Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Meet Jessica from HansMyHedgehog

Jessica Boehman is the artist who created the top banner of our blog. Her specialty is actually pencil illustration and she has a lovely shop called HansMyHedgehog on Etsy. Behind her art history professor exterior is a sweet person of proactivity, creativity and romance.
- an interview by Debbie Liu of Bunnies Can Dream and Harlequin&Lionhead.

D: Your shop is called "Hans-My-Hedgehog: A Whimsical Menagerie". What inspired you to create the shop and why this name?

J: The shop started when I got inspiration for a theme of animals, in particular, animals doing whimsical things, after I drew an illustration of the Grimm's Fairy Tale of Hans-My-Hedgehog. He's an animal playing music. I knew I wanted to expand upon that line of thought, and so far, it is just giving me more ideas than I have time to draw.

The fairy tale has been my favorite since I was a kid. The drawing was a detailed pencil illustration with a stark white background, so that's been my point of inspiration for new drawings. I wanted everything to look stylistically similar.
Musical Animal Series, inspired by the musical clock at Central Park NYC
Having just moved to NYC, and working three jobs, I felt like I was losing a part of myself.  Drawing always made me feel better.

After meeting a few Etsy sellers and having a few friends who had started a shop, I knew that setting a goal of opening a shop would motivate me to draw, draw, draw! And it did. Moreover, I had started making designs that were being made into invitations and cards by a paper shop in Wooster, Ohio, where I taught as a professor for a semester. They really gave me a creative push.

D: Working 3 jobs? How do you juggle your time?!

J: By day I am a college professor. I teach art history (right now at the College of Staten Island and NYU). I have a few days a week where I do not teach, so I use those days to catch up on course prep, grading, and when that's complete, my treat is working on my shop. I also have a long commute, so I take advantage of the smooth ride on the Staten Island Ferry to add an extra hour of drawing time into my workday.

D: I've never know a professor personally...You must be like a living wikipedia! I can't seem to link the dreamy HansMyHedgehog fairyland with your professional image?

J: When I work in my shop, I feel like a masked menace...like it's an alter ego to my day job-art historian self.  It's kind of fun and strangely, feels a bit illicit.

D: So Dr. Boehman, is there going to be a day your various selves will merge?

J: I was actually a Fulbright scholar in Rome, Italy as I worked on my Ph.D.  I was lucky enough to have the foundation foot the bill for a year of archival research in Rome.  It was a formative year in my life and I'm still looking for the perfect idea to commemorate my year in the Eternal City...

D: Hm just maybe, we can only hope...I heard you travel quite a bit in your childhood?

J: My dad was in the military, so we were lucky to move around a lot. Next to the Hans My Hedgehog illustration, my favorite piece (in the shop) is the illustration of the Bremen Town Musicians.  It was inspired by the three years I spent near that town in Germany when I was a kid.
They fit perfectly into my shop theme while being very personal, as well.  The dog in the illustration is my old dog Merlin, who passed away a few years ago. You can tell by looking at his crooked tail. Merlin's tail broke as a puppy and healed crookedly. That's my way of remembering him.

D: Oh he was a handsome one...Looking forward, what is your next project?

J: Right now, I'm working on holiday designs like a madwoman trying to get them done in time for my Fall show in NYC.
I just finished another Halloween design today, but now I'll be working on Christmas: finishing my four illustrations with borders for the 12 Days of Christmas and making one card for all of the knitters out there: a lamb/wool themed card. It's going to be adorable.

1 comment:

  1. love this interview -- Jess, you are a very interesting woman.