With a great love of life, and endless enthusiasm for the outdoors, meet Jessica Roush. A textile artist by trade, Jessica draws inspiration from the everyday. She is in a constant state of art-production: spontaneous sketches, typography, watercolor critters, and a wide variety of product design. A newcomer here at Light Grey Art Lab, our current show You Can Do It, Put Your Back Into It is the first time we've had the chance to work with her.
Master of camouflage: Jessica Roush
Where did you grow up, where do you currently reside, and where is your dream home located?
I was born in Bakersfield California, but moved with my family to Raleigh, North Carolina when I was 6 years old. I graduated from NC State Univsersity in 2010 with dual degrees in Textile Technology and Art & Design. Right after I graduated, I packed up and trekked to Milwaukee to start at my current job.
As far as dream home... I went to Panama a year or two ago and really fell in love with the lost-in-the-jungle, Swiss Family Robinson type lodge my boyfriend and I stayed at in Bocas Del Toro. I'd love to plant myself there one day when I retire... I could be a crazy old lady hanging out with sloths, sleeping in a hammock! (It's called Tesoro Escondido, if anyone's curious.)
What is your current job, and what is your dream job?
I'd have to say that the two are fairly similar. My current job is an artist at Kohls Corporate Office in the Home department, doing prints and graphics for anything from dinnerware, to kitchen towels, bedding, bath towels, decorative objects or even christmas ornaments. I get to paint, draw and be creative the majority of the time, so I feel pretty fortunate.
If I could choose a DREAM JOB though, it'd be a combination hotel reviewer/ travel photographer. And maybe pasta-taster. A girl can dream.
What was life like once you graduated from North Carolina State University?
It was a huge learning curve. And I realized just how sweet I had it in school. Own screen-printing studio? Weaving studio? Laser cutting? All these resources I could leisurely use, (most of the time in the middle of the night) whenever I pleased? I'd kill for that now!
Also - that huge blizzard of 2010 happened right after I moved up here - Welcome to Wisconsin! ...And then I got towed. That was the REAL learning curve - City of Milwaukee's ridiculous parking rules.
Wisconsin Winters strike again
What are some hobbies you have outside of art?
I love the outdoors ... that's one thing I love about Midwesterners is that they really take advantage of the good weather - because it's so rare! So whenever it creeps above 50 degrees, you'll find me biking around town, or hiking, or kayaking, or just lounging on a picnic blanket, drinking some beer...
I also adore traveling. Researching before a trip, the trip itself, and the photos and inspiration gained afterward - I love it all. My boyfriend and I are planning a trip to Thailand and Cambodia in the fall. We were originally thinking about South America, because we've both wanted to backpack there, and I speak a fair amount of Spanish. But Southeast Asia will be so rewarding I think - I've always wanted to go, after hearing my dad's stories about getting bit by a monkey, crazy jungles, and other adventures from when he lived there shortly as a kid. And of course, anywhere WARM. I mean, seriously, I need a break from Wisconsin winters sometimes.
When is your favorite time to make art?
Late at night - even though my definition of "late" has changed since school. My "studio" pretty much consists of a big drafting table with my computer/wacom/etc, and bookshelf. My boyfriend also has his desk in the same room, so we just put on music or a whole season of Arrested Development or Flight of the Conchords or something, hang out and have burping competitions. Just kidding. ...Maybe.
At work, all of us artists sit in a line of cubicles, and joke, sing, and curse all day. They're the best. I have a cubicle-mate, named Sampson, who is an African Water Frog (or so I'm told). He is the most handsome amphibian you'll ever meet.
What materials do you typically work with, and what is your favorite medium?
Watercolor would be my usual go-to medium, because the result can be unexpected and natural, and it's easy to set up, clean up, and doesn't take forever to dry like oils. This is especially important at work - when they want a sunflower today, or a bunch of painted leaves this week, or spring flowers in repeat by tomorrow, etc - it would be silly to use a process or medium that takes a lot longer. It's really made me results-oriented after working a few years, since coming from school where everything was so process-driven - and that has also spilled onto my personal work as well... for the better I think. Instead of tons and tons of exploration or sampling, now I just kind of ... dive in, whatever medium it is.
What are your biggest influences as far as types of art? Like graphic design, sculpture, screen printing, modern furniture design, etc.
Interior Design, photography, vintage travel books, gig posters.... I could browse through flat stock all day long.
What are your favorite subjects to draw?
10-year-old-me would without a doubt say unicorns and horses. Well, that might still be true. But 26-year-old-me, along with painting, loves drawing from nature, in the moment. I try to keep a good sketchbook of quick doodles of whats going on around me. My friend took a picture of me a few years back sketching / taking a nap in Pamukkale, Turkey, and I recently pulled out that same sketchbook to look through, and there was that same sketch I was working on in the picture!
What do you like most about being a textile artist/designer?
As a corporate artist, I love the continual challenge of creating graphics that will be both marketable and also new and fresh.
To see more of her work, take a peek at her website, as well as her piece for our You Can Do It, Put Your Back Into It show.
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