Jennifer Orkin Lewis answers your questions

Our own Jennifer Orkin Lewis answers your questions about creating art for surface design. We asked the artist to select three questions pertaining to her art career. These are her fascinating answers.

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Q. Where do you find inspiration? Do you go for walks in town, look at nature shows on TV, or just start scribbling and see where your muse takes you?

A. I find my inspiration everywhere. I may see a story in the newspaper or magazine that interests me. On a walk I may see some cute little critters, or a person that is dressed in a striking way. A garden is always inspiring. In summer I will paint a few beach and pool scenes; in winter, a snowy walk. There are also themes I love to paint and always go back to exploring, such as flowers, crowds of people, cats. Since I’m painting something new in my sketchbook everyday I can’t spend too much time contemplating what I want to paint. The main thing for me is it has to feel right for the day. It doesn’t work for me keep a list of prompts to follow. The painting usually has relevance to my day or my mindset. I sometimes wake up with the exact image in my head but other days I need to think about it a little longer. 

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Q. What’s your schedule like? Do you work early in the morning? Late at night?

A. I work full time. I usually get up to my studio by 8 or 8:30 AM. I try to get my sketchbook painting finished by 10 AM. I keep a list of the projects and am very good about judging how much I have to do on each one to be finished by the deadline. As I do the work on each one I cross it off my list for the day. I try to get to the gym at least 3 days a week and/or take a nice long walk. It wakes me up and refreshes me to continue working. By 7:00 PM I’m finished. There’s no more energy or creativity left to work at night unless I am really crunched for time. When things are a little slower I try to get out for tea with a friend, or go to a museum. I try to keep the weekends open for personal time. I do paint in my sketchbook each weekend morning for 30 minutes or so and may do a few hours of work so the week is a little less intense. Spreading it out! 

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Q. Do you begin by sketching or planning a piece of art? Or do you just dive in and see where your pencil takes you?

A. When I am doing my personal work I do a quick, light pencil sketch, mostly so the piece is centered correctly on the paper and to give me a bit of a guideline. I don’t really draw it out with any detail, just the general shapes and placement. Then I dive in with paint and experiment and play. I think of my personal work as a time to learn and explore. When I am doing client work I sketch it out with much more detail so I can show what I am thinking before we move on to color. Because the pencil sketches don’t look at all like the final piece I will sometimes sketch in paint so my idea is more accurately depicted. 

Ready, Set PRINTSOURCE - here we come!

After a very successful show last year, look for artist’s agent Jennifer Nelson to return to Printsource in New York City on January 10th and 11th, 2017. Jennifer will be there representing the terrifically talented illustrators of Jennifer Nelson Artists: Anisa MakhoulBee BrownJennifer Orkin LewisJill HowarthKelly AngelovicLauren LowenMiriam BosRachel Grant and Rae Ritchie

“This is one show that we come back to every year. It has been good for us before and now we have some new artists to introduce, so we expect it will be even better,” said Jennifer Nelson from JNA’s Boston office. “These days it’s not uncommon to do business with a client for years without ever actually meeting in person. So we relish these occasions when we can meet face-to-face with the wonderful people who buy our art. Sure, it’s business, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy ourselves.”

With an expanded roster that now includes nine amazing illustrators, Jennifer looks forward to dazzling art buyers with a wealth of stunning new images. JNA’s artists specialize in a kind of hand-crafted look that conveys a warmth and sincerity that’s hard to find in today’s digital world. Although each artists has her own unique style, all of them create works that are quirky, feminine and fun. 

“It will be great to see our favorite customers again this year, and to meet some of them for the first time. Of course, the best part is meeting new people and making new friends! The art attracts people to our booth and that naturally starts a conversation.” Attendees should make an appointment with Jennifer in advance, to avoid disappointment. “If we miss you in January we’ll have to wait until August, and that’s just too long!”

Jennifer Nelson Artists is still a relative newcomer to the surface design world. But since their launch in January of 2015 they have been creating piles of new art and making literally hundreds of licensing deals. “We’ve been busy!” said Jennifer.

Printsource is the main resource for surface and textile design for America's major manufacturers, retailers and catalogs, covering such industries as men's, children's and women's apparel, bed and bath, kitchen and tabletop, paper goods and stationery, wall coverings, window fashions and other surface and textile design applications.

Jennifer's Inspirational Retreat

My whole life I have wanted to live somewhere other than New York and Rhode Island. But it hasn't happened... yet. This summer I decided to just pack up my supplies, rent an Airbnb, get on a plane, stay for 3 weeks, and see what happens. It was a wonderful change of pace.

I spent my time on Vashon Island which is a ferry ride from Seattle. This was my view from the deck of my house and from the work table I set up in front of a big glass window. Different, yes!

The first day I was nervous. I had a stomach ache because of it, but as I adjusted to the situation I felt myself relaxing. It just so happened that a few jobs got delayed which meant I really had time to explore the island, see new things and play around with painting. I've been wandering the roads and the beach, collecting wildflowers and rocks and seeds... so many little bits that inspire me. My eyes are open wider.

There are really nice houses there, cute cottages, gardens that are out of this world, and amazing views. I took lots of pictures so I can refer to them later for reference. I also have done a lot of plein air painting which I don't get to do very often.

