Berkeley-based artist Jen Oaks is crazy talented. Her work is the kind of thing you see hanging on a friend's wall, and the next week, it's hanging on yours. Don't worry, you're not a copy cat, it's her work is too good to pass up. Oaks relocated to the S.F. Bay Area from her native Oklahoma at get a MFA in illustration from the Academy of Art, and has been creating magic like pit bull note cards, Twin Peaks buttons, and ABC prints of Oklahoma animals ever since. It's feminine without being cloying, and smart without winking too hard, and we're pretty sure we'll be seeing a lot more of her.
Oaks recently released a calendar of hot chubby girls. She told us she believes every woman should take two minutes a day to dance in front of a mirror in her underwear, and if this calendar doesn't inspire that, you're a lost cause. We sat down with her to talk about the process of calendar creation, sexy fat ladies, and what's next.
Where did you get the idea for the babes calendar?
I drew my first babe (Kitty Bon Bon, Miss October) for the wonderful and epic Fat Zine in September 2010. I got a really positive response, which was pretty exhilarating! Someone suggested I do a whole calendar and then it became clear that yes, it is my duty to make a babe calendar. And it has been the most enjoyable, satisfying project I've ever done.
Who are the babes? Are they single?
The babes live inside each and every one of us. They're saucy and smart and they're into things like records and roller derby and being really comfortable in their own skin. The babes are totally down for hanging out in your kitchen or office and have agreed to rotate out once a month for your maximum ogling pleasure.
Any other deep thoughts as far as making it about non-skinny ladies?
I get annoyed when people say "now these are real women!" because jeez, we are all real women. It's easy for some folks to get political about a fat girl calendar, but that was honestly not my intent. I just wanted to create something hot and cute with women who are shaped like me, and I didn't see a whole lot of offerings in this genre.
Does living in the Bay Area affect your art or process?
I think a big influence has been the amazing women I've met here. My friends are so talented and diverse. I admire them so much. A lot of my ladyfriends were direct inspiration and/or models for the babes. So thanks, girls! Wink, wink.
What's next for you?
I'd love to do some babe-centric commercial work like paper products, advertising, or event posters. Otherwise I'm working on more items for my Etsy shop and also seeking an illustration agent.