Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Jess Hutch Interview

Jess Hutch is a lovely person. She has participated in Plush You since it began and I am pleased as punch that she is still going strong with her plush making. I had the pleasure of going out to dinner with Jess last year and it was great to be able to sit down with her and chat about her work and to get to know the woman behind these amazing creations. I can't wait until Friday when I will be able to hang out with Jess again as she will be showing her work at Schmancy. In a few hours you can visit our new Schmancy Gallery site to see what will be at the show and to purchase any work before it is up this Friday. Until then, read a little more about Jess.

S- When we met about a year ago you mentioned that you might like to stop blogging. This Jan. you made the plunge and said good bye to the blogging world. How has it helped your creative process? Is it everything you hoped it would be?

JH- It's been great in a lot of ways... using my blog and flickr to show my work to the world was hugely, hugely important for me while I was trying to work out my aesthetic and my creative direction. However, I got to the point where the number of comments or hits I got had an effect on the projects I chose to work on. I felt that as I was creating things, it was almost like I had a hundred people in the room with me. So I decided to step back a bit and create in a more silent, personal space. It's been great. However... I've also found that it's kind of hard to work without the encouragement of other people, artists and people who like my work and pay attention to it. Like I need their support to keep my motivation going. So it's mixed! But I think it's been useful and a good experiment.

S- Looking through your work, you seem to have gone through some phases. From knitting more, embroidery, screen printing and now more painted stuffed toys. Do you just go with your flow or do you dabble in everything all the time?

JH- I get bored pretty easily, at least with various media. I seem to always stay within a pretty narrow range with what I represent (usually weird serene little animal/human hybrid characters) but I am always, always thinking about different ways to go about it. I even want to try wood carving, I'm not even kidding. I think I just want to explore everything... just different ways of depicting what's in my head. Comic books, oil painting, etc. There's so much out there, and I just kind of follow my bliss with it.

S- I noticed that a lot of your work has little stories involving ghosts and spirits. Are you really into ghost stories and mystical beings?

JH- Yes. What I really love is the idea that our normal world, the one that we can study and observe, is just a shell. That unusual beings and strange occurrences occasionally present themselves, and we just have to be open and aware. I'm not sure I really believe any of this, but I'm open to it and love to contemplate the possibilities.

S- One thing I really love about your work is the color palette. It varies but seems to stay within certain families. Where do you get a lot of inspiration for your work and color combinations?

Well, my stuff is very modern and graphic. Super simple. I am always concerned that the cartooniness of what I do, coupled with really bright colors, would just completely shove it out of reality. So I like to use more natural, muted colors, because I think it brings it back a bit. It's a little more relatable (which is always what I'm try to achieve). Rust, grey-green, ocean blue, brown, etc.

S- You giant knitted guy was amazing. When we met you were working on it. How long did it take you and what is he doing now? When did you learn to knit and then go to designing your own patterns?

JH- He took forever. I don't really remember how long - 20-30 hours perhaps? He's in our workroom, just hanging out. I think I'm going to take some more photos with him doing various human things - that was the original idea, then I got sidetracked with some other projects - then I think I'm going to sell him. I want him to hang out with someone else for a while.

I learned to knit about, oh, 5 years ago? My sister taught me. I started doing my own patterns almost immediately, when I realized that no one had written patterns for the types of clothes and toys I wanted to make.

S- You seem to be a very discipled artists that might try something once and realize that it's not for you even if the demand is there or whatnot. How do you decide what works best for you and when to say no?

JH- Heh. Well, the fact that I have a fulfilling full time job (as a data analyst at a non-profit) allows me to be very, very selective about how I spend my creative time. It also, unfortunately, forces me to be very selective. It's kind of a lucky/unlucky thing. I have limited time outside of work and personal commitments, and I want to spend it doing only what is personally fulfilling to me. The worst thing ever is getting home from work, making dinner, taking care of various home things, then slogging through 4-5 hours of creative work that I don't really want to do. It just sucks any enjoyment out of it. So I made a decision fairly early on to only ever do what I enjoy, or what satisfies me creatively. I don't rely on the income from it so I'm able to do this. However, it can alienate people who really want particular things from me, which is something I've never really learned to deal with. It's definitely complicated. But I'm glad that the things I work on are always, always, done with love and care and interest.

S- Every time you have participated in Plush YOu! your work sells like hot cakes. You definitely have a fan base out there. Now that you have stopped your blog and do not use flickr as much, how do you keep connected with your fans?

JH- I don't, really. Which is hard. As I mentioned above, I really miss that interaction and the feedback. I'm currently thinking of ways to have it both ways, if that's even possible.

S- I love your work that is two dimensional with the same thing also three dimensional. How much time difference is there between the two and do you like one more than the other?

JH- It depends on the medium. Recently I've been working on 2D oil paintings and those take just about forever. I think that in general I will always gravitate toward 3D work. There's just a relatability there that I love so much. I create these characters to depict something very personal and I want people to see them and understand. I want them to feel something. We're 3D ourselves, so it just takes that much less effort to relate to something that's three-dimensional. I think.

S- When you started blogging, etc. you said that was your first time sharing your art and showing people. How did that help your art career and do you have any favorite moments?

JH- It helped a lot. I needed to hear from people. And hearing from people who are themselves so, so talented helped a lot too. I think my favorite moment, or series of moments, is looking at something I'm working on and finally feeling like I'm doing what I always wanted to do, which is showing my creative work to people.

S- Anything on your horizon we should be looking out for?

JH- I'd like to show my oil paintings at some point. I want to do more photography of my dudes, perhaps within an actual narrative that I can then print as a little book. Maybe I'll try some more realistic stuff. I don't know, I guess I'm just always doing what seems like the right thing at the moment!

Thanks Kristen, that was great - can't wait to see you this Friday!

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