Interview to Jen Mann

Apr 16, 2015 · 6 min read
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Jen Mann is a Toronto based painter. Mann’s paintings are about themes of Identity and Relationships. She has exhibited in numerous shows across the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom and is also a recent recipient of the Emerging Artist Grant for the Ontario Arts Council.

The art scene in Canada is fairly small but also tight nit. It can be hard to break into as a newcomer, but once you find your way it is fairly friendly despite the competitive environment that goes along with any art scene

How did you choose to study art and design?

I went to OCAD for my BFA planning to eventually be working as an artist, I never formally took any classes in design while at school, but I have always been working with adobe creative suite since we has our first computer. My dad is a graphic designer and I picked up a lot from being immersed in this world from early on. I have always wanted to work as an artist.

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Do you consider yourself more painter than designer or both?

Certainly a painter and artist, design is something I do on the side and not very often anymore.

Pink is a predominant color in your artwork.

I didn’t really plan it, but as I was playing with the colors pink seemed to work itself to the surface a lot in this series. There was some subconscious desire for pink coming from me… And I guess I fulfilled it hahaha. The colors in this series are also very inspired by childhood, so the fun playful candy colors are indicative of this.

People is your main subject.

I find people fascinating. We are so complex, and mysterious, even to ourselves. I suppose my explorations are all explorations into myself in a way.

People portrayed on your artwork are relatives, friends or strangers?

All three of those actually. Friends and relatives often, sometimes strangers. Its always an interesting dynamic. With friends and family, there is a certain comfort level being together in the same room, but awkwardness to the dynamic of artist/model which is never present in our relationship otherwise. where as with strangers, the dynamic of artist model is normal and comfortable, where as there is some awkwardness, as we do not know each other.

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You are the next best thing on Tumblr, why did you choose that platform instead of a blog on your website? Is the artist community on Tumblr better than other communities?

What an ego boost haha! Tumblr is great for connecting with people who might not have seen your work, through others sharing your work to others who then share your work — the reblog function is an amazing tool. Facebook limits the number of people who actually see your posts in their feeds, but tumblr is different… everything that someone you follow posts will end up in your feed, and reblogs and likes are somewhat anonymous so people feel free to curate their blogs without association to themselves in a way. I really like tumblr, as a viewer as well… endless streams of images.

How do you describe your style on painting?

I suppose it’s realism in a way, but shifted slightly, to a place that is unreal. I don’t know.

How is your daily process to attack any painting?

It is always slightly different… today i entered the studio, shut the door behind me, lit an aromatic candle, put on some tunes, steeped some tea, and told myself i wouldn’t leave the studio till i finished the painting… so obviously now I am on the computer writing you this email, not painting haha. Some days it’s hard to get into the studio, others it’s hard to get out. I usually start multiple paintings at once, and it helps me stay productive and efficient. I typically finish over 30 paintings a year, which may not seem like a lot… but it is.

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The scale of your artwork is important to you? Your paintings are big enough to conquer the space of an entire wall, is that the purpose?

When i imagine my pieces in my head, when i am in the first stages of a piece — i look at the photo and think, what size will this be it’s most effective. I feel like for some of the images, had they been small, they would have been forgettable, like the photo they came from — an off shot that would have been an out take — to make them big gives them authority and purpose. giving the small moment, a large space to linger.

Do you have a motto?

I should think of one… not yet though.

How do you see contemporary art in comparison to the art of the past?

Contemporary art is just the art that relates to today. The work of the past related to that time period, and said a lot about what was going on then. Contemporary art, focuses on issues relevant now.

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Do you live by selling your artwork in galleries or showrooms or is it true nowadays that the online promotion is working so well for artists and creatives?

Most of my sales are through galleries. though online promotion gains wide spread popularity fairly easily… people who purchase a piece for their home, typically want to have an interaction with the piece, see it in a gallery, and develop a collection through dealers. Most of the people who are buying art are not the young tumblr generation, though they wish they could afford art, many of the young art lovers of today are still in school, living at home, or still struggling out on their own.

Which of your paintings is your favourite?

Hmmm. I don’t know if i could pick just one… usually its the one that I’m in the middle of painting haha.

What are you reading now?

“Fierce invalids home from hot climates” by Tom Robbins

Do you have a favorite website?

Hmmmm. it might be — i like filling my cart and pretending to buy things. That or Netflix — i need not explain.

Which one is your favorite artist?

I have so many artist that I admire. I will list one past: Van Gogh, and two present: Melanie Authier and James Jean

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