In the studio with Jenn Graves ✨
This week we had the honor of taking a peek into the studio practice of the brilliant Los Angeles-based print and book artist Jenn Graves. Using meticulously hand-mixed ink colors and bold, vintage wood type, Jenn's elegantly composed letterpress printing and book art pulsates with energy. Her prints and collaborative artist books have been exhibited across the United States, and her influence is cemented into each student lucky enough to receive her teachings at the Otis College of Art and Design and the Letterpress Printing Museum.
1. Where’s your studio?
2. What’s your favorite “tool” in the studio (and why)?
My favorite tools are my hands and the paper cutter. Using my hands to create grounds me, slows me down, calms and keeps me in the moment. It’s amazing what can be accomplished and created by hand. The yellow hydraulic paper cutter is neck and neck with my hands! I love that you can take a stack of paper, cut it all at once and they’re all perfectly straight…something my hands can not do and it's super satisfying.
3. What do you listen to while you work?
When I’m printing, I have pretty eclectic playlists with a mix of old school hip-hop, a little Neo-soul, and a slice of christian music, which include artists like Mos Def to Jorga Smith to Tasha Cobbs Leonard. The music keeps me in the zone.
When I’m making books, I like it calm so either instrumental music or lo-fi chill; lately it’s been a feel-good audiobook or nothing at all.
4. Can you talk a little bit about your process working on REST.?
REST. was born out of craving, out of a need to allow myself–ourselves–this often elusive basic need. My goal was to create something uncomplicated, yet bold that demands attention. Using bold vintage wood type, printing REST. repeatedly, using bright, friendly colors, layering to create more color. This effect also creates another typeface. Although subtle, it is there.
5. What are you especially excited about in terms of your practice right now?
Currently I’m experimenting with “newish” to me mediums, like watercolor and monoprinting, which I’ve been wanting to try my hand at. So far the learning process has been everything I hoped and imagined it would be. Soon I’ll be able to marry them with letterpress printing and bookmaking and that is extremely exciting!
6. What is the biggest challenge for you when producing new work, and how do you approach that challenge?
The challenge for me is always time and space. I always say I work on borrowed time. I’m blessed to work in a shared place that has everything needed to produce new work. The challenge that comes with that blessing is that I’m not always able to print when I’m ready to print and often not able to leave forms set-up on the press so that the press is available for the next person. I’ve learned to be strategic with planning, everything is prepped and proofed, little by little each day until it’s time to print. This helps tremendously as well as working a lot of late nights.
7. What advice do you have for other artists and creative people in general?
Your art matters, your creativity matters.