Jaime Crain

Part 1

Artmaking has been an integral part of my life for as long as I can remember. Before I learned about graphic design or even knew I would study art in college, there was painting. My interest in two-dimensional art has taken on a few forms, but even when using drawing materials on paper, I approach my work as a painter. In paintings and drawings alike, I see my marks as brushstrokes.

Being an Adult, 2021, oil paint on wood panel, 24×32 inches

My work has almost always dealt with psychological themes; it explores the power of the human mind and its inevitable downfalls. This theme is manifested in my studio practice as well. I believe in showing up regardless of what internal struggles I’m facing. Some of those mental tensions might make their way into my work, but I’m okay with that. 

Visibility, 2021, oil paint on wood panel, 24×32 inches

Even when my work deals with complex and dark content, I rarely choose overly dark or muted color palettes. In fact, using heightened color is my favorite way to describe the human form. I find that this approach allows me to express specific moods while working within the tradition of realism. I do not see direct representation as the most important quality of my work, but currently, portraiture seems to be the best way for me to say what I need to say. 

Alice, 2021, oil paint on wood panel, 24×32 inches

During this entire academic year, I have been working on a series of oil paintings on wood panel. By using circular motifs, I have enjoyed the exploration of inner and outer worlds. In many of the paintings, the figures exist within a circular shape; in some, parts of the figures extend beyond or fade into the boundary between the painted and the unpainted surface. This series started as a way to connect my identity as a writer with my visual art. Each piece has been in some way connected to a piece of text from my past. Some relate to lists, some to poems, and some to funny remarks I or someone else has said. 

Life Companion, 2021, oil paint on wood panel, 48×32 inches

These four paintings began my series and represented the start of a new direction with color. As I proceeded through the year, I began to take more risks in choosing unnatural and almost cinematic color palettes. What came after these initial pieces is even more true to who I am as an artist. 

Find me online at jaimecrainart.com and on Instagram @jaimecrainart and @jaimecraindesign

Perfectionism, 2021, oil paint on wood panel, 32×24 inches

Part 2

After spontaneously adding a graphic design major in the fall of my sophomore year, I took my first design class in January of 2020. I liked the idea of pursuing a more “practical” facet of the art world. I had no idea what design would become for me. I’m always telling people that I don’t approach graphic design technically. Yes, I have learned—and taught myself—a good amount about the programs I use, but I am by no means the most technically proficient Adobe user. I don’t know all the keyboard shortcuts, and maybe I don’t always go about solving problems in standard ways. All that is secondary to me. I am an artist first and a graphic designer second, so what I care about is the effect of my work. Color and composition are as important in my design work as they are in my paintings.

Wellness Bar Booklet and Menus, 2021, digital design printed on 32-pound gloss paper, 6×7 inches closed
Wellness Bar Takeout Bag, 2021, digital mockup, size variable
Wellness Bar Mural, 2021, digital mockup, size variable

As I fell in love with the graphic design process, I realized that I favor a few areas in particular. Branding is incredibly fun for me, and I love layout problems in general. Working with books and posters are some of my favorite ways to explore layout design. 

Wellness Bar Booklet and Menu, 2021, digital design printed on 32-pound gloss paper, 6×7 inches closed
Wellness Bar Coffee Cup, 2021, digital mockup, size variable

Last semester I had the opportunity to work on one large branding project with the guidance of my instructor, Ben Necochea. I chose to focus on a fictional rebrand of a health food café in my hometown. As I planned the project, I kept in mind the kind of work that I plan to do as a professional designer. One of my goals after graduation is to work with small business owners on branding projects that extend far beyond logos. I would love to incorporate the design of environments, packaging, and merchandise when I work with clients in the future. So, that’s what I did for The Wellness Bar. After developing a set of brand guidelines, I was able to design hypothetical takeout packaging, storefront signage, menus, employee aprons, and a mural for the dining space. I enjoyed compiling these elements in a physical booklet. Being able to direct this project to fit the path of my career made it one of the most pivotal projects in my time as a student. 

