November 19, 2021

Maker Spotlight: Jared Hart


by Kris Hurst

When I heard that a design from our very own Jared Hart was on a recent episode of the Bachelorette, I knew we needed to feature him in our Maker Spotlight series. You might be surprised to recognize items designed by Jared on toy shelves. He started coming into the Ignite Studio in 2021, got certified on the Laser Engraver and went on to become an employee. Read below for his insights on being an artist and the business of making and designing.

When did you first become interested in making things?

I’ve been interested in making for as long as I can remember. Art was always my favorite class throughout grade school. Although, at the time, I had only ever thought of it as a hobby. It wasn’t until I started college that I really considered it as a career.

Do you have any formal training or are you self-taught?

I studied at Ball State University majoring in Visual Communications. Outside of that, I like to take courses through Skillshare and Society of Visual Storytelling.

What kind of things do you currently make/ favorite types of things to make?

I recently started making small sculptural pieces by layering laser-cut plywood. I’m still very much in an experimental stage with this artform but I’m having a lot of fun with it.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

A lot of my inspiration comes through my own hobbies as well as other artists I follow on Instagram. I also try to explore artwork in categories I know other people are passionate about. For example, I don’t know much about the medical field, but a friend of mine works at a hospital so my medical related works often get shared amongst his group of healthcare workers.

How long has it taken you to feel confident in your making abilities?

I really started feeling confident in my abilities during my previous job at Dynacraft. While the type of work I did there is very different from what I do now, the confidence remained. That job gave me the opportunity to develop many skills through designing graphics for bicycles and concepting new electric ride-on toys.  Throughout my time there, I also had the opportunity to work with several licensors including Mattel, Universal, Nickelodeon and many others. These licensed products helped me gain confidence by speaking about my work and pitching new ideas.

My first big confidence boost came when my unicorn ride-on project became listed as one of 2017’s hot holiday toys and started showing up on national TV.

It’s always so surreal any time I see my projects out in the world, whether it’s just in a store on the shelf or an adult crawling on a kid’s toy on an episode of The Bachelorette.

When did you decide to turn “making” into a business or sell items that you have made?

I moved back to Indiana three weeks before everything shut down due to the pandemic. While quarantining, I decided to focus on my illustration skills. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my career moving forward, but I decided to just take that time to try out new things and see what happened. I started making prints of my illustrations to sell, but I mostly became interested in selling my work once I discovered the laser engraver at Ignite Studio.

What is the business side of art making like?

That’s something I’m still trying to figure out myself. I’m wanting to look into having an art booth at more events soon. I had one during the Spark! Fishers festival and had a lot of fun with it.

Where can people view your designs/art?

I can be found on Instagram & facebook @jaredhdesign.

What drew you to the Ignite Studio?

When moving to Indiana, a friend of mine told me about the space. Proximity to Ignite Studio was a big deciding factor when determining where to live in the Indianapolis area. I’ve always enjoyed trying out new art media, but the biggest hurdle was always the cost of materials. It’s a lot to spend just to try something out in hopes that I enjoy it. Ignite Studio provides so many materials at no cost, so I very rarely have that issue anymore.

How has the Ignite Studio helped you further your goals in art and making?

While working at Ignite Studio, I ended up gravitating towards the laser engraver. For several years I had worked almost exclusively in a digital workspace. I started taking some of my digital illustrations and repurposing them into something physical. As much as I love working digitally, I’ve missed having tangible art pieces. Using the laser engraver has been a fun way to work in both ways at the same time.

Preparing for the current art exhibit at Ignite Studio also helped me stay focused on creating. I’m excited to hear what the next exhibit theme will be so I can start preparing for the next show.

How easy or hard was it to learn the equipment you use in Ignite?

Learning to use the laser engraver wasn’t too difficult for me because of my previous experience with Adobe Illustrator.  I’m able to do all of my designing in Illustrator and then import it into the program used for the laser engraving. Because of that, I was able to spend less time learning and more time experimenting.

Any advice for those interested in making things?

Try not to get discouraged when you’re not happy with what you’re making. Your good taste in art grows much faster than your skills. Try not to compare your work to others’ work. This can often times leave people discouraged. Instead, compare your current work to your own previous works looking for your own growth.

When looking at work by artists that inspire you, try to analyze their work and figure out what makes it a successful piece. What is it about their work that keeps you interested. If you can figure that out keep it in mind during your future works and maybe it will help you grow.