Jackie Vandewater is an artist, designer and gamer who loves exploring the intersection of technology and the natural world. Read on to get to know our brilliant, creative new friend:
TomboyX: What are you working on right now that you’re excited about?
Jackie Vandewater: Currently I work in advertising, but I'm setting my sights for the next design path, so to speak– I really enjoy well-thought-out designs that work great for humans, but especially the ones that work great for the environment. And when those things go hand in hand, that’s the best of both worlds.
Recently I've been working on a couple engraving projects. I have a CNC laser machine, I love woodworking, and I love where digital art meets working with natural materials. I've been trying to do some illustrations and then transfer them to wood to see how they come out. One of the most exciting things I've ever made was a clock using some of the illustrations from Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle and transferring them to wood and creating this really neat, layered illustration. You can look in at the different layers, and it also tells time. I love finding ways to make empathetic designs and connect with people that way.
TBX: Did you study a specific type of art or design?
JV: It was so daunting when I was in high school and starting college to figure out what career path I envisioned myself doing, because I've always been interested in so many things and picturing myself going into one path always seemed so linear to me. It's a much more all-encompassing, multilayered process. You're really not pigeonholed by your career path or your job title or anything like that. I ended up going to school for what was called Interactive Multimedia, which was really neat. It suited my needs perfectly because it's kind of a crossroads between technology and web design and typography and video game design and also physical computing, which is something that also really excites me. It’s basically just a way of saying, how can you have technology be an interactive experience and what do some of those experiences look like? One of the things I've always been interested in is illustration, so one of the things I built was an illustration that if you touch certain elements of the paper, it would light up. It was a really fun process to go to school for that and be making things and having a space where there's like-minded people and you're all creating stuff.
My senior thesis in college was on concept art. I have always been fascinated by concept art without really realizing it. I have some concept art books from shows or media that I really enjoy, like Avatar, The Last Airbender and Horizon Zero Dawn. It's so fascinating to me because again, it’s that intersection of technology and world-building. The really fun part about the concept art books is that you get to learn so many details that don't make it into the game, or you get context for them. So my senior thesis in college ended up being an exploration of that; I would give myself prompts and then create entire pieces of concept art around them, whether it was a fantasy creature that I created, like a sculptured bust or an armor set that I then fabricated part of the armor for.
TBX: What’s your dream job?
JV: My dream job is something where I am creating things that either bring people together or help improve a certain space, whether it's designing a new type of green space or a garden that helps boost native flora and fauna while also trying to educate people. There's something that's always really called to me about the intersection of technology and the natural world. I think my ultimate dream job is something that has a connection to that, even if it's not necessarily environmental stuff, but more significant in terms of bringing people together or helping people. I work in advertising now, and one of the projects that I've been working on is about alcohol education. I find advertising can be really boring, but it’s really fun for me to be able to work on a project in which I felt like someone somewhere saw this website and gained something from it.
TBX: Who’s your biggest inspiration?
JV: Hiyao Miyazaki. His work has been really inspiring in terms of detail and storytelling, and he has a lot of similar themes with the relationship that humans have with the environment. He and his studio have created some really profound, really detailed, incredible pieces of art.
TBX: Where do you think your passions for design and nature came from?
JV: I'm not really sure. I've always been interested in technology, design and storytelling, and I grew up playing video games. I never considered myself an outdoors or nature person until later in my adult life. But I had always, without realizing it, been a nature person, always trying to lift up a rock and see what was underneath or playing some kind of game about it. I grew up snorkeling in Maine on my summer vacation, so I would just be in the water for hours, looking for starfish and sea urchins and getting lost in our natural world. That feeling is so wonderful and special. With that came this joy of storytelling– video games have an interesting way of doing that, where it's an interactive story and you can immerse yourself a little bit more in the environment.
TBX: What’s your relationship with clothing like?
JV: My relationship with clothing has historically just been a flaming pile of crap. I've never really liked clothes and I always had so much anxiety when going clothes shopping. I remember this hilarious story (an incredibly traumatizing story at the time) when I was maybe 14 or 15, and I was going bra shopping with my mom and dreading it. My mom was like, “okay, why don't we try Victoria's Secret?” Once they concluded taking my measurements, they were like, “I'm sorry, we don't have bras that fit.” It was so alienating.
The TomboyX tagline “we fit you” is kind of spot-on. You can see all the different types of bodies and shapes and colors and everything on your site, and it really does work for a myriad of people. Also the prints are really fun.
Follow Jackie on Instagram @Jakquillime, on Twitch at twitch.tv/Jackie_the_bananas, and on Twitter @King_Jakween.