• Maedbh Pierce

Chatting Over The Rainbow with Illustrator Jenifer Prince

In this first installation of Chasing Rainbows with Maedbh, Maedbh catches up with visual artist and illustrator, Jenifer Prince. Prince's art, an eye-catching medley of pop culture, lesbians and comic style visualisations are available as prints, t-shirts and are guaranteed to spice up your Instagram timeline!

So, grab a cup of coffee (iced, for the queers), curl up in your cosiest corner and delve into this artil exclusive where Maedbh and Jenifer discuss queerness, community identity, creativity, Jenifer's ultimate queer anthems and much more.

M. Hi, Jenifer! First of all, thank you for sharing your time and work with artil!

J. My pleasure! Thank you for inviting me!

M. As this series is focusing on queerness, I’ll start there! How do you identify within the queer community? Do you have a ‘damn that really should have told me’ type memory?

J. I identify as lesbian. I think I always knew, but I only came to terms with my sexuality when I was around 15 years old. I have a lot of moments like that. I always had crushes on the girls I studied with when I was a kid, but I just figured I was in love with them in a platonic, friendly way. Years later everything made sense!

M. Could you tell us a little about your experience as a queer person in Brazil? Is there a significant queer community?

J. Well… That’s actually a really complex question. I think we’re getting to a place where diversity and queerness are being not only more accepted but also celebrated, especially in the mainstream media, but we definitely have a long way to go in terms of political rights and general acceptance. I come from a very small town and when I was a teen living there, being one of the few outed lesbians, it could be very scary and violent sometimes, but today I’m at a place in my life where I feel more accepted and safe, especially being around so many amazing lesbian women and queer people, our community is huge and very supportive!

M. For anyone dreaming of travelling to Brazil, what is the one, perhaps hidden beauty, you would recommend?

J. Definitely the beaches in the northwest states like Ceará and Pernambuco! They have amazing beaches and people there are lovely to be around.

M. Your style is so unique and bold, with its vintage echoes and daring comic callings. Do you live your life with such a strong personal aesthetic?

J. I do! I love to mix vintage aesthetics with modern touches in my life as much as in my work - from tattoos to books, decorations and clothing. One thing inspires the other, I think, and in the end they’re all connected.

M. What is your favourite creation of yours, what is it about that piece that makes it stand out to you?

J. I don’t think I have one personal favourite at this moment. I have a special place in my heart for the poster series I did a while back because it was my first big personal project (in my mind) following that aesthetic and I really enjoyed doing it as much as I liked the result. I also did a poster based on the book “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” in which I tried to capture the essence of 50s and 60s drama movie posters and it was so challenging and so much fun to do it!

M. So, you feel that piece encapsulates your personal philosophy and creative vision?

J. Yes, pretty much! Those works are based on lesbian narratives that are so different from each other but have the women loving women in common, and that is what inspires me the most. Although I love to portray my own narrative ideas and experiences, I also love to illustrate what I see in my own way.

M. Could you tell us more about your vision and dreams for your work?

J. I just want to keep doing what I love to do and try to make it better with every new creation! Whatever comes with that is a bonus that I’ll make the most of it.

M. What is your artistic process? Does the light have to be just right with the moon forty-seven degrees off Aquarius or do you have a few more practical, achievable ways of getting into and maintaining that creative mindset?

J. Not really! I draw literally every day, sometimes I take weekends off to rest properly. I try to maintain a routine that helps me to keep my mental health in order and the creativity flowing. I also consume different kinds of media during the day like graphic art, music, tv shows, youtube videos and so on - not all of it in the same day, obviously. Besides personal experiences, I think this is what fuels my creativity the most!

M. Have you ever hit a point in your life where you felt like giving up on your work? If so, did the close-knitted, protective nature of the queer community help you through this time?

J. I actually haven’t. I had so much fear of getting started though. I always saw so many talented people around me and, to me, I was never one of the best ones, so I always thought I wouldn’t have a chance. Until one day, when I was in college, a friend of mine told me there was this contest going on for the official poster of the Dyke March in San Francisco (I was living there) and she told me I should do something. And so I did, but I did it just as a practice, I wasn’t expecting to actually win the contest, but I won! It was so amazing to see so many people holding the poster during the Dyke March, that was by far the most incredible experience I had as an artist. After that, I was certain I had to keep that going. So, yes, the queer community was and is extremely helpful.

M. Have you ever had a response to your work that has motivated you to continue creating or reassured you that you are moving in the right direction?

J. I have received a lot of great responses! I’ve even cried once!

I’m always amazed by the fact that my work is able to reach people and sometimes even help them. I don’t have a proper word in English nor in Portuguese that can describe how this affects me, but I swear it’s in the most beautiful way! I’m really grateful for that.

M. For budding artists, what are your tips on staying motivated, finding opportunities and cultivating an engaged audience?

J. I find that doing whatever I want to do is the thing that keeps me motivated the most. I only draw what I really want to draw for my personal projects and illustrations. That helps me with my motivation and inspiration for other jobs. Also having someone to talk to about your work and inspirations can be very helpful! For the opportunities, my advice is to be and stay open because some of them might not look so good, but they can lead to better ones.

M. What does your perfect day as a creator look like? Are you creating or is it one spent rejuvenating, filled with love, family and friends; maybe both and more?

J. Definitely both! The days that I illustrate something that I’m really excited about and spend a good time with my girlfriend and my cats just talking nonsense are the best ones!

M. What is your advice to anyone who may be questioning their sexual or gender identity?

J. Well, I believe this is very personal and everyone has their own way to overcome this feeling. It’s alright to be questioning, and it’s alright to be who you are and to feel how you feel. You’re a real person, you’re valid and so are your feelings! Just let yourself be and feel and everything will make sense sooner or later. But if I’m going to be practical, what I think might help is to talk to people about it and not only looking for advice, but also to hear your own thoughts. Sometimes we just understand what we feel when we’re externalizing it.

M. What is something you wish people had told you as a baby queer?

J. That people like me exist and can have a cool, happy life.

M. If you feel comfortable sharing, what are your hopes for 2021, in terms of career, personal life or general philosophy?

J. To be completely honest, right now, in the messed up country I live in, my only hope is for my loved ones and myself to keep safe and healthy

M. Lastly, and possibly most importantly, Jenifer, what’s your queer anthem?

J. God, I’m terrible at choosing only one, so I’ll leave this playlist with sapphic songs recommended by my followers, there are some amazing songs there! A personal favourite though, that is not there, is “Feelings” by Hayley Kyioko. That song is a mood. I think it has the same energy as most of my illustrations!