E: This is such a powerful piece. What can you tell us about it, and about how you came to represent Scarlett in this way?
J: The period in the book when Scarlett was obsessed with the numbers in her journal really stuck with me. To me they seemed to represent her decline and her depression. Who hasn't been obsessed with something that may one day ruin them if they don't break away from it? [Some of Jennifer's fabulously insightful remark deleted here as it contains spoilers. Sorry. You'll just have to read the book.] Anyway, that's what made me thing to portray her this way... her wasting away into the numbers.
E: How long does it take to complete a piece of art like this? What is your process?
J: If I were working only on this it would probably take me a couple of days from sketch to finished piece. I'm juggling a couple of projects at the moment, so it took me about two weeks to complete.
E: Tell us about when and where you work.
J: I work from home in a crazy jungle of a studio and, unlike Kim Dwinell in your previous interview, my chaos is not at all organized! (I've included a rarely seen picture of my desk in its natural state.)
As far as when I work... I work whenever I can. I have three kids, Ethan (9), and Eli (7), and a nine-month old baby girl named Charlotte (Charlie), so finding a lot of solid time to work can be challenging. Luckily I get a lot of support from family and friends. My mother-in-law watches the baby two days a week while the boys are in school, and my husband takes over at home from about five o'clock until ten o'clock most nights so that I can work then, as well.
E: I can identify with that! SACRED was written largely in stolen moments. I wonder, do you have a preferred medium?
J: My preferred medium by far is ink and watercolor. I've created artwork in just about every medium from digital to ceramics to glass, but ink and watercolor always feels like home.
E: What other projects are you involved in?
J: I'm working on two projects at the moment that I'm super excited about. The first is an e-book I'm working on with movie director and co-creator of Blues Clues, Todd Kessler. The book is entitled The Good Dog, and it's about an adorably entertaining dog named Tako who, through a series of events, realizes that sometimes you have to break the rules in order to do the right thing. It's a fifty-two spread book, so it's a pretty major undertaking, but I absolutely love the story! We're hoping for a release date around May 2013. I'm also working on my own book dummy that I plan to send out for submissions in the next couple days. It's a picture book about a ninja bunny who, after following some bad advice, learns how to become his own ninja.
E: Those projects sound so exciting! What advice would you give to people who'd like to break into the art world?
J: My advice to anyone trying to break into this industry (myself included) is to stick with it and always keep your goal in mind. There's this great speech by Neil Gaiman that I try and watch every time I lose focus or start to stray from the path that will get me to where I need to be. I also find it tremendously helpful to have a great critique group that will always be honest with me, even when it stings a little.
E: Do you have a web presence?
J: I sure do! My website is jennifergrayolson.com.
E: One last question about SACRED... was there a character in the book with whom you felt a particular affinity?
J: I actually felt a real connection with Will's father. What a great character! He always seemed to know all the answers, but gave everyone the space to figure things out in their own way and in their own time.
And, once more, Jennifer Gray Olson's "Numbers." Thank you so much, Jennifer!