Jennifer Orkin Lewis

09/04/14

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You may recall that last year — about one year ago, to be exact — I did the first in a new series on my blog called Interviews with People I Admire. I posted one more interview the following month, and then POOF! No more. You know how these things go, don’t you? You have a great idea and then somehow life gets in the way? Well, I’m back at it, and I’ve decided to pick this series up again, this time in earnest. And so today I present to you Jennifer Orkin Lewis, otherwise known as Augustwren.

This series is really about people who are doing (making, painting, writing, designing, drawing) things that I think are super cool. And Jennifer Orkin Lewis is doing something really cool. She has a sketchbook project which is really unique and pretty much blows my socks off most days. I discovered her work (and her sketchbook) several months back on Instagram, and I am so glad it happened.

Jennifer is an artist and illustrator who lives outside New York City, and last year in 2013 she decided to paint in her sketchbook every day for the month of April. That project eventually led to painting in her sketchbook every day, with a few self imposed parameters (more about those in our interview). You know how I love a good daily project, right? Well Jennifer’s is destined to become legendary if she keeps it up. I’ve since befriended Jennifer on the Internet, and I’ve also found her to be incredibly kind and humble (two qualities I also admire); and I’m also excited to meet her when I am in New York City in a couple of weeks. Now for our interview!

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Lisa: Jennifer, I discovered your work on Instagram, and then the following day I saw your work in Uppercase Magazine. You post daily photos of paintings you make in your sketch book, which are so beautiful, by the way! I am so impressed by your discipline and the diversity of what you paint. How and when did this daily practice begin for you? Was it intentional (like you got up one day and decided to start painting in a blank book every day) or something that evolved more organically over time?

Jennifer: Thank you so much, Lisa, I’m so honored to be interviewed by you! I actually have wanted to do a daily project for many years but never quite figured out what that project would be. In April 2013, I decided to do a painting a day for the month. I didn’t put any restrictions on myself and I ended up spending hours each day on them. I finished out the month, but it was stressful. In May I did it again but my rules were that I would limit it to 1 hour and I would only paint food. I finished that challenge as well but I felt too tied down to that theme and I didn’t experiment enough. I picked up the sketchbook I’m using now last October and I started painting in it. Something clicked and I really liked how the paint went onto the paper, its size, the fact that it wasn’t a gorgeous sketchbook. I kept painting in it so when January came it just flowed that this would be my daily project. I decided to post them all on Instagram to hold myself accountable to painting everyday.

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Lisa: Since you began your daily paintings, how has your art practice changed? What do the daily paintings do for your creative practice and discipline?

Jennifer: I’ve definitely gained confidence, just knowing I can get up every day and produce something new. I’ve never really thought of myself as particularly disciplined, so I have surprised myself. I have loads of 1/2 finished sketchbooks on my shelves.  A great result from the practice is I now have hundreds of pages of personal reference material. I’ve gone into it to look for color combinations for projects, for the shape of a flower,  a technique.
I also have to say that all the amazing followers on Instagram and Facebook have been totally encouraging and that helps me keep the discipline up.

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Lisa: How long do they normally take? How much time do you spend each day painting in your sketchbooks? How many books have you painted in so far?

Jennifer: It is a 30 minute painting daily. That said, when I start the 30 minutes I usually know what I’m painting, my paints are out and ready and I’ve done a really quick pencil sketch.  (3 minutes tops) I usually finish the page in 20-30 minutes, using a timer. When it goes off I’m finished no matter how done I think it is. This is the first sketchbook I’ve ever even come close to finishing. I don’t ever want to stop now, I’m making up for lost time!

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Lisa:  I am so intrigued by your subject matter, and I love how sometimes you share next to your sketchbook what you used for reference. How do you decide what to paint each day?

