Interview with contemporary surreal artist Jennifer King

Jennifer King is an Orange County based artist, working with oils, watercolors, ink, gouache and graphite, and considering themes of female sexuality. Having graduated from California State University Fullerton with a BFA in Painting and Drawing, she is now pursuing graduate school. Currently, she is a curator and founder of White Matter, a curitorial group, and has also shown work in Orange County, Seattle, and Los Angeles art galleries.
Hello dear Jennifer, please, tell us how did you find the artist inside you? How long have you been doing art? Is art something that you always wanted to do?
I’ve always been interested in drawing, but it wasn’t until I was in college that I decided it was my calling in life to pursure a career in art.

What was / is your major influences? Other artists, books, movies, music or any other media....What inspires you to create your artworks?
Early on I was inspired by master painters Rembrandt van Rijn and Vincent van Gogh. Durring college, I had a couple professors (Joe Biel and Joe Forkan) who encouraged me and whos work I greatly admired. Seeing them succeed as professional artists was verification that my dream could be a reality. Post college, I got out to see a lot of gallery shows in Los Angeles and Orange County, and discovered many contemporary artists who’s concepts and technical skills gave me new ideas to make work, taking my creative journey to the next level. To name a few of these artists, Kazuki Takamatsu’s eerie, ghostlike, surreal works floored me the first time I saw them at Corey Helford Gallery in Los Angeles. I also discovered Canadian artist Jen Mann’s colorful portraits while vacationing in Portland, and instantly felt a connection. Her sensitive painting style and boldness for color use was something I was going for in my own work. I also currently work for an incredibly talented artist, Justin Bower, whos flare for bright colors and bold patterns motivated me to take risks with my paintings, even if it ment more time spent in trial and error.

How does "a normal day of artist" in your life look like?
Every day I think about art. Some days I paint or draw, some days I get reference photos for new works, and other days I seek out art shows, or research galleries online. I feel that in order to stay focused on my goal, I must be proactive about it every day.
What’s your background? Are you self-taught artist or did you study art? Do you think an art education is important or imperitive for anybody wishing to be an artist? What are some of the advantages and disadvantages that you have encountered throughout your career with/without the formal training of the Art Academy?
I am partially self-taught, but have also recieved a BFA in painting and drawing from California State University Fullerton. I think school is very important for artists to improve quickly, to get their work critiqued, to make connections with other artists, and to become well-rounded. In addition, my knowledge of technical painting and of art materials came mostly from teaching myself and research I did outside of school. I would not have gotten as far as I have as an artist without school, and as a result I am now pursuing graduate school.
What fascinates you the most about surrealism / pop surrealism / contemporary art / lowbrow art? How would you describe your style? What themes do you pursue and what do you hope the viewer will take away from your art?

The greatest thing about surrealism is the imagination and connection to the dream world and alternate relaities that stimulate our minds and remind us of the mysteries of life. Lowbrow and Pop Surrealism are great art movements for today because anything unexpected can happen in terms of subject matter and viberant colors. Contemporary art is doing all kinds of different things right now. Some of it is a total bore, but others are really creating things people have never seen before, or bringing awareness to important changes in our society and culture. It’s pretty facinating, and an exciting time to be an artist.

My style is part representational, part expressionism, and part surrealism. I focus on the human form and use color to add emotional weight. I am currently exploring femenine themes with a surreal, dreamlike twist. I hope to bring new appreciation and respect to women and human bodies through my paintings.
What do you love most about creating and being an artist? What does “being creative” mean to you?
I love having the privelage and opportunity to express my ideas in an impactful way. „Being creative“ to me means proactivly finding new ways to express yourself.
Can you describe your typical workflow when you’re working on your art? What are your tools of trade? What medium do you most often use and why?
I typically work on one or two projects at a time, mostly working with oil paint and water mixable oils. For looser works, I use canvas, and for tighter more detailed pieces I use panels. Gamblin and Holbein are my favorite art material brands because of their exceptional quality. Utrecht makes a good quality canvas, and Ampersand makes good quality gesso boards. For brushes I use a wide veriety, some hog hairs, some quality synthetics such as Utrecht Tuscan series, and a couple small natural hair brushes for detail work. For thinning my oil paint I use Gamsol, and for paint medium I use Neo Megilp for a fast dry and Poppy oil for a slow dry. Though I have used many other mediums, oil paint is my favorite and also the fastest material I can work with.
Which creative medium would you love to pursue but haven’t yet?
I’d love to do more writting, but time has not yet allowed me to fit that into my schedule of creative endeavors.
Tell us more about your workspace. What was the most funny or weird thing that happened to you in your studio? What is / was the most strange thing hidding in your studio?
Currently, my workspace is in my bedroom. I have a beautiful pink wingback chair I use as my painting seat, which is accross from where I keep my three turtles. Oftentimes my two cats will interrupt my work sessions by begging for attention. One time I finished a painting and accidentally dropped it on the carpet, and when I picked it up it was covered in cat hair! :/
What toughest challenges have you faced as an artist during your art career? What is the biggest lesson you have learned so far?
The toughest challenge as an artist so far has been the financial struggles. But I’ve learned that if you want something bad enough, you make sacrifices and find a way to get by. I have been blessed to live with my family while I work towards school and my career.
What’s the best and worst advice you ever received in your art career?
The worst advice I ever received was to not take school seriously because „artists don’t need school“. Thankfully I chose to ignore that advice. The best advice I ever recieved was to be prolific, and to keep working on art consistantly even when I didn’t feel like it.
What do you dislike about the art world? What is the hardest thing on being an artist? Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
I dislike the lack of appreciation so many people have for true artistic talent, and the attention and credibility some artists get purely from having the right connections.

Being an artist is typically not a good choice for people who crave social interaction. You have to be able to feel happy spending lots of time alone. Thankfully, I still find time to connect with friends enough for me to have some social interaction.
Where do you see yourself in the future? Professionally, what’s your goal?
My professional goal is to find a gallery to represent me, so that I can find enough collectors to allow me to live off of my art work.
Do you have any tips or inspiring words for others? Maybe advice for beginning artists out there?
If you are an aspiring artist, seek out classes or other artists who are willing to give you honest critiques on your work. Also, don’t take critiques on your work personally. People won’t always give you good advice, but for those who do, it’s a great way to learn, improve, and try new things. Too many times did I see students in my painting classes who refused to take any advice and were too stubborn to try new things, and as a result they never showed any improvement.
Your favorite art or life quote is ...
„If you hear a voice within you say ‚you cannot paint,‘ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.“ -Vincent Van Gogh
What are you doing when you’re not creating? What (other) hobbies do you have?
On my days off, you may find me reading a Haruki Murakami book while sipping Roobios tea in a local cozy coffeeshop, or at home  playing with my two silly cats Sprinkles and Hank.
Do you have an online portfolio or a blog where we can view your work?
Is there anything else you’d like to say? Is there any project you are working on right now or any ongoing event or exhibition you would like to share with our readers?
I am currently curating and showing a piece in a group show called „Other Worlds“, opening March 7th at the Hive Gallery in Los Angeles. Also on March 7th, I’ll have a piece in an all-women artists group show called „Venus“ at La Bodega in San Diego. I’m also working on pieces for a show at a local Fullerton gallery called the Hibbleton for May 1st, and also a piece for „Think Pink“, a group show at Art on 30th in San Diego for April 11th.

Thank you Jennifer, it was a honor to interview you, I wish you only the best for you and your art and already looking forward to see your new art works :)
By contributor Linda. Feb 2015. Find Oh, So Surreal on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Google + or RSS