Scappy crowd

By Lisa Grey, published by  (Houston Chronicle), September 2014

You may not realize it, but you already know Jerry Jeanmard's work. Interior design fans will be familiar with the fresh-but-elegant rooms he creates through Wells Design/Jerry Jeanmard, Inc. But it's his greatest hit from a previous life, as a commercial illustrator, that's burned into the Texan consciousness: It was Jeanmard who designed the girl-leading-a-cow logo for Blue Bell ice cream.

In his spare time, Jeanmard makes collages. His latest, a group of endearing human figures, is the subject of the new book Paper People (Herring Press) and a show by the same name at Moody Gallery.

Writes Jeanmard, by email:

I guess it started with my love for any and all paper, which resulted in my having drawers full of all types, printed and plain. A few years ago I started saving my colored laundry tags and valet parking tickets — I loved the numbers — and used them, along with many other types of paper, to make abstract collages. I'm not sure how I got into making figures, but it probably has something to do with my former career as an illustrator. I just started finding things that reminded me of people parts and began to play with them. I have great fun making them, creating recognizable images from scraps that are otherwise, well, just scraps. They aren't based on real people, nor are they compositions in my head — they just happen.


Jerry Jeanmard: Paper People

Published by  (Houston Arts Alliance), 2014
Moody Gallery presents a new exhibition of collages by Jerry Jeanmard.  The exhibition, entitled Paper People, marks his second solo exhibition with the gallery and the publication of a new book.

The book is also entitled Paper People and was published this year by Herring Press in Houston, Texas.  The exhibition features fifty-seven collages that were created between 2013 and 2014 and that are reproduced in the book.

In the introduction to the book Paper People Jerry states, "I have always loved paper.  Newsprint, graph paper, kraft paper, wrapping paper, book paper, construction paper, any paper plain or printed — I'm a sucker for it all.  That goes a long way to explain the drawers full of it that I've collected, some of which I've owned for fifty years or more."

Jerry Jeanmard was born in Lafayette, Louisiana.  His career path led to New York and Houston, where he became a graphic designer and illustrator.  In 1984 he joined the interior design firm now known as Wells Design/Jerry Jeanmard.  He lives in Houston, Texas.


Finding Inspiration in Bits of Paper

By Linda Stall, published by The Fayette County Record, March 2015
If you have ever saved a movie ticket of a piece of wrapping paper that was too pretty to throw away, you understand Jerry Jeanmard's connection to paper.

"I love paper, always have, I have drawers full of it," he says. "I didn't know what I would do with it, but I knew that someday I would find something." Jeanmard saves the ordinary: ticket stubs with intriguing numbers, envelopes with postmarks, patterns, maps and more, all an endless source of inspiration for his collages.

This exhibit, Paper People, opening at the Red & White Gallery in Fayetteville on March 21 is a collection of fanciful images created from that collection of paper. A companion book, with an introduction by the artist, has been published by Herring Press and will be available at the gallery.

Born and educated in Lafayette, Louisiana, Jeanmard began his career as a graphic designer in New York. In 1968 he moved to Houston. His most recognizable commercial work is the famous Blue Bell Ice Cream logo of the little girl leading a cow to milking. Jeanmard delights in telling people, "You probably have my work in your freezer." It does get their attention. He laughs recalling the notes he received from Blue Bell executives on their initial design, correcting the cow's anatomy to look like a milk cow. After nearly 20 years in graphic design Jeanmard changed direction, joining the iconic Houston design firm Wells Design, now Wells Design/Jerry Jeanmard.

"A bit of a mid-life crisis," he explains.

Why collage? "I am a control person he says, "in interior design I have a completely preconceived idea about the design space. But the collage is completely spontaneous, purely creative, not bound by any other constraints."

Jeanmard likes the collages to be imperfect, and doesn't want all the edges to be glued down, perfectly flattened. The paper in his collages may be torn, or folded. It's important to him that the collage maintains the look of paper, and not appear to be a printed image. He intentionally leaves an expanse of white space around the image to feature the edges of the collage. And how does he know when to stop adding paper? "When it looks good, glue it!" is his theory.

I wonder, is he sentimental about the paper he has saved, is he reluctant to let any of it go? At first he says no, but then confesses he does have a collection of old Victorian die cuts and chromolithographs that he can't bring himself to use,

"Maybe that's the answer to your question," he says. Sometimes he finds a piece and thinks he should save it, but later decides he's not going to save it, he's going to use it. After his series of abstract collages Jeanmard transitioned to creating these curious whimsical people, which he feels is a natural progression. People are harder todo, "because of the faces," he explains, "finding pieces that make the facial features." But he does find the perfect piece of paper: a slice of melon creates a mouth (and name) for "Bunny Melon", pieces of maps for "Global Figure" and some silk stocking-clad legs create the "Contortionist". He gives them their names after they are completed, and assures me they are not modeled after real people.

Jeanmard feels his collages are always evolving. He intendes intends them to have some lightness and humor, and he succeeds. Every time you look at one you will see something new, a surprise, and an expected element. How you interpret them is up to you.