Artist Interview: Meet Jenny Jurcsisn
Who are you?
Where are you from?
What is your medium(s) of choice?
I work primarily with alcohol inks, though I occasionally dip my toes into the cool waters of acrylic and mixed media.
How did you get started in your craft?
Being entrenched in the world of science and academia, I never considered myself an artist, yet always fell back on it during times of stress. I started this particular endeavor a little over 3 years ago when I was in the thick of my dissertation research. I spent my days staring at spreadsheets in a beige cube farm and my nights in a sterile, windowless laboratory. I wasn’t necessarily unhappy, but I craved the color and shapes and chaos that my life was lacking at the time. So I drove to Michaels, picked up some inks, and the rest is history.
If you could give one piece of advice to all up-and-coming artists, what would it be?
In my opinion, the best thing about art is the joy of discovery. Don’t go into art relying on tutorials and how-tos, just dive in headfirst with absolutely no knowledge in your head. Try anything, try everything. That kind of art, the uninhibited, no-rules style, produces the best and most creative results. Don’t try to be like someone else. Develop your own style, your own process, your stamp, your signature. Be yourself!
What jobs have you done other than being an artist?
As I alluded to earlier, I have a Ph.D. in applied neuroscience and worked for 14 years at the Air Force Research Laboratory. The main thrust of my research was how diet and exercise affects stress and human performance. It goes to show that logic and creativity are not mutually exclusive!
What inspires your creativity?
I’m most inspired by things that are very big and very little. I love astronomy and pictures from the Hubble space telescope, the beautifully textured pictures that astronauts like Scott Kelly take of the earth from the ISS, or the miles of colorful layers of rock in the Grand Canyon and the massive rainbow acid pits of Yellowstone. But I also love microscopy, peeking inside the smallest of cells to see flowing strands of DNA, histological pictures of tissue layers, and the fluctuating rainbows of color from cellular calcium imaging.
What is your favorite project that you’ve completed or worked on so far?
The owners of a local salon (937 Salon and Spa here in Kettering, OH) commissioned a piece from me that I’m particularly fond of. It was my first attempt at resin-ing a floating frame board and I was SO SCARED that I would ruin it. It came out wonderfully and I learned a valuable lesson: even if you’re nervous, even if you’re terrified, just do it. It’ll either turn out fine or you’ll learn something.
How has your art changed over time?
Well, it’s certainly better now, that’s for sure! Because I’m self-taught, I’ve had to hone my sense of color and composition. My art now has more intent behind it as well. This medium, like most fluid media, has a mind of its own. This can result in a kind of organic, natural beauty that an amateur artist didn’t necessarily intend when they set out. My challenge has been harnessing that organic chaos, learning to control it, and putting forethought into my pieces rather than the randomness I was producing at the start.
Do you ever feel discouraged? How do you work through slumps in creativity?
Oh, all the time. It’s hard not to get discouraged in the age of Instagram where you can see an endless stream of artists who are more talented than you, are more popular than you, started their account two days ago and are somehow more successful than you, and on and on. When I feel down, I remember why I’m doing this in the first place – creation brings me joy. I brew myself some coffee, put my headphones in, sit my butt down, and just create.
What do you do to keep yourself motivated on a daily basis?
I don’t, and I think it’s important for people who are self-employed to be okay with taking breaks, resting, recharging, and not being productive all of the time. Remember that your worth is not correlated with how many followers you have or how many sales you make.
What is the most memorable response you’ve gotten about your work?
An older gentleman once asked where I got the rocks and crystals for my work. Confused, I asked him what he meant. Turns out, he thought my paintings were close-up photographs of agates and gemstones. I took that as a lovely compliment.
What would you say is the best part about being an artist? What about the most difficult?
From a practical standpoint, the best part about being an artist is setting my own schedule. I’m a night owl and conventional 9-5 work has always been a struggle for me. The hardest part has been pricing. In the beginning, I overpriced the crap out of my work because 1) it wasn’t my main source of income and 2) I honestly didn’t think anyone would buy it. Now, I prioritize affordability. I believe everyone should be able to have real art in their homes, regardless of their financial standing.
"This art journey of mine has been a strange and scary adventure. It’s hard to put yourself out there for the world to see, so I’d like to give a big thank you to anyone that has commented, liked, shared, or purchased my work – you’re the best!"
- Jenny Jurcsisn