I'm so pleased to present an interview with our new team Captain, Jessica Boehman of Hans My Hedgehog!! Jessica is a talented illustrator, etsy-er, and art history professor. Her illustrations are so beautifully detailed, and she has already brought a great new energy and dedication to our Folk Reveries team. I will still be around as a team leader, and I know we'll have a smooth transition.
To help all of us get to know Jessica, I asked her a few questions....
Dru: How did you become an artist?
Jessica: I wanted to become an artist when I was just a kid of maybe five or six. My older brother had a sketchbook...blank pages that it was ok to draw on. Wow, that was such an exciting idea to me. I had always liked drawing and set my mind to it at that point that I would be good at it. No one really tells you differently if you set your mind to it. I took all the art classes I could throughout primary and secondary education, and was a Studio Art/Art History major in college, with a focus on illustration. I only started my shop in January of 2011, after completing my Ph.D. in the History of Art. I knew it was time to start drawing again.
Dru: What are your inspirations and influences?
Jessica: I take a lot of inspiration from stories. I loved reading as a child, and still do. I have dog-eared, broken-spined, careworn copies of books of tales that I still keep near my studio. There's something about the magic of those stories that captures the wonder of being a child. I want to remember that when I draw, because I feel like I am capturing my childhood again when I smell the pencil shavings and feel the paper under my hand. I have a callus on my right hand that will never go away; it developed after hours upon hours of drawing, head bent, over my sketchbook.
I also take inspiration from travel. As a military brat, I lived all over the country and in Germany. As my heritage is half German, I really started identifying with the Brothers Grimm over there. You can image the trolls living in those mountains in the south, or mermaids in the North Sea. As a grad student, I was lucky enough to earn a Fulbright to study for a year in Rome. The beautiful sculptures and paintings, but even moreso the mosaics and tapestries, made me interested in continuing my study of pattern and mirroring that you can see peppered throughout my work.
I love children's books, too, like the subtle, fantastical shading of Chris van Allsburg, the medieval detail of Gennady Spirin, and the elaborate narrative borders of Trina Schart Hyman. I am amazed by the talent out there and it makes me excited to try to be a part of it.
Dru: What is your art practice like? (and any tips on combining it with a day job?)
Jessica: I draw after completing my "homework" for my teaching gigs. I also draw on my commute, part of which is spent on the Staten Island Ferry.
As for the drawings, I usually do a mock-up on photoshop to lay out a composition (that saves me tons of time), and then start with a gentle sketch. I work in tiny sections at a time, bringing it to full-finish before moving on to the next section. It prevents me from leaving a work unfinished (like I tended to do when I worked in washes or layers one at a time). How this will translate to color work: probably not very well. :)
Dru: What are your goals for the future?
Jessica: My goals are to make Hans-My-Hedgehog Illustrations a full time gig. I started on that road by attending the Arts Business Institute annual workshop in February. I learned so much about how to be realistic in planning my future. I also want to be completely eco-friendly, to work in league with the Wildlife Conservation Society, and to expand into children's books. Next up are illustrated pillows. They are gorgeous.
Dru: What sort of plans or goals do you have for the Folk Reveries team? And, what would you like to say to our team members?
Jessica: I'd like to see us revive the original spirit of the team. That may mean taking new members. I'd like to see a dynamic community where we can discuss our successes, setbacks, or questions about professional issues. That being said, I'd like to try to bring the focus back to our folk/fairytale/nature roots...I imagine challenges and blogposts from the team as a whole that talk about our shared experiences with that magical world. Thanks so much for having me! I can't wait to work with all of you--my very favorite shops on Etsy.
Hear, hear!! Thank you, Jessica!!
**Please visit Jessica's shop, her blog, and of course our Folk Reveries team forum.