Jill Renae Henrichsen is an artist from Arizona who is so much more than an artist. She’s a mother to three children, a teacher, and a creator of inspiring designs. Here’s a closer look at the woman behind so many of our awesome Wearable Therapy designs.
Where are you from?
Phoenix, Arizona area. Sadly, I haven’t been able to escape the area and boy, do I want to!
What was your journey to becoming an artist?
I was pretty much born as an artist. I knew I wanted to be an art teacher when I was about 15. I now teach middle school art. However, I love the release I have in creating art for clients. I do fantasize of making a career as an artist. I love teaching, but it takes a lot out of you physically and emotionally.
Do you have any other jobs?
Non-art related? Not at the moment. Art-related? I teach middle school art and once to twice a week I teach a drawing class to younger students.
What inspires your art?
Music and lyrics play a big role in my art. However, beauty in nature inspire me in a way that I cannot describe in just a few words. Plus, certain feelings and emotions inspire me when I cannot express them any other way or as a way for “therapy”.
Do you have any trademarks/recurring themes in your art?
Absolutely. The sun and moon is my recurring theme. Once in awhile a
client will tell me they don’t want them included and I exclude them, but it makes me a little sad to do so.
As for the sun, the irony is I love drawing the sun in whimsical ways. Even when I’m creating the sun in a realistic sense, I love to create this marvel. However, in real life, I do my best to avoid any sun, harsh light and heat. (Hence, one of the main reasons living in the Arizona Desert is difficult for me)
What mediums do you usually work in?
I love pen and ink and watercolor. However, I want to break out my acrylic paints again. I have so many projects that are waiting for me in that area! I also love to glaze designs on pottery.
Where can our customers find you or your work online?
What was your inspiration/can you describe the design that you did for WT?
Many of the thematic elements that are explored for WT, I can identify personally with in one way or another. Combine my personal life experiences and how I always desire an empowering message in my artwork, it was right up my alley to tune into the positivity of bright colors, some needed humor, quotes and other messages to be perfect for WT.
Other than your own, what is your favorite WT product?
I’m in love with most everything I’ve seen on the WT site! I love love LOVE the “You Keep it on the Inside” design. I first saw it in the Women’s Active Wear section. “Emotions floating on a string” also speaks volumes – both in its message and aesthetics.
What makes you feel…
PROUD – I discovered a long time ago that my Love Language is Words of Affirmation and Physical Touch. Therefore, when I hear others speaking highly of me, such as students, my own children or clients. I feel proud and glad I did something they also like. Of course my children and their accomplishments makes me feel proud. My 12 year old son is borderline Aspergers and I am proud of his genius IT skills and good grades. I boast about them to others because his pregnancy was a “challenge” to put it lightly, so I feel like it’s perfectly alright to go on and on about him.
ANGRY – Oh man. You sure you want to go there? I get angry with unfairness and injustice. Sadly, that is about as normal as day and night these days. Working in a middle school environment, I get angry about bullying and when people treat each other poorly and not have any regard for the feelings of others. Of course, being an educator, I have to get a little political and mention how angry I am that Arizona is one of the most poorly funded states for education. It’s one thing that the teachers are underpaid. But I can accept that any day if it means the students are funded with the supplies and resources they need. It makes me so angry that our elected officials continue to turn a blind eye.
EXCITED – Weekends approaching! And being in Arizona, I get excited for cloudy, cool and rainy days.
SCARED – Confrontations scare me. But I’ve been told I’m still good at them! You know, like having to talk to a parent that might be a little “difficult”. I am also terrified of something happening to one of my kids. I get a little overprotective.
LUCKY – I love the artistic gift I inherited and feel lucky to have it. I also feel lucky to have the spouse I have with his big heart and integrity.
CONFLICTED – My biggest conflicts are in the classroom and finding the balance between keeping order and consistency and being the kind of teacher that the students are inspired from and listen to without my relaxing on rules and parameters. It’s a very tough balance.
EMPOWERED – When I am supported by family, colleagues, etc, I feel very empowered.
HOPEFUL – I am what you call a cynical optimist. I have a negative sense of humor, but it’s actually because of that that I am very optimistic about life and everything working out.
SAD – I looks at pictures when my kids are little and sad that those times are gone and that time goes by too fast.
