A Few Words With...Jemma Humphreys

by John A. Wilcox

Jemma Humphreys is an artist / blogger hailing from the UK. I chanced upon her blog Dorkface while browsing the web one day and was totally engaged by her energy and creativity. I contacted her about doing an interview and here are the results...

PS: Where were you born?

JH: I was born in Kirkby, Liverpool and lived there most of my life. It's a small, working class town, where everybody knew everybody. I actually kind of always hated it. When I started University I moved out and lived in Bolton for a year, but had to move back when I eventually dropped out. After a few years I met my current fiance, and we moved then into Liverpool city centre; where I was much happier! I loved the anonymity and being surrounded by much more culture. Recently though, we have now moved to Plymouth and I'm the happiest I've ever been. I'll always be a Liverpool girl at heart, but living right near the forest/river and not far from the sea, is perfect for me!

PS: What made you happiest in your childhood?

JH: The happiest parts of my childhood were being surrounded by family and friends. Sounds obvious and cliche, I know! But I've always loved being social, and I guess I'm used to a very busy social/family life. I'm the youngest child and only girl, so growing up with older brothers meant I was probably a bit of a tomboy. Whether I was with family or friends, I enjoyed climbing trees, exploring fields, rivers, and the local farmers land (oops) and getting into mischief. I enjoyed playing sports with my Dad and brothers, and the rest of the guys in my family. I come from a big family too, my mother was one of 15 children! So it was always a loud, busy, but loving childhood.

PS: Do you come from a creative family & were you a creative child?

JH: I definitely DON'T come from a creative family, at all! There are maybe one or two distant aunties on my mothers side, who seemed a little creative. But other than that? No way. I've always been the odd one out in that way. I was known throughout the family as the creative one; sort of a black sheep, but in a nice way, I guess? I would spend my weekends writing stories, drawing, painting, cutting up magazines to make collages, and investing in a lot of craft materials with my pocket money. Even when it came to reading, my family were all (and still are) fans of biographies, war books, factual reporting and journalism. Whereas I much prefer getting lost in fantasy, fiction, thrillers and anything that takes me out of the real world for a little. I don't think my family realised the extent of my creative passions until it came to going to College though. I chose to study Art and Design; and they insisted I was throwing my life away. They've since apologised though! :)

PS: Were you into cartoons or comic books at all?

JH: As a kid I loved cartoons, and still do actually! I loved anything on Nickelodeon, and I grew up watching The Simpsons with my Dad (him always referring himself to Homer, and me Lisa), so it has a special place in my heart. These days I count cartoons such as Rick And Morty, Gravity Falls, Bee And Puppycat, and so many more; among my all time favourite shows. Comic books however? I never ever got into as a child, and I think that's because of my family. Because none of them were ever interested in anything like that (my brothers favouring football or computers), I weren't ever exposed to that sort of thing. It was only in my teens I started exploring comics and graphic novels; and I now have favourites I collect (Lenore, Paper Girls, Lumberjanes).

PS: Who were your favorite writers in your teens?

JH: In my teens I loved the likes of Jo Nesbo, Jodi Picoult, James Patterson, Andrew Davison... I kind of bounced between loads of different genres, not really sure which I liked most. I wouldn't have dreamed of reading the likes of Jon Ronson's investigative journalism back then; and he's my all time fave writer now! I do still love a lot of crime fiction though.

PS: How old were you when you first colored your hair & why did you choose to do it?

JH: I was around 14 when I first coloured my hair; I got really subtle highlights in my brown hair. I did it because it was 'the thing' at the time, and everybody seemed to be getting highlights. I loved the idea that you could transform yourself so easily. It didn't take long for me to realise though that I much preferred my hair to be different, and I opted to go for a midnight blue dye at 15. I was terrified, and immediately wondered if I'd made a mistake. I obviously decided I hadn't though, as I never looked back! 14 Years later and I'm still dying my hair colourfully, with only a few small periods in the past few years of having 'normal' hair.

PS: Is your hair color a reflection of your mood, or does the color in fact effect your mood?

JH: I tend to change colours on a whim! Sometimes I can just get totally SICK of a colour, I think even if it's my favourite, I need change. I can't stick with one more than 6 months. It does change my mood once I've made the change, and it alters my style and general attitude a little. For example, my two favourite hair colours are a really light lilac, and a bright neon green. When my hair is lilac, I feel girly and feminine and dress to match. When bright green, I feel very 'alt' and dress more tomboyish; and I'm probably more daring with my makeup too!

PS: Did you keep any diaries / journals in your teens?

JH: I did! My journal was a mixture of illustrations, poetry, random diary entries and ticket stubs. I never finished one though, I always started new ones half way through. Most of them make me cringe looking back on now, but they're a good indicator of what I was going through at the time, and can instantly bring so many memories back to me! I feel like I need to keep them, as I have a terrible memory.

