Pursuit of art led Jen Judd home to an impactful freelance career

After a successful career in the Air Force, Jen Judd decided to take command of her own life and transition to a career in arts and graphic design.

            “I was enlisted and worked in finance and personnel, and later got commissioned,” she said. Her assignments allowed her to see northern Italy and much of the United States, but she soon found herself looking for balance.

            “I was so rigid and controlled and busy during the day that to come out at night and just be creative and let your mind work in a different way was really important,” Judd said. “The other outlet was the social aspect. I took classes and workshops and met a lot of friends in an artistic community outside the Air Force, and still know some of them.”

            She initially moved to Charleston, SC, but soon noticed a different imbalance in her life.

            “It was one of the coolest towns in America and I was going to go to art school, but I didn’t have the Air Force community I was used to or my family,” she recalled.

            “On one of my visits with my parents I told my mother I could live anywhere in the world, and she pointed to the house for sale across the block,” Judd said. “Four days later I bought it, and I moved back to Bedford a few months later.”

            As a blogger from 2008 to 2017, Judd gained a deeper understanding of her art and craft exploits.

            “I met dozens of artisans I now call friends,” she said. “Lots of my experiments in jewelry and wire, photography, and painting are catalogued on my Jen Judd Rocks Blogspot site.

Intuitive Process

            Judd spent some time working for the Omni Bedford Springs Resort and Rockland Manufacturing but struck out on a freelance career after completing a degree in Graphic Design with the Savannah College of Art & Design.

            “The fine art piece has always been for fun, but when I returned to Bedford, I was encouraged to keep doing it and selling it,” she said. “Now I’ve entered graphic design to showcase that creativity in a more commercially viable career.”

            Her artwork is on display at the Olde Bedford Brewing Company, Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, and is also on a line of products at Juli’s Wearable Art, where she also works in marketing and design.

            “The most important element in my art is texture,” Judd said. “I am intuitively using my hands to make marks and create levels of texture and layers. I think it adds so much more interest and it’s not just what you see on the surface. There’s more than what you see on the surface, and that’s reflective of my outlook, I suppose. You need to think more about what you’re looking at and get beyond face value.”

            Judd admits she’s “fickle” when it comes to inspirations, but said she is impressed by the work of Kevin Kutz and Eric Feather, two local artists.

            “Their style and use of color is amazing,” she said. “I am not afraid of color, and I’m not afraid to make mistakes. If you’re not afraid to do whatever you feel coming on and are willing to try different things, it’s much easier to create.”

Inspirational Setting

            Living in Bedford County has also been inspirational, Judd said.

            “I appreciate the community here, when I walk my dog, 50% of the people who drive by wave or smile,” she said. “Just being able to walk outside and look around is inspirational. My dog loves a good walk around Shawnee Lake, but even just walking around town, the quality of the greens and blues is mentally healthy when you notice them. One thing that always strikes me is that driving north toward Martinsburg, that scenery is inspirational, it looks just as good as any road trip I took in Europe.”

            In addition to her own business, Judd also works with nonprofits and volunteers in community service.

            “That has expanded it’s where I diverted, a lot of my design work is for charitable organizations,” she said. “I do in kind work for people.”

            Having her parents, sister and brother close by is also a comfort, she said, and she’s grateful to have found something that allows her to bring her varied life experience, creative leadership, and her art and design abilities to bear making beautiful, fun, meaningful things.

            “It means a lot,” she said. “As I transition into my own freelance career, I’m excited to be part of a vibrant community where I know I can make an impact.”