Thursday, April 12, 2012

April Member Interview: Jean R. Skipper

Jean R. Skipper
Jean Skipper Originals

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Inspiration from a recent afternoon on a farm
1.  What inspires you to create?    
Inspiration surrounds me on a daily basis.  Buildings, machinery, natural elements, industrial implements, and found objects are all fodder for my imagination.  Each piece of jewelry that I craft has a story of its own.  Time spent with family, friends, and customers drives me artistically, and solitary moments are also a necessary part of the process.  They allow all of the creative stimulation to transition into workable concepts for my jewelry design.    

2.  When did you decide to pursue art or did art pursue you?  In my childhood, Art and I enjoyed a mutual attraction.  Creating was easy, and I always seemed to have time for it.
As a young adult, Art pursued me as I was diligently establishing myself as a professional in the financial services industry.  When I would slow down enough to be aware of it, Art was ready and waiting in periphery of my mind.  It eased its way into my life slowly and steadily.  First there was a watercolor class that led to the awareness that photographing the subjects of my paintings was infinitely more interesting to me than actually painting them.  This was followed by membership in a local photo club, a series of awards, and eventually my first solo show on Ocracoke Island, NC.  This show ushered in my first sale, my first gallery representation, and the publication of one of my photos on the front page of The Ocracoke Island Observer.  Each of these milestones increased my confidence and established the fact that I was really ready for a committed relationship with Art.
In midlife, I’m pursuing Art with a passion, and it’s an integral part of every day of my life.  I’m a full time working artist, and I’ve never been happier. 
Memorial Bracelet
3.  If you weren't an artist, what would you be? 
If I weren’t an artist, I’d be a gallery owner.  I owned Artist Alley in Southern Pines, NC for five years, and I enjoyed every minute of it.  I adored my customers, my artists, and the thrill of being surrounded by amazing artwork.  My decision to leave the gallery behind was one of the most challenging of my life. 

4.  What other jobs have you had which have aided you on your artistic path? 
I established my first business when I was eight years old.  During the winters in Pittsburgh, PA, I would shovel a sidewalk for $ .50 or a driveway for $ 3.00, and I had the self-produced business cards to prove it! 
Since then I’ve worked as a waitress, a retail salesperson in a fine jewelry store, a laborer in a dry cleaning facility, a waitress, a telemarketer, a Mary Kay Lady, and did I mention a waitress?!?!  I often worked two or three jobs at a time before beginning my career as a banker.  In banking I worked as a teller, a customer service representative, a marketing officer, and eventually a cash management officer.   The skills that I developed throughout my years in these positions are still aiding me in my artistic life today.

5.  At the art supply store, which section do you gravitate to first? 
The last time I was at Jerry’s Artarama I went straight for the journals.  I have a thing for buying and starting journals.  Finishing them is a completely different story!  I also love to search for unexpected finds in the aisles; tools and supplies that can be used in my jewelry in surprising ways always fit the bill.  During my last visit, copper mesh and Prismacolor Pencils snuck their way into my shopping cart.  Watch for them in my work in the near future.
Jury Image Collection Necklace
6.  What new technique or art form would you like to learn?
I adore a good class; but my longing to fully explore all that I’ve already learned trumps my desire to enroll in any new ones at the moment.  I’d really love to have the opportunity to participate in a solo retreat or an artist-in-residence program.  The notion of dedicating several months to the development of my craft thrills me to no end.   
7.  If you could do anything, and knew you could not fail, what would you choose to do?  If I could do anything… I’d create art for the sheer joy of it without consideration of the financial consequences of my actions.  I’d give most of my creations to those who love them or to organizations that could benefit financially from them.  And I’d also start an arts incubator program to give a hand up to those who are just beginning their artistic journeys.  

Believe Necklace from the Baker's Dozen Collection

Thanks for the interview, Jean, and we'll be on the lookout for your newest creations with those sneaky pencils and mesh!

1 comment:

Penny L Arrowood said...

BRAVA! This series continues to amaze -- I just LOVE learning more about how we all came to be part of this incredible organization! Thank you Jean, for sharing some of your story with us here -- and, again, to Michelle for wrangling the interviewees to further inspire us all!