Hello all! My name is Jenn, and I am the owner, designer, and creative mind of the Jennagerie where I am "changing the world of women and girls one piece of art at a time." Mandy asked me to write about my art and the really cool thing I am doing with it: making original fabric designs. As with anything, there is a story of how, when, and why, and I hope you enjoy this tale.
I am and always have been creative; whether it was telling "stories" as a child or crocheting as a teen, I have always been making something. With no formal training to speak of, I decided back in 2005 that I would start trying to express my feelings and the way I see things through visual art. At the time I was in an unhappy marriage and wanted a way to be distracted from the eventual complete breakdown of that relationship. I got an easel and some acrylic paints and started painting. I had friends, family, and co-workers critique my results. A couple of people told me that if I wanted to get better, I needed to draw or sketch. So, I bought a pad of paper and some pencils. It actually served two purposes for me: in some of the things I painted it helped me get a handle on what I wanted to paint and how to paint it, and some of the drawings were so detailed that I decided to start coloring them in and saving them as their own works of art.
After the divorce I fell madly in love with someone, and we tried for four years to make it work. Through it all, the break-ups and get-back-togethers, I drew. I at one point lost a sense of who I was as well as my positive self-image. This guy was shallow and had a perception of what I should have been like in looks particularly. I sat down one day and drew this chubby fairy. She was sitting on a mushroom and her mass was causing her to sink a little into the cap of the toadstool, but nonetheless she had her face turned up and was enjoying the breeze in the sun--confident, happy, and embracing all she was. I drew another and another and finally a fourth one that very day--each different, each unique but each with the same happiness and acceptance I once felt for myself. I named the series the "Fat Fairies." I just kept drawing and over the years drew all kinds of things. I continue to draw, and I recently drew Edgar Allen Poe and Albert Einstein, both men whom I admire because of their talents.
So now, I have these spiral books full of colorful drawings and depictions of things both from real life and my own imagination. I found healing, hope, and most of all peace with not only myself but in the world in general. I understand now how a writer can get lost in their own words as they are writing a story and how they can say that the story actually wrote itself. That is how drawing is for me. I have so many images in my mind, and all I have to do is pick up my pencil and paper and off I go. I have decided that sharing my art, my message, and my imagination with the world might give someone hope--it might heal someone else, too. So I am selling prints currently.
I am also turning these designs into original fabric. I discovered a website called Spoonflower.com through another creative friend. I went on their website and read about and saw how easy it was to design fabric, wallpaper, gift wrap and decals. Best of all it's free, and all the images and designs I make are mine. I have made a sample of each and every original fabric and have sold some yardages to other creative types for projects unknown to me. I can only hope that the person gets joy out of the material they bought and that they think about the joy it brought to me to design it.
For anyone who wants to use Spoonflower to design their own fabrics, let me give you both the positive and the negative (after all, everything has a little of both, right?).
1) It's free and easy to sign up. You don't have to be a designer or have a degree in textiles to do this.
2) Like I said previously, the designs you make are yours. Spoonflower gladly watermarks all of your creations for you, too!
3) They have a free image editor that is really cool. You just upload your images and begin designing!
4) There are discounts: 10% off anything you yourself order for being a member of the website, and 20% off for orders of 20 yds or more of fabric.
5) The fabric types and weights are various (you can order a sample booklet for $1), so the types of projects folks make can also be endless.
6) The fabrics are organic, and the dye process is water-based.
7) You can also turn your designs into wallpaper, gift wrap, and wall decals.
8) They give out credits/money when someone orders one of your designs.
9) They also have weekly design contests; the prize for having the best design (voted on by the other designers) wins $100 in credit (spoondollars).
Are you ready for the less than positives?:
1) You must order a sample of your design before you can sell it. The samples are $5 for one swatch, or if you order multiple swatches they discount them some. For example, I ordered 15 swatches and paid $30 for them.
2) You only earn 10% of the total dollars purchased. So far I have made $10, but it has gotten my name out there in the realm of folks who sew, and it also has brought more attention to my art as I have links to the original work in the descriptions of the design.
3) Some folks who are not into this type of creative medium (don't sew or wrap gifts for anyone) might say that the yardage/gift-wrap is too expensive. (Fabric yardage starts at $18/yd for basic organic cotton, and $15 is what you will pay for a roll of gift wrap that wraps four medium gifts); however, for the seasoned pro who knows the cost of quality and eco-friendly things, this is a deal, and they won't blink when they order 5 yards of organic cotton canvas at $27/yd.
I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy creating on this website, and as my drawing portfolio grows, I will include fabrics in the selling of my work. I hope this has been informative for other artists, and thanks to Mandy for letting me share what I am doing with you all. If you want to know more about me and the vision I have for my work please visit my web page at http://jennmeuth2013.wix.com/thejennagerie.