Hello and welcome to our very first Get To Know A Girl interview! This will be a regular feature every Wednesday featuring amazingly talented, creative members of our very own Des Moines Girl Gang. Our inaugural interviewee is Jen Geigley; a seriously cool knitter, blogger, and author.
Are you from Des Moines? If not, where are you from and when did you first come to Des Moines? I am originally from Buffalo Center, a small town in Northern Iowa. I moved to Des Moines after college in 2000 and have lived here ever since.
What are you favorite things about living in Des Moines? I am infatuated with how much the arts and entertainment scene has grown and evolved over the years in Des Moines. I am always in awe of how fantastic the Des Moines Art Center is, and summer isn’t summer without the Des Moines Arts Festival. I love seeing bands play at Vaudeville Mews, Wooly’s and Lefty’s. I have been to every 80/35, start to finish, and will never miss. Although there’s no better party in town than Born Wild at Gas Lamp. And the Des Moines Social Club offers so many unique classes for adults and kids, plus all kinds of rad events. I could go on and on. But I am oh-so proud to be part of the creative community in this city and I love seeing + supporting everyone’s endeavors in the arts.
What is your job by day? I am a freelance graphic designer, and I also teach knitting classes and write knitting patterns. Last fall I wrote, designed and self-published my first knitting book called “Weekend: Simple, Modern Knits”. But my biggest and best job is being a mom. I work from home (mostly at night) so I can be there with my two kids. They are the coolest.
What medium/s of art do you practice? I guess I would say knitting is an art! I do a lot of free-form, creative knitting on the fly when I’m experimenting with new pattern and construction ideas. I also love typography and graphic design so very much. And I enjoy drawing and painting, which is the foundation of it all. I sketch all of my knitwear ideas in notebooks before I attempt to do any of the math or swatching.
What drew you to art? Like a lot of creatives, I have been obsessed with art since I was a kid. I would shut myself up in my room for days drawing comic books or making paper maché sculptures or what-have-you. My high school art teacher was a huge mentor in my life, and he was the person I went to when I didn’t know what I wanted to study in college. He told me that I had natural talent in graphic design (even though our school didn’t have anything like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop yet!) He could see it in my style. And he told me I should go out and get a B.F.A. in graphic design. So that’s exactly what I did.
Why do you make art? It’s so cliche, but it keeps me calm, makes me happy and fills a need I have to create. Knitting is ridiculously zen. And I love that there’s math and planning involved, but one stitch at a time a ball of yarn becomes something wearable. It’s magical and it never gets old. The appeal of graphic design is similar – you might start with grids, pixels, ratios, templates and concepts, but then you make the art. I love that.
What inspires you to make what you make? Music moves and inspires me – I dove deep into punk and metal as a teenager, and I always have music in the background when I create. I love architecture and fashion, too.
How do you keep yourself motivated? Yeah, I have no idea. I tend to split big projects into smaller pieces and tackle one piece at a time. Maybe I’ll write part of a pattern and then knit for a bit. Then I’ll work on a freelance design project and sketch a couple of pages or jot down some ideas. But I take breaks too … everyone needs time to refresh, regroup and take a little time away from the hustle.
What do you like about DSM Girl Gang? I am so extremely excited that this huge, talented girl-force has taken over our city. I love that DSM Girl Gang is a positive, female-driven place where talented local artists can collaborate and lend the individual skills each of us possess to the gang. I love seeing all of the Girl Gang events that are sprouting up; I love seeing Girl Gang members in magazines. I love seeing friends proudly wearing Girl Gang t-shirts on my Facebook feed. When women thrive, our whole society benefits. And it shows. The future is bright.
What do you like about yourself? I like my artistic mind and ambition. I like my hair, my smile and my gentle ways. I like my ability to get lost in music.
What can the Girl Gang do to help you/other artists/women? I think the Girl Gang is doing a fabulous job giving all female artists an outlet for ideas/brainstorming/creative needs, along with so many local creative opportunities. I wouldn’t mind a little push now and then from a Girl Gang friend … it might be cool to check in with each someone to see how we’re all doing on our creative goals. (Almost like Girl Gang mentors?) When you surround yourself with successful females, you definitely push each other to do bigger and better things. Which is pretty cool.
What is your next big goal? My next big goal is to write another knitting book and release a hand-knit pattern collection for A/W 2016.
Photos and interview by Alexandria Crahan