Babes Ride Out

Artist Series | Jenna Blazevich

Artist SeriesAnya Violet

I’m Jenna Blazevich, and I’m the founder / one-woman-show / head-Vich-in-charge of Vichcraft Design Studio in Chicago, Illinois. I launched Vichcraft in January of 2015, two months after I turned 25, and had just turned down a full-time offer at my dream job. The focus of Vichcraft has always been to use lettering in meaningful ways. It began with creating branding systems and logotypes for small businesses and non-profits that create work that I am proud to collaborate with and beautify the visual identity of. About a year into running Vichcraft as a design-service business, I designed and fabricated an initial run of “Tough Little Bitches / Self-Employed” patches, and those attracted enough interest for me to justify another run, and to also design another product, and I began to slowly grow a product design facet of my business. 

At this point, I split my time four ways: 1. Client projects: creating logotypes and branding, 2. Shop: designing, packaging, shipping, and customer service for my line of products, 3. Workshops: planning, hosting, and promoting 1-2 calligraphy workshops per month in my Chicago studio, 4. Events: vending at craft fairs, collaborating on pop-ups, giving talks at conferences and schools. It’s a lot for one person, and it’s a challenge to make everything appear cohesive, but using lettering to spread messages that I am passionate about is what links every part of Vichcraft together.

In the summer of 2016, I finally got my m-class, which was a longtime goal of mine. My dad has been riding Harleys since I was a kid, and my boyfriend Chris works on and rides vintage motorcycles nearly year-round (which is pretty unusual with Chicago weather). My commute to the studio was most often being done on my bicycle, and being a cyclist in Chicago is freeing and empowering but absolutely takes some grit. There is a sense of solidarity that I feel with other cyclists who brave the streets of Chicago, and motorcyclists get to experience something similar. Motorcycle culture is overwhelmingly masculine, so I’ve been inspired personally and creatively by the groups of women who have carved out their own place in it: Babes Ride Out being an outstanding example of this. I attended my first B.R.O. in October of 2016 in Joshua Tree, Calif., and it was really special.

In January of 2017, I curated my first solo show of most of the work I’ve made while running Vichcraft over the past two years. The show is in the gallery space of the Cards Against Humanity building in Chicago. The show is titled: "Nolite te Bastardes Carborundorum" (which is a reference to the Handmaid's Tale, and means "Don't Let the Bastards Grind You Down"). Since female motorcycle-ridership had already inspired a lot of my work and my development as an artist, my boyfriend and I took a 1972 Honda CL 350 and completely took it apart, stripped, painted and updated it to display at the show. As a final detail, I painted "Nolite te Bastardes Carborundorum" surrounded by original Handmaid’sTale-inspired linework on the tank.

For the B.R.O. East Coast 2 shirts and patches, I wanted to create a logotype that had some similar qualities to my signature “Girls to the Front” lettering: motion, power, originality. Working on the lettering and accompanying illustration of a woman on a Triumph was one of the most fun things I’ve worked on this year. Also, I’m thrilled to have been asked to contribute to this year’s Biltwell helmet raffle. In the past, I’ve painted my “Girls to the Front” lettering on some helmets and jackets of my own to sell and to keep, but I’m aiming to do something more intricate and line-heavy like the Handmaid’s Tale CL tank to contribute to the raffle.