“Art is a process of creation,” writes Rebecca Jordan Glum, “that is completely mental, physical, and sensual at once. Wet paint, textured paper and glue, a needle and thread, the sound of charcoal dragging across a surface; these are the experiences that I crave. The end result of ‘finished’ art often comes too soon for me, and I’m compelled to begin the process all over again. I make art because I can’t help myself.”
There’s a fantastical element to Rebecca’s work, a fairytale quality, that is much easier to savor and enjoy than it is to sum up in words. That’s one reason I wanted to share her work here. To provide a visual exploration of some of her art alongside her own words, her own perspective, so that you can share in the pleasure of her creations and get to know her a little (for example, I love her word choice, and the way she describes her childhood pursuits of creating art as an act of vandalism).
I’ve said it numerous times, but I love story. And Rebecca is quite adept are creating visual stories. Take a look at the image of the elephant on the horizon. Doesn’t your mind start filling in a story adventure? The story of a search, perhaps? Of a journey? How about the tightrope walker? The owl at the edge of the forest?
One of the things about visual art that I love most is the immediate connection one can make. The way we bring our own experiences and our own stories to the encounter.
Rebecca’s illustrations might be part of specific stories, yet before I ever know what those stories might be, my mind is already reacting to the images. I have my own personal, and oftentimes emotional, reaction to the moment she has captured . . . the scene that she has created with her lines, her colors, her art.
Based in Los Angeles, Rebecca Jordan Klum is an artist, illustrator, designer, and writer. With a BFA from Pratt Institute in New York, Rebecca graduated with the distinguished Certificate of Excellence Award for Outstanding Achievement in Illustration. Her first children’s picture book, A Fairy Tale, received a 2015 Gold Mom’s Choice Award and was featured by Tinkerlab.
Her work has been seen in film and exhibited in galleries across the United States. In 2016, her work was selected by Kspace Contemporary for inclusion in a public mural made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Below is an email interview with Rebecca and a brief visual representation of her work. I hope you find it as magical and wonderful as I do. I imagine you will.
Other Cool Birds: Young Adult author, Jacqueline Woodson says that writers tend to focus on the time in our lives we’re still working through. Is there an element of truth to Woodson’s claim as it relates to Visual Artists/Illustrators (or to your work)? If so, how?
Rebeca Jordan Glum: I’m pretty focused on working through what is going on in the world NOW. There are a lot of issues that are concerning to me and I tend to use illustration as a way to process my feelings.
OCB: How long have you been interested in art?
Rebecca: I have always been interested in art.
I drew on EVERYTHING as a young child, despite growing up in a very strict household. I’m not sure if the reward of drawing was greater than the punishment or if I just couldn’t help myself, but the end result is that I was a vandal almost from birth.
My preferred tool was Sharpie (I remember loving the dark bold lines it made) and I started out misspelling my name on everything with giant letters from the time I could grasp the pen in my hand (Woody in Toy Story had a small name drawn on the bottom of his foot, whereas my dolls had giant tattoos of my name written down the entire length of their legs).
When I was 5, a kindergarten painting of mine was selected to go to the citywide art show at the historic Bonaventure hotel in downtown Los Angeles. My parents got me all dressed up and took me to see my piece hanging in the show. I remember seeing the work of older students and thinking that I hoped to be as good as them some day.
When I was eight, I learned from somewhere how to draw ‘3d’ boxes by drawing two squares slightly offset from one another and connecting the corners with diagonal lines. It blew my mind. I drew hundreds of them on pieces of paper over and over that day and when I ran out of paper— I just couldn’t STOP! I had to keep making them so I made them all over a wall in our house. I got into a lot of trouble for that. I remember them yelling at me ‘YOU ARE 8 YEARS OLD!! YOU ARE TOO OLD TO BE DOING THIS!’
The rest of my childhood involved lots of drawing on everything including my clothes and arms, something I still occasionally do.”
OCB: What sort of background do you have (formal training, apprenticeship, workshops, self-taught, etc)?
Rebecca: Through a winding path that makes perfect sense in hindsight, I took a summer class at Otis College of Art and Design when I was 19 and my instructor told me he thought I needed to go to art school for college. (I didn’t have any plans for my future at that point.) He helped me through the late application/portfolio process and I was accepted and started a few weeks later in their undergraduate program. I stayed there until my junior year when I really started to focus on illustration and transferred to Pratt in New York to finish my BFA there.
OCB: What are you illustrating/creating art for (as in, what is the deep-down driving force behind your choice to draw/paint/illustrate in the first place)?
Rebecca: Making art is as fundamental to me as breathing. I don’t think I could exist without it. I process every thought through my eyes and hands and I have no doubt that I would quickly short circuit if I was prevented from doing so.
“I DON’T THINK I COULD EXIST WITHOUT IT.”
OCB: What is it about the process that you like most? Least?
Rebecca: I love the initial drawing/painting. Working in picture books these past few years has me doing a LOT of revisions. They’re less fun but I’m understanding the value of them.
OCB: What sort of subjects do you prefer painting/illustrating/exploring and why?
Rebecca: I love animals in unusual scenarios. My mind seems to find metaphors for EVERYTHING I experience and I find myself having completely outlandish picture book ideas in my head that I have no idea where they came from.
OCB: What is your relationship with color?
Rebecca: I did take all the required color theory classes in college and use to have a color wheel hanging on my studio wall, but my use of color is much more intuitive now. I know what colors feel right to me and I use those.
OCB: What is one thing about art you think people might not understand?
Rebecca: It takes a bajillion hours to get good and even then, you aren’t very good. You are never done. You are never satisfied. It’s an endless hill of always wanting to be better and always having to work at it.
OCB: If you could work on any art project (illustrating a book, developing a personal idea, doing some time-travel and working on an historical piece with an artist you admire or a contemporary collaboration) what might it be and why?
Rebecca: I’m working on several picture books now that are a real challenge to me, but I’m delighted to be working on them.
OCB: What technique/media did you use to create the cover for A Fairy Tale?
Rebecca: I did A Fairy Tale completely in Photoshop on an iMac utilizing a Cintiq tablet, although I work in all sorts of mixed media.