Jackson Hole-based artist Abby Paffrath didn’t set out to create cool trucker hats. They came about as result of frustration.
Abby specializes in Batik, a classical Indonesian method of hand-printing textiles. Each piece requires a great deal of time and skill, resulting in high price tags for originals.
Each year, at an annual art show in Jackson, Wyoming, Abby would walk away disappointed. Not because she wasn’t selling art, but because admirers would adore a piece and not have the disposable income to afford it.
“When people connect with a piece of my artwork I want them to have it,” Abby said. So she brainstormed an unconventional solution.
She began printing her creations on one-size-fits-all trucker hats.
“I always have a hat on when I fish and it’s the perfect everyday accessory. You’re exposed to so many elements outside and the trucker offers so much coverage and protection for skin. Also, it’s great real estate for art.”
On a hat, Abby’s art is free to roam.
“I’d rather see my art traveling, going on adventures, and connecting people than being locked away in a bedroom.”
Batik requires Abby to work backward. She begins with a white fabric or mat board and adds hot wax where she wants the color preserved. After dripping a wax layer, she adds a color—like yellow or pink—and lets it dry. Then she adds another layer of wax where she wants that new layer of color preserved. The layering process continues as Abby works her way from the lightest to the darkest shades.
The process is rigid and planned from the beginning. Yet, the succeeding art is a free-flowing impressionistic reflection of the landscapes and wildlife that Abby surrounds herself with, from horses and streams to aspens groves and mountain trout.
Abby was first exposed to Batik when she studied abroad in Bali during college.
“I worked with this Balinese man for two months and we didn’t speak each other’s language, but we were able to communicate through the art form. It was a life changing experience and I really connected with the Batik process,” she said.
Once back in the States, Abby switched from a degree in environmental science to an independent art major specializing in Batik.
From her home base in the Tetons, Abby works on art-related projects throughout the community, like a recent mural for a fly shop and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort’s 2016 commemorative 50th anniversary poster.
In 2013, she founded her business, Art 4 All, through which she makes her cool trucker hats.
She also teaches with a nonprofit that provides art curriculum to local public and private schools. When not in the classroom or playing outside – she loves fishing, hunting and skiing – Abby is creating.
“I’m a very prolific artist. I need to create. It helps me process things or calm my mind,” she said. “Not all is show worthy or masterpieces. But the act of creating helps me stay fresh and focused and I need it to interpret what’s happening around me.”