Jennifer: This is by far the hardest part. Sometimes I wake up knowing exactly what I’m going to paint, a bouquet of flowers I just bought, a self portrait, a stylized face, bugs. It could be anything. Sometimes I sit down and pull out a book that inspires me and I look at it for a little while and I get an idea that feels right. I might pull out an old photo or a post card of a piece of art and I’m inspired to paint from that. I definitely have days though where I feel like I’ll never come up with an idea. Then I might pick 2 or 3 oddball colors and just paint flowers. The worst days are the ones where I feel I’m making a mess and I’m frustrated the whole time. I really look at the sketchbook as a place to experiment. It’s not meant to be perfect so I try not to worry about it too much.

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Lisa: In addition to sharing your reference, you often also share the materials you use alongside the sketchbook, which helps to how people how little you need to create a rich painting. What mediums and materials do you use in your daily paintings?

Jennifer: I primarily use gouache, but I’ll add acrylic, craft paints, pencil, gel pens. I paint directly onto the paper. Sometimes the painting bleeds through so I’ll just paint the next page a solid color and paint or draw over that. About 1/4 way through I started spraying them with fixative because they were rubbing off on one another. Now they stay pretty clean. The sketchbook is a $4.00 book from the Japanese store Muji. I want to start playing with other materials soon to mix it up a bit.

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Lisa: Tell us about how else you spend your days? You went to school for textile design. Do you still do that kind of work? What other illustration projects do you do?

Jennifer: This summer I was very busy illustrating a cake cookbook for Abrams books. It’s really fun, called Sitting in Bars with Cake. The publication date is next March. I’ve also been doing Lilla Rogers Bootcamp and just finished a terrarium piece of art for her Global Talent Search. I also license art for greeting cards and other products. My work tends to be very patterny, not surprising coming from my textile background but I’m not doing any actual fabric at this moment.

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Jennifer: What are your dream projects?

Lisa: Hmmm, I’d love to work with Anthropologie, I want to illustrate more books, and do some lifestyle editorial. I’d also love to have a gallery show. There are so many dreams. I also have always wanted to paint on ceramics. I don’t know where I can do that, I need to look into it!

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Thank you, Jennifer (aka Augustwren), for the lovely interview and for sharing your work & process! You can find Jennifer’s work here on her wesbite; you can follow her on Instagram (that’s the best place to follow her daily paintings); and you can follow her Facebook fan page here.

Next interview in this series coming soon: designer & photographer Troy Litten!

Have a great Thursday!

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Portland, I’m Coming for You!

09/03/14

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Portland friends! I’m headed your way October 10!

I’ll be giving a talk and signing books as part of Design Week Portland at The Leftbank Annex. My talk is part of WeMake Portland’s monthly sketchXchange (I’ll be discussing how I approach my sketchbooks), and will be followed by a book signing for my new book Art Inc, the closing party for Design Week (which includes tons of fun activities & live music) AND the Put a Bird in It Show!

My talk is at 5 pm sharp, so get there early for a seat. Oh, and I’ll be giving away a pack or two of Micron pens to a lucky winner or two (from the audience)! I’ve also designed a 5×7 inch notebook which Scout Books is generously donating to everyone who attends.

You can purchase the ticket for the entire event here.

Hope to see you there, Portland friends! It’s going to be super fun.

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New Online Class: Become a Working Artist

09/02/14

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Friends, I am so excited to announce a new online class I’ll be teaching through CreativeLive starting September 30. It’s called Become a Working Artist. In the two-day class we’ll cover:

+Embracing yourself as an artist and mapping your future

+Setting actionable goals

+Understanding the fine art world

+Developing your business’s personality

+Promoting your work successfully

+Making money selling your own work

+Understanding the worlds of illustration and licensing

+Preparing for and managing success

The class is FREE if you watch live on September 30 and October 1 between 9-4 pm. It will also be available for purchase after the live taping for $79.

Want to participate in the live class as part of the studio audience? We are still taking applications. You can apply here.

The class text book is Art Inc. (order that now if you plan to participate) and you’ll also receive a workbook with extra tools and information.

Hope to see you in class! RSVP today!

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Words for the Day :: No. 38

09/01/14

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Have a great Monday, friends!

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iPhone5 Cases Now in My Etsy Shop!

08/29/14

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Friends, I’ve got a limited number of iPhone 5 cases in my Etsy shop! You can get them here.

