Episcopal alumna Jess Jahnle ’10, a surface designer and artist, is kicking off the 2022-23 Crawford Campus Center Gallery season with her dynamic and bold show, Living with the Art.
The founder and designer of Yes Paper Studio LLC, Jess said that she always remembers being interested in drawing and painting. “I took a lot of drawing classes when I was in middle school and high school, and then took Honors 2D here [at Episcopal], where I learned a lot from [EA Visual Art Department Chair] David Sigel,” she said.
After staying connected via social media over the years, Mr. Sigel reached out to Jess about returning to EA. “After continuing to follow her work on Instagram, I contacted her via her website to see if she’d be willing to come back to EA to showcase her work and tell the story of her pursuit of an artistic career,” he said.
For Jess, the opportunity to be featured in the Gallery was an exciting one, and a full circle moment for her. “I was in many of David’s classes during my time at EA, and really enjoyed when we would do landscape painting, which inspired me to get into painting more,” she said. “ In general, when I think back about being here, I think about how lucky I was. It’s good to be back.”
For Mr. Sigel, having an alumna and award-winning artist back on campus was just as thrilling. “As our [art] program at Episcopal has grown, it’s been a pleasure being able to have such a talented group of alumni to reach out to and have them come back and share their art,” he said.
Following the gallery opening on Oct. 4, Jess even led Mr. Sigel’s Honors 2D-Design IV-V art class in a workshop demonstrating how to create a repeating pattern. “The first original drawing is the most important part of the process,” she told students. “Learning the technical part can be figured out.”
“Jess is proof that you can find success and happiness in the arts if you are dedicated to following your passion and continuing in the pursuit of your practice by building upon the foundations learned,” Mr. Sigel explained.
In fact, Jess’s journey to success began after deciding to fully pursue her artistic interests following high school by attending the Maryland Institute College of Art. While predominantly studying landscape painting during her pursuit of a BFA, Jess also “got into digital printing on fabric” during her undergraduate years, which encouraged her to find a program to hone in on this craft for graduate school.
“I was always trying to find a way to get into design or make it more of a practical use for artwork so that people can transform a space or be involved with it more than just a piece,” she said. “So I got more into the technical side of it and printing, which is where I'm at now, more interested in the combination of painting something and then transforming it into something else through digital printing.”
Jess eventually found a program at Philadelphia University (now Thomas Jefferson University), where she started out as a textile design major. “Then I transferred into a new program called Surface Imaging, which was designing and then learning how to operate all this printer equipment,” she explained. “It was kind of taking something that's used for production, but using it in an art way.”
From there, Jess worked as a CAD designer for a fashion company and then “got into large format printing, where I worked at a print shop doing vehicle graphics, wall murals, and wallpaper design–custom stuff like that,” she said.
While working part time at Jefferson University during the pandemic, Jess decided to also launch her own company, Yes Paper Studio LLC, where she designs “bold, large scale, wallpaper and textiles for residential and commercial interiors.” In regards to the creative process, Jess explains that it is always a little bit different, but “always starts with something hand created, whether it's a drawing, a process, or photograph.” Then, she will “digitize it and make it into a pattern or a mural.”
Today, in addition to running and designing for her company, Jess serves as the technical associate at the Center for Excellence in Surface Imaging at Thomas Jefferson University.
The Living with the Art show featuring her vibrant surface designs will run through Friday, Oct. 14, in the Crawford Campus Center Gallery.