Creative Characters Ep. 3: Jenna Blazevich.
In episode three, we talked with Jenna Blazevich, a Chicago-based lettering artist and the sole proprietor of Vichcraft (IG: @vichcraft), a multi-disciplinary design studio that “works right around the line between art and design to build a collection of activist-driven products.”
Jenna’s work draws from a deep well of influences, including punk rock, literature, biker culture, 70s bowling alley kitsch, even ornate calligraphy, all of which is brought to life through a mix of hand-drawn designs, chain-stitched clothing, and a sardonic sense of humor. But the heart of Vichcraft is that activist’s point of view, which is expressed not only through the words and phrases she illustrates but also in her involvement with local community non-profits and organizations.
“I’ve been running my business for six years, so there’s a lot of different places I’ve drawn inspiration from, for a variety of different reasons,” Blazevich told us. ”For me, the priority has been building a connection or an opportunity for someone to feel seen.”
In the episode, we discuss several pieces Jenna has created over the years, including “The City Beautiful,” an installation inspired by the Chicago World’s Fair and crafted with 27,000 .22 caliber bullet casings; and “Immaculate Contraception,” comprised of hand-constructed iridescent stained glass and created for Typeforce 10 in Chicago.
The core of Jenna’s business is arguably her chain-stitched banners and clothing, which she creates on an 80-year old machine. She credits Ana Stone for introducing her to chain stitching about two-and-a-half years ago. Stone has since become a mentor and “chain stitch sister/partner in crime,” and even sold Jenna the machine she uses today.
Throughout 2021, Jenna will be raffling off one chainstitched banner per month ($10 per entry), each designed by a different artist, with 100% of the proceeds will go to a non-profit of the designer’s choice. Jenna designed the January banner, with the proceeds going to the Chicago Federation of Labor; Adé Hogue designed the February banner and chose the Chicago Torture Justice Center. Artist Mike Davis of Burlesque of North America designed the March banner, which is open through March 31 with proceeds going to the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum.
“I’m really excited because there are so few ways to actually collaborate with people with all the limitations that are in place,” she told us, ”As a creative person in general, for better or for worse I usually just think of projects through the lens of what I can accomplish myself. So I’m really excited to involve so many other talented people and also involve what they care about as people, too, and that we’ll use all of the money that’s raised to reinvest into organizations that are doing really important work.”
Lastly, Jenna contacted us a few weeks after the recording with a correction of urgent importance. “Right after we were done recording, my husband—dramatically—said, ‘I heard you say something that was very incorrect …’ I had said that a ‘Chicago Handshake’ is a can of Hamm’s and a shot of Malört, and it is *in fact* a can of Old Style,” not Hamm’s, she wrote.
Chicago, go easy on her. And if you’ve never heard of Malört, well, listen in and you will.