I’m so excited to introduce everyone to artist and adventurer Deanna Jensen from Dear Summit Supply Co. – Deanna creates durable gear for adventurers, and you can follow her blog and Instagram for the inside scoop on what’s new!
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself, your business, and your blog? What does it take to run a handmade business?
I’m a full-time mom and wife from the Midwest with a healthy addiction to mountains and the outdoors in general. I own Dear Summit Supply Co. – a brand with which I’ve made leather journals and sketch books for over eight years, and more recently began adding in vinyl stickers and hand-printed shirts with my designs, all aimed at inspiring and equipping outdoor adventures. I also write the occasional blog post about my National Park shenanigans or sharing tips on creativity and journaling.
Running your own handmade business is not an easy thing to do, but it is incredibly rewarding. It takes a lot of hard work, self discipline, and follow through. I think people imagine me sketching and painting away all the time, but the reality is that the business side of the work (paperwork, emailing, planning, marketing, etc.) takes up a lot more of my time than the creative work.
But whenever I start to feel overwhelmed with the business end of my work, I remind myself that those parts of the job are what allow me to pursue the creative work I’m truly passionate about, and that’s totally worth all the struggle along the way.
What are your favorite national parks and why?
I am a huge fan of America’s National Parks system and the amazing natural landscapes they preserve. My favorite national parks right now are Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Parks in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains of California. My husband and daughter and I spent several days hiking there last summer and it was just magical. The Giant Sequoia trees are so huge and majestic, and will take your breath away. Hiking among them made me feel like I was in on some grand, enchanting secret.
And of course, that trip was also a goldmine of inspiration for my art!
If I could, I’d love to go on an extended road trip someday, visiting as many national parks as possible and staying a week or two in each one.
What are your thoughts on adventuring?
I define adventuring as just about anything that pushes you out of your comfort zone and challenges you – but ideally outdoors. That could mean a two-week backpacking trip, far removed from civilization, or it could mean a walk around the block in the rain. This is something I’m really passionate about because I believe that getting outside and seeing new landscapes and trying new experiences is one of the best things we can do for ourselves as humans. Study after study continues to confirm the stunning array of ways in which spending time in nature positively affects our minds and bodies.
We spend so much time sitting down and staring at screens that I think we forget what it feels like to have dirt between our toes or to listen, really listen, to the music of birds calling to each other. There’s something about walking through a forest or hiking on a mountainside that reminds us that the world is much bigger and more beautiful than our own worries!
What is the process like creating one of your stickers versus one of your handmade journals?
The process for creating a journal is quite different from the process to create a sticker. Making a leather journal is very time and labor intensive, requiring hours of precise work for each individual journal, even if I’m making multiples of the same design. I start with blank paper and hand-tear the pages down to the proper size, then fold them and punch the holes for stitching. The leather has to be cut and carefully punched as well before I stitch the two together with waxed linen thread.
I made journals for over eight years and even developed my own method to screen-print my mountain design onto the leather covers, but I’ve recently decided to retire my journals because of some shifts in my personal and business priorities.
With stickers, I draw out the design on paper and then edit it in Illustrator, where I might smooth out edges and play with the arrangement of words or other elements. This process feels really free and fun for me, plus, once a design is done, it’s done. I can send it off to the printers and I don’t have to repeat the process over and over for each sticker I sell, freeing me up to create more new designs (or just spend more time outside with my daughter).
Can you tell me about your Tiny Pages Project? Do you have any other projects in the making?
A while ago I challenged myself to fill up a teeny tiny sketchbook I had made, whose pages were about 3/4 inch tall and 1/2 inch wide, and I called the series of sketches and paintings that ensued the Tiny Pages Project. It was a great exercise in figuring out which details to focus on in order to make each tree or mountain or bear recognizable in such a tiny size. I learned a lot from it and had a lot of fun with those tiny sketches!
Currently, I’m doing a daily sketching challenge in a Baron Fig planner (inspired by my friend Jonny of @drawntosketching on Instagram). Instead of tiny size, this time I’m challenging myself with all sorts of subject matter I have never attempted before, in addition to my usual landscapes. Each week, I’m alternating between black-and-white and color illustrations, to hopefully improve in both. I’m only a few weeks into this new project, and I’ve already learned quite a bit with both methods.
Watch Deanna’s Thoreau Quote Sketch Timelapse: “We Can Never Have Enough of Nature”
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Skillshare classes for those looking to dabble in journal-making: