Today we share with you the exclusive interview we made with artist Jan Huling. We love her creative work and it is a pleasure to know more about her and her inspiration. Meet more about the artist here!
How and why did you get into the art Industry? Where did you study, etc?
From a very young age I knew that I would become an artist and I never ever veered from that path. I studied design at the Kansas City Art Institute, worked for five years at Hallmark Cards (where I met my wonderful husband, Phil) and then moved to NYC where I was a freelance commercial artist for some 25 years designing everything from textiles to dinnerware, ribbon to Christmas ornaments. In 2001 my sister showed me some Pez dispensers she had covered in beads I wanted to try it myself, so I started beading kazoos. I found that I really enjoyed it and soon began working on bigger pieces and taking it more and more seriously. Fairly soon I started getting into shows and publications and in 2008 I decided to quit my day job and dedicate myself to my art.
How would you describe your style? How varied are your work? Do you have a signature touch in your works?
My style is basically very tight, usually very colorful and repetitive. I think that it’s sort of mandala-like, the process of creating it is certainly very meditative. I would say that my signature touch is the pattern that I use so much – three beads of one color, one of another, then two and two, then one and three. I started doing that as a way to blend the colors, but fell in love with the patterns it makes. I’ve also started to use a lot of stripes which I use in conjunction with the circles. I don’t plan my designs in advance, I like to let the patterns grow organically. That takes a great deal of confidence, but that’s where my very strong background in design comes in.
What do you love about being an artist?
Well, I like to say that my favorite thing about being an artist is that it’s sexy! Which it is! But other than that, it’s really just who I am and how I’ve always thought of myself. I simply can’t imagine doing anything else. I can’t sing or dance or spell or multiply, but I can damn well glue beads on stuff!
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I’m inspired by everything! If I hadn’t watched that movie last night, would I be using this shade of green today? Who knows? But I am constantly inspired by the art and culture of India and Mexico, two places which I’ve been lucky enough to visit and fall in love with. And I’m always most influenced by the forms that I choose to adorn. I try to have a conversation with each piece to find out where they want to go.
What are some of your most popular works? Tell us a bit about some of your works and what you love about them. What’s your favorite and why?
My Kewpie Dolls are very popular and a lot of fun to make. I love how mischievous they look! And I’ve made lots of birds, I’m crazy about birds. The largest piece I’ve done is Das Bug which is an eight foot long praying mantis that took about seven months to complete. It was a real challenge and I was so intimidated by it that I kept putting off starting it. But it’s a show stopper! My very favorite piece (don’t tell the others!) is Taming the Tiger. I learned a great deal while working on him and I’m just super happy with how he turned out. I think he took me a couple of months to finish and actually sold when I was only halfway done! I’m very fond of the family who bought him, they have several pieces of mine and a fantastic art collection in general that I’m flattered to be a part of.
Is there anything exciting that you are working on at the moment that you can tell us about?
I’m working on a few things right now including a planet and a shadow box which holds two little babies, one good, one evil. And I’m also making beaded cabochons which I’m planning to market. And I’m super excited about a five day workshop I’m teaching next month in Puerto Vallarta with my pal and fellow beadist Nancy Josephson! If it goes as well as we expect it to, we hope to do more destination workshops in the future.
What is your philosophy on art and life?
I truly believe in following one’s dreams and taking chances. I’ve been so lucky but a big part of that luck has been my willingness to try new things, to have confidence in my own ideas and vision and to not give a fuck what other people might think. Certainly it helps to have a wonderfully supportive family and the greatest circle of friends that anyone could ask for!
What are your art dreams/goals?
Right now my beadist pals Nancy Josephson and Betsy Youngquist and I are working on a proposal for a museum exhibition of our work. We each came to this art form alone and only learned about each other after we were established, so while we use many similar techniques and materials, our work is very different from each other’s. It’s been such a pleasure getting to know these two amazing artists and to be able to call them my friends! I’m learning so much from them.
Wow, that’s tough! Right this minute I’d say…
Optimistic, friendly and wacky.
But ask me tomorrow and I might say…
Dreamy, curious and wacky.
Meet more works from Jan HERE!