DM: We have so many international and domestic readers, would you please tell us a bit about where you are located?
WJ: I am currently located in Portland, Oregon in the United States. My studio space is located in the South East area of Portland in a warehouse called The Watershed
DM: Is there a story about how you picked the name for your business?
WJ: I decided to pick Art by Winona because of the various mediums I like to use. I like to dabble in everything: Metalsmithing, painting, ceramics, woodworking, sculpture, sewing, etc.
DM: What is your artistic medium?
WJ: Well, since I like to use so many mediums I will choose my favorite; metal.
DM: When and how did you first become interested in your medium?
WJ: My first experience working with metal was in college. The beginning jewelry/metalsmithing class was one of the first classes I took at the University. I really had no idea what the class entailed. And you would think that I fell in love with it right away, wrong. I hated it! It was the most frustrating piece of material I ever had to work with. My first project was a disaster. But I was determined to master the material, my second project I had to start over twice. By the end of the class I was starting to get the hang of it until a chunk of my ring fell off. It still turned out pretty well, sometimes the mistakes turn out the best. After that class I practically lived in the metals room for the remaining three years of College.
DM: Once you decided to pursue your art, how did you start off, trial and error, books, classes, videos, formal schooling?
WJ: I have loved art since I could maneuver a pencil. After high school I went to my community college in Wenatchee, Washington. A small town located in the center of the state. After I earned my Associates Degree I transferred to Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington. An even smaller town located about hour and half away. There, I earned my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree majoring in Jewelry/Metalsmithing. I also have a collection of books which is slowly growing. Trial and error is the best way of learning anything. You’re not learning anything if you don’t make mistakes, I should be making more.
DM: Out of what you tried, was there any particular thing that you would recommend to someone just starting out?
WJ: Have a chunk of money in your savings. I know that’s always easier said than done. Be a shameless self promoter, I am still working on that. Really love what you do and be proud of your art, always thinking positive! Unless you plan on staying in one place for the rest of your life, don’t be a pack rat. Moving isn’t fun.
DM: What do you enjoy most about working with your medium?
WJ: I like metal like I like my men, I can manipulate and form it into anything I want.
DM: What do you find the most frustrating?
WJ: I don’t get frustrated with the actual material, it’s the process. I am always cutting, burning, filing my fingers and sometimes burn my hair with a torch. I think I am up to three times now with burning my hair. I haven’t burned my hair for a while though….knock on wood.
DM: Where do you find your inspirations for what you create?
WJ: My inspirations come from everyday adventures; whether it is a found object as I walk through a park, my quirky personality, or something that happened at my part time job.
DM: Tell us a little about one of your favorite creations.
WJ: I have a few pieces that I like, but if I had to choose one it would be the Chameleon brooch I made for my metalsmith friend Andy Cooperman. I enjoy the technique chasing and repousse and granulation. He was the first person to purchase a piece of jewelry from me and he gave it to his wife for their anniversary.
DM: Have you ever experienced artist block and how did you overcome it?
WJ: I have artist blocks all the time, that’s why I use so many different mediums. When I get frustrated with coming up with jewelry ideas, I’ll switch to painting or drawing. Right now I am silk screening shirts for my other Etsy shop I have with my boyfriend: http://www.visualresistance.etsy.com/
WJ: And when I just can’t create anything I go to yoga, ride my bike, go dancing, or hang out with my friends. You can lose your creativity sometimes being stuck in the same space too long.
DM: What is the biggest mistake you have ever made as an artist? What did you learn from it?
WJ: My biggest mistake as an artist is letting fear get in the way. Being afraid of what someone else thinks, if you’re not going to get in a show, or your just not good enough will not get you anywhere. I am still learning from this. Fear is my one worst enemy and it gets me every time. I will be trying to defeat this for a while. The fear is slowly leaking out of me.
DM: Would you please tell about your studio set-up? (If you have pictures to share that would be great)
WJ: Like I mentioned before we are located at The Watershed in South East Portland. It’s about 1,000 square foot space with an office at one end, the main room is filled with the silk screening equipment, I have a room just for my art on the other end of the space, and a washout room for the screens. ( for more great pictures of the studio see her flickr page)
DM: When is your favorite time to create?
WJ: I would say in the later afternoon and in the evening. I have had the habit of getting up around 10 in the morning. Having to be up in the early morning is not a pretty sight.
DM: What advise would you give someone starting out in this medium?
WJ: Start out with smaller, simple projects. I had big ideas in my head when I first started using metal. I always wanted to make something really complicated before mastering each technique. You’ll just end up getting frustrated.
DM: Are there any artists that inspire you or that you admire?
WJ: I have several that I admire: My father Terry Johnson, I thank him for my artistic ability: , Andy Cooperman: , My Professor Keith Lewis and many more metalsmiths, too many too count. I also like Degas, Frida Kahlo, Monet, Salvador Dali, and Van Gogh.