Jen Mussari is not your average lady. She wears cologne in place of perfume, and limits her closet to pieces that her inner teenager would approve of. Her favorite kind of bike is one with an engine. She spends her days drawing fun and witty letters, drinking coffee, and snuggling with her super fluffy cat Winston. You may recognize her work from a Lincoln commercial or a SquareSpace ad, but no matter where you see her work, it is always authentically Jen. It would be impossible not to be inspired by her.
It was appropriate that the day we spent with her was rainy and cool, as this kind of weather inspires her most. While most New Yorkers dread Winter, Jen realizes that cold weather is both liberating and productive. We asked her about what keeps her inspired, and her current favorites - check out her answers below!
What did you do today?
I'm a freelance illustrator, so my days are always very flexible. Most days, even weekends, I'll end up in my DUMBO studio to get as much work done as I can. I'll have between 4-10 projects going at any given time, so I try to make progress every day.
Do you believe in schedules and routines?
I aggressively do not believe in routines and schedules! Thank goodness for my freelance life, because it allows for so much flexibility. I wake up late, a different time every day, and it feels like I was just born. I have to drag my brain back to waking life, and it'll take me an hour or two before I get to work. Every morning I feel like I have to re-remember what life I'm living and get back into it. Is this normal?! Regardless, it works for me.
The closest thing to a routine that I have is coffee. I like to head over to Black Gold on Court Street here in Brooklyn. It's just around the corner from my house and I can say hello to my neighbors on the way. Sometimes I feel like a regular routine would greatly benefit my productivity, but that just sounds so boring to me.
While we were with Jen, we of course had to do a hyperlapse...
Is there anything you would dare to call a favorite at the moment?
Recently I've been getting back into shooting film (after a seven year hiatus) and have been totally loving my old Konica Autoreflex. My uncle used it in the 70s and gave it to me years back. Even though the light meter is busted, it's a reliable little machine that takes great photos.
I've also been totally hooked on this enamel paint, OneShot. It's a classic sign painter/pinstriper favorite that makes me feel like I can paint anything with it. Also, it smells good in a gasoline-kind-of-way.
Are there any small parts of your day that affect you are on a larger scale (turn into passions even)?
Lately I've been realizing that time spent walking around my neighborhood or to my studio is the time in which my mind is clearest. I'm trying to dedicate more time to just simply walking around and paying attention to the world around me. If I can clear my cluttered brain for a half hour here or there, it makes the time spent at my desk working much more effective. I'm trying to adapt my job schedule so that I can spend a day off here or there just walking, alone, for hours exploring my city.
Inspiration - it’s a loaded word. But we’re going to make you answer anyways - could you share any sources of inspiration?
I've always been inspired by custom car culture in the 60s...Ed Roth and Rat Fink, hot rods and their wacky paint jobs, cruise nights and drag racing. I grew up with a dad and grandfather who are really into cars, and that affected my life quite a bit. Lately the custom motorcycle scene has completely exploded and I've found some kindred spirits there...people who love all things handmade, hand-painted, and hand-built.
Inspiration comes in weird places for everyone, and is often hard to describe. For some reason I've been getting a ton of inspiration from hunting vintage tee shirts on eBay and Etsy. These are very specific old band, car, and motorcycle tees that I have always wanted ever since I was a kid. I've been thinking about if teenage me could see myself now, would she like my outfit? I'm getting back to my roots and trying to shun trends because of it.
And for fun - do you have any pets?
I completely adore and love my two cats, Winston and Macy Gray. Macy found me as a stray in Baltimore, and she has a really raspy weird voice. She's an independent woman and prefers to be alone. Winston, on the other hand, likes to talk and hang out. I spend way too much of my time telling him how cute I think he is.
What Jen wore
A vintage Misfits tee that she has been searching for her whole adult life, black jeans, leopard boots by Report, black boots by Dolce Vita, denim jacket by Mango, Brixton Wesley fedora from SeeSee Motorcycles in PDX, Quay sunglasses, and a Casio watch.
Make sure to follow Jen on Instagram for more silly cat photos and beautiful drawings.