An Interview with Climber and Artist, Jess Campbell
I first met Jess last year at the world class crag of Index, Washington, as she was making quick and efficient work of a number of Lower Town Wall testpieces. As I watched her dance gracefully up 10% Meteorological Vinculation, I could tell that I was bearing witness to a true granite aficionado’s love affair with perfect stone. Her foot and hand work was precise yet fluid, powerful yet delicate. It was fun to watch her levitate through sections that I generally attack with whatever brute force my weakliness can muster.
Jess kept making the trip over from Leavenworth with an increasing cadre of talented climbers making the exodus to test themselves on Index’s impeccable stone. I kept hearing about Blake Herrington, Jens Holsten, and other household names of the alpine world running laps on obscure classics like Black Cat Bone, and Bobcat Cringe. We started running into one another, but typically our exchanges did not eclipse end of the day high fives and feverish fast as you can before the sun sets laps on Japanese Gardens, Ironhorse, and the like.
It wasn’t until I saw a random post of Jess’s on social media that her incredible talent as an artist came to my attention. I was captivated by hand-drawn lines that seemed to move as sinuously and fluidly as the artist herself.Having worked long and hard to mix climbing and art through my own writing, I was instantly impressed with Jess’s work. I finally got a chance to catch up with her for a quick interview for Fringe’s Folly. Without further ado: here is Jess Campbell, commenting on art, climbing, and everything between.
JC: I moved to ’11woth’ so I could climb all the time! I was tired of being a weekend warrior and I wanted to stay somewhat close to my family. Leavenworth seemed like a good fit.
JC: Ewwwwww… This is a hard one.. I guess it just depends what I’m psyched on at any particular time, but free climbing sums it up. Bouldering, trad, sport and alpine all strike my fancy. Not too much into the cold weather climbing. Haven’t caught the bug for that… Favorite route????? Oh man that is SO hard! There are so many awesome routes!!! But lately I’ve been super psyched on Index. Most of my projects and favorite routes are there. Bobcat Cringe stole my heart for a while.. Such an amazing route!!
JC: I use all different mediums. Oil, acrylic, water color, charcoal, colored pencils, ink you name it! A lot of the time I’ll mix a bunch of mediums together so it can bring more texture and layers to a piece.
JC: Currently I do not have a website.. Need to work on that.
<Hint hint, if any-web-wise-one is looking for a badass ropegun, you can prob trade Jess HTML for topropes on your projects…>
JC: I think [they] sometimes come from the same source, or at least overlap. Art has been in my life longer then climbing so perhaps [that] draws from a deeper well. But I get a lot of inspiration for art from everything that surrounds climbing. Like a certain place I got to visit, who I was with, how it felt to be on a particular climb/ trip, what a particular feature looks like, Etc. It all seems to capture me. But I wouldn’t say that art inspires climbing for me… Or maybe it does but just more indirectly. It’s a different feeling I get when I want to climb, opposed to when I make a painting. Climbing takes me out, where art takes me inward.
JC: Yes! That is a lot easier way to say it. I’m better with pictures then I am words:)!
JC: Creativity and imagination for sure. I think climbing and art are both creative processes, that require an open mind and a little imagination in the mix.
JC: Dream job?, oh man, if I could get paid to climb and make art that would be awesome!
JC: Well, the place I live in right now is really sweet. I always wanted to live in the Icicle [canyon] by the river and now I am lucky enough to do that. It’s a dreamy little yurt, bolted into the rocks on a talus field above the river…. It’s kinda awesome.
Thanks so much to Jess for taking the time to share her thoughts with us! We hope you enjoyed the article. We’re always looking for more people, stories, art, light, life, love, laughter, and all things climbing to share with the growing Fringe’s Folly community… if you have any of these things to contribute, don’t hesitate to send us an email and get the ball rolling on the next piece! And as always, if you like what you see here, share Fringe’s Folly with your friends, like us on facebook, tattoo FF on your forehead, etc. Thanks!