Find me online at jaimecrainart.com and on Instagram @jaimecrainart and @jaimecraindesign

Wellness Bar Aprons, 2021, digital mockup, size variable
Wellness Bar Sign, 2021, digital mockup, size variable

Part 3

As my series extended through the 2022 spring semester, the content remained consistent, but the color and compositional choices began to change. While heightened color had been one of the key goals for this series, I only really began to push that concept this semester. My figures now exist under dramatic and almost cinematic lighting. Blue began to make an appearance in my work. While I’ve always been drawn to warm colors, I’ve deepened my appreciation for the way colors interact when—even within a very specific range—warm and cool colors interact. The blues in my recent work serve to make my favorite warm orangey reds warmer—thanks to the law of simultaneous contrast. I enjoy working with a limited palette. Certain colors feel more like me than others. For example, I almost never choose a cool yellow, but violet makes an appearance in every piece. Green usually isn’t a part of my paintings, although it is one of my favorite colors. Through this careful selection and dedication to my practice, I feel that I’ve developed a recognizable style. 

Idara, 2022, oil paint on wood panel, 32×48 inches
Berg, 2022, oil paint on wood panel, 24×32 inches
Triad, 2022, oil paint on wood panel, 24×32 inches

Although most of my senior year has been spent with this series on wood panel, there have been a few departures. I still see these pieces as consistent with my body of work, though. One of my experiments, “Simple Joys,” dealt with the most difficult body part to depict. Its purpose is to function as a sort of portrait without the familiar head and shoulders formula. My most recent painting, “Faction,” began with an abstract wash of thinned paint. The shapes and values I initially put down informed the composition. The first layer acted similarly to the grain of the wood panels I’ve used.

Simple Joys, 2022, oil paint on cradled board, 14×18 inches
Faction, 2022, oil paint on cradled board, 24×18 inches

As I near graduation, I can’t help but be ecstatic for what work I will make in the future. My studio practice will be integrated in my life regardless of what the rest of it looks like. Yes, I am proud of and excited about the work I’ve completed and exhibited this year, but as one of my instructors once said, “this is only my undergraduate work.”

Find me online at jaimecrainart.com and on Instagram @jaimecrainart and @jaimecraindesign

Domestic, 2021, oil paint on cradled board, 24×36 inches

Part 4

One of the most rewarding experiences during my time at Whitworth has been my job as the design editor of our yearbook. As the only graphic designer on the yearbook team, I’ve been tasked with creating the visual identities of two published books of about 240 pages each. 

2021 Whitworth Yearbook – Cover, 2020-21, hard cover book, 10.5×15.5 inches closed

Before dealing with the content of each book, I worked with the editor-in-chief to decide how the theme would be communicated. Last year, our editor-in-chief, Sophia Lizberg, and I decided on an illustration of ponderosa pine roots to connect with the book’s theme: Resilient. The goal was to convey that—like roots—the Whitworth community grows around any obstacle it faces.

2021 Whitworth Yearbook – End Sheets and Month Dividers, 2020-21, hard cover book, 10.5×15.5 inches closed

This year and last, I have been in charge of creating style guides, page layouts, cover designs, and promotional materials for the books. As the 2020-2021 school year was influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, we relied on illustrations in place of many photos. This was especially important when group gatherings were not possible and events were held online. I created over 30 custom illustrations and graphics for last year’s book. The 2021 book was designed playfully with bright, flat graphics and a fun, dynamic headline font. Because the 2022 book is the 100th edition of the publication, it has a more classic feel with some elements—like the art-deco inspired fonts—reminiscent of the 1920s. As we curated the content of the book this year, we chose to include old photos from the last century dispersed occasionally through story pages and featured prominently on divider pages.

2021 Whitworth Yearbook – Fall Event Spread, 2020-21, hard cover book, 10.5×15.5 inches closed

The professional experience I’ve gained while still in school these past two years is invaluable. This job has pushed me to expand my understanding of layout, typography, and book design in general. My organizational skills, time management, and patience have been challenged by this role, but the ability to have designed two complete published books is something I will always be grateful for. As I write this, I am only days away from seeing and holding the 2022 yearbook for the first time. The distribution of this book will be bittersweet. I will miss this job deeply, but I see it as only the start of my design career.

Find me online at jaimecrainart.com and on Instagram @jaimecrainart and @jaimecraindesign

2021 Whitworth Yearbook – Back Cover and Academics Divider, 2020-21, hard cover book, 10.5×15.5 inches closed
2021 Whitworth Yearbook – Housing Spreads, 2020-21, hard cover book, 10.5×15.5 inches closed
2022 Whitworth Yearbook – Timeline Spread, 2021-22, digital mockup, size variable
2022 Whitworth Yearbook – Art & Design Department Spread, 2021-22, digital mockup, size variable
2022 Whitworth Yearbook – Spring Divider, 2021-22, digital mockup, size variable
2022 Whitworth Yearbook – Fall Event Spread, 2021-22, digital mockup, size variable

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