Artist: Jennifer Skoropowski
Business: Jenn Ski
Web site: jennski.com
Location: Somerville, Massachusetts
What do you create?
Currently I'm making wall art – paintings (acrylic and paper on hardboard) and poster prints. Eventually I would like to expand, making pottery, pillows, stationery, and other assorted goodies.
Where and when do you do your creative work?
I work at home, mostly late at night. I do my digital work lying in bed, or sitting in my living room. For my paintings, I have a small room that I use for storage/workspace, but it's a little packed... When I'm working on a piece, I usually end up taking over the dining room and the kitchen, as well.
Do you have another "day job"?
I am/was a graphic designer. After freelancing for a while, I was frustrated by the fact that the kind of design work I enjoyed (the really creative, cutting-edge stuff) is really hard to come by. So in early 2007 I decided to stop freelancing, and began focusing on my art. I am now dedicated full-time to getting Jenn Ski off the ground, and hope to be up and running before the summer.
Where and what did you study?
I got my B.A. in Graphic Design from the University of Massachusetts.
What inspires you and what motivates you?
I'm inspired by mid-20th century and modern design, architecture and art. As for what motivates me, people's positive reactions to my work keep me going.
When did you start doing this?
I began working on my current series of works, which I've called "Pods", in December of 2006.
Do you remember getting into art as a kid?
Absolutely. I've been making art – painting, drawing, sculpting, photographing, collaging, et cetera – ever since I can remember. As I grew up, I started collecting awards, ribbons, and prizes for my art. By the time I graduated high school, it was clear to me that I would be involved in some kind of creative field professionally.
When and why did you decide to start your own business?
After graduating from college and working as a freelance designer for a while, I realized that the corporate design gigs that "pay the rent" for the average graphic designer, could not possibly fulfill my creative needs. So in early 2007, after numerous pep talks from my husband, family and friends, I finally got the courage to quit graphic design and focus on starting a business.
How did you choose the name for your business?
It's my nickname, given to me in high-school by friends who found my full last name, Skoropowski, too hard to pronounce.
What do you love most about creating your work?
The process of taking an abstract idea and making into a tangible object is its own reward. Hanging a finished piece on the wall for the first time gives me a tremendous sense of accomplishment. And, I must admit, I love it when people tell me they like my work!
What's the most fascinating place you've been?
As a child, I loved visiting my grandfather's house. Dziadek lived by himself, and he was a proud pack-rat who collected... well, junk! His house was absolutely packed with stuff: little knickknacks, and jewelry, and dolls, and buttons, and coins, and all sort of other small things. And every time I visited, I could take something home from his "collection". His house told a story, not just about dziadek himself, but about his neighbors, his old relatives, and the towns
they all lived in. Now as an adult, I find the fact that all these people and places and history were linked together in a little old house in Lowell, Massachusetts absolutely fascinating. Just talking about it kind of gives me goosebumps!
A book you love:
The Grid: A Modular System for the Design and Production of Newspapers, Magazines, and Books, by Allen Hurlburt. I know, I'm a dork!
What achievement are you most proud of?
Saying good-bye to graphic design to focus on my art was an incredibly scary step to take, and I'm incredibly proud that I took it. Some (most?) people hate their jobs, but never have the guts to risk financial security in pursuit of a dream, you know?
What advice would you give women starting their own business?
Hmm... Given the fact that I'm just getting started, I could use some of this advice myself! If there's one thing I think is absolutely critical, it's this: Surround yourself with people who believe in you and your business, and avoid wasting time and energy on nay-sayers. Take it from me, a supportive environment can considerably reduce the stress level that comes with a brand-new business venture.
What's the biggest challenge you face in your work?
I'd have to say getting enough exposure.
What do you love to do in your free time?
The usual stuff – spending time with my husband and our two kitties, shopping for unique things for myself and my home... Oh, I'm a total internet junky, too!
What are you working on right now?
I'm currently pricing commercial printers for my digital art. Also, I'm spreading the word about my work to anyone who will listen.
What do you hope to achieve next?
In the short term, finishing my website is my top priority. In the long term, I'm looking forward to coming up with new products.