Our August Artist is Jiji Knight of @jijidraws on Instagram. Learn about her own artist inspirations, growing your social media presence, and why mixing media is like “like building a relationship on paper” in her artist interview!
1) We love that you use your art as a platform for change you want to see in the world, what inspired you to create these sassy ladies?
An epiphany, really! For so, so long I was drawing women I coveted and thought were beautiful. I always drew these graceful, thin women because I hope to one day harness that same ‘something’ they had that made them so beautiful to everyone else. But eventually I realized instead of making work like what already existed, work like I’d see all my life, I could be making work I wish existed. I started to make work that I wished I had as a child to inspire me to accept myself. So I’ve made these sassy, full-bodied, shamelessly proud ladies part of the core of my work. They make me feel good, confident, and I’m lucky that they make others feel that way too.
2) You inspire so many people with your work, but who inspires you?
Oh my gosh…! So many people. So many friends. To name a few: Audrey Kawasaki, and her dreamy girls, Babs Tarr, Sibylline Meynet, Alphonse Mucha, Mall Licudine, Heikala, Lois van Baarle, and so many others it’s not even funny. All their worth is so breathtaking and I hope to one day have that same awe-inspiring dreaminess in my own body of work.
3) Social Media has a reputation of showing perfectly finished art pieces, but let’s be real, it’ never as easy as it seems. How often do you have to start over on a drawing? And how long has it taken you to get to where you are now in terms of drawing skills?
If I start over on a drawing I start over entirely and try something new instead of letting myself get frustrated with the same sketch. If I don’t walk away and do something else, approach the problem differently, then I’m just repeating whatever isn’t working and driving myself insane! I start over maybe a fourth of the time, and it’s usually when I haven’t already envisioned what I want it to look like at the end. In terms of getting to where I am, it’s taken eight years. I’ve been drawing all my life, but I only started taking it seriously around 2010.
4) You’ve got a killer social media presence. If you had to share one thing that was key to helping you grow, what would it be?
Participation! Participate in those trends that pop up – like the #DrawThisInYourStyle tag that was floating around recently. There are also regular hashtags that crop up throughout the week! Like Monday Merms, or Fanart Friday. Cutie Saturday is another big one too!
5) What’s the best thing about your artistic journey?
The friends I’ve met and made along the way.
Looking back and seeing just how far I’ve come.
The adventure of discovery.
6)And the worst?
The imposter syndrome.
That little voice that says ‘why bother?’
7) You play with a bunch of different media in your work, what’s your favorite thing about exploring multiple mediums instead of one?
The way they play with each other. Exploring with different media is like building a relationship on paper. One media makes up what another lacks, and when you marry them just right, you get something extraordinary.
8) What’s your favorite Bee Paper product and why?
Bee Paper watercolor paper! It’s incredibly soft, giving, and just wonderful for any and all wet media. I love that it’s 100% cotton and cold press!
9) Finally, any advice for the blossoming artist?
Practice. I know it seems obvious, and even dumb, but I’ve seen so many young artists spend more time agonizing over their materials instead of just practicing with what they already have. The same brush pen your favorite artist uses isn’t going to suddenly make you draw as amazingly as they do, nor is the same tablet, the same program, pencil, pen, or even paints. Greatness isn’t bought. Greatness is grown.