Shop Talk! Women in the Arts Q&A with…
By ADAA writer
ADAA: What are some of your fondest memories while attending Art and Design?
Denny: I could go on forever. I think the most important impact A&D had on me was the friends I made. For the first time I was in an environment where people like me were the majority – not the minority – creative, sensitive, insightful, open-minded, adult beyond their years… because they were artists, of course. I still have all those friends today. I don’t hear from all of them all the time, but I feel like I could pick up with any of them at any time, and it would be just like it was last time we spoke. I love those people.
ADAA: Do you have advice to high school students considering a career in the arts?
Denny: My advice is the same for someone in art as for any career. Get on the path now, directly. Don’t take a side road, or a segue, or a temporary job or career thinking that it will be the road to the road, or the thing that will finance that career at some point. Anything that is not the actual thing you want to do leads away from what you want to do, and is a waste of your precious time.
ADAA: What was your first art/design job?
Denny: Ironically, it was a post card advertising the music studio I managed after I quit art school for audio technical school. “Wish you were here!” it said, with a line of palm trees and a beach painted behind the recording console as though it were a vacation spot. It was very convincing.
ADAA: Technology has changed the way art is created and produced. How has technology changed your career field?
Denny: I wouldn’t say it changed it as much as finally fueled it. I always painted, drew and designed, but I don’t feel I really had an engine until there was a Mac computer, and Adobe. I was made for the digital age. Until that existed, I didn’t have the right tools and was not who I was meant to be as an artist.
ADAA: What other career path would you had taken if you weren’t an artist/designer/photographer?
Denny: Music. And I did for a long time.
ADAA: What is the best career advice you ever received?
Denny: It was from Paul McCartney singing, “Hey Jude”: “Hey Jude, begin. You’re waiting for someone to perform with. But don’t you know that it’s just you, hey Jude, you’ll do. The movement you need is on your shoulder.”
Another pivotal message came to me from Christopher Reeve, who said in an interview (paraphrasing) that he pities people who are paralyzed by imaginary restraints, that they have no idea what paralysis really is, and what he would do if he had his mobility back. That really shook me and motivated me to start doing all the creative things I had in me to do. With or without help. I started then, and I haven’t stopped since.
ADAA: What is your proudest accomplishment?
Denny: I can’t choose just one. I’d have to say:
ADAA: Where do you see yourself in five years?
Denny: In a remote cottage on the coast of Ireland looking out over the sea at sunrise with a scone in one hand and a paint brush in the other, my beautiful tabby cat purring in the window box.
Jane Sayre Denny is a prolific artist, an award-winning graphic designer, located in New York City. Trained at New York’s High School of Art & Design and The School of Visual Arts, she has been designer for Sesame Workshop, illustrator for Cartoon Galleries, Inc. Visit her web site The Mad Hand.