PS: Why did you call your blog Dorkface?

JH: I wanted something short, to the point, memorable, and that represented me really well! So many people have beautiful blog names, or really stylish/chic images, but I never wanted that to be me. I'm none of those things, I really am a DORK. So I wanted that to be obvious to people straight away :)

PS: Was this your 1st blog?

JH: No, actually this wasn't my first! I've been writing online for years and years, right back to LiveJournal days. However I never stuck to any others consistently, and the content was all over the place. Finally though, I began this current one in March 2014 and decided to really stick to this blogging thing.

PS: Tell us how the Girl Gang came to be.

JH: It was such a simple idea really! I created a little girl gang graphic, and wanted to display it on my blog. I had this thought, that maybe I could make a little group, maybe 5 or 6 other bloggers, and we do little things each week to spread a bit of positivity within the blogging community. However I did not at all expect the overwhelming reaction that the girl gang had. It seemed like overnight there were thousands of people getting involved, displaying the logo on their blogs, arranging meet ups, etc. It's been a total whirlwind ever since!

PS: What has been the reaction to the blog so far?

JH: Oh my gosh I've had such wonderful reactions! Seeing my little online world come alive and grow has been fascinating. My family still don't really understand it, but they are very happy for me and supportive! My fiance is incredibly supportive too, and helps me with all the technical sides of blogging, as well as photography! It's changed my life in just over three years. I have loads of really close friends because of it, I now work for myself, and the opportunities it grants me leave me grateful every single day.

PS: Have you met any of the Girl Gang in person?

JH: I have, quite a few actually! I held the first Girl Gang event in Manchester last year; and about 40 people attended. It was wonderful to meet people I'd only spoken to online, for so long. We had so much fun, and real friendships were made. I've also met others at events in Liverpool, and in London too. I do hope to be able to put on another event in the next year too!

PS: How were you first able to monetize aspects of your blog?

JH: I honestly didn't monetize anything on my blog for the longest time. I only started working with brands a year or two ago, and I've just steadily started asking for a price I feel that is fair for each project. As for affiliate links and other things like that on my blog that earn me money through clicks, I only set that up last month! I just couldn't be bothered with it for so long, but I've finally given in. I do also offer advertising packages for other bloggers, which have proved popular. However throughout all of this, my blog only actually brings me a TINY amount of income; definitely nowhere near enough to live on. I have to balance my blog with artwork and other side projects to make a living.

PS: What would you like to add to your blog that's not yet there?

JH: I would love to add more fashion posts on my blog, or put more of myself on there in some ways. However my confidence in front of a camera is actually AWFUL, so it's always a challenge for me. Hopefully it's something I can work on and develop in the future though! I'd love to be able to show my personal style, and my passion for customising fashion.

PS: Which bloggers do you follow when time allows?

JH: There are SO many bloggers I absolutely love, and I have a whole bookmarks folder full of links, so I could be here all day. However the ones I check absolutely everyday are:

PS: Are most of your followers in the UK?

JH: Most of my followers are definitely here in the UK yes, but there are so many others I see from all over the world. There are also followers from the USA, Australia, Japan, and all over Europe! Its amazing to see that my words can reach so many people, so far away. I try not to think of it too much though, as I think it can affect my writing. I try to forget that it can sometimes it can feel like the whole world is watching!

PS: What aspects of your site do you get the largest response to?

JH: I've noticed that whenever I do any sort of post that inspires people; my audience really responds well to it. So whether it's about chasing goals, staying motivated, being creative; they love it. My audience seem to really love a good motivational kick up the arse, haha! I enjoy writing those sorts of posts anyway, and inspiring people is a huge passion of mine.

PS: What do you feel draws most of your followers to check out your site?

JH: I think photography and personality are probably the most important things to draw in an audience. Photography shouldn't be the sole focus for blogging (unless a photography blog!) but if you really put the effort in to get good shots, people are more likely to click a link on Twitter then. Having a personality that shines through is ultimately most important though! You have to stand out from the crowd and make people give a shit, basically.

PS: What plans do you have for the year ahead?

JH: The year ahead? Oh man, I wish I were that organised. I have nothing set in stone, and I just let ideas and plans come at me mostly. Let life happen! I do hope to finish and put out a zine this year, plan another Girl Gang event, and maybe start designing my own T-shirt range! But who knows?

PS: As much of my site is about music, please tell me 6 CDs you never tire of listening to.

JH: Okay if we're talking albums, these 6 are always high on my list, and I will never tire of!
Eminem - The Marshall Mathers LP
Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago
The Distillers - Coral Fang
Placebo - Meds
Blink 182 - Blink 182
Linkin Park - Hybrid Theory


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