Printmaker, surface designer, textile artist, author, small business owner, HR consultant—Jen Hewett’s career resists attempts at categorization; most recently she’s been making wallpaper. When moving to Hudson almost two years ago, Hewett bought her first house, a former artist residency space that struck her as “a big white box” and moved her to design wallpaper of her own. After posting a picture of the finished product in her dining room on Instagram, “a flood (okay, a stream)” of requests came from her followers asking if they could buy it, along with an invitation from WallPops—a peel-and-stick DIY home decor brand—to make a collection.
The wallpaper available for purchase from Hewett’s collaboration with WallPops comes in four nature-inspired designs to spruce up your home’s interior, each available in three colors—a total of 12 options. “Poppy Field” and “Strawflower” each depict neat floral arrangements, while “Parrot Tulip” and “Superbloom” feel more abstract, the latter a pattern of rough-hewn interlocking circles. The color palettes manage to be both earthy and bright, swathing the pink petals of poppies in navy blue or pairing the ochre strawflowers with muted green stems. (A 20.5-inch-by-18-foot-roll of wallpaper costs $47.99.)
As with the wallpaper Hewett put up in her house, all the options are peel-and-stick: They can come directly off the wall without leaving adhesive residue, allowing users to forgo an expensive installation by putting up and taking down the wallpaper themselves. As a renter for 25 years before settling in Hudson, she understood that the need to leave no trace and the desire to personalize one’s living area often come into conflict. Even as a homeowner she shied away from picking something permanent. “I wanted to make the space my own,” she said, “but also, your taste might change after five years!” And if it doesn’t, WallPops can last pretty much indefinitely as long as it’s installed properly.
Nature and color weave common threads through all of Hewett’s work. A California native, she grew up taking advantage of the year-round good weather to play outside, then turning to walks in the park as she grew older to solve problems and clear her head. “It was a way for me to get out of being wrapped up in my thoughts, to be in my body, a way to process work ideas without sitting in front of a computer screen or a piece of paper,” she recalls. She would collect leaves, twigs, and nuts to viscerally take in the changing of the seasons—“what that means for texture and color has always impressed me.”
Hewett’s artistic process is often scattered, a stitching of many disparate ideas into a cohesive whole—she gathers photos, magazine cutouts, social media posts, sketches, and revisits old drawings she’s previously cast aside. “It can take anywhere from two weeks to five years,” she says. “There comes a point where I’ve been swimming in this ocean of ideas long enough that I start to draw.” Her best work, she says, often happens when she sits absentmindedly doodling in front of the TV at night, half-drawing while watching “Abbott Elementary.”
Hewett is a full-time artist—she runs an online shop, licenses work to manufacturers and retailers, and sometimes creates illustrations for large companies—but she took the long way. Facing familial pressure to pursue a more traditional path, she worked corporate jobs, signing up for a printmaking class on a whim and subsequently realizing that she wanted that to be her career. She committed to honing her craft while working other jobs—“most artists do something else to support themselves, until their art can support them.”She transitioned to art full-time in 2017. “I feel pretty darn proud,” she reflects. “I’m in my late 40s. You can make changes to your life. It’s never too late. I figured that I had the full lifetime of trying, and failing, and trying again.”