Artist Series:
Jenny Harada

Cuddly cpcakes with googley eyes, furry hats straight out of a Flaming Lips show and other incredible cool crafts come out of the creative noggin that belongs to Jenny Harada.

I initially came across her unusual work as I was looking for new and upcoming artists to interview in this series from LiveJournal. And since I'm a huge crafting type of gal, I couldn't help but oooh and ahhhh when I saw all her creations. So after reading her blog for a few weeks and lurking on her incredibly cute web site, I had to find out more!

When did you realize you wanted to be an artist? Why did you want to be an artist? What is your artistic background?
I've been artistic since forever. I don't think there was ever a time that I didn't want to be or was not an artist. Except for when I wanted to be an Olympic gymnast. But I was still an artist. I think all kids are. I just never stopped being one. I just enjoy creating and my brain is constantly coming up with new ideas. I went to college for toy design in New York City.

What kinds of things do you create -- paintings, toys, etc?
Mostly I make stuffed creatures these days. Weird and funny kinds of things. I like to paint and make "paintings" out of fabric whenever I get the chance too. I also make very large furry heads that you can wear on top of your real head.

Which is your favorite medium and why?
I like the shaggy fur. Specifically hot pink. That's my favorite right now. I don't know why. I just love it!

Talk a bit about your toys...why did you decide to design them?
My creatures are colorful and wacky. I like to use a lot of shaggy fur in assorted rainbow colors. I also use recycled clothing. I find fabrics with interesting colors and textures that way. Many of the creatures don't resemble anything in particular. They are all totally loveable though! I didn't really decide to design them. They just happened as a natural result of my brain spilling out these ideas and it seemed obvious that I should make them. I had quit my full time job as an animator to raise my child and I thought it might be a fun way to make a living too. I am still trying to figure out about the making a living part, but making the dolls is pretty fun and they always sell out so I keep on making them.

What has the reaction been about your toys?
It seems that people like them. Most of the time they make people happy and that makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Sometimes people think they are really weird and think I have a mental problem. That's always good for a laugh. I get to see all sorts of reactions when I take the little fellas to craft fairs. People make crazy excited faces or just start giggling when they see them. 99% of the time the reaction is a good one.

How long does it take you to design and create these toy animals?
I never use a stopwatch. I usually have so many going at once that it's hard to put a number on it. Some take longer than others becuase they have a lot of parts and stuff. I usually finish a handful of them every day. The design process usually happens all in my head while I am doing other things. Then when an idea has been telling me over and over again "make me already!" I sit down and just make it. It usually comes out right on the first try. Only a few times have I tried a few attempts before getting a doll to match my vision.

What inspires you to create this art?
I've always loved stuffed animals. I had a huge collection as a kid. Now's my chance to make them my way! My child is an inspiration to me. He is only 1.5 years old but just having him in my life has pushed me to do so much more as an artist than I ever did before. Before he came along I just had a lot of ideas that rarely reached fruition. Because of him, I'm striving to create a business that I can be proud of. Because of him, I want to set a good example as a creative entrepeneur. I'd like to prove to him, myself and the world that you can be a responsible adult and be successful doing what you love!

What are your goals as an artist?
I want to make a lifesize stuffed house that you can live in and everything inside would be stuffed. It would be the softest coziest place to live ever! I also want to be able to be able to cover the mortgage payments by selling my own dolls and artwork. Mostly, I want my work to make people happy.

What as the most recent thing you made? What are you working on now?
Most recently I made a pug doll that someone ordered specifically to be a "Jenny" version of her very own pet pug. Right now I am working on a new line of characters who's names have all been taken from the ridiculous names on spam emails.

What advice do you have for people who want to be artists?
Just do what you like! Don't let other people tell you what you should do. Start making stuff and never stop! Experiment and take chances. Find inspiration in everything around you. If you continue to be creative, it will just flow and you won't be able to stop it. Eventually you will find your own niche if you keep experimenting.

You can see Jenny's work here:

And don't forget to read her regular blog on Livejournal here: Pomly

All art copyright © Jenny Harada

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