Jennifer Barrett is a painter, printmaker, and comics artist from Paradise, NL. She holds a BFA from Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, and has been on the board at St. Michael’s Printshop since 2004. In 2009, she had her first solo exhibition at Eastern Edge Gallery, called Werebears and Only Children. Her comic of the same name appears bi-weekly in The Scope and on her website. She was also an NL Arts and Letters Awards winner and was selected as Emerging Visual Artist at the VANL-CARFAC Excellence in Visual Arts (EVA) Awards. She is represented by The Leyton Gallery of Fine Art in St. John’s, and her work can be seen at http://jbarrettart.com .
When did you first realize that you wanted to become an artist?
Since I was small; I used to make little books and copy comic strips and would incorporate drawing into any school project possible. But not seriously until after my first year of university.
What mediums do you work in and why?
I mostly make acrylic paintings these days, and I have also been making some water-based linocuts. My comics are hand-drawn and then touched up and coloured in Photoshop. These are materials that are safe and easy to use in the small working environment I currently have. And they dry fast and are easy to find. I would like to do more screenprinting.
How do you get ideas for your artwork?
Most of my paintings now are based on blind-contour drawings. Sometimes I will just go for a walk and take a sketchbook and make some drawings if I happen to see something interesting. Alternatively, I’ll take one with me when I hit the zoo or the park, where I know I’ll want to make drawings. For example, I went to Marineland a while ago and was sure I would want to draw some whales. Turns out they swim around pretty fast and I couldn’t get a sketch I was satisfied with.
What other artists influence your artwork?
Charles Schulz, Bill Watterson, Seth, Darwyn Cooke (and many other comics artists). Also, many pop artists, Marcel Dzama, and Will Gill. Probably quite a few more, that’s how it goes.
What are the ‘big’ themes in your artwork?
Mostly humour. Either trying to make others laugh, or to humour myself. I’ve also done a lot of animal drawings lately. This is because they look funny I suppose.
What is the greatest challenge you face as an artist working in Newfoundland and Labrador?
Trying to get the art supplies I want easily, and at a reasonable price. I’m currently in Toronto and it’s amazing that I can walk down the street and buy pretty much whatever I need whenever I want.
What is the best thing about working as an artist in this province?
The artist community is pretty lovely, once you take the time to get yourself in there. There is a lot of support if you want it.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Making lots of comics and selling t-shirts on the internet.
If you weren’t an artist, what would you be doing?
I did a year of engineering at MUN before heading to Grenfell. I’d like to think I could have continued on with that if I wanted to. I doubt it though.
If you could have one wish granted, what would it be?
Unlimited wishes, of course.
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