facebook page, Twitter, a Tumblr blog, pin your work on Pinterest and post pictures on Flickr. Get your name out there whenever and wherever possible. And always carry business cards, because you never know who you might run into!
10. What plans do you have for the near future?
I plan on continuing to spend as much time as possible making my dream a reality. It has been a struggle over the past few months, as any new business can be. In the near future I want to achieve stability so that my worries don’t interfere with my creative process.
11. What are your biggest dreams for your life and craft?
I want to keep growing my art business. I want to be able to take my inspirational camera walks in places all over the country and world while on vacations, then create new work inspired by those places. Being self-employed is my dream… not just because I am stubborn and headstrong and want to do my own thing all the time. But because when I go to bed at night, I am the one who decides what kind of job I did that day. I’m never waiting for a boss to approve my work or say that I did something great. I want to do great things every day and maybe even give someone the courage to take the same leap of faith I’m taking!
12. Finish this sentence: For me, it’s the best feeling in the world when…
Someone tells me I inspired them. Nothing compares.
You can find more of Jennifer’s work and purchase her art at her Etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/Jenndalyn
Check ou her blog: http://www.jenndalyn.blogspot.com/
Follow her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Jenndalyn