The month of September, Pony Club Gallery is displaying ‘Deep Black Sea", a series of new drawings by Jennifer Parks.
Jennifer Parks is an illustrator and cartoonist who believes in ghosts and magic. She currently resides in Portland, Oregon where she is co-owner of Pony Club Gallery. When she isn’t making a mess with charcoal or drawing tiny details in ink, she likes to take naps with her cats, go hiking, watch crime documentaries and horror flicks, and drink coffee. She especially loves sleeping (with the lights on) and has wildly vivid dreams about ghosts, giants, flying and often the end of the world.
What is the idea behind your new series of drawings for “Deep Black Sea”?
My idea was to create a large continuous charcoal landscape using smaller pieces. Kind of like a puzzle except I wanted the individual pieces to be able to stand on their own. The show is underwater themed, but that is only because I ran out of time. I wanted to have some above land illustrations as well.
Your body of work seems to blur the line between fine art and traditional illustration. What are your thoughts on illustration versus fine art?
I’m not really sure what the difference is. In my head I have an idea of what each are but its hard to put to words because the lines are definitely blurred. To try and simplify, I feel like illustration tells a story that happens in a made up world whereas fine art is more observational, abstract and conceptual.
What attracted you to the field of illustration?
Comics!! My art was always a little narrative but when I got into reading comics I realized that I could create my own world and tell a story within it, or draw a single image that would fit somewhere into that world. I love the idea of constantly building on a narrative through individual drawings.
What media do you work in and what do you like about working with these set of tools?
I work mainly in two mediums. Charcoal and pen and ink. I love pen and ink because I feel like I can just draw tiny little lines all day without really thinking about what image they are making. I love charcoal because it really does a perfect job of illustrating the dark, dreamy images I have in my head.
What are your favorite brands/tools of the trade?
Micron pens and generals charcoal pencils.
Can you share your creative process, from initial concept to the finished product?
A lot of the process happens in my head. I do a lot of thinking until I settle on an idea. Then I like to do some online research to see whats been done before and get some reference photos if I need to. I’ll start with a light pencil sketch to make sure I like the composition. Each medium has a different process. Charcoal is more involved and It goes something like this: outline, smudge/shade, erase, spray fix, fill in the blacks, spray fix, use vine charcoal to achieve the different levels of gray, erasing and outlining to help define the shapes, add details and whites if necessary and spray fix one last time.
What are some influences and inspirations that have shaped your art?
Old nature illustration plates, Ernst Haeckel , Aubrey Beardsley, Daniel Clowes, Charles Burns, ghosts, old photographs, dreams, nightmares, magic.
What projects are you currently working on?
Im working on an illustration for Antler Gallery’s “Unnatural History” Show, a birdhouse for the WeMake “Put a Bird in it” Art Auction, and a screen print for the ArtCrank bicycle poster show. All happening in October… haha. I gotta get to work.
How long have you been involved with Pony Club Gallery and what enticed you to becoming a member?
Ive been doing it for about 8 years now, I think. Me and Zack Soto got asked to do a collaboration piece for a wilderness show. The night of the opening was my first time stepping foot into the door. We met David Youngblood, one of the owners and founder, and got to talking. He asked us if we wanted to be a part of the collective. It was such a cool little gallery. I had never seen anything like and It felt special that he was even asking, so I said yes, with no hesitation.
You predominantly work in black and white (at times with sparse use of color), what attracts you to centering your artwork in back and white? I do like color a lot and I have fun when I’m using it but there is just something about the simplicity of black and white that I’m drawn to. It reminds me of old photographs and things of the past.
There’s use of repetitive characters and a character that strikingly resembles you within your work. How intentional is this narrative that you’ve created in your art? Its part intentional and part accidental. I started drawing this character in my first ever comic that was somewhat autobiographical. I didn’t think of her as me until everyone started pointing it out.
You’re lost out at sea and you could only have one sea creature to keep you company, what would it be? hmmm… a merman!
Who would win in a fight: Creature from the Black Lagoon or the Fiji Mermaid? Creature from the Black Lagoon.
You can view more of Jennifer’s work at- http://www.spectralgardens.com/