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Words for the Day :: No. 37

08/28/14

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Have a great Thursday, friends!

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New Podcast: Accidental Creative

08/27/14

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I am so thrilled today to let you know that I was interviewed by Todd Henry for his podcast over at The Accidental Creative. We chatted about several things, most notably the “U” curve in the creative process. You can listen here. Enjoy!

CATEGORIES: Art Inc | Podcasts
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2014 :: A Sewing Odyssey :: #6

08/26/14

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This past Friday I ventured over to my friend Sonya Philip’s sewing studio in San Francisco to make a dress. You may remember that I am working hard this year to not purchase new clothing. My goal is to either sew for myself or buy vintage (for the most part I’ve been successful at this, except for buying a few pairs of pants and one new dress). You can see all of my 2014 sewing projects here.

I have realized the more I sew that I actually have no idea what I am doing half the time! So I’ve decided to take classes and learn as much as possible about sewing techniques. My friend Sonya is a sewing master, and I arranged two one-on-one classes with her. I had my first on Friday, and she guided me as I made the dress pictured above. I learned how to make a proper neckline with bias tape and also got to finish the edges with her serger (and promptly bought a serger of my own — they are magical).

You may also remember that last month I took a block printing class and printed the linen pictured below, which we used to make the dress.

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It felt a little scary to cut up this linen that I spent hours printing, but I am so pleased with the result! The back of the dress is plain grey (we used the remaining fabric that I did not print for the back).

If you’ve been a reader of my blog for awhile you may remember that Sonya made me this dress back in 2012 as part of her 100 Acts of Sewing Project. Since I love this dress so much (and wear it all the time), we used the same pattern (designed specially for me by Sonya) to make the block printed dress this past Friday.

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I plan to make another of this same dress next week out of some Nani Iro Japanese double gauze fabric I bought recently. Stay tuned for that. I’m on a sewing roll again.

Have a great Tuesday, friends.

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I’m Giving a Talk in New York City

08/25/14

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New York & NY Area friends: I’m giving a talk in Manhattan on September 18th at 6:30 pm called I Am An Artist: On Ownership & Other Enterprising Acts. This talk at CUE Art Foundation (on West 25th Street) will be followed by a book signing of Art Inc & cocktails. Space is limited and you can purchase tickets here (free to CUE members!).

Hope to see you there!

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My Newsletter + Micron Giveaway

08/25/14

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Friends, I am so excited to team up with Pigma Micron. Not only am I a featured artist on their brand new site — and not only have Microns been my pen of choice for many years — but I am sponsoring a giveaway of Micron Pens! The best news of all? The winner of this giveaway will receive a Pigma Artist Gift set! This 59 Piece Pigma Artist Gift Set contains one of every point size and color in our Pigma MicronPigma Graphic, and Pigma Brush lines of pens (valued at $170).

Okay, so here are the rules to enter:

+No purchase necessary!
+For shipping purposes, you must be a resident of the US or Canada to enter
+You must be over 13 years old
+You must enter by this Friday, August 29th by 12 midnight PST.

To enter your name in the giveaway, all you have to do is sign up for my email newsletter here. I send out my email newsletter only once every 4-6 weeks with information about things like shop sales, speaking events, book signings and classes. It’s a great way to stay informed about time sensitive information. Don’t like it? Just unsubscribe.

I will select and announce a winner on Monday, September 1, 2014. I’ll contact the winner personally and arrange for the prize to be sent! Simple as can be.

Microns are the best pens on the planet. Some of the work I have made with Pigma Microns:

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Hope everyone has a good Monday.

CATEGORIES: Giveaways
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Words for the Day :: No. 36

08/22/14

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Happy end-of-the-week to you. We got through it. Whew.

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Four Squared Show at Arc Gallery

08/21/14

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Friends, I’m included in a really interesting — and what should be a really visually beautiful — show in San Francisco that opens this weekend at Arc Gallery (located at 1246 Folsom St, SF). The show, Four Squared, in its fifth season, is a unique exploration of the works of sixteen Bay Area artists. Each of the artists has produced sixteen small works, presented in sixteen clusters giving the audience the experience of sixteen micro solo exhibitions. All works are priced under $500. Each work can be purchased individually or as a collection.

