Friday, June 5, 2009
EAOC Spotlight: Janeen St. Louis
Ok. I admit. I have a woman-crush! Not only is this week's artist gorgeous, but very talented and insightful. I met Janeen of Janeen St. Louis in the EAOC ning forums. I had just posted my latest on my first spotlight, and I was seeking new artists to spotlight. Janeen was the first to reply, and it was love at first sight, LOL.....Seriously, I really dig a true independent artist who doesn't conform to gain acceptance. Enough blabbering, get to know Janeen St. Louis!
You’re a very beautiful woman. What’s your ethnic background? Is your real name Janeen St. Louis (lol)?
Thank you for the compliment! but I can't take the credit for that, I got to give that to my parents. My Father is Haitian, my Mother is Cape Verdian & Native American. Yes Janeen St. Louis is my real name ..lol, Neenee is my family name. My Grandmother named me Janeen after her French best friend who she knew as a little girl.
I read a bit of your bio on artbreak. What was it like growing up in an area where you were one of a few minorities? Was that what fueled your creativity and interest in jewelry making?
Thanks for reading. It was very difficult growing up in a neighborhood that had little to no minorities. There was racism, I was considered the "ugly duckling", wasn't taught how to read until I got into the 4th grade and ended up getting bullied A LOT. As you read in my bio, I wouldn't change a thing in my past. I was raised by my Grandparents with a strong up bringing and my family (especially my grandmother) instilled in my sister and me to always be proud of where we came from and to never be ashamed of who we are. I carry that with me everyday all day. My Grandmother was the rock of the family and she always encouraged creativity. My creativity in jewelry making didn't come to me until much much later in life. The passing of my Grandmother is what fueled that. Beading helped me to open up and to get over the loss of her. I really went through a tuff time. But, When I'm in my moments of solitude, day dreaming, being creative, I feel her energy all around me and I know she would be proud.
Did you have any formal training?
Nope. I didn't get any training at all. It just felt natural to do. Through time and patients, it developed to what it is today.
What are your favorite materials to work with?
My favorite materials to work with are natural materials. I love the textures, colors, shapes and their imperfections. BUT, my most absolute favorite materials to work with are my Trade beads. If you read the descriptions of most of my work, you will see the words "African Trade Beads" almost everywhere. I love them!
How do you come up with the pieces you create?
It's a feeling I get. I sit at my work space, feeling and organizing my beads. I do this for about 10-20 minutes and then it seems from there, I know exactly what and how I want that piece to look.
Do you do custom work?
I love to do custom work! I consider everything about the person. I think about their personality, their spirit, the way they dress, everything. I take the "idea" of that person to create their presence, into a piece of wearable jewelry made especially for them!
What brought you to Etsy and to EAOC?
Etsy, for obvious reasons, is a great way to get your name out there as someone in the "craft" community. There really isn't a place where crafters are taken seriously like they are on Etsy, at least not to my knowledge. And for a lot of us who craft, it is a means to stability whether it be for the joy of it, money or therapy for that matter. I became a part of EAOC because I wanted to connect with people who are like myself, that want to be taken seriously as an artist. People who want the same recognition as any other artist and to allow are own artistic voice to be seen and heard in our communities and abroad as African American Artist.
Do you ever peep at other jewelry shops to scope the competition?
"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder". My theory is, if you think it looks good, then it looks good. I do peep at other jewelry artist work but, I don't see it as competition. I make what I feel and what I want. We each have are own vision to create what we see that is beautiful to us. For me, I'm not doing it to get rich quick nor am I catering to the "popular opinions". I will take 3 out of 50 customers who appreciate my work and feel what it is I'm doing. I'll take that any day. I believe that as an artist, you set the tone for yourself as to how you want the public to perceive you.
Where else do you sell besides Etsy?
Any social networks or blog?As you know, I sell my work on artbreak.com. I'm also on craftlister.com. I do most of my networking on facebook and myspace. I do have some of my work in two boutiques in Martha's Vineyard (the Green Eyed Daisy boutiques) and at the Museum of African American History, here in Boston.
Can you envision your life without making jewelry? What would you do if you weren’t making jewelry? I only ask because I always view my life as BS and AS-before soap and after soap….
Yes I can. Life takes it's own course. Whatever God sees fit for me to do, then that's just what I'm going to do. Just when you have laid your plans all out in front of you, here come the elements of life to change everything. That's just the way it is. My other passion was to go to school for nursing, go to Africa and start my own non-profit organization. I have a name for it and everything..lol. But since I already have invested soo much into my business of making jewelry, I continued on that path. Instead, I am combining the love I have for my craft and putting it into a program that has to do with human services. This is something I been working on, to help the craving I have to want to help people.
Are there any other talents you have or if you could do anything else artistically, what would it be?
I wish I could sing, sing my life away. Instead, ..I will hurt your ears. God didn't deal me those cards. So, I fantasize about singing at my work station, in silence by myself or I sing to REALLY LOUD music while I'm beading, that way no one can hear me
Ahhh, how refreshing! Thank you Neenee for your time and for gracing us with your talent. I wish you much success with wherever your life's path leads you!