Meet Jen Panepinto in the latest installment of our Featured Artist series. Read on to learn what textiles she treasures above all else and how her high school purchases still manage to inspire her.
Where do you live?
I live in Mahwah, New Jersey.
When did you begin designing textiles? What inspired you to get started?
I was lucky enough to study at Pratt Institute (BFA) and later the School of Visual Arts (MFA) where I got an excellent foundation and working knowledge of art + design. I have been a graphic designer for most of my career, but have always loved to integrate patterns into my design work.
A client once told me that she thought my strength was in the patterns I created, and it hit me: maybe that is where I should focus my efforts. I worked on creating a collection, which took about a year or so, and presented the work at my first surface design show. It has sort of taken off ever since.
Tell us about your creative process.
My process can be all in my head at times. I think about the kinds of patterns that have been created already and how I can modernize them, or I take a concept from the past and make it relevant today. Sometimes I do sketch out ideas but most of the time I create my work digitally in vector. I like the clean lines in the vector process.
What is your workspace like?
My workspace is really all abut my computer. It can get very messy at times. I clip inspiration from everywhere, whether it is a tea box, book jacket, leaf, something my son drew, or a magazine – sometimes these items end up invading my desk.
I also like to keep rocks, shells and antiques on my desk for inspiration. In my office, I have a collection of packaging that is mid century – present. Many items are from the 1970s and 80s. I like to look at these items from time to time. Packaging used to be so simple and to the point, no fuss, just graphic. I like the clean lines as inspiration.
Sounds like vintage anything is the key to your heart. What’s the story here?
When I was in high school, I was really into vintage. I used to raid the aisles of the Salvation Army and Domsey’s in Brooklyn to get all the best items from the 50s, 60s, and 70s first. I wanted the really graphic stuff. I still have many of these items and look at them all the time.
Where else do you seek inspiration for new designs?
Many times, I will get an inspiration for a new pattern when I am out taking a walk. Nature is generally a jumping off point even though the end result may seem disconnected.
I also pin on Pinterest like crazy. I look at designs from art deco to the 80s for most inspiration. Lately I have been going back much further though, to gothic and renaissance architecture. I have mad respect for the wizard William Morris.
Any trends you’re loving right now?
I’m loving art deco, pixel and tech inspired designs. I will also always love the fashion print inspiration from Diane Von Furstenberg, Marimekko, and Boden.
How do you incorporate textiles into your home?
I use patterned pillows mostly. Those are easy to switch out as tastes change. Otherwise, my home has a lot of white, gray and blue textured solids.
Do you have a favorite textile treasure?
I have a collection of my grandmother’s Lilly Pulitzer pants that are under lock and key. I grew up loving Lilly and although my work does not closely resemble the Lilly style, I was deeply inspired as by these designs as a kid. I definitely have an emotional attachment to the Lilly Pulitzer brand.
Favorite color combination?
Aqua and Gray.