Brilliant Bay Area printmaker and textile designer Jen Hewett has been at the forefront of the slow fashion movement, before there even was a movement. Honing her craft since 2014, Jen has created a refined and iconic style of block printing and textile design that is modern and sophisticated while exploring the imaginative and whimsical.
With popular block printing classes that sell out across the country and a dedicated social media following, we all love to see what Jen is working on next. Whether it is her tea towel of the month subscription or a new hand sewn dress using one of her original block printed fabrics or from her fabric collection for Cotton and Steel, Jen's designs and studio practice are next level.
It's no surprise that her new book Print, Pattern, Sew from Roost Books just went into its second printing. Filled with step by step instructions leading the reader through Jen's distinctive and expert process for creating hand carved printing blocks and pattern repeats, Print, Pattern, Sew brings Jen's sold out classes right to you. Not only are the projects creative and beautiful, but the gorgeous photography of Jen Siska highlights the magic and expertise of Jen's creative process.
I asked Jen to share with us her #thesethreethings, life lessons that have stuck with her though the years. Here's what she had to say:
Be kind, but that doesn’t necessarily mean be nice.
I strive to be kind, which isn’t quite the same thing as being nice. Niceness is about pleasing other people, while kindness is more about thoughtfulness and benevolence. I sometimes find myself acting from a place of kindness – for example, asserting my boundaries and saying “no” – when the expectation is that I should just be nice and agreeable. This is especially important now that social media has made all of us seem more accessible, and has given everyone an opportunity to provide feedback to, make demands, and ask questions of complete strangers. It’s okay to push back, even if it makes you feel like you’re not being nice. Especially if it means that you’re being kind.
(This is a nice summary of the differences between kindness and niceness: https://www.scu.edu/the-big-q/being-nice-vs-being-kind/)
You can’t please everyone.
I’m working on a couple of large projects that have forced me to really think about my vision of my art practice, and what I want long-term for my work and my life. I became a grounded person in my late 30s (I’m 43 now), and consciously made decisions about the kind of work I took on, and the kinds of products I created. And all of that meant letting go of the idea that I could be everything to everyone.
Much of my work is more expensive than what you’d pay at a store. A lot of it is limited edition, so once it sells out, it’s gone. I won’t troubleshoot individual people’s printmaking issues outside of my classes. I don’t make all the things that people want. I get that this disappoints some people, but it means that I have the time and space to create new work without burning out.
Backup your computer weekly.
My brother is an IT Consultant, so I had to include this! But really – there have been times that I’ve been so thankful that I have an external backup drive, and that I have a schedule (with a calendar reminder) for backing up my laptop.
Really, it’s easy to do once you make it a habit. If you’re lucky, you’ll never need your backup. But if you lose your computer, or if it has a meltdown – well, you have a backup.
Thanks so much Jen!
To learn more about Jen Hewett, follow along with her adventures below:
Photography: Jen Siska