“Be proud of what you accomplished so far. No one else did but you, so make sure to revel in how amazing that is entirely.”
Jazmine, most notably known as Blacksneakers, is a 20-year-old illustrator. Art is her life. Blacksneakers sees the world in all of its colors and expresses it in her work. As a Black artist, Jazmine focuses on narrating Black experiences. This year her following on social media has increased tremendously, she has had very successful art shop updates, and has had a chance to work with The Washington Post, New York Magazine and more. We are proud to say that Blacksneakers is our October 2020 Creator Of The Month. Continue reading to learn more about Blacksneakers, her artwork, favorite candy (even though she was roasted for it once), and more!
Tell us about your earliest memory with art and illustration. What made you want to pursue art?
My earliest memory with art, in general, is kind of silly; I remember being at home with my mom, and I’m drawing purple and pink horses with crayons while she watches the cooking shows on the Food Network. Don’t get me wrong, though, they were good horses, but it wasn’t until much later that I finally realized what I was meant to do at an older age, possibly 16. I kept at it, I continued to draw and paint and use whatever medium I thought I would love, and each one I used was great. However, once I got my hands on a tablet and digital pencil, a new love blossomed. It’s interesting because the first digital pieces I did were nothing similar to the style of art you see from me today; nonetheless, the growth is evident, and there’s nothing about my style now that I would change.
Who are some artists (illustrators, designers, photographers, musicians, etc.) that have inspired you and your work?
Over time it has ranged from Burdge (originally Burdgebug on Tumblr) because of their Harry Potter and Percy Jackson fan art that a kid of my age at the time sincerely admired because of how inclusive and memorable it was. During my time trying to understand art, I shaped the resources into creating what you want. And of course, like all things, artists that inspire my work evolve based on my growth. Shawna X, Nadline Cluvie Pierre, Kara Walker, Hana Chatani, Daiana Ruiz, and Ines Longevial have been the artists I always look for in inspiration and do genuinely admire their creativity. Despite each having a role in various mediums and subtypes of the art world, their work is truly phenomenal.
Can you walk us through your art? What do you focus on illustrating/painting, and what do you hope people take away from your work?
As a Black artist, I focus on narrating Black experiences, but not in the sense where it involves the tragedy that my people have been faced with for centuries on end. My work includes complex narratives of our being’s emotional and mental aspects – Black existentialism if you will. I emphasize this through color and the overall composition, and I just hope that others can relate and know that they aren’t alone in moments like that.
You have worked with and/or have been featured in large publications like Medium, New York Magazine, and The Washington Post. What has been the most memorable part about these works and/or features?
The overall experience of being granted the opportunity made them so memorable. These were my first official illustration gigs, and as someone who aspires to be a professional illustrator (especially in editorial), it means the world. Quarantine had its limitations, but it gave me the time and patience to hone down my craft, and I guess enough to the point where large publications wanted it featured on their platform. It was the pat the on the back I wanted and the confirmation that, yes, what I’m doing is meant to be.
Throughout all of your experience so far, what is the most important thing you have learned about yourself and others around you?
For the most part, I think never to doubt the power you have and the talent you withhold. These past few months have reassured me that something in my art makes others happy, it makes me feel complete, and that’s a glorious thing. It’s even better when you can share that with others who fully support and appreciate your creativity, and vice versa.
You are restocking your shop on October 25! What kind of items should we expect?
Yes, I am dropping new things on the 25th! You can be on the lookout for prints (new and old), new sticker packs, and apparel!
I also noticed that your restocks sell out really quick (which is such a great thing, don’t get me wrong!), do you recommend shoppers to be prepared right when the shop updates?
I’m always shocked that they sell out so quickly, but gratitude for the support given will always remain. I make sure to announce it as a thread on Twitter or send it to my mailing list about the total amount of items to expect in the shop update.
How do you stay inspired? What kind of tips would you give someone about always staying creative and engaged in illustration?
Hm, I’d say you’ll need a Pinterest board of the art you admire and a separate one with photography and such that also inspire you. Personally, these two are essential because combining them can lead to a list of ideas. And I’m always looking for something useful in my work, whether online or in real life – the world is full of them, and it’s incredible to see just how much is around you.
How do you survive your bad days?
I step back, because If I go any further, I might overwhelm myself. So, on the days where nothing seems to go right, I take a break and do something else. The majority of the time, it’s sleeping, I’m personally a fan of the act, but it can be anything else that calms your mind. When you’re always creating, pushing your skills to the brink, your mind can go into overdrive and make your body feel rundown and your spirit a little crushed. This is when a moment to yourself is crucial because your wellbeing comes first out of everything else.
What do you think is the most challenging part of being an illustrator today? How do you work through the challenges?
As someone who just got into the industry, I can’t say much based on minimal experience if I am at all. However, finding the right clients and audience can be a little tough, because overall, the art world is naturally competitive. Nonetheless, it’s also a whole community that can be welcoming – the amount of friends I’ve made alone from the art community has immensely warmed my heart. Have courage in your craft because there will be others who will support you until the end despite some setbacks. But also know your worth personally and creatively. Your art is beautiful regardless, so as a reminder, tell yourself this. I do, I think of what I’ve accomplished, and that helps me to continue one. Even some opportunities haven’t appeared yet, remind yourself of that satisfaction felt when you finish a piece – it feels like gold, like pure happiness because it’s done and can’t be better than it already it is.
What three things would you thank yourself for?
I’ve never been asked a question like this before, so this has given me a moment to truly reflect.
Firstly, I would thank myself for not giving up entirely back in high school to focus on becoming a writer. To my younger self, you were good but thank you for not giving up on our childhood dream. Secondly, thank you for still being here. Last year was absolute hell, and it may seem as though it would be impossible to move on from your grief, but you’re here and better than ever. And lastly, thank you for seeing your blackness and finally accepting it after years of dismissing it to “fit in.” That’s who you are, and it’s beautiful, don’t ever forget that.
What’s three random facts we should know about you? It doesn’t have to be related to your illustrations!
This is like the question asked on the first day of the semester, and it makes you forget everything about you. I guess the first thing is, I’m an Aries sun with a cancer rising, so you can do what you want that information. I love Twizzlers when they’re cold, but I get so much disgust for doing so. An art group chat I’m in roasted me for it, and I haven’t recovered since. And I think for the last fact, I plan to name my future kid Magnolia and Maggy as little nickname. I see myself being a mom to a cute baby, and secretly hope they’ll be an artist too so we can make art together as a mom and kid duo.
Who is one illustrator would you want to collaborate with? Why?
Shawna X! She was the first illustrator that inspired me to become one officially. When I attended SCAD, my professor recommended her to me for a presentation, and I fell in love with her, her message, and work overall. She’s amazing!
One last message for our readers would be…
For anyone, not just for artists and creatives, be proud of what you accomplished so far. No one else did but you, so make sure to revel in how amazing that is entirely. No matter how big or small, be proud of it!
On October 25, Blacksneakers will be updating their art shop with new prints, apparel and more! Be sure to stay connected and updated on social media to get news about this upcoming drop and more. Maybe even take a minute to sign up for her mailing list! Follow the links below.