About 10 years ago we were introduced to Jeaneen Carlino from long time Artfam member Ben Allen. Over the years we've had the pleasure of watching Jeaneen's creative exploration and growth. Her powerful subject matter, unmistakable use of color and unique lens on femininity speak volumes about who she is and where she comes from. Jeaneen has been making waves in the Los Angeles art scene and now through new endeavors she is bringing creative works online with an assortment of unique products. We recently had the privilege of grabbing a quick interview from Jeaneen for your reading pleasure.
How did art make it’s way into your life?
I feel like there are two answers. The obvious one is due to spending a lot of time at my Grandma’s house as a child. Everything about her style was very eclectic and her home felt like a museum adorned with Mexican, Native & Spanish art. I remember always admiring her collection of wall art, textiles, sculptures, and decorative home accents all mindfully curated by her. The second answer is that I was simply born this way. From an early age I discovered that I had a natural talent for drawing. Plus, I always felt a little different from the crowd, but couldn’t explain why. I had this gut feeling that there was a big dream for me out there. Sort of like I was holding on to a precious gem that I didn’t have the awareness to know anything about. It wasn’t until I decided to focus my energies on getting into Art School after High School, that I immersed myself into the world of Art.
Did you study formally at Art School?
Yes. I studied at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, with a major in Illustration and graduated in 2007. These were early sacred years of my practice where I refined my technical drawing and painting skills. It was also here that I recognized my passion for depicting Women as a choice of subject to focus on.
Where do you draw your greatest inspiration from?
Working on my inner self seems to shape most of my life and especially surfaces throughout my artwork. Strength, confidence and self love are constant themes that I think about when creating. This has resulted from personal challenges with loving myself. These women have been symbols of strength for me, at times when I was seeking it in my own life. They also inspire me with the way I style them. I view them as fashion-forward heroines that are on a life conquest to elevate to the next level of consciousness. They’re influenced by archaic and indigenous cultures, ancient art and world religions, vintage jewelry and good fashion. I love pulling from nature, the cosmos, patterns, colors, life stories, music and my spirituality when I’m energizing into a creative zone. And now that I get to share and sell my work, I get the bonus gift of bringing joy to others too. This has opened up a deeper sense of purpose and motivation within my work.
Your work is filled with strong powerful, majestic females. What message are you conveying through your subject matter?
My women creations come from a feeling within. Sometimes it’s focused on love or healing, other times on guidance, strength or even protection. I feel like a creative channel that allows these women to manifest their purpose in a beautiful visual kind of way. I see them as a tribe set out to seek the meaning of life, while confronting their inner fears. Sometimes they are faced with hardship and other times they are blessed with the space to move forward, all due to their incredible courage and dedication. They are aware that their life lessons are great opportunities to improve upon. I’d say this kind of sums up my mission with why I create women.
Your use of color and tone is also a very recognizable part of your work. How important is color palette to your work?
Color is like music for me. It has this rhythmic and natural flow to it. I never know what color story is about to unfold when I paint. This is part of the fun for me with my creative process. I treat the beginning drawing phase very rigidly, yet when it comes to the color phase, its up to my mood at the moment. And yes, color combinations are everything to me! I'd say they make me a happier person.
Do you feel there is a lot of support for females/minority artists in the art world? Especially in a city like Los Angeles?
Hmmm. If I’m honest, I could say that there was a time when the support I was craving was lacking. At the time, I didn’t think about my gender or ethnicity having an effect on my artistic place in the world. I just thought I wasn’t good enough and became insecure about my work. Even in an ocean of people telling me I was talented. But looking back, I can definitely see me not having a community to identify or connect with. Or maybe my timing was off, or I was looking up to the wrong creative crowd. Perhaps I still needed to meet my audience and they needed to discover me. Who knows?! What I do know now, is that none of it really matters. What matters is that I’ve remained loyal and consistent to myself over the years. And I didn’t subscribe to the outer world. I was too busy focusing on my inner self and learning how to be secure with my craft. And now that I’m putting my work out there more and more, the opportunities are surfacing organically. Being a creative in Los Angeles can work with you or against you, depending on your work ethic. So I feel a major advantage to being an Angelino. The amount of resources that are available to me are priceless! But I would definitely be remiss if I didn’t admit that it’s a beautiful grind out here!
You’ve been extremely busy lately on IG, at Art Fairs, with your Online Shop. How do you find the time to draw?
Actually, you’re catching me at a unique time, because up until very recently, I had not been drawing for a while. As a creative business owner, I spend a good portion of my time working on the marketing and bookkeeping end of my brand. So finding the balance between everything is what I really try to focus on. I get to spend the next few weeks spending time drawing and painting for an upcoming project and then after that I’ll have to get back into other categories of my business. Along with being a Wife and Mama to my (almost) two year old Son. But it also helps to have a good support system with family and friends and an incredible husband that understands when I have to go into reclusive “Art Cave” mode! That and having an innate sense of devotion to my creativity keeps me grounded with drawing.
What piece of advice would you give to an aspiring artist?
Well for starters, please remember that everyone has there own personal journey. So never compete with anyone but yourself! This will allow you to seek your unique, authentic power. Surrounding yourself with other people on a similar frequency as you is also material to expanding your creative path. Also, please don’t have a timeline. I’m not saying to do away with goal setting, just don’t set yourself up for unrealistic expectations to yourself and others when things don’t follow through according to your plan. As long as you maintain working hard and staying true to you, the rest will fall into place. Always listen to your intuition when making creative decisions and don’t be afraid to say no if your gut is screaming at you. And most importantly, always be grateful and kind. These are the nuggets of wisdom that have shaped me so far in my personal evolution as an artist.
If you could have coffee with one artist dead or alive, who would it be and why? Also, what one question would you ask them?
Hands down, my ideal coffee date would be with Georgia O’Keefe! I admire her artistry and the way she mindfully lived her life. Having the privilege of getting to tour her home, studio space and garden in Abiquiu, New Mexico, I got a tiny glimpse into the special universe she carved out for herself. And her artwork is so beautiful and original! I would shamelessly ask her if I could go landscape painting with her!
What’s on the horizon? Any shout outs?
I’m going to start working on a project for a pop-up art show at Mi Vida boutique in Highland Park, Ca. later this Summer. I also enjoy participating in local Art Fairs. Other than that, continuing to slay the game at a healthy pace that works for me. Some days I’m working on growing my business and other days I’m creating new stuff. Look out for new surface pattern designs that I’ll be creating soon. That’s all I’ll give away for now. Feel free to sign up for my newsletter on my website so I can plug you into my creative happenings! A super special shout out to my husband Ben, for always having my back and respecting this crazy hustle! Also to my close family and friends that take the extra steps to help me on this blessed journey. And a sweet thank you to those that support me and are touched by my work. I see you.