Jen MCCleary podcast multi-media artist

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My guest today is Jen McCleary, a fine artist and graphic designer who specializes in mixed-media collage. She also creates amazing daily abstract art journals, quirky jewellery and has just released a range of clothing with her designs. I really enjoyed this interview and it inspired me to try out some collage/mixed media too.

Jen is based in Philadelphia in the USA. She studied painting and printmaking and got a Degree in Fine Art. Although at first, she hated the idea of using a computer to create, she now thinks it’s an amazing tool. She now creates hand created mixed media work and digital art.

Her early career was in academic publishing doing editing work but she wanted to be an artist So she decided to go back to college to learn graphic design and then got a job doing that. After getting laid off from her design job, she decided to go freelance which she really enjoys.

Art Journalling

During the interview, we talk about some of the daily art projects that Jen has done which started with a daily photo. Her latest daily project is creating an art journal page a day. When she first started she would do literal drawings of things. However, she never really liked it. The habit only really stuck when she started experimenting with collage, which she really enjoyed. She now uses collage and mixed media and works intuitively rather than drawing things literally. Jen also makes time-lapse videos of herself creating journal pages.

Mixed Media

Jen creates mixed media painting both handmade and digital. Sometimes the work from her journals is developed further into her paintings. She takes a photograph of each of her art journal pages and uses elements to give her digital work depth and texture.

Geology mixed media Jen McCleary

© Copyright Jen McCleary


© Copyright Jen McCleary

Advice for a novice artist

Jen recommends experimenting with different materials and taking different classes to out new things. She believes you need to make a lot of bad work before you make good work.

Jewellery creation

Jen creates amazing jewellery from unusual things. She works similarly to the collage process where she works very intuitively and lets the creation develop.

Books, people and courses that have inspired Jen

Jen has been watching Wormwood (on Netflix). Eric Olson is the son of the man that the documentary is about. Eric is a psychologist who developed a collage method. Jen loves this quote from Eric Olson –

“Specific images are chosen by collage makers because they are bearers of feeling, or because they serve as emotional catalysts, marking essential positions in what becomes, thanks to their presence, a highly charged emotional space. When these feeling-laiden and feeling-marking images are combined in multi-image configurations, the feelings at play are multiplied by the interactions that occur among all the images.”

Jen is interested in psychology so is doing more research. Also, the film has a very collage-like style which she is inspired by.

Jen has also just started working through a book called Creative Sprint by Noah Scalin and doing some of the creative challenges. She feels his philosophy of art being part of a daily practice aligns with her views.

Hopes for the future

Jen has just relaunched her Etsy shop with clothes that incorporate her collage and mixed media work. She is also hoping to do more book cover design work using her mixed media imagery.

Where to connect with Jen

You can find Jen on her website, Instagram @jenmcclearyart
Facebook @JenMcClearyArtDesign