Monday, May 13, 2013

Artist Jen Prox: Maker of Prints Bursting with Colorful Life

 Buy this piece here 
This piece was done while listening to this song here 

Hello everyone and thanks for stopping by to read my latest artist interview! This time I interviewed artist Jen Prox, who lives near Cleveland Ohio and has Etsy shops for both her jewelry and her art. Her prints are literally bursting with color and life! If you'd like to visit her Etsy shops they will be listed at the end of the post...and don't forget to leave a comment! 

Can you just tell me a little bit about yourself and how you started as an artist?  

I am a mom of an (almost) three year old, named Noah, and an (almost) five year old named Isaac.  I spend my mornings with my two boys, and I work as a custom framer at an art/craft store in the evenings.  I somehow manage to find time to make my jewelry and drawings/paintings in between all of this. My husband works the night shift as a respiratory therapist.  

How did I start as an artist?.....well, I've always been creative.  The bits of my childhood that I remember we're filled with making things.  I altered many of my toys....ripped off the stickers,  painted them, made them into something else.  I loved play-doh, tinker toys, Legos, and of course paint and crayons, and any other media like that.  I started filling sketchbooks at an early age. I found school boring, and was an average student with minimal effort.  After enduring k-12 required public school I went on the the local community college to discover my direction in life.  I started taking the regular requirements, and filled my schedule to the rim with electives.  I enjoyed college much more then k-12....I had more control over what I could learn.  I loved philosophy, psychology, theology, and anthropology and I thought that I would find a direction in one of these studies.  I was also taking some other courses in the arts, I think I did everything.  Drawing, painting, ceramics, sculpture, even some graphic design courses.  There was also jewelry and enameling offered at this school and I took all levels of each course.  It even got to the point that I was taking these classes beyond the point that I couldn't receive credits for it, and I was just an independent study creating my own curriculum.  This all took place in a three year period of time.  

At this point I had resisted my direction long enough. (I did not want to become an "artist") I understood how hard that would be, and longed for an easier direction in my life that would involve a simple 9-5, and a dependable pay check.  But, I discovered in those three years, that I am what I am, and it was futile to resist.  I live near the Cleveland Institute of Art, and I thought I'd apply, just to see what would happen.  I applied, and not only was accepted but received a substantial scholarship and was allowed to skip a year (it was a five year program back then).  So, my art school adventure began.  It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.  To be immersed with so many talented and creative people was an eye opener, I was no longer the best at anything artistic....I was one of many, and so many more were better then me, which pushed me to new levels of creativity.  I finally felt like I belonged somewhere.  It was a lot of hard work, but it was never work I didn't enjoy.  I would get to school at 9am, and often stay until 2am working in my studio.  My major was in Jewelry Metals, and I minored in Enameling.  In 2003 I graduated in the top twenty of my class NS many of the amazing people I went to school with went on to have amazing careers as artists all around the country.  

Buy this piece here

I chose to stay here in Cleveland.  For five years after I graduated I traveled around within a 7hour radius doing outdoor juried art shows selling my jewelry.  I also entered my work in many exhibitions, and received many awards.  I have done a few shows with my paintings as well.  Life as an artist has not been easy, I had to work a "job" on top of creating to pay back a large student loan I had to take out in order to pay the portion of my tuition, and living expenses that my scholarship didn't cover.  I've worked for a jewelry artist, I've worked as an interior apolsterer of cooperate jets, and as a custom framer.  

In 2006 I was married to my wonderful hardworking husband, and in 2008 we had our first child and moved into our house.  After Isaac came along all my creative energy was poured into raising him.  My focus completely did a 180, and a new adventure began :) in 2010 we had Noah, and again my energy was focused on both my boys.  Now that they are a bit older and a little more independent, I have found my need for creating has resurfaced.  In 2012 I reopened my Etsy shop, set up my metals studio, and started working again, almost like I never had a five year break.  I started filling up my sketchbooks again, and decided to open up my Etsy print shop in 2013.  So here I am, a mom a wife, and an artist.   

Buy this piece here

Your work is so vibrant, eye-catching, and intricate, and a lot of the paintings are also reminiscent of the jewelry you create (or maybe it's vice versa?). Do they stem from the same inspiration? Is there anything else that has been an inspiration to your work?   

The drawings came first.  I have always been a doodler.  Like I said earlier, school was boring.  I remember geometry class.  This is when we were introduced to graph paper.  I remember sitting in class filling every square with a circle, then expanding the circles into other shapes guided by the graph paper, I would fill my graph paper pad with drawings of swirls, circles, spirals and they eventually started connecting and I started to develop a "drawing language" all my own.  I colored all these in with pens and then I developed my own "color language" I love color!  And I still walked away with a passing grade in geometry.  I eventually filled blank page sketchbooks with these doodle/drawings.  

Music has always been an inspiration to me.  I listen to all genres, and always have something playing while I'm creating.  In my high school/ college days I had many musically inclined friends, they would get together in basements, or coffee houses (after closing time) and have these amazing jams sessions.  I would bring my sketchbook and "draw the music" (I didn't have any musical talents of my own). I would frequent open mic nights, and shows around town.  I would be there in a dimly lit bar or coffee house drawing, drawing, drawing.  I have a crazy pen/ marker collection.  I still draw draw draw.  Now I put on a record and sit with the kids, and they draw with me.  Or If I have down time at work I'll jot down a quick idea.  Or late at night when the boys are in bed I spread out on the dinning room table and draw/paint.  

My religion is also an inspiration to me.  I'm a Catholic.  Catholicism is steeped in tradition, beauty, and symbolism.  I know that being raised surrounded by this has influenced my artistic interpretation of this world.  The theological challenges Catholicism presents to me on a daily basis satisfy my mind body and soul, and it helps me come to terms with my role as an artist in this world.  

Symbols also fascinate me (their anthropological origins, and inter connectivity throughout the world). 

The enamel/jewelry technique of cloisonné just fit into my already established drawing style, and even my non-enamel jewelry pieces are a reflection of my drawings. 

See this on Flickr 

What are your plans for the future in art or just life in general?   

All I ask of the future is that I'm able to continue to create, and raise my children to be beautiful human beings, and keep them unharmed in this uncertain world.  

It is my hope that my artwork can help support my family financially.  My artwork has yet to provide any sort of income for me.   

One of Jen's jewelry pieces: 

Buy this piece here 

Thanks for reading, everyone! Here are some of Jen's links, please like  
her Facebook and check out her shops! 

Jen's print shop: here 
Jen's jewelry shop: here 
Jen's Facebook fan page: here 

Glosoli - Sigur Ros

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  1. Great interview! Really nice to learn a bit more about Jen, who does amazing work.
    Thanks for featuring her!

    1. Thanks for stopping by to read, and I'm glad you enjoyed the interview! =)


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