My sixteen paintings are the smallest in the show at 4×4 inches each! You can see my 16 paintings arranged in their proper grid, above.

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Four Squared opens this Saturday, August 23rd, from 7-10PM. The reception is open to the public and I encourage you to come and take a look, especially if you are interested in purchasing any of my small works (which are priced at $150 each). I’ll be at the reception from about 6:30-8 pm if you’d like to come say hello! The show closes on September 23rd and you can view it during open gallery

Featured artists include John Arbuckle, Lisa Congdon, Monica & Robin Denevan, Rebecca Fox, Paul Gibson, Joseph Kowalczyk, Lisa Levine & Peter Tonnigsen, Saundra McPherson, Howard Munson, Miwako Nishizawa, Sawyer Rose, Tim Svenonius, Kirsten Tradowsky, Truong Tran, Heather Wilcoxon, and Jan Wurm.

The show was curated by Arc Gallery partners, Michael Yochum & Matthew Frederick. Michael Yochum is the author of SF Art News, which maintains an exhaustive list of art events and openings in San Francisco. Matthew Frederick is founder of Art Farm, an artist collective in the Mission, where he maintains his studio.

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Have a great Thursday and hope to see you Saturday at Arc Gallery!

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New Letterpress Print & Art Inc. Now in my Shop!

08/20/14

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Friends, I’m so happy to announce that I am now offering signed copies of  my new book Art Inc. in my Etsy shop! You can purchase them here. I do ship these overseas!

I’m also offering for the first time online this limited edition letterpress print, hand lettered by me and printed by SF Letterpress shop The Aesthetic Union. Get it here.

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Have a great Wednesday!

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Wallblank Printery

08/19/14

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{My Voyage of Discovery print, printed by Wallblank Printery}

Many of you ask from time to to how I make my prints. Since 2008, I have owned and used an Epson 3800 printer, and I make all of my open edition (non limited edition) prints on that piece of fine machinery (I highly recommend the Epson 3800 series of printers). But recently I decided I would like to begin selling sets of limited edition prints at an even higher quality on even fancier paper than I use for my open edition prints. I also decided that I wanted to use a print house to make them for me instead of printing them myself. After several recommendations from friends, I decided to go with the amazing Wallblank Printery.

Why I love Wallblank:
+Great customer service. Shawn (who basically IS Wallblank) answers all your questions and emails with a personal touch and promptly. He won’t send out an order till it’s perfect.
+Gorgeous print quality. Shawn uses large format Epson printers, but an even higher caliber than my 3800, so the ink quality is rich, even the blacks look like velvet.
+Beautiful paper choices. I chose a German Etching paper for my prints, which has the quality of textured watercolor paper. It’s lovely both to touch and look at. But Shawn has lots of paper options for you, which he’s glad to tell you about.

Shawn at Wallblank has been in business now for SIX years now and to celebrate, he’s offering a SIX FOR SIX deal: Get six 11×14 inch prints for only $6 each! This is a fantastic deal! This offer expires on August 31, so act fast.

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Have a great Tuesday, friends! You can get my Wallblank-printed limited editions over here in my shop.

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Words for the Day :: No. 35

08/18/14

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One of the questions I am asked most often is how – as a working artist – I deal with things like comparison, disappointment, self doubt & rejection. I have talked before about the idea of charting your own path & living your own life and even touched on it last week toward the end of this live interview. Recently, I found the quote above by Anton Chekhov, and thought it perfectly summed up what I less eloquently try to say.

Art making, while enormously rewarding, can also be rife with disappointment and feelings of vulnerability. The idea is to make friends with the struggle and continue (stubbornly) on your own path. I’ve written before about this idea of embracing difficulty and fear (and talked about it in this lecture). I think it’s enormously important.

I also think it’s important to remember that everyone struggles with self doubt and angst, even extremely successful & well known artists like Gerhard Richter — just watch this touching documentary about him and you will see how vulnerable he is about his work.

Have a good Monday, friends.

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