Two of the many, many things I love about New York Comic-Con, which held court at the Javits Center in NYC last weekend, are the uniqueness of the activities and the art. When the two are combined, it makes for an even better (and sometimes delicious) surprise. Booth #455 gave passersby free jelly beans (of which my kids ate quite a few). I got a chance to interview jelly bean artist, Kristen Cumings, who is “one of the only people in the world that uses jelly beans as her art form.” So what was up with Jelly Belly?
Jelly Belly has a broad range of movies represented in their collection, including Finding Dory and Star Wars, and their Hero Collection includes entertainment icons like Superman and Wonder Woman. From gift tins and bags to bean machines and magic wands, each movie collection contains a range of products.
Check out my interview with artist Kristen Cumings and the beautiful images in the image gallery here below.
GoD: So how did you get started doing this? It’s a small niche.
Cumings: [Laughs] So I live not too far from Jelly Belly International Headquarters in Fairfield, California, and my son went to school with the daughter of the VP of Marketing. I had given them a portrait of their daughter I did – an acrylic portrait. And then a couple years later, I guess because the portrait was bright and colorful, and they knew they were looking for an artist to do this again. They had somebody in the 1980s doing it, and already had a collection. And they knew they were going to have some interesting companies that they were doing packaging for and stuff, like DC and Disney. So they called me and said, “Do you wanna do this?” And I did.
GoD: I can see you do the painting first underneath. What does it stick with?
Cumings: I have this adhesive that I spray on first. It won’t come off on your fingers, you can feel it. [GoD – I did.] It’s sticky enough to keep it on there, and then when I get home, I’ll put the final resin.
GoD: And what is that?
Cumings: It’s two liquids that you mix together and pour over it. I use like a yogurt container. I go around the edges first, and then go around the entire thing.
GoD: How long does this last? I mean, jelly beans are candies that you can probably eat in 10 years.
Cumings: Yeah. It doesn’t melt. It’s good to limit the exposure to light when possible, but Jelly Belly has some in their factory that artists made in the 1980s. They are still there hanging and you can totally tell what they are. There will be some fading over the year, but those will hold up pretty well.
GoD: Do you sign your name in jelly beans? [I giggle because I’m silly.]
Cumings: I sign my name in the back. Jelly Belly gives me a sterling silver jelly bean that’s kind of like my signature.
GoD: That’s so cool!
Cumings: I don’t bring it here because I don’t wanna lose it, but when I get back home, I’ll take one out of probably one of the parts that’s supposed to be metal, and stick it in there.
GoD: So was Wonder Woman your choice?
Cumings: It’s part of the superheroes packaging, and Wonder Woman is one that is on the packaging – there’s Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman. And it’s Wonder Woman’s 75th anniversary, and the movie’s coming out next year… so it all came together.
GoD: Do you travel around to Cons?
Cumings: I do a little bit. Over the last year we went to Emerald City and we went to Chicago, C2E2. But those are the only ones I’ve been to since New York Comic-Con.
GoD: Are there any coming up?
Cumings: Not that I’m aware of. I mean, I’m always willing to go because it’s someplsce that I’m interested in going to anyway, but we don’t have any plans right now.