We had the good fortune of connecting with Janna Sammon and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Janna, we’d love to hear about a book that’s had an impact on you.
A few years ago I found “Cats, Dogs, Men, Ninnies & Clowns. The Lost Art of William Steig” in my local used bookstore. The book is filled with little snapshots of the multiple personalities of being human. The subjects often seem caught off guard or completely unaware and absorbed in their own lives. Although I love the humor in his irreverent depictions of everyday people, it is Steig’s drawing style that I keep going back to this book for. It is a reminder that the goal of an artist isn’t to draw picture-perfect, but to tap into what is unique in each of us- plus, the idea of creating a world, character by character, calls to me.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I love creating. I love dreaming about creating. I didn’t begin painting until my late 30’s after my 4th child was old enough for preschool. In the few hours a day that I had alone, I would copy the work of artists I was inspired by. A few years later, I attended an art retreat with Jessie Reno who introduced me to the world of painting with my hands. One of my biggest obstacles has always been my drawing skills- or lack of them. I always felt that without that basc foundation I could never really make anything of value. From Jessie, I learned to let go of that belief (or at least set it aside temporarily) and to tap into my imagination and just play. Through play, and with time, I have learned to trust my imagination and to listen to those ideas that seem to come out of nowhere. I have learned to view things (in my art & in life) not as mistakes, but as experiences that can be built upon to create something unexpected. Recently, I have gotten into working with textiles, something that was previously only a hobby & something I watched my grandmothers do. I have been drawing characters for years, and now I am bringing them to life with fabric. Just the other day, while cutting out the clothes for my characters, I was reminded of how much I loved paper dolls as a child & how I later loved cutting them out for my daughter. Just by being open, this love has now come full circle into my artwork.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
A week in the life of a visit to Austin would have to begin with breakfast tacos. Throughout the week try to hit any of the taco trailers you see (look for them tucked in behind gas stations) but a good place to start is Tyson’s Tacos. From there take a walk along any of trails. Anything along the Walnut Creek Greenbelt is great, as well as Turkey Creek, Barton Creek, St Edwards, & Bull Creek. In the summer grab a sandwich from Thunderclouds or a burger from P Terry’s & cool off in one of the many water holes on the Barton Creek Greenbelt or swim in the fresh water of the Deep Eddy pool. Take a half day trip out to the Jester King Brewery in Dripping Springs where you can also get a great pizza and brownie. Make it a full day and book a tour & tasting at a distillery like Treaty Oak or Deep Eddy Vodka. If you have kids, make sure to take them to The Thinkery children’s museum & may be even catch a play at the Scottish Rites Theater. Food is a main part of life in Austin. Some of my favorite recommendations would be Elizabeth Street Cafe, El Dorado Cafe, Kerby Lane Cafe, & Magnolia Cafe. Get up early one day and get in line at Franklin’s BBQ to experience the camaraderie & maybe even a wedding, while waiting for award winning bbq. You can’t leave Austin without a trip to 6th street for a show at Esther’s Follies and some live reggae at Flamingo Cantina.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
WOW! It’s great to get to talk about my support team I love so much. My father got things started when he told me I could color the sky whatever color I wanted & my mother kept me supplied with paper, crayons, tape, & staples. They continue to support me by attending my shows and building art panels. My husband has always been there to renovate a room into a dark room or studio, as well as creating painting panels, hanging art, putting up tents at shows, and any small or large project I may need help with. My 4 children have always been willing participants and inspiration in the world of imagination. They are also great help at various events as well as always making sure I have a coffee & lunch when I am at an event I can’t leave. I also want to give a shoutout to WIVLA in the 90’s. The women there were amazingly supportive to my tender creative heart, helping me work through fears like putting my artwork out there and actually putting a price on it. And lastly, the amazing creative team at Micro Galleries who continues to create inspiring projects and help me remember that we live in a global community.