We had the good fortune of connecting with Jenna Gibson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jenna, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
My work/life balance has changed drastically in the last couple years. I went from working and showing in galleries, making personal and commission art, while teaching close to 60 hours a week. This was necessary to live the only way I thought possible, basically spending all of my income on rent. Once I let go of this and simplified my life, I was able to rearrange a few things and get to where I truly wanted to be. Things got way simple and the days are extra beautiful. I’m creating more art than I ever did before because I have more time to truly appreciate and reflect on my days, and that is true inspiration. Only teaching 10 to 20 hours a week has also allowed me to spend more time preparing for my classes and workshops and making them as seamless as possible.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m a figurative and portrait based artist mostly working in dry and mixed media. I start with the portrait or figure, and base my backgrounds around the mood and expression of the subject. I create organically abstract backgrounds, giving a surreal like composition. I like letting the story evolve as I work. I absolutely love combined mediums in every way possible, it’s all about the process. It keeps me excited about art making.
After graduating from Art Center in Pasadena, I jumped into the gallery world full force. I was in group shows, which led to curatorial work, all while working on commissions and personal art. About a year after I graduated college, I was offered a teaching position at Art Center, with I gladly accepted. I am there still, and love what I do.
Nothing is easy. But I do firmly believe that if you get out there, work hard, and treat people with kindness, you will get to where you want to be. Also, surrounding yourself with people and things that inspire you, that helps too.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m an outdoors gal, so my itinerary would definitely include some hiking in the local mountains, and relaxing picnics in the parks. The restaurants, I have so many favorites, but here are a few of my absolute go to’s:
Settebello for pizza, Fiore Cafe for bread and sandwiches, Yai for the best Thai in LA, Il Capriccio for pasta, My Taco for breakfast burritos, Mario’s Peruvian for ceviche, and Philippes for everything.
Now I’m starving.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Oh geez, this is tough one. I have had so much support from friends, family, and complete strangers that choosing just one would be extremely difficult. What I will say is that the support of my family and close friends is number one. They always have my back, and its so important to have support like that.
After that support system, I have to give credit to a few art friends that have given me support and mentorship during my student years at Art Center College and long long after. They don’t push me to be better per say, but they inspire me with their work and careers, and being a cheerleader for them has been a true joy. I enjoy seeing their work pop up in my Instagram feed, but I also remember our inspiring chats about process, materials, inspirations, explorations and failures…..you know, the good art talk that you learn from.
These beautiful friends include: Jeff McMillan, Jennifer Warren, Kent Williams, Soey Milk, Jason Holley, Casey Weldon, Frank Serrano, Celeste Byers, Ken Garduno, Lindsay Fout, Christine Wu, Mark Todd, Jeffery Smith, and the list could go on forever.