I'm excited to share with you today the work of my friend Jill Galloway Sherman. The Philadelphia-based artist originally trained as a sculptor and photographer, but counts many mediums in her skill set, including drawing and book design. We spoke recently to discuss her career path, her sources of inspiration, and the direction of her newest work.
How did you come to your career?
Growing up I was always interested in the arts, and so it was only natural that I went to college to study fine art. I went to Hartwick College and focused on studio arts with a concentration in photography and sculpture, and then received my MFA in photography from the Rochester Institute of Technology. I moved to Philly right after graduate school, aware that it had a fairly young and vivid art scene, so I was hopeful that I would find work in the art field.
My first jobs in Philly were at a photo lab and a fine art print gallery. Eventually I starting teaching as an adjunct in photography at The Art Institute. Working as an adjunct, I've found that it is important to expand creatively, and not spend all my time in the classroom. So I also work freelance, both as a consultant in Photoshop and Lightroom, and as a book designer for Philadelphia-area photographers. I am now the lead designer for handmade book company Bliss Books, which I absolutely love. What I enjoy so much about all these jobs is that I am surrounded by people interested in learning and creating. That motivates me, and keeps me fresh with new ideas to address in my own artwork.
What materials do you use in your artwork?
I love working in various mediums and materials, ranging from drawings, paper embossing, fabric or paper sculptures, photography and digital print. Most of my photos are shot digitally with a Canon 5D Mark II, and then edited in Lightroom and Photoshop. Some of my newest pieces are created through photo composites. My drawings all start in pencil and then are scanned, so that color can be added in Photoshop. I print everything myself on an Epson 3800 using archival matte rag papers. In the drawing series, I emboss the paper to raise the surface of the line drawing, which adds a touch of dimension to a flat print.
How are you inspired?
My inspiration comes from so many places that the list could be pages long. I have sketchbooks and notebooks piling up in my studio with ideas that pop into my head from dreams, everyday life, lines from songs or something I may have read. I have two young children and they certainly are my muses. Play and imagination are two things that I love to address in my drawings.
Wes Anderson’s films are another huge inspiration to me: their use of color, balance and visual organization, as well as their innocence and power in storytelling. The opening pages to his book Wes Anderson’s Worlds put much of what I do into perceptive for me. I love the concept of art as a way of picking up the pieces and building a world of your own.
I am driven by the need to make art. For years I was unsure of my visual voice, but I now realize that I make work about life experiences, and to chronicle or make sense of the world around us. I have a simple desire to pass along pleasure and thought to anyone who is looking at my art. I have a lot of ideas and projects percolating at one time, and I see all of my work as one big series.
You recently collaborated with West Elm in Philadelphia for an exhibition. How did that experience come about? What was it like?
I was walking around the West Elm store, taking note of the colors in their new displays, since so much of my inspiration comes from color. I realized then how similar my color palette is to the one were showcasing. I'm not usually so bold, but I asked a store clerk if they ever showed work by local artists, and a few weeks later we were planning a show of my drawings for First Friday (a curated event by West Elm Philadelphia featuring one artist each month). The show had a different kind of feel than one in a commercial gallery, and it was exciting to see my work mixed in with the store displays. The colors and whimsical nature of my illustrations fit in well with West Elm's decor. It was definitely an exciting opportunity for me.
What kind of projects are you working on now?
I am continuing with new ideas for drawings to add to my illustration body of work. Recently I completed a fellowship project where I worked with elders and middle school students on a project titled The Constructed Landscape. In May we will be having a show of the collages that the elders made with the students, as well as a new photographic series I have been working on. My images in this series are digital composites from several different landscape photographs that I taken over the years. I am inventing a landscape by overlapping and layering parts from different photos to make something brand new. I see these photos as a connection to my idea of picking up pieces and using them in a way to make sense of the world, as well as a way to create something beautiful from nature.
How do people go about procuring one of your pieces?
I usually sell work at exhibitions, but I have also had people contact me directly through my website where I can give them a price per edition and sized print. Someone was just asking if I could custom colorize a drawing to match a color palette in a room. I love this idea and I love collaborations!
Do you have thoughts on framing? Mat or no mat? White frame or black?
I show my work framed. For a long time I was using only black frames with standard archival mats (the traditional photographer in me shows there), but recently I have been using white frames with no mats. I find the drawings look clean, and the focus is really on the piece. I think in the end, though, the best option depends on where the piece is going to live in a space.
What role does art play in your own home? How do you feel it can add to a space?
Art plays a huge role in our home. Over the years my husband and I have been collecting pieces from friends, students, art shows and art fairs, and we have a nice little collection started. The pieces add personality to the rooms as well as spark memories for us. I love being surrounded by beautiful and thought provoking work. It makes me want to create.