Jennifer Parks is a comic artist, illustrator, and co-member of the Pony Club Gallery. Her world is filled with ghosts, charcoal, and ornamental gatherings. Her inspiration comes from nature, dreams, and the beauty of life and death. She has a weekly comic called ‘Lone Wolf’ that can be seen on StudyGroupComics.com.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Could you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?
Hello! Where do I start? I live in beautiful Portland, Oregon with my son and our three cats. I help run a little art gallery downtown called Pony Club. I’m a part-time bartender and a full-time artist. I am drawing every chance I get, working on art shows or illustration projects. I love the outdoors and go hiking whenever I get the chance. I also love animals and dream of living in the forest one day and having lots of animal friends.
What particularly appeals to you about working in graphite?
I love the range of greys you can get and how easy it is to cover the page. I love how easy it is to shade something and make it look realistic. It’s a bit more challenging with pen and ink.
Do you have a favourite pencil? Wood or Mechanical? Do you work with a variety of lead sizes and hardness? Do you also have a favoured paper surface?
My favourite pencil used to be mechanical with a really fine point, hard lead for drawing lots of fine details. But now that I have been working with them more, I’m starting to like wood pencils better. I have to sharpen a lot but I like how they cover the paper better. It reminds me of my favourite medium, charcoal, but less messy. My favourite paper surface is a heavyweight with a medium tooth.
What size do you tend to work at? Do you have a preferred scale?
I tend to work at smaller sizes, just because it’s more convenient. I like to carry my drawings around with me, so I can work on them wherever I go. I have worked larger on a few occasions and I really loved it: sometimes it’s a challenge to fit everything on a small page.
What is your favourite subject-matter and why?
My favourite subject matter would have to be ghosts. They intrigue, mystify, and scare the hell out of me: I’m obsessed with the idea that they exist.
Do you keep a sketchbook?
I used to always draw in my sketchbook. I still carry one around with me just in case, but I haven’t drawn in it in a very long time.
We love the mystical, fairytale details in your work. Where do you draw inspiration from the most?
I think I draw the most inspiration from my belief in magic and other worldly things. I think if you believe in those things, there is no shortage of inspiration or ideas.
Do you have vivid dreams at night? Or are you more of a lucid day-dreamer?
I have very intense vivid dreams that tend to be on the dark side. I’ll think about them long after I awake and sometimes it takes most of the day to shake the feeling. They can be very long and detailed, just like a movie.
We’re also big fans of your comics – appropriately executed in pencil! Can you tell us a bit about The Lonewolf and how it came about?
The Lone Wolf started as a class assignment, and grew to be my thesis project in art school. From there it just continued to grow, it’s kind of like an experiment in self-exploration, based on my dreams and my childhood. I don’t think about it as a story, it’s more like a stream of consciousness that writes itself.
What are you early memories of drawing like?
They are very happy and colourful. My mom collected porcelain dolls and I remember drawing them a lot. I don’t remember drawing from my imagination at all: I was more of an observational artist.
We’re very excited to see that your pieces from Issue 3 are also being featured in a show at the Pony Club Gallery. As a co-member of that excellently-named operation, could you tell us a bit about the collective and how it came about?
Yes, I can! Pony Club Gallery is a six artist run collective. We hold monthly art shows and run a little shop that carries prints, comics, and other fun handmade things. It started about eight years ago, when three young artists decided they wanted to start a little gallery that would focus on showing the best new illustrators, print-makers, and cartoonists. I was invited to be in one of their first ever group shows: I showed up on opening night and found out they were looking for members. It was such an awesome little place that I couldn’t say no and I’ve been doing it ever since. A lot of talented artists and cartoonists have come and gone, leaving a mark on the place; I think that is what makes it so cool and why it’s still going.
What directions are you interested in taking your work in the future?
I want to practice making more screen-prints. I make about one a year and it’s so much fun! I still have a lot to learn and I also want to learn other printing techniques like letterpress and gocco.
Do you also sell prints and originals? Where else could someone get a hold of more of your work?
I do sell prints and originals. There are a few places to get them. In Portland, I sell prints and original art at both Antler Gallery and Pony Club Gallery. Online, my work is available on my personal Etsy site and my gallery’s Etsy site.
Right or left-handed?
Coffee, nicotine, or booze?
Coffee all day every day. And the occasional whiskey, of course.
Jennifer’s work appears in Issue 3 of Tiny Pencil: The Beast Issue… Monsters, Machines and Unnatural Things! Available to buy here.
This interview was brought to you by The Tiny Pencil – fine purveyors of the pencil arts.