Name: Jennifer Volcy
Location: Ventura, CA
Bio: Jennifer Volcy is a Haitian-American-Canadian artist and lawyer. Born in Brooklyn, NY to two amazing Haitian parents, her family relocated to Toronto, Canada. After leaving Toronto at the age of 18 to attend undergraduate school at Southern University, an HBCU in Baton Rouge, LA, and law school at Pepperdine University in California, where she currently lives, Jennifer is a culmination of everywhere she's been and experienced. As a lawyer, Jennifer works in a non-diverse, male dominated field; however, her art allows her to make diversity a focal point and has become her way of celebrating people and events that she doesn't get the opportunity to celebrate often. Jennifer cultivates her unique perspective into each painting she creates and celebrates the interconnectivity amongst art and people.
Website: coming soon!
Social Media: IG @jennifervolcy
Describe your experience as a current as an artist.
I would be considered a part-artist. I have another very demanding job as a civil defense attorney. But it's never stopped me from continuing with my art and finding the time to create. I've been creating art my whole life, but I started painting on canvases, sharing my work, and selling my art about three years ago.
What was your occupation/education prior to becoming an artist?
I started showing and selling my art during law school, so I guess that's what most people would consider as the moment I became an artist. I didn't have a job when I first started painting but school was very demanding at the time. While law school was stressful, I used painting as my way to wind down and de-stress. I think that's why it was so easy for me to continue with my art once I actually became an attorney. Painting has always been therapeutic for me so even though I get paid for it, it's never competing with day job because it feels so different.
How do you balance being an artist and having a full-time career? How do you maintain your mental health and motivation to paint?
I don't have a schedule for my art really. The only time I really have to be organized is if I'm doing a commission. My trick for that is honestly just quoting a client a longer time-frame than it will actually take me to do the painting. That allows me to be flexible with my painting schedule and prevents me from having to do a rushed job. As far as motivation, I really draw that from anywhere. Sometimes I get ideas for my original paintings from quotes, or books, or conversations. Life is my inspiration!
Describe your biggest milestone or project/series achieved since pursuing your art.
An exciting time for me was showcasing my work at an art show in Toronto. I participated in an art show at a really nice venue, and although it wasn't my first ever show, it was my first show in the city I grew up in. It was a really cool moment for me. Unfortunately, because of the time of the show, I actually could not attend it in person. I did have some family and friends attend and they took photos. It was still a special experience and I look forward to doing another show in Toronto one day that I can actually attend!
How does your personal style and identity translate into your artwork?
I honestly don't know what my style is. I'm constantly evolving in the way I approach my pieces, and I think that's a good thing. I paint portraits mostly, and when it comes to the individuals I select, I tend to pick people who have inspired me in some way. I think if you're looking to get a glimpse into who I am, and how my experiences shape my art, you can see it reflected more in the subject vs. how I've chosen to paint that subject.
What is your favorite art technique and why?
When I'm painting portraits, I like to start with the eyes. It just feels like the most natural place to start for me. Also, I think the eyes are really where you capture a person. If you can get their eyes right- the spacing, the colour, the size- the rest of the face seems to come together around it.
What is some advice or tips you would give to a fellow BGWP interested in furthering their art goals/business while both maintaining and succeeding in another career?
My advice is to not make life harder on yourself than it needs to be. I know so many people advise artists to drop everything, and throw themselves completely into their art. I disagree. While I love art, I never wanted to be at the mercy of my art to put food on my table. Some people live for that feeling- I don't. I think as long as you're able to have another income and balance that, do it. The life of a starving artist is no joke- you can be amazing but you might just starve to death. Further, you want to create art that is genuine, and that speaks to you. When you're starving, it's easy to get caught up in what you think will sell. Being so desperate for a sale (because you honestly need the money) can affect the authenticity of your art- and who wants that? Not me. Multiple incomes are cool.
What is next for you?
I have a few collaborations with other dope artists in the LA area that I'm cooking up, so stay tuned!
What does being a "black girl who paints" means to you?
Anything I've ever experienced in life, i've experienced as a black girl and black woman (to state the obvious). So to be a black girl who paints, is to be someone who gets to share beauty, and create beauty in a way that maybe other people aren't so used to seeing beauty presented. Every time I pick up a paint brush, I'm putting my whole being into my art so no matter what I'm painting, it's always unapologetically black- and that's cool !