Interview with artist and cosplayer Jessica Lentz
Cosplay is more popular than ever–because what grown-up wouldn’t spend their life dressed up like Ironman or Batgirl if they could? Well, with a little help from Nashville artist Jessica Lentz–you can! Jessica has a strong love of horror. But she can also be seen helping princesses look more regal, and women look more Amazonian. Jessica Lentz is a top notch visual artist with a crafty streak that lends itself to exceptional costuming. She’s also a graduate of Troy University in Troy, Alabama. We’re thrilled that Jessica took time out of her day to answer some of our questions.
JL: One of my earliest TV memories is getting to watch all the classic Universal monster movies when I was about 6 years old. I felt “attached” to them, like they were my friends. Also, although I try not to focus on the negative too much, I’ve lived long enough to know that horror is all around us.
THW: How do you define the connection between art and cosplay?
JL: I see cosplay as yet another form of art and self-expression. I don’t usually go for a strict interpretation of a character; I’m more likely to put my own slant on it, whether it be a female version of a male character or just putting a known character into a completely different costume.
THW: What can you tell us about your piece entitled “Nightmare?”
JL: Nightmare is a multi-media piece on canvas. I added glass eyes that I had created, then put down things like plastic snakes and vampire teeth (look closely and you can see the tongue and teeth in the upper right corner), covering it with another texture to give it the look of wrinkled, leathered skin. I just wanted to put down some flashes of things one might remember from a bad dream.
THW: Describe your most successful piece of horror work to date.
JL: I think I’ve gotten the most feedback on a painting I did of Mia Farrow from “Rosemary’s Baby”, and that’s nice because I really enjoyed painting it.
THW: Please tell us a bit about your process when creating a new work of art?
JL: I’m very often inspired by movies I watch. My husband Jerry and I watch horror at least once a week, everything from Universal classics to Hammer films to newer movies, so I get inspiration that way. I really like doing high-contrast paintings of black on white, so I’ll find an image want to paint, get out my canvas and start working. If I’m doing a multi-media piece I’m more likely to just sit down with a blank canvas and start placing things I’ve collected until I have them where I like them. I’m also pretty impatient. No time for oil paints, and you can usually find me with the heat gun on low drying my acrylic paint so I can move on to another step!
THW: You live in the South, right? What’s the art scene like where you are?
JL: I do live in the South, and my particular little corner is pretty “dry” as far as an art scene, but we do live in the boonies. Nashville, however, isn’t too far away and has a pretty active art scene.
THW: Do you take commissions?
THW: What’s on your music playlist while you’re creating?
JL: I love listening to 80’s New Wave (not scary, I know, but it keeps me moving).
THW: Who is your favorite character to cosplay?
JL: I love Wonder Woman and my female version of Han Solo.
THW: Do you ever feel like you’re treated less seriously as an artist because of your gender?
JL: I’ve never run into anything like that, fortunately. And other artists have always been very supportive as well.
JL: Okay, I thought about this one quite a bit. Do I make a snarky joke about Donald Trump? Do I pick Stephen Fry because he’s so awesome? I thought about celebrities, and how they can dress up however they like whenever they like. I would rather take a kid who maybe is insecure or having a rough time and dress them up like a character they love and relate to and help build up their self esteem.
THW: If you could place a piece of your art anywhere in the world, what would it be and where would you put it?
JL: I have 2 portraits I did of 2 of our cats dressed as steampunk kitties, and I put them in some old, ornate frames. I’d love to see them hanging in the Louvre, just to see people’s reactions.
THW: Who do you find most inspiring?
JL: Both my husband Jerry and my daughter Erin inspire me to be creative.
THW: What advice do you have for young artists?
JL: Don’t stop doing your art if you truly love doing it.
THW: What’s the best way for fans to reach you and see more of your work?
JL: I’m all over this here interweb. I sell on etsy at Lentzville, and if you want to order something and you don’t see it just send a message and we’ll see what we can do. You can see pictures of all kinds of things I’ve created here and if you want to read my cosplay ramblings I’m here.