Meet Bohemian and Bodacious Mixed Media Artist: Jennifer Lee of Jendalynn Art
Mixed media is a passion of mine along with flowers, drawings of women but combining all of them is just the best!!!! So when I saw some of the work Jennifer Lee posted on the Art and Artists of 614 Facebook page, I was in love! We first started our conversation online but then, I was lucky enough to hang out with her at her adorable little apartment/studio for a couple of hours. We found out that we have lots in common like loving animals, doing mixed media work and being Steeler fans! We talked about so many things and I had a thoroughly delightful time with this young lady.
Her studio/brand/shop name is Jendalyn, after a nickname coworkers gave her. She secretly began working on Jendalyn Art in the summer of 2011, a year into a 9-5 office job that was draining her spirit. It was her getaway plan, a master plan which was going to allow her to quit that abyssmal job and live a life doing what she truly loves. For a while, it just seemed like a pipe dream… some days believing it would never happen. However, she took the plunge anyway, and quit that office job in September of 2012. While it has not always been easy, Jendalyn turned into her full-time gig and she has never looked back, lucky girl!!! However, we did talk about the realities of being a ‘starving artist’, how to promote yourself in a positive manner and being ‘broke as a joke’ but living an authentic life rather than settling for what everyone else thinks is the ideal life. Sometimes that translates into not having the money for rent, having your utilities turned off, etc. but Jennifer would rather that then live life on others’ terms.
Originally from Syracuse New York, her family moved to Springboro Ohio (suburb of Dayton) in 1993. Eventually, she moved to Columbus to attend Ohio State, double majoring in Fine Art and History of Art. While there have been a couple opportunities to move, Columbus is my home. I love it here. She stated that she would like to get more involved in the Columbus art scene, make connections and network, as she sometimes feels isolated working from home and hasn’t really established a presence with her work locally. That being said, most of her customer base has been online and she has managed to scrape out a living from that. That led to a discussion about local art groups, galleries and how to get your art out there. Something that many of the artists I have interviewed struggle with. Trying more crafty venues like suburban art shows and craft fairs has not resulted in increased exposure (again something I hear often!) and so that left the question of how do you get your art out there? Unfortunately, many graduates with fine arts degrees have expressed that their education did not include how to sell what you create, social media or anything approaching that…bummer!
However, art is something that has always been a huge part of her life. “I always tell this story about how when I was in fourth grade, our teacher gave us an assignment to draw what we wanted to be when we grew up. Then she hung all of the drawings on a wall in our classroom. I drew an artist, and the kids in my class laughed at me and said, “That’s not a real job.” Artists get that a lot.” Even when studying art in college, there was no talk about how to find gainful employment as an artist. No marketing, no branding and no real training in how to turn her passion into her vocation (sadly, something I’ve heard from many artists!) So, instead of pursuing art, she became a bartender for a few years, then took the office job that changed everything. It was the 9-5 stable job that everyone seems to think is the goal in life… and I hated it!!! That job made her realize being an artist was the only route for her!
How does she categorize her art?? Busy, bright, bold, bohemian. Everything is mixed media, because she has a decision making problem…hehe! So she just uses anything and everything she can get her hands on. “I’ve received a lot of criticism about this, that it’s “too much.” But, it’s me. It’s what I love.”
A lot of her inspiration comes from the natural world…tiny miracles that surround us every single day. “The way the wind sounds when it blows through the trees, the warmth of sunlight on your skin, the smell of flowers.” She states that she is incredibly inspired by connectivity within the universe, that we are made of the same things as the stars. An art journal/sketchbook is one of her most prized possessions. It’s a place where she can try out new techniques and just play, not having to worry about how the final product will look. It’s something that she says helps her immensely in many areas, and she encourages others to keep one.
Micron pens and white out pens are her best friends and she loves using alcohol ink mixed with acrylic, because they resist one another and create an astral effect. Thrift stores are the best places to find weird old books and maps to use in collages. Vintage doilies also show up in a lot of her work – “I have a strange affinity for those.” And when in doubt, add some henna designs!!!!
At this time, her Etsy shop is the main venue for her works although she has done some wholesale in the past, and hopes to someday find a store here in Columbus that will be a good fit for her prints. Although she has never done a gallery show, it is on her ‘bucket’ list. Recently, she focused on a 40 Works In 40 Days project as a way to help get through the worst part of winter.This allowed her to create an 8 x 10 mixed media piece on wood panel each day until she finished all 40. She also has a substantial presence on Society 6 and has begun to sell more there. She even has a gorgeous mural of her art in her bedroom (see below) that a friend bought for her from that website. But, once again, that led back to the subject of how the hell do you establish yourself in your own community? So, we did a little brainstorming and decided that we would continue to talk and brainstorm in the future while I encouraged her to make some contacts and maybe join some local art groups. We also talked about mixed media, how we create and compared notes about our processes. I learned some great tips from her and look forward to learning more from her.
In addition to what she has done locally, several of her prints were used on the show “Texas Flip N Move” which aired in December 2014 on the DIY Network. She says: “It was pretty weird to see my stuff on TV, but really cool!”
Despite the difficult times, I can definitely feel that Jen is someone who is motivated to continue to make art her vocation even though she is tired of being broke. A part-time job to help pay the bills may be on the horizon but I sure hope she doesn’t give up on her dreams because I think she’s on to something!!! I’m looking forward to seeing where those lead her and hope that I will see her work out and about our great city soon.