We had the good fortune of connecting with JT Blake and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi JT, what is the most important factor behind your success?
The most important factor behind my success has been the support of my husband and friends. Starting a new venture in my early 50’s was a frightening task to take on, but having a network of people who believed in me and my art made it a little more comfortable to put myself out there. As my brand has evolved, networking with like-minded artists closer to my niche aesthetic has enabled me to become even more comfortable and confident in creating the art I most enjoy, which has driven the continued growth of the business,
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
When I first started, I was making what I though would sell, what people would want – cats, dog, and flowers. While I had sales, the dollars weren’t great, and the joy of creating unique things was missing. Then I started a line of clay, gingerbread-shaped characters: superheroes and fandoms like Doctor Who, Star Wars, and Star Trek, which became moderately successful. My love of horror led me to making Cthulhu, Hannibal Lecter, Leatherface, and other creepy ornaments. These “Gingerdead” ornaments quickly gained a large following with past customers reaching out every year for new pieces, special requests, and suggestions. As a mixed media artist, I like to incorporate some aspect of recycling and upcycling into my art. I enjoy scouring thrift stores for unique boxes to transform into one of a kind pieces; as well, I love to turn glass jars and bottles into something creative and functional. Functional art – like my Necronomicon-themed items – is important to me as it allows people to incorporate my art and their interests into their day-to-day lives.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Pre-pandemic we would have gone to the Canyon’s Crown Pub for fun drinks and good English fare, and Jonathan’s Cork for a more upscale dinner and cocktails. Sightseeing would include Saguaro National Park and the Desert Museum, as well as a trip to Fourth Avenue for eclectic and funky shopping at some shops like Antigone Books and Silver Seas Jewelry. We would go hear our friends’ band – October Intuition – play at the St. Charles Tavern, and probably check out some great art and finds at the monthly Tucson Flea pop-up market.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My husband, Craig, who takes on the boring, behind-the-scene tasks of managing Left Hand Asylum’s finances and driving the long distances to many out-of-state events; my best friend, KC Collins, who pushed me out of church basements, encouraged me to participate in larger shows, and introduced me to comic cons; and Kerrie Oso, artist/owner of Weegonza Bazaar, who has helped me to realize that shows catering to horror, fantasy, and gaming genres is the way to continue to expand.