martedì 15 dicembre 2009

Interview with Jennie Ottinger

q)please tell us a brief info about yourself.

a)I was raised in Massachusetts. I came to California for college and stayed even though I sometimes feel more New England than California until of course I go back to New England.

q)Tell us about your humble beginnings, When did you you first realized that you wanted to be an artist?

a)After graduating with a degree in art history, I was working at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco where my favorite part of the job was making flyers and posters for the lecture series. I took a night class in graphic design and really loved it. I quit my job and went to California College for the Arts for graphic design but one of the foundation classes was basic drawing and I fell in love. I decided to switch to illustration. I was way behind the other students in terms of drawing skill so I became obsessed with learning how to draw and paint. The faculty at CCA is really amazing and inspiring. After that I did a couple of illustration jobs and was so annoyed that I quickly switched to fine arts.

q)What are your tools of the trade and why?

a)I work in oil, gouache and watercolor and pen. I like them for different reasons. Some things are more fun to draw than to paint and sometimes I enjoy seeing the same subject in different mediums.

q)Who or what gives you inspiration on your morbid art?

a)It's so funny because I don't think of it as morbid even though there are actual dead people sometimes which is the definition of morbid. I always think of the paintings as melodramatic sometimes to the point of silliness. My narratives are influenced by new wave films, epic novels especially from Russia (except War and Peace which I tried to read but the war part was too boring), telenovelas and miniseries from the 1980's.

q)Is your artistic background self-taught or did you go to college to study?

a)I went to school for art history and then again for illustration and then I went to graduate school. I didn't make art until I went to college for my second degree. When I discovered how much I loved drawing and painting I went wild and did it all the time.

q)How do you keep “fresh” within your industry?

a)Most of my friends are artists so I end up talking about art a lot. I also go to galleries and museums in San Francisco and LA and surreptitiously "read" art magazines at the book store.

q)What are some of your current projects?

a)I just got back from the NADA art fair in Miami and I'm headed back to the studio next week but I don't have anything specific lined up.

q)Which of your works are you the most proud of? And why?

a)I usually like the ones best that happened the fastest. Maybe I begin to resent ones that cause me to struggle.

q)Are there any areas, techniques, mediums, projects in your field that you have yet to try?

a)I have been dying to make an animation for years but each time I sit down at Final Cut I get so frustrated and confused that I last only a few minutes. I need to take a class so I can learn how to use it.

q)What do you do to keep yourself motivated and avoid burn-out?

a)I had to take a break for a few months after grad school but that has been the only time. I have a day job walking dogs so I am outside at the beach for an hour every day watching 7 dogs frolic in the surf so that is enough to keep me fresh I think. It is an awesome job and so different from making art that it works really well for me. I also have some hobbies that I ignore for months at a time and then dive into when things slow down. I sew and practice Spanish and am learning to play the guitar.

q)how do you spend most of your free time?

a)I must confess to a rather severe addiction to t.v. Also I read a lot, mostly novels. And I love to hang out at pleasant cafes for hours with friends or alone but I don't have much time during the day for that.

q)What contemporary artists or developments in art interest you?

a)I love William Kentridge, Marlene Dumas, Dexter Dalwood, Laura Owens, Gabriel Orozco, Tacita Dean, Douglas Gordon, ummm, who else? Wes Anderson (does he count?) Sophie Calle...

I saw so much great stuff in Miami but unfortunately I can't remember any names.

q)We really like some of your pictures, how can we get our hands on them? Do you sell them? How?

a)They are for sale through my gallery, Johansson Projects. (

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