What would you rather…
Freeway or Scenic Route? Scenic route when time permits. Freeway when I’m cranky and impatient.
Night out with friends or a quiet night in? Lately I’ve been more into the quiet nights in. I think it’s because of the business of life and driving so much since we live so far away from everything.
Adventure trip or relaxing vacation? Both! Can’t we do both on one trip?
Great job with long hours or okay job with lots of time off? Ha! Well, I’m a teacher, so “okay” means the pay, right? I do have a lot of time off, but I tend to be a workaholic anyway. But I guess needing time off to do other things that I love is what the doctor ordered. However, if my artwork took off, I wouldn’t mind long hours if I was constantly creating my work!
The 1950s, 60s, 70s or 80s? Music? 1980s. But with 1970s prices for everything.
Is your role model? I love U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. People make fun of him for his gaffes, but to me, it means he’s real and genuine. He was made a single father when his wife and daughter were killed in a car accident over 40 years ago and how he conducted himself as a devoted father despite that speaks volumes. When he gave a speech here in Arizona 3 years ago after a tragedy of 19 hot-shot firefighters that were killed in a wildfire, his words were so empowering and genuine. He is too nice and wonderful of a man to be a politician!
Would you like to work with/for in the future? I would love to be a go-to artist for anyone that would allow me create and help them make their dreams come true in their causes or products. I also wish to be “discovered” by say, Macy’s, IKEA or another company like that to design on their artwork or stoneware that they sell, etc.
Inspired you most as a child? That’s a tough one. I can’t think of one particular person, but I do know I was inspired by a lot of things that I didn’t want to aspire to. I saw a lot of negative consequences from decisions that I knew I didn’t want to make for myself.
Pushes you the hardest? Myself. I’m my biggest pain in the butt.
WT is all about Defining Your Normal. So, let’s find out more about what makes you You!
What is your definition of ‘normal’?
I haven’t figured out what normal is. I had a sticker on my car for years that said “Normal People Worry Me.”
We are all about celebrating people’s awesomeness, so what makes you awesome?
I think it’s that I don’t like the ‘status quo’ and individuality should be celebrated – even if it looks weird to others. On a less broad scope, I also have a reputation as a “baby whisperer” with the ability to calm down small infants and get them to sleep. I can’t say it carries into toddler and childhood, but with the infants, I’m awesome.
What is a challenge that you face often in your life?
Anxiety and depression and how it complicates my worries and frustrations with a teenager, an ADHD and borderline Aspergers 12 year old (who has superpowers with IT stuff – difficult for parents who try to be a parent with parental controls, passwords, etc), and a very smart but very ADHD 5 year old. I also worry so much about being “good enough” and being a good teacher. I get very sensitive about things that I should just “suck it up”!
What is the best compliment that you have ever received?
A professor in college told me “You’re a very good writer, by the way”. That stuck with me. I receive compliments about my artwork all the time, but I guess since I wish I could make a living doing it all the time, there is some anxiety there. What else is new….Jill and her anxiety….
What was the best criticism you ever received?
A couple of weeks ago, a colleague told me I’m trying to do too much and it’s okay if I’m not perfect at teaching yet. I needed that.
What makes your life easier?
Naps and free time. Money helps too! haha
What makes your life more difficult?
Did I mention I have a 15 year old daughter? See #16 for additional “challenges”.
What is your definition of success?
When you are doing what you love. Sure, I am not happy with the state of education in AZ, but I’m teaching middle school art and that’s what I aspired to. I also have clients, customers and followers for my own artwork. That makes me successful.
We are all changing and evolving all the time. How are you in the process of changing?
I don’t want to talk about getting older, but since I turned 40 last year, I’ve been in a panic and denial about getting older (okay, I was freaking out about it since about 35….) I am trying to “change” and accept it. I haven’t done a very good job of that yet. Have a few bucks for a facelift? lol
If you could interview anyone, whom would you choose?
Bernie Sanders. He is the best option for US President and has wonderful ideas. Plus, he’s one of those non-political politicians like Joe Biden who lives in the real world and understands real life.
On that note, I would love to interview Joe Biden. The three members of Depeche Mode would be a great interview too.
Jill’s Work On Wearable Therapy:
Check out her design on some of our Wearable Therapy products: