Hello beautiful creative people, happy Tuesday =D Firstly I want to thank everyone who left such lovely comments, emails, support and Etsy sales after my last post - obviously this is Tell All Tuesday so don't want to detract from that, or this weeks great artist, but I do want to say that you guys are *awesome* and so supportive & I agree with our lovely featured artist Jessica Sporn whole-heartily when she says 'the best thing art has given me is the community of amazing people, mostly women, who I've met through my art' =D
Jessica's story is incredible & inspirational, so pull up a pew and escape happily through her looking glass ~~
I always drew, painted and crafted as a child, but never thought about making it a career. Growing up, I had a good friend whose older sister was an amazing artist. She and her friends were so original and amazing, and aimed at careers in art. For me, it was just a hobby. I was drawn to the performing arts, and acted, sang and danced my way through my childhood and teens, when I attended the High School of Performing Arts in New York City (sometimes known as the "Fame" school!). After several years of being "in the business," and performing in some off-Broadway shows and cabarets, I decided to go to law school to try to change the world. I graduated and went to work in a big New York firm, working long hours as a securities law litigator. My artistic days seemed behind me. But then I became pregnant with my first child, and instead of food cravings, I had creative cravings! I started sketching, drawing with markers and crayons, and eventually bought myself a set of watercolors and started painting. My big achievement was painting a picture that would become my daughter's birth announcement.
A year after having my daughter, her father and I split up. It was an ugly divorce, and I was too much of an emotional wreck to function at my part-time law job. Luckily, a friend had asked me to paint an image similar to the birth announcement on her child's wall. One of her friends saw that mural, and asked me to design something for her child's room. And before I knew it, I was a mural painter! I taught myself some faux finishing techniques, and started a business as a decorative painter. A friend saw photos of the murals I had painted, and took me with him to the Licensing Show at the Javits Center in New York. The following year, I painted up a bunch of paintings with the characters I had created for children's murals, and opened up my own booth at the Licensing Show. Across from me were the wonderful team from Creative Connections, Inc., a licensing representative. They asked me if I would like them to represent me, and of course I said yes. Then, in addition to being a decorative painter, I became an illustrator of greeting cards, and other surface and stationary products. I really feel like art saved me, at a time when my personal life was falling apart. So a big thank you to the art gods and muses!!
It's hard to say what kind of artist I am. My best answer is that I'm always learning. Not having any formal training, I feel like an eternal student and explorer of techniques, mediums, and media. I use watercolors, acrylics, and am just learning about inks and sprays. I like to experiment with whimsy and realism, paint and collage, experimentation and discipline.
What is the biggest challenge you personally face as an artist and how do you overcome it?
One of my biggest challenges paradoxically flows from the amazing art community all around me. I admire so many of the artists whose blogs I follow, and who I've met at various art conferences and retreats. I'm always feeling like my work will never be at their level! But then I remind myself not to compare myself to others, and to just keep "speaking" in my own voice. It's so easy to look at someone else's work, and wonder: "why didn't I think of that?" It's so easy to forget that the best art is organic and a true expression of what's inside -- and that's different for each of us. After all, we are all snowflakes! Another big challenge I have is that I'm often negatively critical of what I'm doing while I'm doing it. When I catch myself holding my breath, it's a sure sign that I'm in my judgmental frame of mind. One of the ways I overcome this is to always have music on! Thank goodness for Pandora and Songza. I have found the best tunes through these sites. Lastly, another challenge is having an identifiable style. I feel like I'm always experimenting -- sometimes I feel like lettering and doodling, other times I feel like painting. I worry that my style is a little all over the place. I haven't figured out how to overcome this yet -- I just keep creating!
What is your greatest personal achievement either in your art or because of it?
One of the things I'm most proud of is that I've been able to use my art in service of causes I feel strongly about. My family is very involved with an organization in Guatemala that builds homes and provides healthcare and education to very poor indigenous people. This year, I designed their holiday card, which I'm very proud of. Another big achievement has been designing art for Jewish ceremonial products like menorahs, Passover tableware, and other holiday objects. One of the menorahs I designed was featured in the New York Times. Another achievement has been designing a tableware collection based on the "Woman of Valor," from Proverbs. And finally, having Amazon.com describe me as "famous artist Jessica Sporn" in the description for this whimsical menorah definitely made me smile!
What is the best thing that art has brought into your life?
I would have to say that the best thing art has given me is the community of amazing people, mostly women, who I've met through my art. Also, it has given me a means through which to express how I feel about life and the world. It has helped me feel like I can make a difference, by sharing uplifting images and words that hopefully bring people joy, make them smile, and spread a little peace.
Tell us about where we can find out more about you and your art?
I'm a regular blogger at www.jessicasporn.blogspot.com. I also have an illustration website at tothemoondesigns.com. I recently released a line of stencils with Stencil Girl Products, and you can find these by artist at stencilgirlproducts.com.
Thank you so much for sharing Jessica, I find your work and art-ful journey so inspiring =) my favourite part of your interview is 'My best answer is that I'm always learning. Not having any formal training, I feel like an eternal student and explorer of techniques, mediums, and media' ~ that's so the truth. Aren't we all eternal students? I certainly feel it, and I think it's true that the day we stop learning is the day we die. I think sometimes our inner critics can twist that into making us think we're unskilled at this, or rubbish at that, but in my heart I feel that despite so many of us not having any 'formal' training that it would have been no different if we had. Yes our art would look different, we'd know more technical aspects of art, we'd know more about the history of art and we'd probably even be able to appreciate why a modern painting with three lines on it could be worth more than an entire gallery of paintings by masters, but I doubt we'd be on any less of an artful journey within ourselves. Shhh inner critic shhh, we're too busy learning our own way (& singing to our tunes!) to listen to you anyway xoxo
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