Introduce yourself and provide a brief overview of your background as a maker.
My name is Jenny Shlemon. I am 27 and from Illinois. In my spare time, when I am not working, I am at the gym or horseback riding. I am a self made/self taught entrepreneur and artist. I have loved making art since I was a kid. In 2017 I started a side business where I was creating wood burned art by hand. I started buying more mediums for my business and trying new things. I bought resin in 2019 to use to cover my wood burned art and I tried casting some coasters. At first I was getting overwhelmed by the learning curve of resin but once I started to do it more, I fell in love with it and how many different things I can make with resin. I started buying a bunch of molds and experimenting with what I enjoyed doing the most and what my audience wanted to see. I love making functional and decorative pieces that serve a purpose or just something cute for someone to look at and admire. One of my favorite things to make is jewelry and I started making resin earrings to start. I now work with a laser, resin and I draw and design as well.
What initially inspired you to start creating and making things?
I have been interested in art since I was a young child. I used to be that kid who would draw and doodle all over my homework and notebooks. I took art classes in high school which allowed me to try a few different things such as ceramics, drawing and painting. I thoroughly enjoyed drawing and creating textures with charcoal pencils. Fast forward to now, my customers are huge inspirations and motivators when it comes to creating and trying new things. A lot of my best selling ideas have been suggestions from my audience and I am super thankful that I have people in my corner that want to see me win and want to see me create things.
How would you describe your creative process? Do you have any rituals or routines that you follow?
I don’t have any set routines but I do enjoy making art out of things I like/enjoy so I love making colorful, nature inspired art. I love browsing new products such as molds, glitters, and additives. That way I can see a fake paper butterfly and go "wow this would look great in an earring!" and that is how I will get inspired sometimes. Basically by shopping, browsing the internet and looking at a variety of things online such as nature, nail artists, animal videos, etc.
Can you share a specific project or creation that you're particularly proud of? Please provide details about the concept, materials used, and the story behind it.
I absolutely love this butterfly piece that I did a few years ago. It is definitely one of my favorite resin pieces. I love it all besides the small bubble, but I still was able to sell it. During this time, I was really into using alcohol inks and I just got the coolest effects with the white smokey effect and the colorful background. I also love using fake paper butterflies and this butterfly has always captivated me. I ended up using this piece as inspiration for a tattoo I have on my arm. I used TotalBoat MakerPoxy to cast this beautiful palette and I found that it works great with alcohol inks!
Do you have a favorite tool or technique that you frequently use in your projects? Why do you enjoy working with it?
I absolutely love working with alcohol ink and I have found that total boat resin: MakerPoxy and Tabletop have been the best when I use inks. I’ve used other resins that get soft, or make the colors all brown and TotalBoat has an amazing set of resins that are hardy.
I also use TotalBoat Tabletop Epoxy for my resin phone cases which are a huge hit. I developed my own unique style for those and I have my method down great. It was a little rocky at first because I would spill a lot on the phone case but now I am so good at making resin phone cases. The fact that TableTop Epoxy is so hardy, strong, durable, it really helps because with my own resin phone case, I dropped my phone so many times and I never had one issue with protection.
SO all in all, TableTop Epoxy is my grail. I could not have made such unique pieces without it. Another thing I love is that it is very affordable so I recommend this brand to my other artist friends who make resin art and don't want to break the bank.
Can you describe a challenging project or obstacle you've encountered during your journey as a maker? How did you overcome it?
One huge challenge I’ve come across as a maker is establishing boundaries about projects I can and can’t do. I do a lot of custom work and lately I’ve been working on saying no to things that don’t suit my style or make me happy. It’s important to enjoy what you do and if I’m doing something that I don’t enjoy, it can sour the experience. Being a maker who also runs this as their lifeline/business, you have to be aware and be ahead of the game when it comes to legal things and protecting yourself. Art theft is another huge thing going around right now so I have been learning a lot as a business woman by hiring a lawyer to help guide me.
Are there any specific themes, concepts, or messages that you like to explore through your creations?
I like to wow people with my art so I enjoy using bright fun colors to draw attention. I also enjoy making people feel good, so I enjoy making sentimental pieces that will preserve a memory for them, such as a positive pregnancy test, memorial photos, sentimental flowers, etc. And another thing I enjoy is making people laugh, so I have made some crazy creations with resin and letter beads to make funky accessories.
Above: A glimpse at Jenny's milkbath work
How do you balance your creative pursuits with other aspects of your life? Do you have any tips for maintaining a productive and fulfilling creative practice?
Being an artist is my full time job. I work often and I prefer to prioritize my job. My job pays my bills and keeps me fed but also, it is something I really enjoy doing. If I had more space in my art room, I could create a million things a day but sometimes I only have the energy to focus on one job or category. I think just being super passionate about your craft and your skills helps motivate you to keep creating. I get so excited when I pour resin. When I wait for the demold the next day, it is like opening a present. Every time I demold something new it’s always exciting and exhilarating because all of that hard work usually pays off. Sometimes there is a fluke such as a piece of dust or hair in it, but that just means I get to make it again.
How do you stay inspired and motivated as a maker? Are there any sources of inspiration that you regularly turn to?
I stay motivated because I love what I do. It's so much fun to wake up every day and have a fun exciting job where I get to make beautiful things or funny things that people enjoy and buy and admire. Even if I have supporters who don't buy my products, but they laugh and interact with me on social media, I enjoy knowing that I can make things and people will enjoy it and appreciate it like I do. I scroll through social media often so sometimes I will see inspo from aesthetic images of nature, sometimes nail art, even tattoos inspire me for some of the creations I make.
Are there any upcoming projects or collaborations that you're excited about and would like to share?
I don’t have anything super big upcoming however I am happy and lucky to be able to access and work with the brands I work with. I was super excited when Total Boat reached out to me a few years ago. I love working with them and using their products. Everything I have used and tried out with TotalBoat has been top notch. I could not have progressed my business so far if it weren’t for TotalBoat TableTop Epoxy. Some of my best selling items rely on this hardy, sturdy resin. I enjoy when the companies that I work with value my opinion and listen to my ideas and suggestions as well because I do have some feedback I know I can bring to the table and use to benefit another company.
Can you share some advice or words of wisdom for aspiring makers who are just starting their creative journeys?
One thing that I think is very important is that you do not give up. I have been working on my artistic skills for years and building my business for years. Success and proficiency doesn’t happen overnight however it will happen over time with effort. I also think it is important not to compare yourself to other people. We all come from different backgrounds and comparing yourself to someone else with a different background might get in your head and put you down. Focus on yourself, your own work and your own passions and you will be much happier. But don’t be afraid to make friends and connect with other like minded people.
Thank you Jenny for taking the time to answer our questions and share your experience! We hope you all have a Happy Halloween. And don't forget to follow Jenny on her socials!