Everybody in his or hers environment has annoying and stress-inducing people and everyone is determined to deal with these individuals in different strategies and in their own way, which make life sometimes difficult. One ignores, the next argues, others react in sport. Jessica Marquardt aka Jay Gnomenfrau (=Gnome Woman) has discovered a very creative way of dealing with these so-called “arshapes” (=”Arschengel”) and turning that into her passion for painting. Art acts as a valve and serves as a personal exploration of one’s own emotions.
Jessica Marquardt imagines the stressful individuals or even uncomfortable situations as little dwarfs, gnomes or mythical creatures, calls them Arschengel and then paints them. It’s a sort of metamorphosis of a sense of annoyance she has experienced with a person. The result is curious figures and fantastic worlds that at first glance also fit into a Tim Burton comic or a Janosch children’s book. And by the way, currently she has also illustrated a children’s book. In addition she does commissions as an independent artist with her label “Knödellustration” from various fields of illustration. She designs CD covers, makes fantasy fan art, creates card games, invents flyers and draws cartoons. Meanwhile you can buy their works on postcards or on T-shirts printed in the online shop or on her website. Enchanting and fantastic handmade jewelry is there too. But the central features are the watercolors and acrylic paintings of the unpleasant arks.
The artist is as well a member of the ART Archiv Network, an artist platform which also connects with other groups and platforms, and so Jessica Marquardt was represented as Jay Gnomenfrau. I met her with her wonderful ugly-lovely group of dwarfs and elves at a street festival in Frankfurt. There she told us in an interview about her work and the arsenals. Here is the recording, the interview is in German, but in the following there are passages of the conversation written down and translated into English:
So you paint gnomes and elves?
Yes, also among other “things”. I started to work with watercolor and illustrative. There were great role models, here Janosch for example, or in the direction of Tim Burton. These have always been my role models. That’s how I started with it, and in the end it’s a fantasy world, but it came from a very realistic background.
When did you start this?
I have been painting since I was a child. I could hardly put the pins away; I just could not get them off. J But then I graduated at some point a natural science study and have actually always considered the opposite pole. Means: Art.
Do you enjoy reading fantasy books as well? Or where do you get your ideas from?
Yeah, well I liked to read fantasy novels, I just got a bit lazy with time. But this is related to the studies and the jobs that I did then. I had to read a lot on the screen all day and then my eyes would eventually get tired. You do not feel like reading in your spare time. But then I’ve looked at a lot of artists. Looked what they did. And there are also such great elf books and illustrations. Of course they inspired me. But I always try, so when I paint my own pictures, I hit all the books and then everything is put aside, because I do not want to paint. It’s all from my head and I have the claim too.
Why these beings? Gnomes and elves, could be also a knight or an animal.
In the end I actually read a book about psychology and maybe even not taking this seriously and the people around us who are annoying us, the by me so-called “archengels”, that’s very important people in our lives, because they are. So they bring us, so to speak, to look at us from a different point of view and then to think it over. How we are, when it makes us so excited what they do, what’s wrong with us. And these in German called “Arschengel” were actually the term I had in mind, when I thought, this man, this boss, this person, this acquaintance or whatever, who or which annoys me so much, or he or she makes me ready, or it makes me sad, or something. So emotions, which triggered the one with me, where I simply thought: Just imagine for yourselve – This person is now a small fat dwarf. And then life is only half as difficult. It really is like that. Then I started to take pictures of these different characters, these ass-angels, so to speak. And as well in different moods.
So behind every figure and gnome is there actually a person you’ve painted your frustration over?
Yes, so maybe there are not always specific individuals, but also situations. So if you’re stuck in traffic or something. Or an annoyance, or a sadness, or even if you feel pressurized. There is a wide range of emotions and especially when you are really under pressure in the job, so performance discrimination and all that, these are also situations, because you need an outlet for it. And for me, art has always been a definite outlet for all these situations I had to go through that my way.
You paint thereby very fantastic, but also very personal soulful pictures.
Yes, it’s just that it used to be faster with the watercolor. Of course, I’ve gotten a bit bigger now. In terms of format, I have now switched to canvas and have also experimented a lot with acrylic. You have to wait until it is dry and things like that. Sometimes this makes me a bit nervous, because I cannot always hold the state or situation for so long. But, of course, everything is always created beforehand with a sketch that is transmitted, and accordingly, sometimes the color scheme is no longer the emotional part, but actually the motif design in the sense.
How did you come to the ART Archiv?
So I met Alexander Grauberger by accident in Aschaffenburg. At the event Art in the Garden (= Art in the garden). I’ve been here now for several years. And I also know the people from Aschaffenburg, that’s another such regular’s table they have. And Alex asked me if I would like to join ART Archiv. Of course it’s clear, great idea, I like to be there. Although I no longer live in Aschaffenburg, but in Wertheim, a bit more far away. But that isn´t stopping me to go around.
You paint the pictures as Jay Gnomenfrau, but you do a lot more creative stuff.
Yes exactly! I actually started with the illustrations. It was nice. Then I made a book cover by a writer in Aschaffenburg. For example I made a CD cover for the band of my dad, who is a passionate musician. I had a little children’s book project that I illustrated. It’s currently a bit slow with a full-time job and so on. But that works too. And I still do a lot of such little cartoons. So then of actually existing people who are then recognized again. The persons who get the art are always happy. So in the circle of friends, the people are very excited, they are happy and I get time and I do get again other orders. They always think it´s funny and for me in a small time window I can do things like that.
Your label is called “Knödellustration”. (= Dumpling Illustration). Why dumplings?
Yes! So I really enjoy eating dumplings! Especially the bread dumplings, they have really done to me and also the plum dumplings, which have always made my grandfather. And they are big in size, they are small in size, they are in salty, they are stuffed, they come in all varieties and everyone, really everyone I’ve ever met, likes any of these dumplings. So dumplings you cannot really dislike, not possible. They are not malicious either and they cannot be aggressive or something. They are just dumplings. Yes, dumplings are just diverse and great and everyone likes them.
So others can meet you in the region at art markets or fairs with your stand and a selection of your works?
Yes, in any case. I always try to take the time. At the moment we are rebuilding an old half-timbered house, that’s why it’s not always that easy over time. And some of the markets really cost a lot of money, which I do not have.
THE ARTIST ABOUT HERSELF ON HER WEBSITE: Knödellustration, or in English maybe called “Dumpling Illustration”, that’s the name of my small illustration manufactory! The first time I saw a Tim Burton movie, I knew I was not alone, with my love for little scary characters, antiheroes, and Halloween sentiment. Over the years, my own little monsters were born, sometimes sad, sometimes cute, sometimes happy and sometimes spooky. I’ve learned a lot, especially about myself and my own monsters. When the sun is shining outside and the temperature is above 30 degrees, it is very likely that I will be working on a new design with the shutters closed and the rug lightly draped over my sketchbook. When the hero comes, new moods and ideas come naturally. Fall is just my season! Let yourself be carried away to my little dumpling landscape. In addition to the work in the illustration area, I also create custom commissioned works on paper or canvas, caricatures, book illustrations. On request I will be happy to design your desired motif. In formats from A6 to A1: watercolors, caricatures, birthday and wedding cards, paintings on acrylic canvas and miniature sculptures. On Facebook I offer prints and art postcards, in the online shop are also t-shirts, watches and mobile phone cases and much more available! Other services: flyer design, invitations, image editing or CD covers. For desired motives contact me via Facebook or Email.
Deviant Art: https://www.deviantart.com/gnomenfrau