We had the good fortune of connecting with Jennifer Willoughby and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jennifer, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I don’t believe that I ever made a conscience choice to have a creative career. Creativity has always been intrinsic to my life and a critical means of survival. My imagination was a byproduct of my efforts to embrace the absurdities of my environment.
Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s inspired within me a desire to explore my world without the constraints of standard social norms and conventions. This combined with my situation as a child, having been raised by a single mother struggling with Paranoid Schizophrenia, often required a level of maturity that was unnatural and un nurturing. So consequently, I cultivated a rich imagination and a keenly developed sense of the absurd. The rest is left to perspective, chance and circumstance.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I began my career working for a non profit organization for writers. The National Writers Club was celebrating their 50th anniversary when I signed on as their Receptionist. This was my first real job and introduction to an assortment of incredibly talented and creative individuals. I soon learned what it meant to wear multiple hats for an employer as I assumed the duties as their Membership Specialist, School Registrar and Art Director for their international publication titled Authorship. I was just a kid in my mid twenties with a kid, and a 9th grade education. I super glued a dictionary to my left hand as I carefully typed letters of correspondence to professionally published author on a IBM Selectric II typewriter.
In the mid 80s, Desktop Publishing was not yet a thing, so I sharpened my skills with a X-Acto knife cutting Amberlith color separations and specking type. Cut and paste had a whole other meaning and I was so glad to welcome PageMaker into the workflow. Through out my 7 years with the organization I was part of an paradigm shift that changed my life and the publishing industry forever.
After leaving the Writers Club I decided to enroll at the Colorado Institute of Art in pursuit of a certificate in Communications Technology. I also accepted a job producing catalogs for art and drafting supply company. I was a busy young woman trying to balance school, work and being a parent. Not much time for a personal life but I was young and driven. Much of the experience I gained in catalog production was helpful to me later on as I was offered a job teaching Electronic Pre Press at Platt College in Aurora, Colorado.
Accepting the Position at Platt College was very scary prospect and a huge challenge, after all, I had never taught before. I was petrified at the prospect of professing anything publicly. I had rent to pay and a son to raise, so I immersed myself in the subject and over the next seven years I constructed a curriculum that encompassed all the details and variables of “desktop publishing” traditional print production. While at Platt I had the opportunity to earn my BA in Advanced Interactive Computer Graphic Design which required both teaching and taking full time classes.
For the next 25 years I was a graphic designer and web designer with a focus on luxury, hospitality, events and educational content. Some of the most interesting projects I worked on were short term contract jobs on a freelance basis. During the summer of 2009 I was part of a team contracted by the Department of Defense to create interactive on-line training materials for Wild Fire First Response, Small Space Rescue, Jet Fuel Re hydration Systems and Nuclear Disaster First Response Teams.
While teaching Dreamweaver and Flash at the Art Institute, I was offered the opportunity to contract with Denver Center of the Preforming Arts to reconstruct their website using HTML and CSS to be in ADA compliant. In exchange for an introductory session to Flash, My “Let it Snow”animation was one of the first displays featured on the first large outdoor plasma displays at the complex off of Spear Blvd.
I have always been attuned to the balance between risk and reward as it has related to challenges I’ve encountered along the way. I firmly believe that if you are true to yourself and follow your gut, you will be on the right path to your personal bliss. I find myself today beginning a new chapter in fine arts and so far, I have been fortunate to be part of some great organizations that have helped me find my own voice. I am an exhibiting artist at the Denver Art Society, Boulder Art Association and the Studio Montclair in NJ. All of these organizations have a mission that support emerging artist as they develop and explore their own creative vision. I am grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had throughout my commercial arts career and look forward to learning and growing in the arts and exploring my creativity with the eyes of a child with a brand new box of crayons.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
R&R BBQ, Wine/420 and conversation- Altitude Acclamation
Breakfast at Stella’s Coffee House and walk along the Farmers Market on Old South Pearl Street
Lunch on South Gaylord street and walk around Washing Park
Dinner and entertainment at the Mercury Cafe
Concert at Red Rocks
First Friday at the Denver Art Society on Santa Fe Art District
Bike ride along the Cherry Creek Bike path to Confluence Park
Drum Circle and fire dancing at Confluence Park with Todd Dooley Denver Drum and Dance.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Shout out to Jim Young, Director of the National Writers Club, Jerry Sirbu Director and Dean at Platt Collage and Steve Klemenz, Director at Cherry Hills Country Club. Thank you all for allowing me the opportunities to learn, grow and express my creativity. My partner in love and life John Fellers, your love and support gives me wings! My son Josh Slankard, through everything a fine human being and friend.
Other: https://artspaces.kunstmatrix.com/en/printpdf/6832982 https://artspaces.kunstmatrix.com/en/printpdf/5636064 https://artspaces.kunstmatrix.com/en/exhibition/6832982/journey-into-whimsy https://artspaces.kunstmatrix.com/en/exhibition/5636064/digital-fields
John Fellers Avalon Art Fest Pic