Right after New Years, and as we swept away those last flakes of glitter from the office, we decided it was time for a new mantra. With an insane 2013 behind us, and a new year on the horizon, we set out to pin down our new Solestruck mantra via an intra-office contest. The ballots were cast and we came to the conclusion that “LET’S BURN THIS BITCH DOWN” was a motto we could all get behind.
Once the slogan was set in place, we just needed to get it painted on the giant window of our conference room as a visual reminder to each of us, each day as we walk into the Solestruck HQ. When I heard the mantra, I immediately knew who I needed to reach out to to create the customized lettering for the display..
Meet Jessica Bonin. She’s an insanely talented artist, badass bitch, 100% cutie, and someone you would definitely want on your team in 8th grade gym class! When she delivered the final version of our slogan, I knew you would want to know more. Get to know Jessica, our current muse!
Photographed by Miles Fortune
NAME: Jess Bonin
CELEBRITY CRUSH: Justin Timberlake
FAVORITE SUMMER BEVERAGE: Kombucha
FAVORITE ABBREVIATION YOU USE IN SPOKEN LANGUAGE: OMFG
VACATION DESTINATION: New York City
SPIRIT ANIMAL: Feline
LUCKY NUMBER: 13
FIRST NAME OF MOST SIGNIFICANT JUNIOR HIGH CRUSH: Andy
Tell me in 20 words or less who is Jessica Bonin?
Renaissance woman, dirt worshipper, artist, drummer, gypsy, busybody, hustler, dreamer, stress case, drama queen, cat lady, dog mom, worker bee.
Photographed by Miles Fortune
Tell me about your shop, LUCKY DUMPSTER. I have been shopping with you for years whenever I find myself in your neighborhood—but what is it. Is it a gallery, a thrift shop, a collective a boutique, a yard sale, a swap meet?
The Lucky Dumpster started as a small boutique in the back of a guitar store where my cohort James and I would sell the furniture and art we scrapped, salvaged, and refurbished from college dumpsters and alleys around Bellingham. It’s has been a long, organic evolution over the years, with a healthy combination of hand picked thrift and handmade wares that is constantly in flux. In its current incarnation, the L.D. is an artist’s collective, with over 80 participating artists controlling their own inventory. The shop is located in the tiniest bend in the road called Edison, Washington, with a population of about 100, housed in a former hardware store that still has its original shelves and drawers.
Tell me about your work, and touch on your new work with fonts and letterings.
I started out as an oil painter. I lived in Portland, Oregon for many years and really got my start there. I noticed the changing landscape as the city began to grow, and started painting the “old guard” of businesses and buildings from a bygone era, calling them “Portlandscapes”. I showed exclusively in cafes and restaurants. The paintings were a hit, I coined a style, and was able to make a survivable income that way. One thing led to another, etc., etc. I was supplementing with illustration jobs here and there, learning how to hone my work to the particular needs of clients. Eventually I became sensitive to the solvents involved in oil painting, so I took on watercolor. After a year of painting watercolor every day, I got restless again, so I took on sign painting and hand lettering. All along I’ve been a frenetic scatterbrain about art, finding ways to express my volatile emotional landscape through whatever bubbles to the surface, using found objects and appropriated imagery to create conceptual work while maintaining a bread and butter style of clean, consistent and predictable illustration.
My latest work with fonts and hand lettering is just another something new to learn and attempt to “master”, a way to keep myself engaged and always evolving as an artist. Its a healthy combination of my brother’s graffiti influences, my mother’s toll painting influences, my obsession with iconic label design, advertising and packaging from the past, and the love of things hand-hewn in an era when nearly everything typographic is done by computer. My current bible is a small antique Speedball book, showcasing all sorts of creative mutations of fonts and ways to design and layout…by hand.
I recently bought a pie cookbook from one of our mutual friends, Kate Lebo, and I saw on instagram that you guys did a book pie tour? Can you tell me what that entailed? It looked, via insta like this amazing Thelma and Louise moment of magic?
Kate is a poet who discovered that pie, as a metaphor, is an accessible vehicle through which to get poetry into the hands of people who may not otherwise care to read or understand the language. She wrote the Commonplace Book of Pie, which combines recipes with a prose that borders on pie “horoscopes”. My illustrations round out the book by showing each tool, ingredient, and step in the process of making the pie, with Kate’s own hands and kitchen wares. Together, we went on a few road trips this summer to promote the book. On tour, we girl talked, slumber partied, drank at the local dives, watched Wayne’s World VHS in our jammies, sang along to Destiny’s Child on long stretches of highway, shopped for dresses, fended off the affections of men, ate ice cream sundaes in hotel beds. It was epic.
What are your connections to Portland?
I grew up in Vancouver, Washington, right across the river. Weekends, as a teenager, I looked forward to going to the Saturday market, ogling skaters at the waterfront and shopping for tie dyes in nag champa infused rooms. I moved to Portland as soon as I could. I lived in a punk house on Division street with six vegan hardcore musician dudes. The bathrooms were awful, and the sink was always full of moldy dishes. But it was magic. Back then, the city was gritty, there were all-ages clubs tucked in the corners, it wasn’t the hipster paradise it is today. I worked as a checker at a grocery story on Hawthorne, and once checked Elliott Smith’s groceries. Downtown smelled like piss from the brewery, the streets were grimy and grey, but anything was possible. I went away for school, but moved back immediately afterwards to give it a go as an artist. I played in a pop band, smoked a lot of weed, painted my ass off, went to rock shows, drank my fill, lived hand to mouth. Over the years I’ve watched the city grow and change, I’ve grown with it, and we understand each other. I’ve also grown away from it as more and more transplants come to make the city their own. It has taken on a new personality. But Portland has taken good care of me, professionally and artistically, and in a lot of ways, I still consider it home.
Tell me about Bow Edison? Do you really live in a town that’s simply an intersection?
Edison is about a century old. It was built on the North Fork of the Samish River with an economy based on a shingle mill. At one point it was quite the bustling metropolis of pioneer life. Today, it’s pretty much just a bend in the road, with one tavern at each end of town, three bakeries, two boutiques, a breakfast cafe, a coffee shop, a slow-food grocery, two galleries, and a glut of artists studios. Its set in the middle of a vastness of agricultural fields, tucked beneath the chuckanut mountains and nuzzled by the Puget sound. It is quintessentially a small town, supplying all the gossip and close-knittedness you could ever want, with a hearty portion of eccentrics, hippies, back-to-the-landers and maniacs to balance out the conservative good ‘ol boys and farm wives proper. I moved here because of a big old decrepit barn that was for sale and could affordable house a gallery, store, studio and living quarters all in one. I’ve been here about six years. It’s a love/hate relationship.
When you were in High School did you read Sassy or Seventeen?
Whatever I could get my hands on. Preferably Cosmo, I’d steal it from my Aunt June.. for the quizzes and articles about sex.
If team Solestruck came to Bow Edison for one night, (which is my actual dream) where would you take us, who would we meet and what would we do?
Honestly, I would let Edison decide. It’s one of those places where you have to let it take you. Someone once told me that hands come out of the ground here and grab you by the ankles. I believe it.
And follow her here: