Illustrator Jenna Kass discusses her creative inspirations and the story of her artwork so far.
What themes, techniques, and materials do you like to explore in your artwork?
I am drawn again and again to moments of silence. Whether I’m taking the Greek myth of Apollo and Daphne and illustrating her still moment of apotheosis amidst the violence of Apollo’s attempted rape, or delving into my own imagery with an exploration of what is left of a person after an internal storm, I find a fascinating tension in the moment rather than the action.
This goes hand in hand with my subject matter often being women from myth, legend, and fairytale. I have found the choice of moments vital in making backgrounded or acted-upon characters feel like whole, complex versions of themselves, and this extends to women who were ostensibly the main character of their stories. There’s a wealth of emotion and humanity to be found in their choices and actions, and it is my goal to explore this through my art.
I used to be exclusively an oil painter, but in the last year I found that my drawings could achieve a sensitivity for these subjects above and beyond my paintings. I work with 0.5 mm mechanical pencils of various hardnesses, using fine, parallel hatch-marks to build depth and subtle texture, and then pushing back and forth with powdered graphite and a kneaded eraser to establish value.
What do you like to do when you’re not making art?
I have a full-time day job, so there’s only so much time spent neither working or making art. In that time I read, and I love walking through New York City… but the single thing I do the most when I’m not making art is watch wrestling – and yes, that’s as in “Macho Man” Randy Savage. I could talk about the storytelling and body language and excitement, but there’s really no excuse.
Born and raised in New York, Jenna Kass has her roots in illustration. Working primarily in pencil, she draws from personal iconography and myths, legends, and fairytales, focusing on women’s narratives and works. Visit her website to see more.