Monday, February 9, 2009

Jennifer Dzik

Jennifer emailed me a while ago and I found her story to be very inspiring and thought it would be something that lots of us could relate to. Like many of you, Jennifer struggles with balancing her full-time job and her passion for the arts and also finds it difficult to find free time to produce enough art to open up an Etsy shop. I think it's safe to say that these days, most folks are unable to up and leave a job that pays the bills in order to pursue a passion, lucky for Jennifer she found a way around it by licensing her art to a jewelry designer - Melissa of Madison Reece Designs. I've asked Jennifer if she could share her story and experience...

1. How would you describe your style?

I'd say my artistic style is organic, whimsical, stylish and clean. Being a designer often leaves my work with a strong graphic sense as well.

The three things that make me happy:

Happy in the morning. Sunday mornings are my 'let's make something fun' day. When the morning light comes in my studio, and I'm surrounded with bright colors, I feel super inspired to make something....anything....just as long as I take a break from my daily routine.

>> click here to continue reading the interview

Happy in the afternoon. If/when I'm feeling overwhelmed with the day or just plain uninspired, I often pick up my book of Jim Henson sketches and fill my creative void.

Happy at night. After a long day of work in front of my computer, I like to escape the world of 'all things Mac' and sketch some things that may have been on my mind that day or things that I intend to create for the future. Even though I don't have the time to create them at the moment, getting the ideas down on paper helps me to preserve my thoughts and get back to them at a time when I do have a chance to create.

2. One of the hardest things for artists to do is to stand apart from everyone else. How long did it take you to come up with your own style and signature look? What advice can you give aspiring artists struggling to find their own voice and look?

Honestly, I've been creating for as long as I can remember - so I'd have to say my style started to develop as a child. I guess that was a huge benefit because as a kid, you're stuck in your imaginary world and not aware of the criticizing world. You draw what you want and everyone encourages you. At a fairly young age, I can specifically remember people being able to pick my art out of a group of other people's work. Actually, you know what? I think people could pick out my art long before I recognized I had a specific style.

As far as finding your own voice in a world of artists... it might be easier 'said' than 'done'. I believe you have to look within your heart, run with what you find, don't question it and never look back!

3. You describe your blog as "my journey getting back into my art". Can you tell us how you strayed away from art in the first place?

In the beginning, my creations would always come straight from the heart and this pleased me. But after college, my first job was as an art director for an advertising agency. It was a brutal, fast-paced atmosphere and I quickly realized my job as a designer was more like that of a puppet: The agency had me by my strings and I had to create heartless, fast art on demand. My work may have pleased the clients, but it lost its touch of 'Jennifer'. Suddenly 'creating' wasn't as fun as it used to be and I really didn't care to draw anymore.

4. You currently have a full-time job and struggling to find a balance between the job and your passion to make art. Can you share your thoughts and frustration about this issue? Have you discovered any techniques or tricks that have helped you with finding a little bit of a balance?

Yes. I cut those darn puppet strings. :) *giggle* After a year of agency work, I found a more rewarding job at a publishing company where the pace was more laid-back. I no longer let the fact that I couldn't always create what I wanted to create upset me. Look - I do like my job, but I work to live, not live to work. My frustration comes along with the fact that my job as a designer involves me being in front of a computer all day. When I get home, the last thing I want to do is sit back down in front of my Mac, but that's how primarily how I create my artwork.

My tricks for getting around this... well, here's what I've figured out so far:

1)During the work week, I will ONLY sketch after work. No computer time. Another huge key for me is to never force creativity. If I don't feel especially inspired after a day at work, I don't let myself feel bad about it.
2)After a full week of work I'll usually take Saturday as my 'Jennifer' time. NO computers or drawing allowed. I try to do something else creative like cook or bake or read.
3)Sundays are my 'Fun-days'! I'll use this day to scan my sketches into the computer and bring them to life.

5. You currently license your art to a fellow Etsy seller Melissa of Madison Reece Designs, could you please share how you both came up with a fair agreement. What factors should someone consider when looking into licensing their artwork? or when it comes to licensing someone else's work (I guess this is more of a question for Melissa)?

Before Madison Reece Designs, I never licensed any of my work. But Melissa found my blog and asked if we could do some collaborative work together. She was really good at showing me the ropes.

Basically, Melissa looks for a reputable artist to work with by checking out their websites or blogs. She then asks if the artist would be willing to send a sample of their work or names of other artists they have collaborated with.

If the artist is willing to join in on a project, Melissa explains her process of making her jewelry and how she'd need the artist to set up their files. She and the artist find a balance of what they think would be fair in exchange of their product. This might include an exchange of money for each sale or that the artist gets to have one of the end products.

Melissa and I wrote up a contract that stated my illustrations were still owned by me but she could sell them as pendants for her jewelry or use the illustrations for advertising purposes for a set amount of time. My name and blog would also be featured in her Etsy listings so people understood where the illustrations came from. From there, we agreed on a dollar amount that I would receive for each pendant that was sold.

So far, this contract has worked like a charm. It's given Melissa some new product for her store and it's given my illustrations some new exposure.

6. Who is your idol/current craft-crush?

Psssh! Jim Henson, hands down! This man was by far, the most inspiring and creative man of all times. He pursued fun and silly things and proved that success could come from staying true to yourself and your commitment to your dreams. He dreamed of educating children by making things fun. He certainly left a lasting impression. I mean, come on...I'm 25 and I own the first season of Fraggle Rock on DVD because I *LOVED* it as a kid.

7. What was it that made you want to start creating? Did something specific trigger it?

I can't say there was one specific trigger. Artists run in my family, so I think it's just part of my roots. I do know that as a kid, my imagination would keep me busy for hours. If I had to pinpoint it, I was most content when I drew -- so I kept it up as I grew older.

8. What can we expect to see from you in the future?

Oooh! I like this question. This is where I get so excited that my brain kicks in overdrive and I don't even know where to begin. My transition from not creating to creating once again has all happened so fast. Because of the encouragement and interest in my art from my blog readers at, I've been inspired to share more with the world. I am diligently working on where you'll be able to see and purchase original art and illustrations, prints and all things handmade. Even though it's still a work in progress, you can stop by and sign up for the mailing list so I can notify you when the site officially launches. I hope to see some of you there!

Thanks Jennifer!!


Melissa de la Fuente said...

What a doll! Jennifer is absolutely beautiful, adorable and I love her work. What a terrific interview....I love that she finds so much inspiration from Jim Henson, has pink toenails and loves a comfy chair, coffee and a good book! Awesome!

Jennifer Katherine said...

Thank you for this opportunity Marichelle! It's been a pleasure! :)

Alex Louisa said...

Great interview! I loved reading a little more about you Jennifer.

I'm in the same boat: digital art/design all day and sketching by night! I'll let you know if I ever figure out the trick to it!!

Designers' Brew said...

that was a really interesting interview!

It was great meeting you the other night a P's... I'll be back often to visit the blog!


Marichelle said...

completely agree with you Melis, and she's short like me so what's not to love right???

Jennifer, thanks again for being a part of HH and for sharing your story with us!

Hi Lexy! I wish you the best!!

Hi Molly!! So nice of you to stop by it was so nice to meet you on Saturday.