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Conversations with the Inspiring Jazmine Boykins

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jazmine Boykins.

Jazmine, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
As a kid, a part of me always knew I wanted to be an artist – while drawing purple horses and designing clothes that’ll never see the light of day – even though I didn’t know what that meant at the time. I constantly practiced but wasn’t until junior year of high school that I began to take my work seriously. Luckily, able to attend SCAD after much doubt from myself but through the support from my family. Studying at SCAD, for the time I was there, gave me the jolt I needed to understand what it meant to me as a Black artist, which led to even bigger realization at the HBCU I currently attend, NCA&T.

It’s more than putting paint on a canvas, scratching a pencil in a sketchbook, or even picking out the best mediums to use in general. To me, art is a visual diary of our experiences and bittersweet moments. It is the happiness, the pain, and the middle ground of our emotional and physical aspects of our being. And to express this mindset, I use art as my release. In these last couple of years, I’ve been able to expand this release into the vision and perspective of the Black thought, especially after years of feeling like it was unreachable. Yet, it was quite the opposite, I only grew up in areas that blinded me from the obvious. Nonetheless, the skin I wear and it’s all its complexities it has with the world is why I do what I do. It’s my diary and I want to share it.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I believe there is no smooth road for any creative. Each journey will have obstacles, no matter how great or small. I recently went through my biggest feat of having my work shown internationally in London, UK. But getting it there was an entire struggle I wasn’t prepared for but with patience mistakes learned, I think I’m much more equipped for a situation like that in the future.

But other struggles I’ve faced were derived from an internal war of personal satisfaction and doubt. I believe that to be the greatest struggle for an artist – being at war with yourself. Yet, I got through it. Of course, I have my good days and bad days, it’s a never-ending process of self-discovery as an artist. So one of the things I did to pull myself out of my slump was to take a break. I found myself putting so much weight on my shoulders, it eventually piled onto my head and made the burdens much heavier than I thought I could carry.

So, for those starting their journey – breathe, stop, and take a break. Rest your mind, your soul, and watch as the tension settles, because before you work to do your best, you need to let your body feel the best.

We’d love to hear more about your art.
I’m an artist, as much of an artist I believe to be! I focus on people, whether through portraits or with the entire human figure, they are my primary muse. It’s solely because no person is the same. Those differences are what make us individuals, and being our own person invokes a hidden gem within us that I want and hope to capture.

And to capture such a thing, I use acrylic and embroidery. My first painting series used both mediums and creating a mixed media piece was so thrilling I continued to make more. And I can’t leave out oil paint even though I only recently started using it, I can see the fascination! And I hope to expand into textiles at the end of this year or sometime in the near future.

What am I most proud of as a brand? I can’t necessarily say I’m a brand in particular, but signing my name, Blacksneakers, at the bottom of a finished piece gives me courage to do more and better. I want as an artist, as Blacksneakers, to never stop growing with my craft because I believe it’ll become something more If I wish to be.

Who do you look up to? How have they inspired you?
First and foremost my Mom. She was the strongest woman I knew personally, fighting her battles day by day, and night by night. And despite how draining it was, she continued on.

Secondly, Kara Walker. Tackling topics of the past in graphic visuals that represent what they were exactly is an ability I admire most about her. ‘A Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby’ represents a component of the slave trade and a relation to the prejudice “mammy” imagery was what drew me to her and I admired her boldness and will to show our history.

Ana Mendieta, her legacy lives on as a woman and artist who focused on the external and internal attributes of being one. She was able to do this through nature that invoked a rawness that definitely draws the viewer in.

Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou. Even though I am no writer or poet, the words these women spoke about were those I grew up on. They spoke truth of the world that has yet to be false.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Personal photo credits go to @stlr_momentsstudio on Instagram.

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