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Thrive Global Feature Interview with Jenny Jean Okumura

Jennifer Jean Shares Insights on How to Overcome Challenges as an Artist
"by listening to yourself, you are never limited. It is your vision!"

by Somto Ike, Copywriter

 

Jennifer Jean grew up in Philadelphia and has been creating art for over 15 years. She attended Syracuse University and received her MFA from Boston University. She is an artist who uses art to speak conceptually and emotionally through color and texture. 

In this article, Jennifer Jean shares insights on overcoming challenges as an artist. She also shares insight on how to avoid burnout, main tips for building a successful habit, and how to stay motivated.

1. What was the biggest challenge you faced as an artist and how did you overcome it? 

Believing that I am an artist. 

“You don’t decide to be an artist,” the 104-year-old Cuban- American painter Carmen Herrera has said, “Art gets inside of you. It’s like falling in love.” This is why I chose Syracuse University instead of Moore College of Art and Design where I first experienced that feeling and accepted myself as an Artist. It eased my Asian heritage knowing I had an infinite opportunity at SU with its 13 schools and colleges in one. As a child of Asian and Caucasian parents, my 2D artwork is a reflection of what is beautiful and sometimes misconceived in both cultures. 

2. How do you avoid burnout and a stressful day? 

I have a couple of ways of avoiding burnout and stress. The major ways in which I avoid stress is by going on a long walk or going on a run. And when I’m not doing something physically tasking, I put myself to sleep as a form of meditation. 

3. What are your main tips for building a successful habit? 

Work every day on some projects. If you are not working then you are not inspiring, not growing and not producing. Be inspired by your own life! Through language and your travel experiences and by the written word. 

I love reading and writing poems. They have a way of expressing the truth, to empower and encourage the reader as 2D and 3D artworks affect the viewers, adding conflict, balance, and harmony.

4. What keeps you motivated? 

I cannot see myself doing anything else. Art-making itself—the urge to create—is personal. Strong work speaks with a clear, rare voice. Yet art without a viewer is an inner monologue. Basically, the circle is not complete. An artist—‘myself’—needs this dialogue and splanchnic connection. It fuels me to not take myself too seriously. On the other hand, what I create is a pivotal mark in time—my ongoing development on how I define success. Over time, a powerful work of art continues the discovery process and builds one’s deeper conversation with the piece while answering “Is it okay to engage longer?” 

5. How will you continue to grow and succeed? 

By letting my art speak conceptually and emotionally through color, texture, space, and time. I hope to always continue to draw, exchange, and grow with the viewer’s gaze. Always learning, experiencing, and pushing myself to reach for more—an ongoing painterly narrative where I hope to always be surrounded by honest critics, and people who are inspiring and stimulated in their own lives. Let’s be mind-blown together and leave this world a little better. 

6. Share a quote that inspires you 

“I think a lot of making art is listening to yourself.” Kiki Smith 

For myself, this holds a lot of truth in our social media controlled lifestyles. By listening to oneself you are never limited – it is your own vision. 

 

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