This is the fourth in a series of interviews with hopefully, all eight artists who participated in the show we co-organized with Los Angeles’s Gallery Nucleus, then collaborated with each other to create the image below. (Some of them are taking longer than I expected to facilitate. Can MerJune be a thing?)
Previous ones: Tom Bancroft | Pernille Ørum | Brigitte Roka
Jenna Gray prefers to let her art speak for her. Her bios describe her as an “illustrator/artist working in SoCal,” and we know from her resume that she works as a freelance digital production artist, has been a visual development director for virtual reality, and has taught at The Art Studio. She’s also done (and still does) various jobs for D.C. Comics: most of them are “non-art related,” she says, but adds, “I do enjoy being involved in the process.”
Besides that, she’s as mysterious as the mythical creatures she draws. There are no findable images of her, her Google name is “Nope,*” and our interview itself was terse but informative. Her work, however, is stunning enough that it carries more than enough character and story on its own.
*As of the interview. It’s since been changed to her name.
She’s probably the artist in our lineup who’s drawn the most diverse and experimental mermaids. Such as ones for unconventional fish:
And undead ones:
And very elaborate ones:
She’s also been the most dedicated to MerMay this year, posting a piece to her Instagram every day—This interview was done several ago, but she’s kept it up since then.
How did you end up working with Gallery Nucleus and Wacom’s Mermay project?
I was contacted by Nicki France back in—I believe—October or November to be a part of the MerMay exhibition and art book. I’ve been a big fan of Gallery Nucleus since college, so saying I was excited to to receive the email would be an understatement!
You’ve participated in MerMay virtually every day so far this year. How hard has that been to keep up?
It’s been pretty difficult this year: I’ve been trying to stay on top of it by having thumbnail sketches, and as clear an idea as possible of what I want to do, the night before, but it’s been pretty busy. I hope I can keep up, though I may have to space out the posts or start posting less-finished sketches, or forgo backgrounds.
You’re also an incredibly skilled background artist. Does that require a radically different skill set than drawing figures, or do you find it falls back onto the same principles?
Thank you! That’s incredibly flattering to read. For me, backgrounds are more relaxing to draw because trees, rocks, hills, et cetera, can be more abstract than how I usually draw figures.
Finally, how are you enjoying the Wacom one? Any notable features that have been useful to you as a digital painter?
I love the Wacom One! I’ve been an avid Wacom fan since my first Bamboo Pen tablet back in high school, and I love the lightweight pen design and easy set-up. It’s a fairly lightweight tablet display as well, which makes my workspace more versatile. I’m hoping, when it’s safe to venture out into the world, that I’ll be able to set up outside of the house at cafes; maybe by the beach. Thanks again for this fun opportunity!
From her website’s About Me
Jenna Gray’s art can be found on her:
Website | Artstation| Instagram |Tumblr |Facebook |Etsy
(Facebook and Insta are the best to check out her impressive gallery of mermaids and mythical creatures.)
About the Interviewer
CS Jones is a Philadelphia-based (stuff’s on fire, but he’s fine) writer and illustrator. The former is best seen at thecsjones.com, and the latter at @thecsjones on Instagram.