I  painted many loose, slightly abstracted watercolors in a cheap sketchbook just to get going. For me, if I work in a very quick way, without regard for the final outcome, I can find new ideas and directions. Even here I still have times where I have no idea what I want to paint, what is inspiring me. But I took a walk along the beach, or a hike in the woods. Or go to a cute cafe and sit for tea. These small mindful things are so necessary to the creative process and sometimes in the business of everyday life I forget to take time for myself.

Also, I've met the most wonderful, warm, kind people here! And been invited over to so many incredible homes. With all the stuff going on in the world right now it's such a pleasure to turn off the news and just enjoy simple, beautiful, generous humanity. Best, Jennifer

Jennifer illustrates summer vacation for FLOW Magazine!

One of our favorite clients (and likely one of your favorite reads) is FLOW Magazine. Every assignment is so very clever and creative and their products are just THE best! Of course, we think they pick the very best artists too! Watch this charming little video to get an overview of FLOW's Vakantieboek (Vacation Book) 2016!

FLOW's Vakantieboek (Vacation Book) 2016  is out now! Jennifer's paper doll delights me and readers around the world as we slide in summer relaxation mode!

You can purchase the book here! Happy Swimming! - Jennifer

JNA artists in FLOW!

Wow, wow, wow! I am SO HAPPY to see the artists featured in FLOW this month! If you don't know, Flow - check them out here. You can subscribe to the magazine, Flow Weekly, find inspiring blogs + articles + great links to illustrators worldwide, and more! Design delights abound!

Both Jennifer and Anisa are featured this month!

Jennifer Orkin Lewis's (August Wren) gorgeous feature!

Jennifer Orkin Lewis's (August Wren) gorgeous feature!

Complete with stunning postcards to mail!

Complete with stunning postcards to mail!

This is one of Anisa's pieces that first caught my eye.

This is one of Anisa's pieces that first caught my eye.

More exciting work to share in future issues and a book! Enjoy! - Jennifer

My sketchbook featured in RISDxyz alumni magazine

I was really thrilled to be asked by RISD if they could feature my sketchbook project in the quarterly xyz alumni magazine. To have the association with RISD after all these years is so special to me. In addition to this, I created a card that all alumni will receive as an email on their birthday, so if you are graduated from RISD be sure they have your birthdate! - Jennifer

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Jennifer graces SURTEX 2015 with her sublime beauties.

This week, I am counting down the (3!) days until SURTEX by featuring sneak peeks of each artist's work. Hold on to your horses, Jennifer is a knock out.

I fell in love with Jennifer the instant I saw her work. Great painters are few and far between and this one is as special as they come. Jennifer's work evokes joy, delight and a unique perspective on this world.  I am so fortunate to receive a painting from her nearly every day. Can imagine a more lucky inbox? Jennifer is currently working on her second (self-authored) book, a commission for hope chests for 3 lucky CT girls, loads of cards, and repeats for children's clothing in Brazil. Keep your eye on Jennifer, she is flying to high places... and I am SO LUCKY to be along for the ride!  Come meet Jennifer and see her jaw-dropping work @ Booth #355 or contact me to see hundreds of her images in our archives.- (the other) Jennifer

Pin to Win!

We are doing something a little different this week on the blog! We are celebrating our very first product out on the shelves with a giveaway! Enter for a chance to win Audrey Shulman's tasty book, Sitting in Bars with Cakes - beautifully illustrated by our very own, Jennifer Orkin Lewis. I am calling it "Pin to Win" - so do just that, add this image to your Pinterest and link back to us and I will randomly select a winner on April 21st!

You can have even more chances to win if you share this with others on your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! The more I see, the happier I'll be! So, happy birthday to me - you CAN have your cake and eat it too! - Jennifer

Going with my Gut

I started this years sketchbook with the grand plan to use a much bigger sketchbook. 9x11".  I thought it would give me the chance to experiment with new techniques and I would have to loosen up more to fit a painting in more space in 30 minutes. It did do those things.. But I felt stressed and that isn't the point of this project at all. After a month and a half I finally gave myself permission to go back to a smaller book, 5x8". 

I could have increased my time limit, it is my project after all. But I have lots of other work,  paid work, other personal projects, getting ready for Surtex, living my life. It's hard to admit I can't handle what I set out to do but life is about making the compromises that make me happy. I am so much happier painting the sketchbook at this size. I can do larger paintings at other times. My moral is to go with your gut and do what makes you happy! - Jennifer

Reflections on PRINTSOURCE (January 2015)

Jennifer Orkin Lewis and I met at PRINTSOURCE in NYC just before we announced the launch of the studio. This was my 6th time and every year I learn so much! The artwork pulls your eyes in all directions. It was good to see familiar faces and meet some new friends too! Hearing what trends and subject matter clients are looking for is truly invaluable. We walked and walked and stopped for a yummy lunch!

Many say fashion sets the surface design trends, and I have to say that point of view is definitely worth considering. We saw emerging trends such as: animal skins and spots, REALLY big plaids, folk (and boho), patchwork and blurry florals. We saw subject matter ranging from kitchen, animals (the perennial woodland creatures + zoo), nautical, floral, baby to winter holiday and even a few zebras!

So, now I am making my lists of where we are currently working and where we will be soon!

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And who knows, maybe we will score a license on some fancy PJs one day!?! You think so too!?! Call me, 781-643-2002 and let's make it happen! - Jennifer

 

You can find information about the PRINTSOURCE shows here (also in April and August each year). If you are interested in learning more about trends, see the wonderful PRINTSOURCE trend blog here.