Painter, illustrator, pattern designer & blogger—artist Jessica Gonacha Swift is one talented lady! She’s been a long-time friend of Indie Fixx (I think she may be one of my most prolific Guest Bloggers) and I can’t believe I haven’t interviewed her for Wednesday Indie Artist Fixx until now!
1. Tell us a little about yourself and your work.
My name is Jessica Gonacha Swift (I’m slowly phasing out the Gonacha part of my name,) and I’m an artist in Atlanta, GA. I create a variety of work, including paintings, illustrations, surface pattern designs, and prints of my work. I also make some products using my repeat patterns, like coasters and necklaces, and I sell all of it in my etsy shop and on my website.
2. When did you get your start and what made you decide to take the plunge?
I’ve been an artist my whole life, and I got a BFA in college. When I graduated I literally didn’t make any art for about a year, and one day I started painting again. I was unhappy at my job as a waitress, and I decided I needed more. I had entered a juried art show and been accepted, and I got fed up with my job one day and quit. I basically decided that I’d see how the show went and that I was going to try to make a living as an artist. There was absolutely no plan in place. The show ended up being a big success, which gave me the confidence to keep going, and I haven’t looked back since! All of a sudden it’s just what I was doing. I know that’s not a very clear explanation, but looking back that really is how it happened– I jumped without over-thinking it all, and my path appeared underneath my feet. I just keep walking it now to see where it leads me.
3. What’s your creative process like?
It really depends on what I’m creating. Usually I have no plan when I start a piece (are you seeing a theme here? I seem to not plan very well…) Basically I just start drawing, painting, doodling on my digital tablet, or whatever strikes my fancy, and eventually an idea will pop into my head, or a shape will look right, and I take it from there. I try to just stay very open to whatever is coming through me, and the piece (be it a painting, an illustration, or a repeat pattern) will tell me what it needs. Does that sound sort-of woo woo? It feels a little woo woo. Honestly, sometimes I look at something I made and think “now where did that come from?” It’s a little crazy!
This is the Moment painting
4. What’s been your favorite piece that you’ve ever created and/or your favorite project you ever worked on?
That’s a hard one! My favorite piece, I think, is called This is the Moment.I’m not sure what it is about it, but I just love it. It’s hanging on our living room wall, and I could never sell it. It was the first piece in a new series of work, and I loved creating it. As for a favorite project, I think I’m going to pick a favorite recent project. I just finished working on a large-scale illustrated map for a client for his 40th wedding anniversary– he was going to surprise his wife with it. They’ve traveled and lived all over the world, and I got to illustrate those places and the special memories he has from their life together. I thought it was the most touching gift, and I had a great time working on it.
5. What three things would you want to be able to have if you were on a deserted island? Beyond the basics of survival.
A pen, a journal, and an iPod, definitely.
6. What other types of crafty stuff to you do?
I don’t do a ton of outside crafting, actually. Most of what I work on is directly related to my business, and I have a hard time doing other things a lot of the time! I always hand-make birthday cards for family members, and I do little sewing or knitting projects here and there, and I always make my own lotions/creams to use on my skin… I’d love to start doing more crafty stuff!!
7. What have you recently been reading, watching and listening to?
Reading: A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle and The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz. Both great books!
Watching: Dexter. My husband and I are obsessed!
Listening: I’ve recently become enthralled with Lady Gaga. It was a total shocker to me when I started liking her, but her songs have been in my head for weeks, and I love her more every day!
8. What’s new or in the works?
Well, mostly these days I’m preparing to exhibit at Surtex in NYC in May– this will be my first time exhibiting, and I’m so excited and nervous!! So I’m making tons and tons of repeat patterns these days. Also, I’m going to be working on a kids book with the fabulous Danielle Laporte, and I have a couple of things that are still under wraps. Also, my first ever fabric line is coming out in June, so keep your eyes peeled in your favorite fabric stores!