An interview with the awesome mixed media artist Jenny Morbey
I discovered Jenny's colourful work through The Thriving Artist's Path, Facebook group run by Bonnie Glendinning. I fell in love with her vibrant, positive, carnival style and was delighted when she agreed to be interviewed by me. Read on to find out more about her life in Barcelona and her path as an artist.
Your work is so colourful and gorgeous, do you find that your work makes you happy?
Thank you, that is lovely to hear!
Yes my work does make me happy. I make things that I personally think are pretty or uplifting or inspiring, and which I love to look at, and have surrounding me on my walls. I always include a lot of flowers, which I find SO pretty, especially roses, (you might be surprised to hear, given my business name!)
The words that I include in my collages too are either quotes that I love that I’ve been scribbling down in notebooks ( I’m obsessed with notebooks and all stationery!) since the age of 14, or messages or mantras that I myself need to hear or absorb at the time.
What is your workspace like?
I count myself very lucky to have my own little art studio in our apartment. It’s a luxury to be able to leave out materials and works in progress, on my desk (or the floor) to come back to later. It’s quite a small space without much natural light, but I’ve made it pretty and cosy with a sofa, lots of shelves, some of my collages and other inspiring art on the walls. I’ve got all my art and creative and inspirational books and magazines together on one big bookshelf, which makes me really happy to look at! Most importantly, it’s my own space!
What is your biggest challenge when it comes to making art?
Great question! I’d say the constant feeling of not having enough time, and trying to juggle my other commitments when all I really want to be doing is making something in my studio.
Also ‘imposter syndrome,’ Who do I think I am to be calling myself an artist, what I do isn’t important or make enough impact in the world etc etc, that I’m starting to learn how to deal with! Mostly by ignoring the gremlin voices that appear in my head, and just carrying on making things anyway, because that’s what makes me happy.
Did you go to art school?
No. I’ve always loved art and creating but I never really pursued anything in any consistent or serious way until my son was born nearly 5 years ago. It wasn’t a conscious decision to start then but I think the reason I’ve (mostly) kept my sanity becoming a mother is due to having something in my life that I absolutely love, which I can get lost in and which is utterly separate from my kids.
Learning-wise, I’ve watched quite a few YouTube videos by Teesha Moore,and I did the painting e-course ‘hello soul, hello mixed media mantras’ by Kelly Rae Roberts,where I learned a lot about techniques and developing my own style.
What inspires and feeds your work?
Let’s see, I get lots of inspiration from other people, mostly women. In terms of artists I love Kelly Rae Roberts, Suzi Blu and Teesha Moore. I LOVE looking at inspiring and beautiful creative magazines like Kireei (in Spanish), Flow, The Simple Things, and of course any of the Somerset Studio magazines, but particularly the art journaling one.
What else…? Flowers obviously, anything colourful and a bit quirky, the strength and power of women, and the idea that I might be able to create something with a positive message to women (in terms of: self-love, being confident in yourself, being your own person, knowing that your individual story matters no matter how insignificant you may think it, and standing shoulder to shoulder with other women instead of being complicit in the patriarchal modus operandi of feeling competitive or jealous.
Why and when did you move to Barcelona?
I came to Barcelona on my own in 2004 to teach English as a Foreign Language. I’d always wanted to visit, and after a couple of years living in Prague and France, I decided to see what Barcelona had to offer! Then I met my husband here (also from the UK) and we ended up staying….
Is the lifestyle much different from the Uk?
The lifestyle is definitely different - here there is more emphasis on working to live, rather than the other way round. Family is really important and kids are adored here, so what with the beach, the myriad play parks, and the great climate it is a wonderful place to bring up kids.
Going out to eat or have a mojito or a coffee is much less of a treat and more an everyday occurrence. On the downside, CUSTOMER SERVICE!!! It’s pretty poor compared to the UK and can obviously make a huge difference to your day. Also, no carpets or curtains or ploughman’s lunches (although I’m getting a little off topic…!)
What advice would you give to someone wanting to start an Etsy shop?
I’d say to be patient, be prepared to work hard (the power of putting one foot in front of the other to get you where you want to go seems to be really underestimated), and to not let fear of failure stop you from trying – we regret the things we haven’t done, rather than those we have, even if they don’t turn out how we expected.
Have you considered running courses to teach what you do?
No. At the moment I’m more interested in developing my skills and my work, and making a name for myself. Teaching a course could perhaps help with that, but I don’t want to spread myself too thin! Lately I’ve been focussing on quality not quantity, as someone with a predisposition for rushing around madly, wanting to do everything and afraid of ‘’missing out’, I’m enjoying the calm that comes with doing less but with more intention. Or at least trying to!
What are your favourite things to do when you are not creating?
It really relaxes me to make things that have nothing to do with collage (although of course I also find creating collages really relaxing), or that I have no intention of trying to sell. So this sounds really nerdy, but my latest obsession is hand sewing lavender bags! I love choosing the material, threading the needle (!), the fact that I can do it anywhere and don’t have to be in my studio. I also love the fact that you can gather wild lavender in the countryside here.
I also love yoga, buying myself flowers, reading ‘self help’ books, listening to creative podcasts (such as Gretchen Rubin, Jess Lively and the Unmistakeable Creative), taking myself off to cool little cafes to read or write my journal, watching series and playing board games over a gin and tonic with my husband Joe (when we’re not completely zonked out after a day looking after the little ones) and of course tickling my kids till they are crying with laughter.
Thank you so much Jenny for sharing your life and art with us. If you have fallen in love with Jenny's work as much as me then please connect with her on Facebook and even better buy something from her fabulous Etsy shop!