Saturday, July 2, 2011

An Interview with Jan of MonkeyShine Studio

by Jan Willett of MonkeyShine Studio

BH - Tell us a bit about yourself
Jan – MonkeyShine Studio is in charming LowerAllston, a little bit of the ‘ burbs in the middle of the bustling metropolis. We make sock animals - monkeys and socktopi at the moment – and we get help from other area businesses, like Rocket Science Screenprinting and Boston Coasters, to make our Tshirts and greeting cards.

BH- What do you like to do when you’ re not making stuff?
Jan – I ride my bike, practice yoga, lift weights, play in the garden, read, cook, go to the movies, hang with my friends in the neighborhood, and, oh yeah, wait tables at flora restaurant in Arlington.

BH - How long have you been doing your artwork/craft?Jan – I’ ve been making sock monkeys since ’ 04; I went to school for sculpture back in the 80s, and the art-making has taken many forms since then. Hat-making, annual Valentines cards, fun- houses for the cats, neighborhood gorilla-art projects with friends, etc.

BH - What's your favorite color?
Jan – orange, at the moment. I started with purple, the went through green, blue and fuschia

BH - What are your favorite materials?Jan – I like to work with 3D materials, because they have a reality in space, just like we do! Art on walls asks people to do a funny double-reality shift by first denying the 3D world, and then (in most cases) suspend their disbelief in the 2D surface-reality of the artwork, to pretend it has depth again!! That being said, my most cherished handmade possessions are a pretty massive collection of paintings, drawings, and prints done by friends.

BH - What do you love most about what you make?
Jan – the monkeys make people happy. They have a strong positive JOY FORCE!

BH - What is your biggest obstacle with it?
Jan – honestly? The marketing part; ESPECIALLY that which involves the computer!

BH - Are there other mediums you’ re not working in that interest you?
Jan – I’ ve taken up life drawing recently, and I LOVE IT

BH - Read any good books lately?
Jan – LIFE by Keith Richards. Took it with me on vacation recently, and had no idea I’ d be so
enthralled! Keef is not just in it for show! He’ s obsessed with guitars, and blues music… who

BH – What movies are on your “must-see” list?
Jan – "The Story of the Weeping Camel" a docu-fiction about Mongolian nomads. Absolutely
fascinating! Exit Through the Gift Shop is a hilarious and thought-provoking movie about
contemporary art-making. Dandy is a hysterically crazy art-film romp by contemporary artist John Bock. You won’t believe it! And you won’ t be able to stop thinking about it either!

BH - Is there anything about you that would surprise people to know?
Jan – I stand on my head every day.

BH - Where do you see yourself in 5 years with your art ?
Jan – Still making it!! - In ten years I'd like to be Making a Living with my artwork!

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