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Exit Interview: ABN Chats with Jaime Lynn

July 12, 2010

In episode 5, “Work of Art” contestant Jaime Lynn decided to go big or go home, and unfortunately, home she went. Still, Jaime Lynn tells ABN that while the show may not have been conducive to her working style, she doesn’t regret a moment of it–except for that vintage dress she never got a chance to wear.  

Jaime Lynn recently graduated from the School of The Art Institute of Chicago with an MFA in Painting and Drawing.  Illustrating the arching theme in her work, delusions of grandeur, she has been awarded “Best in Show” at the Skin Exhibition in Oklahoma City, (2007), as well as “Best New Artist Working on Paper” at the Around the Coyote exhibit in Chicago (2009). She has shown at several galleries in the Midwest area and most recently began a studio residency at The Merchandise Mart in Chicago. 

–Interview by Catherine Klene, ABN Editor 


ABN: The challenge was to create a piece inspired by the drive through New York in an Audi.  It was a very broad challenge with a lot of room for interpretation. Did you find that an advantage or a disadvantage? 


(c) Bravo

 Jaime Lynn: I think it was a big advantage. A lot of the previous challenges, particularly the cover challenge and the shock challenge, kind of forced us into a way of working that might be very outside how we would normally work or forced us to make work about subject matter or with a particular intention that we normally wouldn’t have. This was so broad and so out in left field that you probably could have come up with anything in the world that you wanted to make anyway and made it fit with this particular challenge if you BS-ed it properly. 

ABN: What did you think of some of the other artists’ pieces?  Do you think they were inspired by the drive or do you think they were bending the challenge to their piece? 

Jaime Lynn: With every challenge, it’s impossible for somebody to completely make something irrespective of the challenge and not be influenced by trying to meet that in some way. 

Actually, I was really impressed with Jackie’s piece. I had no idea what she was making over there or what her purpose was for making it, but when it was all said and done, I really did find myself stepping back and going, “That is a completely different approach than everybody else’s.” We were all so focused on ourselves or the car or the image of the car or the image of driving the car, and she looked outside the space and came up with something totally different. 

Miles’ work was also really cool for this challenge, although his is an example of something that I think he probably just really wanted to make anyway and found a way to make it in this challenge, which I think is awesome. It’s to his advantage thus far that he’s done that, and he hasn’t focused so much on the challenges. That piece that he made had a freshness to it, like it had just been made, and it had a really creepy kind of energy to it that was really cool. 

I thought Peregrine’s was really funny, too, knowing Peregrine’s previous work. She and I work in a similar way … in a sarcastic, kind of comical approach towards fashion imagery and pop culture, so I thought her piece was pretty funny, too. 

ABN: Let’s talk about your piece and your critique session. What went through your mind during your critique and when you heard the judges’ decision? 

Jaime Lynn: I knew the minute I woke up for the morning of that challenge, before I even knew what the challenge was, I set in my mind that I was going to make the most ridiculous thing I could possible imagine and just run with it … I kind of knew that entire challenge that I was either going to win or go home, because by that point, I felt like I had tried different avenues to express myself and none of them had flown with this particular set of judges. 

I was beginning to question whether or not we would ever really see eye to eye over anything I would be making, given the particular set of time constraints. The strength of my work really comes out in the formal quality, in the surface quality, in the layering and the texture and those are the sort of things that take a lot of time to build. 

The minute that critique started going south, I knew I was going home, and I really had a great peace about it. “Mad Men” was still on, so I didn’t have to miss that. I missed my cocker spaniel. I missed my boyfriend. I missed cooking and exercising and all those things. As much as I was sad to leave the other artists — they are awesome, a great group of really funny characters — I felt like it was my time. 

I had realized that this particular method of working in that setting wasn’t so conducive to what I required to make really good work. It doesn’t make me a bad artist, it makes me a not-so-successful “Work of Art” reality TV show artist. That’s all. 

There really wasn’t much to say in the critique. I knew what their issues were with it, and I completely understood. This piece was completely about me; it was not about them. It was not about the challenge. It was about making something that felt so ridiculous but I could be proud of it, so inherently me, more so than anything I’d made up to that point. And I really succeeded in that. If I could have taken home any piece, it would have been that one. 

ABN: The judges commented that there were too many elements competing for attention in your piece. In hindsight, would you have done anything differently or were you satisfied with your work? 


(c) Bravo

Jaime Lynn: I was satisfied with that particular work. I wish, when I look at the body of work that I produced on the show, I wish that I had not focused so much on each individual work as an assignment. I wish that I had been more true to myself and looked more at what I would normally what to make.  If I were in my studio at home, what would I want to make? And then find a way to BS it and fit the challenge because then the work would have seemed better. It would have had more energy, it would have felt more like me, it wouldn’t have felt like undergrad art school challenge. It wouldn’t have felt like a commission from a stranger. 

I could have had as much or as little creative agency as I wanted. The challenges did not force me to work in the way that I did, but for whatever reason, during the time that we shot that, I reverted back to undergrad foundations assignments, and I wish I hadn’t done that. I wish I hadn’t focused so much on the challenges and just made whatever I would have made in my studio. 

The time constraint is no excuse. I should have been able to make something that was visually interesting. That was the problem. The problem was never with my content or my subject matter. That is something that I will carry with me for a long time, and I’ll continue to work with. 

The problem was that I just was not able to provide the judges with a visually enticing enough surface to carry them beyond the girly, 17-year-old subject matter. So I left them with nothing else to talk about except the subject matter. I left completely understanding where they stood and feeling like it was time.  It was time to take what I learned and go back to my studio and do it my way. 

ABN: How has your experience on the show influenced you as an artist and from business perspective?  Have you seen more people interested in your work since the show? 

Jaime Lynn: Definitely. I’ve been very blessed to get a huge increase in visits on my website and I’ve made a lot of connections through people knowing about the show. It’s been wonderful. It’s got me back in contact with people I haven’t spoken to in years. 

It really didn’t change my art making studio practice so much, except that I kind of like the idea introducing into my own practice … forcing myself to work really fast without any idea of what I’m going to do. There’s a freshness and energy when you work that quickly. I try to introduce that into the more long time frame work that I do. 

As a person, it really left me feeling very empowered with the knowledge that you can’t trust on the approval of any human being to get you anywhere. As much as artists want to have approval from art critics, from bloggers, from people in New York, L.A., Miami, Chicago, that’s going to come and go. It fades, and it’s fickle. If your definition of success is defined by the critics liking your work, what’s going to happen when the critic doesn’t like your work any more? You’re not going to go anywhere, and you’re going to feel like a failure. 

So for me, the only way I’m going to get anywhere professionally or just as a good human being is because of my relationship with my family, my loved ones, and in my case, with God. I can’t rely on anybody else to do anything for me. I don’t ever want to be in that self-conscious position where I’m begging for somebody to throw me a bone or give me a little crumb off their table because they have more influence and more clout than I do. If I have it, that’s wonderful and it’s a blessing, but if I don’t … I can take it or leave it. That’s the biggest lesson and it’s been so empowering to take from this situation and apply it to every area of my life, especially professionally. 

ABN: You sound like you’ve take a lot from this experience. A lot of our readers are artists, and they wanted to know how do you promote yourself as an artist? 

Jaime Lynn: Never stop meeting people. I am fortunate that I am still in the city where I went to graduate school, so I’ve got the connections that I made from school here.  But you don’t have to have an MFA to be a successful artist. 

I do think that you need to know people, and you have a very singular vision, a precise clarity about what your goal is. If your goal is to have your work show in a New York, white wall gallery, that’s perfectly fine. Please do that. Go to New York, meet as many people as you can, go to every show possible. Be that person that is always there. 

But if your goal, like mine, is to financially support yourself off your creative endeavors, in whatever way that is, then be willing to expand your horizons and your perceptions of what is acceptable for you. For me, I am trying to diversify my creative output. I’m doing book illustrations with local authors. I’m trying to collaborate with fashion designers to come up with new and innovative ways to advertise in the fashion world using my imagery. I’m trying to do a TV show that focuses on creative entrepreneurs, creative people. 

There’s a commercial side to my art practice. I have a commercial side to my website that focuses on cards and commission. Those are the things that a lot of artists consider beneath them. I just want to use my God-given talent to help other people, make myself happy and to have enough money to not flip out if the car breaks. 

It’s clarity about what your goal is and not being influenced by whether or not that is someone else’s goal. A lot of people would not want to be on a reality show as a way to promote themselves as an artist. I don’t care. It’s exposure for me, but if you don’t want to do it, don’t do it. Pursue your vein and don’t look to the right or left. 

ABN: Is there anything else you’d like to add about the show or your work? 

Jaime Lynn: I would do the whole thing again in a heartbeat. I would wear a different dress when I got kicked off.  I had a 1940’s yellow vintage gown that I totally wanted to wear, and it didn’t work out and that’s fine. 

Other than that, I’m so glad people are watching. Whether they hate it or love it, it’s a big, big step toward giving people insight into how artists work. Whether it’s accurate or not, it’s a heck of a lot better than nothing. 

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