Odorifous: Ward Jenkins

Every so often I’ll come across an artist whose work is at once incredibly familiar yet totally unique.

Such is the case with Ward Jenkins.

I’ve been following Ward’s work for so long I can barely remember how I first discovered him. But I’m pretty sure it was when Grain Edit mentioned him back in the spring of 09… since that was right around the time I was discovering my great love for mid-century style.

And nobody does mid-century style like Ward.

Of course his obsession mastery of the 50’s and 60’s lent perfectly to the irresistible Mad Men editorial piece that he did for Boston Globe this past year. Once he dropped that one, I had to know this guy. (I like Mad Men)

Come to find out we’re quite kindred spirits. I love following both him and his wife Andrea (whose recent list inspired one of my own) on Twitter and look forward to meeting them next time I’m in Portland. (Sorry Jenkinses… did I not mention that I’m dropping in during my next Pacific Northwest vacay?)

I consider myself a bit of a connessiur when it comes to children’s picture books. I know what my kids will like and I know what ones I will like and I know what ones we will both like (those are the best). I’m pretty sure Ward’s newest book Chicks Run Wild will fall into that very special latter category.

I don’t know much about Chicks writer Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, so it’s hard to say whether the story will measure up… but what I do know is that this book is worth the purchase price (or trip to the library) for the illustrations alone.

Check out the behind-the scenes drawings & secrets from Chicks Run Wild on Ward’s site and pre-order the book from any major retailer (like Amazon).

And… if Chicks Run Wild gets 300 Facebook fans, Ward’s going to dress up like a chicken.

But before you do any of that stuff… check out Ward’s response to my Odorifous queries:

Tell us one of your favorite odors.

The smell of freshly mowed grass first comes to mind.

What is it about that particular smell?

I immediately remember early morning soccer games, when we would go out to the field and the frost was still visible on the grass. They had cut it either the night before or earlier that morning, long before anyone had arrived and the scent was very strong.

What experience makes you feel alive?

Witnessing my kids being born was pretty intense. There’s nothing like that experience. I would also have to say that the act of animating and seeing your drawings first come to life is pretty dang awesome as well.

What fears do you have?

I’m afraid of losing my family. And losing my ability to see.

What have you learned about yourself over the past year?

I’ve learned that nothing is definite, that having my loved ones close is the best salve for hard times, that inspiration comes from the most unlikeliest of places, people, and things.

Are you working on anything cool right now?

Yes. I’m animating (after a long break from it) and it’s been a lot of fun.

Do you find your creative work a spiritual experience? In what way?

Yes. It’s as close to experiencing what God does: creating. I’ve always considered God as the ultimate artist, creating this world (and us) out of nothingness. It’s through this act – of creating something out of nothing that gives me this sense of closeness wherein I can relate to God somehow. Whenever I go through periods of doubt, I remember this premise and I’m always comforted.

What tunes have you been hooked on lately?

We recently bought the newest Sufjan Stevens album, “The Age of Adz,” and I really enjoyed that. A bit different from what we’re used to hearing, but I love that sort of thing. Never tire of experimenting artists.

More Ward Jenkins

Check out Ward’s portfolio site

Rad finds from 50’s & 60’s on his blog: The Ward-O-Matic

Follow on Twitter

More Strong Odors

See the variety of responses in the Odorifous interview series

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