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Studio Snooping with Jessica Ramey

Updated: Jan 18, 2021

The Corona virus still has many of us moping around at home. All our festivals have been canceled. Our birthday parties, family reunions, and magical picnic gatherings in the forest have had to be put on hold, and I feel I speak for most of us when I say, we're all pretty bummed about it.

While dinner parties, crafternoons, and other such gatherings with friends may not be in the cards, I thought we could continue our snooping into other artists' creative spaces- because we could all use a change of scenery, right?

For this installment of studio snooping, we're talking with activist, organizer, and professional re-use Macgyver, Jessica Ramey.

Jessica wears many hats, having worked as a graphic designer, community activist, waste reduction coordinator, executive director, and mom, just to name a few. A crafty maverick, she's down for any project, from painting, to sculpting, to playful installations made from garbage. "I work hard to find the balance of creating and consumption and enjoying creating art from things that others would consider trash," she writes on her website. Ah, a lady after my own heart...

I first met Jessica soon after moving to Oregon. I was looking for volunteer opportunities, and stumbled upon her Instagram feed. After some polite social medial stalking, we met in person and found we had a lot in common, including our passion for community, empowering others with creativity, and making cool stuff from trash.

So let's get to snooping. What's Jessica's studio like?

What are your studio must-haves?

Jess describes her maker-space as "a fluid thing." "Currently, my studio space which is located in the garage is filled to the brim with a huge tent that is airing out, a lawnmower, and miscellaneous piles of things."

Ah, yes. The necessity of life encroaches upon the sacred making-space. But that's real-life. I dunno about you, but I know many of us have to make space for the rest of our lives in our creative spaces. And this multi-purpose approach to her studio is actually suited to Jess's creative endeavors.

"I make a lot of different things, pottery, painting, sculpting, sewing, larger than life puppets. So the space gets messy quickly and I am not the best cleaner."

It's helpful to have a designated "disaster zone," right? Jess says that when the garage is cleaned and organized, it works great for her, but she still ventures out to other places to create. Whether it's to seek the best light for painting, or to do her work with the company of her spouse and two kids.

" I often pack up supplies to head outdoors, get cozy on the couch, or head to bed. I enjoy being with my family while making things so moving around helps me feel more connected with them. I might periodically misplace a colored pencil in a couch cushion or blanket but I usually quickly retrieve it and get back to work." 

Now, with COVD and telework keeping everyone at home, she's used her flexible approach to great effect. She says her current telework setup is doubling as her "studio" space. When she's not hosting webinars, creating videos, or working on ads to promote waste reduction, she also uses the space to make art.

"I have an easel there for traditional painting, a large table to spread out, and shelves to store supplies. There is a large window that looks out to the garden that helps with daydreaming and bird and bee watching when my eyes need a break." 

What is an absolute no-go for your space?

While some creators need to cultivate their creative sanctuaries with a certain special chair, holy quiet, or just the right southern-exposure, Jess takes a more pragmatic approach.

"I've worked in closets, nooks and crannies. With babies, teens, and pets. Messy or clean, if I need to get art done (which I do) I make the space and time to do that. If you give me supplies, I can make it work."

"Messy or clean, if I need to get art done (which I do) I make the space and time to do that."

What's your organization style?

Jess's pragmatic approach extends to her organization style as well.

"When I'm at my full-time work, my space is relatively clean and orderly. The minute you give me a pair of scissors and paper, I answer to the name Jess the Mess.

"Art making is messy. Gooey paint, paper scraps, and fabric bits are all part of the deal. And so is cleaning. Some things can wait and I tolerate a bunch of mess. But other things like paintbrushes need instant cleaning. I prioritize what is important to me at the time."

She says this is also true of her general approach to cleaning and organization.

"Dishes can sit in the sink while I make art (and they often do). With my family of four, if I waited until conditions were perfect, I'd never get things done."

Amen, Jess. Amen.

One "organization" tip Jessica offers is to keep art supplies in all the places where she's most likely to use them.

"I have a cup of pens and a sketchbook in my bedroom for instant access. I have supplies in my dining room as well as in the garage. I'm at the time in my life where space isn't my challenge, it is time. So the less time it takes to walk downstairs and locate the correct supplies, the more time I have for making art." 

How do you use your space to stay inspired?

To stay motivated and inspired, Jessica keeps her space personalized with her creations. "I do this everywhere. It's a huge confidence boost to see something I created when I make art. It's a reflection that I have the authority and skills to keep making.

"I also love adding work from other artists into my home, especially if I know them. This makes me feel more connected to other artists and part of a bigger community." 

She also says that keeping motivational phrases of portraits of inspiring people helps her to stay motivated, and get past criticism.

Jess says that, armed with her trusty reusable water bottle and a good Spotify playlist, she's ready to take on any project.

"The meditative quality of taking the time, doing the thing, making the art is as important as taking a breath.

" I can apply creativity to anything I do, but at some point need to be able to create something with my own hands. The artwork is simply the cherry on top."  Thanks Jessica for giving us all a much-needed peek into an inspiring maker-space.

You can learn more about Jessica and her work on her website at

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Donald W White
Donald W White
Jul 19, 2020

Love this. Always fun and inspiring to hear about other people's creative process and creative spaces. (Good writing, too!) Thank you, Penny. And thank you, Jessica, for allowing us to visit your creative space. 😊

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