We’ve loved seeing the artwork of Jennifer Junker of Yellow Chair Press over the years at art markets and at Aptitude at West Acres! A personal favorite is her llama in a top hat with an iguana on a skateboard. Learn more about Jenny and her printmaking process below and catch her at APT this upcoming holiday season!
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I am originally from Mandan, North Dakota. I graduated from MSUM with a BFA in Printmaking and a minor in Mass Communication in 2014 and decided to stay in the F-M area. You may have seen me around because I used to work at Atomic Coffee for many years but now I currently work at Office Sign Company as the shipping coordinator. When I am not working or creating art, you can find me getting a coffee at a local shop, thrifting or hanging out with my boyfriend, Luke, and our two goofy dogs, Kanye and Jay-Z.
Describe what you create at Yellow Chair Press?
At Yellow Chair Press, I create mostly screen prints with each layer hand-drawn and pulled to create a limited amount of prints for each edition. I like to add a little wit and humor to my work, especially in the titles, to make my prints unique and fun for everyone. To keep my work original and limited, I only do one edition of a print so the amount in the edition is all that there is. AKA once I sell out of a certain print, I don’t make more.
Tell us where your name came from?
I don’t really know exactly, but when I started printmaking, I made a few prints that had chairs in them, and for some reason, I always made the color of the chairs yellow. And then, one day, I found this green, wooden, miniature armchair, probably for a doll house, that I bought and painted yellow. From then on I knew there was something about yellow chairs I was drawn to, so when it came time to think of an art name to use, I thought of that chair and figured it would be a good name.
How did you get started with your business?
Once I graduated college and found a place to print (I shared a little studio with my boyfriend at Seagrave Studios below the Red Raven Espresso Parlor), I began to make work and build up an inventory. I attended printmaking conferences, saw what others did to continue their art, and was inspired. I just created work and sold some here and there at coffee shops or small shows. Eventually, I discovered The Arts Partnership and became a partner, which opened my eyes to a lot more about local art. I began being a guest artist at their holiday markets and when they opened Aptitude Studios at West Acres, and I knew I wanted a space of my own and so I applied, got my own studio, and that’s where I guess my business officially started to go into full bloom.
What’s your most popular print currently?
I think the most popular print, currently, is one of the prints I created and entered in the 2020 Rourke Halloween show. It is called “Fargo Fright”, and it is a print of the popular scene of downtown Fargo with the iconic Fargo Theater sign… however, a Godzilla-like monster foot is destroying/ reeking havoc on the town. I only did a small edition of that print, so I think I only have one or two left.
What’s your personal favorite print you’ve created?
One of my favorite prints I have made is a screen print titled “Jurassic Park.” The image is of a group of elderly people having a ton of fun playing on a big colorful playground. I like this print because I think everyone is a child at heart, and who wouldn’t smile when you see old people on a playground having a grand ol’ time? It’s actually the image I use on my business cards.
I see you work with other print mediums, but focus mostly on screen printing–what draws you to this type of medium?
When I graduated college, I knew that I wanted to continue printmaking, but I didn’t have access to a studio anymore to do some of the other printmaking methods. Screen printing seemed to be the most affordable and apartment-friendly method to continue with. But even before graduating, I chose to focus on screenprinting because I enjoyed that you could screen print on multiple materials, the ink was easy to mix and create colors, it dried fast and I could finish multiple editions in a day. Another major point for me was that I could still use hand drawn methods in creating my pieces because I have always been more traditional with my art than getting into digital art technology.
How do you come up with a new piece of art? What are you inspired by?
Inspiration for my prints comes from just everyday life. I probably consistently have 2-3 sticky notes with random words written on them as print ideas…. Funny things people say and do, stuff I see at thrift stores, random thoughts that pop into my head, events happening in the world, basically anything and everything!
What is the most challenging thing?
Finding time to create when you’re in an art funk. Just like having writer’s block, art funks can be draining. The past year has been hard because of the pandemic. I found myself not wanting to work on anything new for quite some time, but over the summer, after getting back to a little normalcy, I realized I needed to get some new work out and got back into the studio.
What advice would you have given yourself 10 years ago?
Oh man… 10 years ago seems like forever! I’d probably say stick with your gut. I went to college knowing that I wanted to do art, but was told “you’d never make any money.” So I started college with a major for something I didn’t really want to do… eventually I learned I’d rather be happy with what I am doing than just doing it because someone told me going for art was a bad idea, so I switched majors, learned about printmaking, fell in love, and here I am now!
Since we are diving into October…do you have a favorite Halloween costume you’ve worn?!
I’m going to be honest here, I went trick-or-treating until I was a senior in high school… (Free candy is free candy!) So I had many years of costumes… but I think my favorite costume was when I went as the red Power Ranger, or else a couple of years ago for a work Halloween party I went as Log Lady from the show Twin Peaks!
Where can people find your work?
My studio is located at Aptitude Creative Studios in West Acres mall. It’s a collection of studios with wonderful artists and makers doin’ their thing! My studio is #18 and we have open studios most Saturdays from noon to 6 p.m. Plus, with the holidays around the corner, keep an eye on the Aptitude Facebook page for Holiday Market dates where all the studio tenants will have their wares for sale!
Website/social to stay in touch?
I am mostly active on my instagram (@yellowchairpress), so follow me there for all updates on new prints, shows/exhibits, events I’ll be at, and more!