We had the good fortune of connecting with Jess Lamworth and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jess, we’d love to hear more about your end-goal, professionally.
I have some big, crazy dreams. I plan to have a flourishing art business that keeps me busy with big-name commission projects, gallery shows, and product development/launches. I’d love to have a brick-and-mortar retail shop/gallery/makerspace that gives back to the community by hosting workshops, talks, and free shows. Another dream of mine is starring in and producing a TV series where I visit artists all over the world and interview them about their processes, their businesses, and their dreams. As a creative generalist, I will be well-known for unconventional art, prop fabrication, video production, crazy cool event planning, set design, and fun collaborations.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m as much of a generalist as I can be as an artist. I incorporate my diverse background of experiences into everything I make, whether consciously or not. The world isn’t really geared towards generalists like myself— it rewards specialists instead, but I’ve been able to find communities of fellow creatives who have made me realize that there is a unique power in being able to do it all.
I originally went to college to study engineering, then ended up graduating with a degree in architecture and urban planning, then got a job in business strategy in New York City, all before pursing my artwork full-time. So my art has many influences, and my skillset is quite broad— I can paint, draw, digitally render, woodwork, design, weld, sew, and craft just about anything by hand. I often use unconventional materials in my work, where I can learn new techniques and approaches to making, which keeps my content fresh and interesting.
I’m probably most well-known for my visual puns, where I create portraits of celebrities (Danny Dorito, Reese’s Witherspoon, Robert Brownie Jr.), everyday objects (coffee table, couch potato), and clothing items (pencil skirt, tea shirt, pea coat), all with a word-play twist. This concept originally started years ago when I made a portrait of Che Guevara out of chile powder (a nod to his journey through Chile and South America), and the pun-inspired artworks have continued ever since. It’s something that makes people smile (or roll their eyes) which gives me a lot of joy. I’ve also been hired by brands to make social media content and influencer gifts inspired by these particular artworks.
My fun and playful style of work is where I find my strength, because I used to struggle intensely with perfectionism, anxiety, and confidence in myself and my abilities. While pursuing engineering, competition was fierce and I never felt like I was good enough. Having a creative outlet like pun art allowed me to feel joy in not taking myself too seriously. If we’re not enjoying silly everyday things life throws at us, then what’s the point? I have found so much strength and confidence in making things purely for my own joy and for sparking joy in others. I finally feel like I can confidently be myself in my work.
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 love this question! In another life, I wish I’d been a travel blogger. For morning coffees we’d go to Bloom and Plume, Conservatory Coffee (get the chagachino!), or Urth Caffe for some people watching, then we’d go shopping on Sunset (gotta hit up Nooworks for the coolest clothes) or Melrose for Melrose Trading Post, or thrift at Crossroads and Buffalo exchange. Then we’d go downtown to see LACMA, The Broad, and the Hauser & Wirth galleries which are always filled with amazing and inspiring art, and we’d grab a late lunch or dinner at Monty’s (look up their secret menu for some amazing tater tot concoctions) or Zankou Chicken. Don’t forget dessert and go to Salt and Straw for some crazy creative flavors, or Magpies Soft Serve! If we were feeling up for it we’d go to Clifton’s to finish the night off. Or, we’d go up to the observatory to get great birds-eye views of the city at night (which is also when it’s a lot less crowded!) Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I wouldn’t be where I am today, excited about my future as an artist, without the support of my friends and family. I’ve got groupchats with friends who are writers, artists, makers, and other types of creatives, and having them to support me and cheer me on has meant the world to me. They inspire me to full-heartedly follow my dreams, and for that I’m eternally grateful.