In 2019, I was introduced to Jen Lopez’s webcomic By the Yard about an obsessed quilter and her model-train-enthusiast counterpart. While I have met a lot of quilters over the past decade, Jen is the first maker I know to also write and illustrate a comic about her craft.
A few email exchanges later, we built a nice rapport. She is very entrepreneurial, and I admire all of the hard work she has put into building her business. Jen is also notably fun and easy to talk to, always bringing keen insights into our conversations. All of these qualities, paired with an interesting backstory, adds up to a quick-on-her-feet characteristic that I’m sure you’ll appreciate. I’m guessing it’s no surprise that folks are enjoying seeing her personality shine through her work as a cartoonist!
Jen is a New England-based quilter, cartoonist, and pattern designer—and her approach to combining quilting and humor is quite fascinating. In Issue 25, we specifically share what inspired her to create By the Yard, and if you aren’t already familiar with her weekly posts, you can check out the comic she wrote and illustrated exclusively for Quiltfolk below. (And, yes, Jen said that this really happened! We love hearing about this level of dedication from our readers.)
We could only include so much of Jen’s quilting and cartooning background in the magazine, but there are still so many more interesting details to share! That is why I decided to record a 45-minute interview with her that you can now watch below. And if you haven’t read her featured article in Issue 25, you can check it out here. On a personal note, I’m fascinated by humor and the creative process of writing and telling jokes. So I couldn’t wait to sit down with Jen and ask her some questions!
As you can see, Jen’s approach to quilting and cartooning is similar. For instance, she spends a lot of time thinking about her quilts before she works on them, but she can tend to get paralyzed with all of the overthinking. The same goes for cartooning. The opportunity to sit down, brainstorm, and draw is rare, but when she gets into the groove, time passes quickly and she can produce a lot of work all at once.
The two best bits of advice that she gives to herself (and to others) is:
- Don’t overthink it! When you follow your gut, you tend to do your best work.
- Create a clean work space free of distractions so that you can find your groove.
When it comes to writing and illustrating comics, Jen focuses on finding a common experience with her audience and writing about it. She says, “We can’t wait to be brilliant. Show up every day, and then there will be a moment of brilliance.”
Whether it is quilting, cartooning, designing, or even model train building—I think we can all relate to the little sparks of brilliance that keep us excited about our crafts!
And as mentioned in our recording, Jen is hoping to publish a book of quilting comics. Keep an eye out for a second recorded interview that may come out after her book is released!