Jill Berry is a graphic designer, mixed-media artist and teacher who makes lots of books, paintings and other story-telling structures. Her handmade books are in the permanent collections of the Newberry Library in Chicago and the Denver Public Library. She has taught at three universities in Colorado as well as at several art retreats. Jill is currently working on her first mixed-media instruction and inspiration book, Personal Geographies, to be published by North Light Books in November 2011.
Q: What are you working on right now?
A: A book on map-making, the Sketchbook Challenge, thinking about a series on Middle School.
Q: What’s your current favorite, can’t-live-without-it find?
A: I found a series of 1950s books with embossed and painted covers of many countries, and they have maps for end sheets. Woo woo, I am making some journals!
Q: What is your least favorite technique that you still use anyway?
A: Rubber stamps.
Q: What is on your workspace right now?
A: Maps and paints, journal pages and pencils.
Q: What’s the most inspiring trip you’ve ever taken or adventure you have ever had?
A: A few months in Australia hitchhiking on boats, buses and automobiles. It was Hollywood movie good with complex character development and lots of intrigue.
Q: What’s the last thing you cooked?
A: A beef rumaki appetizer with Stilton, micro green salad, and wasabi mayo.
Q: If you could surround yourself with only one color, what would it be?
A: To look at, iridescent blue, like the sea. To paint with, Quinacridone Gold.
Q: What one thing do you want to do that you haven’t done yet?
A: Explore Africa or Thailand. I need a few lifetimes to do what I want to do.
Q: What’s the best day you’ve ever had?
A: A day by myself on the Amalfi Coast in Italy. I was entirely alive, every cell of my being.
Q: What’s today’s Word to Live By?
Q: What is your guilty pleasure?
A: Playing Scrabble against the computer.
Q: What do you listen to when you create?
A: Just about anything without words, or in languages I cannot understand. English gets in the way.
Q: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
A: Power of instant healing, both bodies and souls.
Q: With whom would you love to spend one day making art?
A: Maira Kalman. Imagine that!
Q: When is your favorite time of day?
A: Sunset in big sky country.
Q: Why do you make art?
A: I have to. It is like breathing.
Q: Do you have a talisman/power garment/ magical thing you wear?
A: Yes. A silver wire necklace I made, hung with Milagros. My son hates that I wear it because it has “breasts” on one of the Milagros.
Q: If you could re-do a classic movie, what would you remake and how?
A: Gone With the Wind. When Rhett says “Frankly Scarlett, I don’t give a damn” She would reply “Well, that simplifies things for me. On with you then, ta ta!” Either that or Tarzan, with Jane as the big monkey.
Q: What is your first memory?
A: Looking through the bars of my crib, watching the Texas breeze blow through my curtains.
Q: What’s your best piece of advice for artists?
A: Buy less, create more.