"Creativity is something that we are all born with, but as we get older and our lessons get bigger, too often our creativity gets smaller,” shares Jodi Lynn Burton. “I feel compelled to share my illustrations to help creativity live on in minds of adults and children alike.”
Jodi is a professional illustrator based out of Oak Park, Michigan. Her illustrations are witty, quirky, and fun. Self-described as an “encyclopedia of doodles,” you’ll find a little of everything — scientists, country singers, cityscapes, animals, adventure gear, and other fun little things. All her pieces are illustrated in pen and ink and then printed, laser cut, or shrunk in the oven.
A familiar face at local artist fairs and shops, Jodi’s work can be found in stores, schools, and homes around the world. Her passion for learning has inspired her to create work that is as educational as it is joyful.
Jodi recently designed and illustrated a park-inspired poster and bandana for the Peninsulas' Michigan State Parks Collection. Illustrated by hand with watercolor paints, her piece features a variety of state park and recreation area landmarks.
I spoke with Jodi to learn about her art, inspirations, and hear her story:
How did you know you wanted to become an illustrator?
Both of my grandparents always said, “You’re going to be an artist when you grow up.” And even though I have always loved drawing, have always enjoyed illustration, I never thought it could be a career. I originally went to school for photography, but I still continued to draw.
One summer, some of my friends were visiting and saw these little magnets on my fridge that I made. I was drawing scientists on shrinky dinks. My friends really liked them and encouraged me to apply to an art show in Ypsilanti. Well, I ended up selling out of all my merchandise! After that, I thought, oh, wow, I could be making money doing this and it’s something that I love! Now I’ve been illustrating full time for about ten years.
Was there anyone who has been an inspiration to you?
I am lucky that I grew up surrounded by artists, both my parents were hippies. My dad taught me how to draw perspectives and although my mom would never call herself an artist, she was super into fashion, gardening, interior design, and color choices — I remember when I was kid, she would bring home all these colors and lay them out. She’d say she was just thinking things through, but she was very artistic.
What are some of your favorite things about being an artist?
I love illustrating and I love learning! When I draw city portraits, I have a lot of fun drawing them and I really enjoy researching each place. I always get so excited to begin a new illustration because I have the excuse to sit down for 15 hours and research the most random things! (Laughter) And then it’s fun to see our favorite cities illustrated with different highlights and landmarks in each city, with local restaurants, buildings and museums.
I also do a lot of portraiture. I like drawing scientists — like Carl Sagan, Marie Curie — Motown singers, country singers, people throughout history.
A piece of mine that I am really proud of is my Nevertheless She Persisted poster for women's month. It was chosen for the American illustration awards this year and depicts the faces of 80 important women who have changed history. My hope was that it would inspire people to do some research and find out some of the fascinating stories of the figures on the poster.
It sounds like you hope others will both have fun looking at your art, enjoy it, but also maybe learn something from it...
Yes, definitely. I love that I am able to use illustration as a form to educate. I work with a few different educational facilities to create images for some textbooks.
I also have a podcast called the Detroit Craft Academy. I interview makers, creators, and DIY small business owners about what they do. I love that we are able to share our struggles and talk about what it is really like to run a business.
What are some of the challenges you or other artists have encountered?
It’s pretty crazy because normally I would be doing a ton of art fairs – but all of them have been cancelled because of Covid-19. It’s been a little bit of a challenge determining what the next steps will be as an artist moving forward. Many artists, including myself, have focused on building their online presence.
As hard as quarantining is, I’m glad to spend it with my boyfriend, his son Emitt, and our little dog, Willie Nelson. I’ve also been watching a lot of the Golden Girls.
Is there anything exciting that you are looking forward to?
Seeing the state parks project I worked on for Peninsulas! The print will include a bunch of vignettes I drew of different areas of state parks around Michigan. I’m excited to see how it turns out!
I had so much fun chatting with you, Jodi! Thank you!
To see more of Jodi's work check out www.jodilynndoodles.com and www.etsy.com/shop/JodiLynnDoodles. To listen to her podcast, visit www.detroitcraftacademy.com.
All images in this blog post were provided by Jodi Lynn Burton.