This is Jen Gubicza, maker behind the Zooguu menagerie. She designs all the patterns and does all the sewing to bring to life each of these unique and surprisingly cheerful plushies. This line of roly-poly dinosaurs and animals are brightly colored and expertly crafted. They are the perfect toy for the child in your life. Learn more about Jen and her passion on this edition of Meet Your Maker.
1| How do you describe your work to people who don’t know anything about crafting/art?
I always describe myself as a maker of things. I make toys & faux taxidermy home decor. I talk about how I design the sewing patterns & everything starts from scratch with raw materials: fabric, thread, fiberfill & wood.
2| Why do you make/design things?
I’ve always had a passion for making things. It’s really not even a choice at this point. I even have a bag filled with some portable sewing project these days that I carry around everywhere.
3| What do you love about your job?
I love that I get to create things that I would like to see out there in the world. There’s freedom in being able to design a new product on the fly and test it out immediately. I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.
4| Was being a working artist always your plan or was there an “aha” moment?
I have always wanted to be a working artist. Before I was a full time maker, I was a full time graphic designer, and I went to college for design.
5| How do you work, and where?
I currently rent studio space on the lovely island of Nahant, MA. I typically arrive in the morning and work until I get tired, take a break for lunch, work some more, take a break for dinner, and then go home. I have an assistant that comes to the studio a few times a week and that help is invaluable. The great part about being a working artist is the flexibility I have. If there’s an event I want to go to, or I’m teaching a class one evening, I can plan for that and take time off when I need to. I also get to do a lot of traveling for craft shows, which is nice.
6| How often do you add a new creature to your collection?
I’m adding new things all of the time. Not all of them make it to the website as often as I’d like, but since I do markets every weekend I’m always adding new things.
7| How do you choose your fabrics?
Fabrics are chosen for durability, washability & color selection.
8| Do you have best seller?
Narwhals, dinosaurs & unicorns are all top sellers.
9| If you could swap lives with another artist, who would that person be?
I don’t know about swapping lives, exactly, but there are plenty of artists that I admire: Mimi Kirchner, Diane Koss, Leeanna Butcher, Jonathan Reincke, Eling Chang, Greg Stones, Elizabeth Benotti, Nathan William Murrell, Sara Villari, Valency Genis, Jeff Campana, Mister Hope, Chelsea Bloxom, Horrible Adorables, Yetis & Friends, Jon Wye, Carrie Wagner, Mei-Ling Uliasz, just to name a few…
10| What makes a handmade object valuable?
Handmade objects are unique, high quality, and you can see the artist’s hand in the work.
11| Using that definition, what’s the most valuable object you own?
That’s a tough question. I try to fill my life with handmade objects that all inspire me every day. Probably an original painting by Jonathan Reincke. His skill and color sense are gorgeous.
12| Tell us one true thing about yourself that people don’t believe when you tell them.
I was an all star field hockey goalie in high school & I turned down a college athletic scholarship to go to art school.
13| Give us three more non-crafting-related details about you or your life.
I love visiting with animals.
I love drinking whiskey with friends.
I love playing D&D.