Interview with Artist Jennibellie
Popular online art instructor Jennibellie offers insights into her journey to becoming a professional artist.
Jennibellie is an insatiable mixed media artist, avid journaler, fevered journal maker, addicted DIY supply creator and a crazy campaigner of eco-friendly creativity (meaning she says ‘use whatever you have – go recycle something’ constantly, really you’re probably sick of it). She is committed to the opinion that everyone is creative, even when they still have yet to unleash their artistic power, and joyously practices this by creating art daily while inspiring others to do the same. She is the creator of Journal Workshops, an online art community of beautiful beings who creatively play, share and inspire one another.
Please tell us what you do?
I am a mixed media artist, avid journaler, journal maker, DIY supply creator and a campaigner of eco-friendly creativity, meaning I make art with a lot of trash & encourage others that ‘creativity is not brought from a craft store’. I am the creator of Journal Workshops an online art community of beautiful creative beings who play, share and inspire.
How I earn my income is through a lot of different revenue streams. I teach online classes, mainly on art and art journaling, but the net has been cast wider into other realms of creativity recently in response to my own muse’s demands.
I also receive income from advertisements, affiliate sales, sell physical and digital products and other such streams. My job however is to inspire the creativity in others. I believe every single person on the planet is creative; it is simply a natural by-product of being a human being. It comes through each of us differently of course, and many need a nudge to help unleash their artistic power, but that is where I come in. I love to see the spark take a hold of someone until it is a raging fire, especially when that someone previously believed they were not creative at all, but now could no longer stop the flames engulfing them if they tried.
I heard in an interview that your art journey started
from a dark place, please explain.
Hmmm, it is strange to answer this one as I am in such a different place now it’s hard to think back there, but after communicating with thousands of other artists over the years I know that it is not an uncommon thing for many of us to rediscover over creativity in times of anguish/trauma/stress/sorrow. It is like we somehow recoil back into ourselves only to find the hidden gems that were there all along.
I was a very creative child, and looking back now it seems impossible that I should have been anything other than an artist. I made things all day every day, but growing into an adult I just assumed that was something that all children did, that there was nothing special in my creativity. It never even occurred to me that art could be a career path, so I set out to pursue something ‘serious’. For years I squashed my creative tendencies until a time when frankly I’d ballsed (technical term) my life up to the point that I was on the wrong career path, wrong romantic path and wrong emotional path. Throw into that mix two deaths of beloveds within one month of each other and something simply snapped within.
Out of the darkest time I rediscovered who I really was and meant to be. Now I am not only on a different path but I am a completely different person. I see the world differently, I live in the world differently – and this stretches far beyond my art. This is why it is hard for me to think back there to answer this question, not because I find
it difficult or emotional but simply because I have shed that skin. As I say though I have found my story to be a common one among artists, I think perhaps because pain can force the creative instinct to come out through a need and a desire of escaping, but also exploring, our current emotional state.
What is your art background?
I am a self-taught artist but I never really describe myself that way, as it is like saying I still somehow studied it, which I never really did. Right now I like to create quick and free art which can be called anything but studied. I find my interest wanes quickly and I just want to get on creating the next thing.
Once upon a time, I liked to spend time over my artwork, to paint something that made sense or looked nice, and I may do again in the future (who knows). Right now however the art in my journals is a lot rawer, a lot more intuitive and I don’t share the majority of it anymore. This is perhaps because it is private or maybe because it does not really make a lot of sense, especially visually even to me, but then I don’t try to make it to.
What is art journaling?
You can ask a hundred people who art journal what art journaling is and I’d suspect you’d get a hundred different answers. To me, art journaling at its core is creating art as a form of journaling, but then what a person does to expand on that is down to their own preferences. One person may use it as a form of self-expression, another escapism, another may use it to teach themselves art techniques and another as a ‘dear diary’ chronicle of their day. There is no set way to art journal, no way to do it ‘right’. I find a lot of people are looking for this when they start, but while there are lots of different methods there are no rules, it doesn’t even have to be done in a journal! For me the purpose for my art journaling can change daily, like an exacting reflection of myself, revealing whatever my needs and/or desires for that day are.
Please tell us about your Ning community?
Journal Workshops is an active community of like-minded creative comrades. All members receive access to a number of regular free group activities, all of which are optional to partake in of course, and the additional option to take different creative classes. We have an art date at the start of each month where I set an art challenge based on members’ suggestions. There is also a monthly art swap giving members the opportunity to create art and receive snail mail art from their fellow artists from all around the world (or local if they wish) and we also have a ‘Makers Meet-up’ each week where members can share their creative projects, find support and be inspired by one another.
I also host other free events there occasionally such as the recent ‘Birthday Bash’, which was basically a full day of creative play with art techniques, a ‘community project’, live journaling session and other fun things such as giveaways, etc. On top of this, there are also forums, galleries, blog posts, videos and classes to explore. As far as classes go there is currently one free art journaling/journal making class (I am in the process of adding more) and lots of other paid, more extensive, classes. So there is a lot of free content on Journal Workshops to explore and as far as paid workshops go they are mainly on art journaling, but also now include other creative topics too, such as Creative Goal Journaling and making your online artists shop ‘rock’. It is a space I am really proud of and has become such a supportive environment for so many and a lovely place for creatives who simply get one another.
You also have an Etsy shop, does Etsy drive a lot of
No, in fact, I’d say 95% of my sales come from my existing audience and Etsy drives 5%…if that. This is one of the reasons there is a marketing module in the ‘Rock Your Online Shop’ Class I just mentioned, an online presence is essential to drive sales unless you are a very, very lucky artist whose products are just that good they sell themselves.
What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
Oh gosh, I think it entirely depends on their objectives for their artwork and art practice…so with that in mind I suppose it would be to identify what these objectives are, swiftly followed by how to incorporate them into their life and then actually giving themselves permission to follow through.
Permission, I think, is a huge factor for many artists, whether aspiring or seasoned. We seek it from the wrong sources (anywhere that is outside of ourselves) and for any number of things. For instance, even recently I had to check myself for feeling guilty or ‘wrong’ for wanting to create at 10pm. Now I have always been a night owl so I have done this for years, but I didn’t realize just how much stigma I had attached around this for not being the ‘correct’ way or the social norm. How foolish right? But more often than not the stories we create are foolish or unnecessary. I am a person that prefers to work at 10pm than 10am and holding myself back from doing so in any way is denying or limiting who I am as an artist. So I gave myself permission to create at any time of night or day without attaching the feeling that I was, somehow, acting incorrectly. I think in the beginning of their creative journey new artists have many permission hang-ups to get over, but as I’ve just shared it’s not necessarily that they go away as you move into a more creative way of life, they tend to just shift their form and focus.