What do you do?
I make little pieces of fun for people. I consider myself to be analogous to a cupcake baker....except instead of cake and frosting, you get colorful illustrations that cheer you up! I like art though because it's a fat-free, carb-free, calorie-free, inexhaustible supply of happiness, always ready when you are.
Where can we find your work?I have my own website at leahjayart.com. I use Etsy as my storefront, linked direct from my website.....my shop is called https://www.etsy.com/shop/leahjayart. However, as I am a big fan of experiencing real art in person, I just celebrated my one year anniversary at Kaleid Gallery (hurray!) and will also continue to have a table in downtown Campbell as part of their "Second Saturdays" street fairs.
What inspires you to create and how do you keep motivated when things get tough?
I produce work best when I have a lot of downtime to daydream, and I'm feeling confident. I rely a lot on family and friends to keep my spirits up when I'm feeling insecure. Frankly, I'm moody and bounce back and forth. I think I'm getting better at positioning myself in the best way possible to take advantage of the good, creative moods when those come.
What do you think is more important, the content/finished product, or the process?I am definitely a process person. Sometimes I'll get almost all the way finished with a thing and then stop. Sometimes I'll finish it and then not like it very much afterwards. But I never regret having done it. I find that when I'm "in the zone" of artmaking, that is my best time to be alive.
Who are some people who influence and/or inspire you?
Jove Tansson. She was a Finnish children's book author and illustrator who is famed for her "Moomintroll" characters and stories. Her pen and ink illustrations are so pure and childlike, and her stories are humble and direct. The world she created is touchingly human and shows a deep connection to nature. I also am a big fan of Jim Henson and the worlds he created, for a lot of the same reasons. Sometimes the simplest, most heartfelt story, told in earnest, is the one that moves mountains within you and changes your life. The worlds of Moominvalley and Sesame Street are places my heart has never really left behind.
If you could be any fictional character, who would you be?
Miss Piggy. When she walks into a room, she cannot and will not be ignored. If I could be that confident in my own skin all the time, it would be wonderful.
When do you get your best ideas?
Halfway between a dreaming and waking state just before I get up in the morning. Or when I'm driving, or in the shower. Any time it's really inconvenient to have a sketchbook in front of me, really.
What materials/tools do you use most to create your work?I am an absolute art media polyglot. I literally have done everything. I hoard art supplies and own more types of things than I know how to use. This doesn't help me stay consistent as an art maker, but it does help me teach. In the past few years I've tried to stick to "various things on watercolor paper" and I do have a favorite watercolor paper, 300lb Arches Hot Press. You can do practically anything with Arches Hot Press, including set it on fire and glue broken glass to it (actual things I have done.) I've tried to keep myself on track with watercolors though - you can also get that paper very wet and just let the pigments do their thing.
Are you self taught or formally educated? How do you think that has influenced or affected your work?
Well, in terms of Art, I suppose I'm informally educated. I've had plenty of university-level and professional-level instruction, and most of it in person (not online), but from a bunch of different people and institutions.....not coherent enough to cobble together to form a single degree. I'm kind of glad I haven't spent too much time with one teacher because I've been forced to come up with my own style rather than parrot someone else. I also have a degree in Film from U.C. Santa Barbara, which has come in handy.
What would your creative work taste like?
Hot cocoa with marshmallows.
When you are not creating what do you like to do?
I like to be around kids and watch kid's shows. I teach a few kids from my home studio and I really look forward to spending time with them, because they are so funny! I'm a big fan of the Aquabats Super Show, and Yo Gabba Gabba, and Spongebob Squarepants.
How did you learn to access your creative talents and gain the confidence to put it out there for everyone to experience?
Time. I always wonder which might have happened, how far I would have gotten by now, had I been able to do all this earlier in my life. The simple answer is -- I wouldn't have been able to. I guess I'm a late bloomer, but really before age 30 or so I was so insecure and introverted that nothing could have really happened. Now it's taken me 15 years to gather enough courage and discipline to do the work and show it to people. One event that changed things for me was a solo high-speed car accident. It's been ten years now but I think that little reminder of my own mortality was good for me. When you can see your time is limited, there is no greater motivation than that.
What advice would you give others just beginning their creative adventures?
I think a lot of people are in the same position at the beginning -- too guarded and too afraid to take risks. We're born that way and are brought up that way, so forgive yourself for this tendency, but know that no good art is created without some risk involved. Trust yourself. Listen to your own voice and go with it. Keep moving forward, even if you aren't moving much, and even if you have no idea where you're going. The journey, in itself, is everything.