JEN AND JENNIFER
Could you please introduce yourself and share any hidden talents or something most people don’t know about you?
I’m Jennifer Darr the artist behind Jen and Jennifer, I currently live and work in London but am originally from Brisbane.
3 things people may not know about me:
I married my high school sweetheart, who I fell in love with at first sight, the week of my 14th birthday.
I didn’t travel outside of Australia until I was 18, I’ve since made up for it having now visited over 36 countries
I’m a night owl, one of my favourite things about working freelance is not setting an alarm clock.
Where do you see yourself and your art headed in the next few years?
I’d love to continue refining my practice and perhaps focus myself a little more rather than doing such a broad mix of methods. I’d also like to create more products and be commissioned to do more editorial and packaging illustration, seeing my work out in the world is the greatest thrill.
What are you working on at the moment? Any big plans coming up?
I’ve got such a broad range of commissions on my desk at the moment. From custom typography pieces, food and product illustration to illustrated maps and homeware print designs. However the thing I’m most excited about is my new found love of Pottery! I’m spending the Summer honing my skills at a studio here in London and hope to have some pieces available in my online shop soon after.
Have you been met with any challenges as an artist along the way? (Personally or professionally)
My biggest hurdle has probably been myself. My lack of confidence is always a road block, both personally and professionally and I have an annoying penchant for overthinking which often means I’m in my head alot and struggle to get work on paper!
Can you please share a little about how you go into creating artwork and how you’d describe your style?
I visualise every piece before I start. If I can’t see how I want it to end up I find it really difficult to begin. I’ll also do a few rough pencil sketches just to make sure I have a plan before going on to paint or ink. I then scan and clean up the illustration digitally - normally just making small adjustments to colour saturation and fixing smudges etc. I find it really hard to describe my style as I still feel like I haven’t found my forever style yet.
Do you tend to create from personal experience or from observing the experiences of others?
A little of both. Obviously with client work I’m dictated to in regards to the overall piece but I’d say my personal work is more of a reflection of how I observe the world around me and then translating those emotions into art.
What’s your idea of empowerment?
Having the freedom and flexibility to live and create on my own terms
What message do you have for those who are struggling with body confidence/self-love/weight or appearance issues? – What’s helped you in the past?
Voicing your feelings and sharing your issues with friends and family lets you hear how you speak to yourself and how negatively that can be impacting your frame of mind. I always find it most helpful to talk things through and try and be specific with I’m feeling and why.
Praise You isn’t just about raising awareness for eating disorders and celebrating body positivity – it’s also shining the light on female support in the creative community, in saying that, what does inclusivity and its importance mean to you?
Growing up in a small town I often felt excluded from the “cool kids” because of the different way in which I viewed things and my creativity. Now that I have formed a network of support around myself, I have gained confidence which has allowed me to branch out creatively and not feel like I have to stick in my lane so to speak. When someone feels included and accepted it is the most wonderful growth opportunity.
What inspires your style of art? What are the best ways you've found that have refined your practice?
I feel like my style is constantly evolving. I love working across a range of mediums and categories, including water colour painting, ink line work , typography and photography. The best way I’ve found to refine my skills is simply practice- doing, failing and persisting.
Since Praise You started in 2017 we’ve started to see a shift in the conversation with creative women, being more open about their journey and eliminating competition - Have you noticed this yourself and have you ever dealt with competition?
I have thankfully noticed a positive shift. I’ve had previous experience working in all female environments where things have felt quite competitive. It’s almost like human instinct kicks in and your subconscious forces you into the fight or flight mentality. We all need to just take a deep breath sometimes and remember there is plenty of room for everyone because everyone is so unique. Concentrate on competing with yourself not others and you’ll feel much better about your work.
How do you deal with the dreaded comparison bug?
Being conscious that ‘comparasonitis’ is real, and oftentimes unavoidable, helps! Because I can now recognise when I’m starting to suffer the symptoms, I know to switch my thinking so it doesn’t affect me like it used to. I know how to refocus my attention away from comparing myself by logging out of social media for a while and doing things that make me happy like seeing friends or getting away from my work for a break.
You’re big on sharing inspirational messages - whats your top 3 favourite mantras?
I don’t actually have any matras I ‘live by’, I’m more transient with words that inspire me and it’s really more a case of what strikes a chord at the time. Although “one step at a time” is always helpful when my overthinking starts to rush ahead of myself!
Social media has been on a pretty interesting journey over the past few years - where do you see it now as opposed to two years ago?
Like a lot of people two years ago I was very caught up and reliant on the perceived success or failure I felt every time I posted on social media. It was such a new phenomenon and there was a lot of pressure on having huge followings. Now I think things have become more transparent, people realise that social media isn’t a genuine measure of success or even genuine at all! The shine has certainly come off platforms like Instagram. I now hope young artists and creatives realise it’s great to have a social media presence, but it’s more important to cultivate a platform or space that you can control yourself.