Artist: Jen Renninger
Business: Still Room Studio
Web sites: pleasebestill.com, pleasebestill.etsy.com, jenrenninger365.blogspot.com, pleasebestill.blogspot.com
Location: Tampa, Florida, USA
What do you create?
Mixed media illustration and artwork.
Where and when do you do your creative work?
Oh, that is such a good question! I try to keep regular working hours. I get up when my husband does (he's a teacher so he's up at 5:30am) and I'm usually working by 6:30am. I try to stop working by about 3:30, when Bill gets home from work. Now, that doesn't always happen! There are plenty of nights when I'm in the studio after Bill's fallen asleep... The studio is actually the second bedroom in our place. It's a good size and I have my desk right next to the window where I can look out at the goings on. Since I do about half my work on the computer I often sit on outside on the front patio and work there. Wifi is nice isn't it!
Do you have another "day job"?
Nope. I left Graduate School to pursue illustration nearly a decade ago, and I've been lucky enough to have been doing it all along!
Where and what did you study?
I studied photography at RIT in Rochester NY (Rochester Institute of Technology) and then fine art photo at University of Miami for Grad School. I left before finishing though... to start working.
Where do you find inspiration?
I spend a lot of time at the bookstore, looking at magazines and books. The internet, of course. But being outside is really good for getting the creative flow going too. Nature is good for the soul!
What motivates you?
That feeling that appears when I've made something and it feels complete. Oh, my dog Barley. I have to get things done so he can go out for a walk. He's a loud motivator!
When did you start doing this?
As a career, about 10 years ago. In reality I've been working and thinking the same way since I was a kid. I have some cards I made for my Grandmother when I was six. In many ways they are similar to the sort of things I do now.
Do you remember getting into art as a kid?
I've been a stuff maker for as long as I can remember!
When and why did you decide to start your own business?
I was in grad school and not terribly happy with the program. My undergraduate degree was actually in commercial (advertising) photography and my grad school program was fine art. I'd always loved looking at the images is magazines (and really didn't like the whole gallery scene) so I started spending a lot of time at bookstore magazine racks, thinking I should be sending my images to these people rather than galleries. After a few month of looking, looking, looking... I made a few images, sent them to art directors and was working right away. Oh – I started out with photo illustration (collage) and then over the years moved into painting.
How did you choose the name for your business?
I really liked the saying 'please be still' and wanted to use it for a website. It didn't feel right as my business name though. So the business name is Still Room Studio. I really like how you can play with it (please be still... still room for more... ) and it's connected to a business my husband and I are working on together: Picture Distillery.
What do you love most about creating your work?
The thought that people enjoy it.
What's the most fascinating place you've been?
I'd have to say Alaska.
A book you love: Anything by Judy Budnitz, and most recently (non-fiction) The Omnivores Dilemma. Oh: and Edward O Wilson. Anything he says instills awe. I know... that's more than one. I have serious book problems!
What is the most interesting thing about you?
This is tough. I think I'm pretty average. I asked my husband and (this is going to sound funny but would make sense if you knew me) he said: My sneeze! I know... how can a sneeze be interesting? Well, I'm a fairly quiet, soft spoken person but I have a sneeze that is uncontrollably loud, nearly deafening to anyone with in my immediate area. Seriously, it's deafening. So there you have it: complete normalcy, except for the sneeze.
What achievement are you most proud of?
That I'm able to balance work and being as available to my family as much as I can.
What advice would you give women starting their own business?
Just believe you can do it, with all your heart. Be positive. Smile when you answer the phone.
What's the biggest challenge you face in your work?
What do you love to do in your free time?
Spend time with my husband and family and friends. Get outside.
What are you working on right now?
I am finishing up a job for Food + Wine magazine today, doing another illustration for my 365 series (updates for February will be on Saturday!). Those two things will fill my day today.
What do you hope to achieve next?
I promised myself that this year is all about the immediate. I'm doing an illustration every day for a year (jenrenninger365.blogspot.com) and I'm forcing myself to play and not think about what comes next for a little while. I'm a pretty notorious over-planner (yep – I heart lists!) so this has been good for me.