Interview by M. Bullette
Jessica Lejserowits [Lez-air-oh-witz] is a Delaware Designer & Illustrator. We talk about painting and sculpting food and how "You can't make everyone happy". Thank you, Jess!
We like to know how people are connected to Delaware - are you a resident, born and raised?
I'm not originally from Delaware. I grew up in North Jersey and went to college at UD, which is how I found my way down here. After college I moved home for 3 years and this past September I got a job in PA and moved back to Delaware!
This will be your third year participating! Did you have a favorite project from your past Delaware Fun-A-Days? Any Artists you are hoping to see participate again?
I would have to say my favorite was my second project because it was very out of my comfort zone but I loved it in the end. My first year I did illustrations of food which is something I'm really comfortable doing and then last year I did these really cool abstract rainbow tiles and called it Prism. Abstract art isn't my strong point so sometimes when you do something outside of your comfort zone the end result is more rewarding.
I'm hoping to see Alyssa from the Lemon Moth. I love how bright and colorful her work is! There were also a few kids that participated last year that hopefully come back. The kids usually have the funnier stuff which I think is great. I also love walking through the artist studios and seeing all of the resident artist's work. Dan Jackson is one of my favorites!
What advice can you pass on for this year’s first timers?
Have fun and don't stress! I like to plan what I want to do ahead of time and I don't confine myself to one day per piece. I just tell myself I have one month to finish, so if something needs more than a day, I think that's ok.
Tell us about your 2017 project - fictional wedding invitations... what is your favorite part of a wedding?
I design wedding invitations as a side job and I've been sitting on this idea for awhile of taking famous fictional couples and designing their wedding invitations. I'm really excited about it because when I'm working with a client there are certain constraints, but for this I can do anything I want and really use my imagination.
My favorite part of a wedding is when the bride walks down the aisle, I feel like its such a beautiful moment. I also love seeing the decorations and flowers for inspiration and dancing of course.
In your practice, what comes naturally to you and what do you have to force?
Making more realistic paintings has always come more naturally to me than making anything abstract. I think it's because I'm very logical and it's hard for me to let go and make something more interpretive.
You draw/paint a lot of food - how do you make chocolate look like chocolate, berries look like berries?
I worked as an artist for Whole Foods for 2.5 years which is where I learned how to paint food. It's really about the highlights, shadows, and textures. When it comes to chocolate, you want to make it look very smooth and well blended. You also want to make sure you get the highlights because that's what makes chocolate pop. When it comes to berries, you have to think about the color. For example when you look at a raspberry you initially would say it's a pinkish reddish color. But you have to think about what other colors are found in the shadows. I would use dark purples and greens in the shadows which adds way more depth then if you just use a darker red. Also raspberries have some texture on them so blending with my finger is a good way of getting that look. Lastly adding the highlights at the end makes everything come to life.
Do you only draw/paint food or do you have a favorite dish to cook or bake? Would you share a short recipe?
I've been cooking for as long as I can remember and I got really into baking in high school. Right now I'm really into baking pies. This pie crust recipe has been amazing and I find it to be fairly easy:
2 1/2 C Flour
1 tsp Salt
1/4 C Vegetable Shortening
10 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
10 Tbsp of Ice Waters
Whisk together flour and salt. Add shortening and work until the mixture is crumbly. Cut butter into 1/2 inch cubes. Add butter to flour mixture and work it in roughly with your fingers (It should be very uneven). Add 4 tablespoons of ice water and toss to combine. Add the additional 6 Tablespoons of water and mix together. You should now have something that resembles dough! Divide in half and form into 2 discs (they don't have to be perfect) Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. You can prepare these the night before if you need to. When you're ready to make your pie take out the fridge and if it's been chilled longer than 30 minutes let it rest for a few minutes, if not make sure you have a well floured surface and roll out your dough to your desired thickness. From there you can assemble your pie!
Tell us some secrets about working with Sculpey!
Sculpey is so much fun! For those that don't know what it is, it's a polymer clay. I got really into it my junior year of college because we had to do a 3D illustration project. One of my favorite projects I ever did was a sculpey project for my study abroad trip. I called it Lunch in London and it was a book of 10 places to get lunch in London for under 10 pounds. I sculpted tiny versions of each food and I used a bunch of random objects to make different textures and shapes. I remember I had this ring that made the perfect bread texture. Once they were baked and painted, I photographed them and turned the whole thing into a book.
Some secrets would be to work the clay so it warms up. It starts out kind of hard but the more you play with it the easier it is to mold. Also like I said you can use all kinds of random objects to create textures. Everyone should check out Liz Lomax for inspiration, she's an awesome sculpey artist!
Name 5 key artistic influences:
1. Pop Culture- I'm definitely influenced a lot by what's currently trending and things I see in the media.
2. Traveling- I love traveling and just experiencing different places and cultures. There is so much to take in whether it's nature or architecture or just different patterns and colors. I studied abroad in London for 5 weeks and it was one of the most influential experiences of my life.
3. Reading- I like reading fantasy books, which transport you to another world. The best part about reading is that it forces you to use your imagination and make up the scenery and how the characters look.
4. Friends & Family- I'm very lucky to have amazing and talented people in my life. It's always great to be able to share ideas or have them look at what I'm working on and get their opinions. They are always pushing me to be the best I can be.
5. Interior Design- I'm always inspired by well decorated spaces especially since I've been in the process of decorating my apartment. I currently work for a company designing home decor accessories so interior design really relates back to that. I love fun textiles and bold pops of color. I also love really bold black and white prints.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?
You can't make everyone happy, and don't sell yourself short.
Where can people check out more of your work?