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Jennifer Wambach is a jack-of-all-trades illustrator currently residing in Chicago. She often finds herself multitasking between various freelance jobs, from illustration clients and children’s books to designing independently for Spoonflower. A self described “voracious reader” and a stay at home mom, Jennifer is happiest at home working on a job she loves. As she puts it, “Where else could I draw maniacal sea creatures and get paid for it?!”

The maniacal sea creature in question is this awesomely colorful and slightly grumpy squid she designed, available in machine embroidery and hand embroidery formats.

Tell us a bit about your background -- what led you into art and what drives you now?

I grew up in a house with lots of art and craft supplies all around me, thanks to a mom who loved to sew. She and my dad always encouraged my creative pursuits ... although drawing our family portrait in permanent marker on the basement floor, dumping glue on boxes of fabric scraps, and writing my name and age all over the wall was probably not what she had in mind. Still, they didn't try too hard to talk me out of going to art school.

Years of working as a graphic designer made me miss drawing. After going fully freelance about 10 years ago, I tried to combine my early indoctrination into the world of sewing and crafts with my fine art background. Discovering Spoonflower really set me on the path to fabric design and art licensing, which seems like a perfect fit -- it draws on (ha ha) a bit of everything I love -- and that's where I'm at now. 

What inspires your designs? 

Little bits of lots of diverse influences: midcentury design; botanical illustration; kitsch; Van Gogh; fabric; graffiti; Renaissance art; illustration for, and by, children; toys; bright color palettes; interior design; kids' clothes; abstract expressionism; Degas; and folk art -- to name a few.

Tell us a bit about your design and the story behind it.

The same week I was working on a squid-themed fabric design, we turned on NOVA (PBS's science show) after the kids went to bed, and that particular program happened to be about giant squid. The whole time I was watching it, I was thinking how eerily similar to a B-movie it all seemed, and I kept imagining giant squids attacking various innocent bystanders in the style of a 1950s horror movie poster. The next day, I drew the squid character and an entire bad horror flick/comic book style fabric design in a couple hours, all while holding our sleeping baby in one arm (who possibly unconsciously inspired the whole design ... who can say?).

What’s your studio/workspace like?

It's a small computer desk in the family room. If I want to draw or paint, I need to clear the kids' art stuff off the island in the kitchen, locate my boxes of art supplies in the basement and open them all up (since they're all labeled with a very generic "ART") to find the tiny little watercolor set I'm looking for. I have a sewing machine in a cabinet in the living room. And that's about it! Some day when the kids are older and our house is not on the market, I hope to have a real art studio.

What’s your favorite handmade craft you’ve ever made? (This can by anything, from a school project to the knitting you may or may not do on the side.)

I think each project I've just completed is my favorite, honestly! Lately I've been really into making 3D paper die-cutting patterns (which I license to Silhouette America which they then sell in their online store). I was pretty proud of the doorway puppet theater I made for my daughters for Christmas (made from a fat quarter of Patty Young's "Playdate" fabric, complete with curtains, a clock with moveable hands, comedy and tragedy masks, and "PUPPET THEATRE" in felt letters). I also love my robot one-yard skirt pattern and fabric (for sale on Spoonflower) -- robots and monster designs for girls are rare, but why?? I think they're awesome!

Finally, if you were a Crayola crayon, what color would you be?

Periwinkle. Because I like the name and because it reminds me of the color of the sky at my favorite time of day, twilight.

See more of Jennifer's work on her blog, check out her fabrics on Spoonflower, and follow her creations on Facebook!

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