Interview: Jennalee Auclair
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Interview: Jennalee Auclair

Earlier this year I joined another art market place called Redbubble. It is similar to websites such as Society6 where artists can create free online shops to sell their work digitally that can be featured on various products across the globe. It is a great way to gain a following as well as explore artists that may be overlooked. Plus, as a bonus, it is a nice way to earn some additional pocket change as well. As an artist, I love to subscribe to my contemporaries who make amazing pieces. One of which has become a recent addition to that collection. This lovely artist is Jennalee Auclair. As luck would have it she agreed to share a little bit about her career and aspirations as an artist.

As always, I was curious to hear how this astonishing artist started it all. “Ever since I was little I always knew I’d either grow up to be a Marine Biologist, Artist or a Vampire. They all seemed pretty impossible but the older I got the more becoming an artist seemed possible. My family and friends were always very encouraging and it eventually became my ‘thing.’ It was something that defined me growing up when I struggled to learn about myself [and] it was the one crutch I had. I’d take my feelings out on my art; I’d talk through art, and even socialize because having my head down drawing made people curious and interested to talk to me (an otherwise shy person in the day). It soon became something I knew I’d do, after Junior High I didn’t question any other path, it seemed very organic. I didn’t realize, however, until after graduating High School that there were countless career paths in the art world that could be taken.”

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Jennalee has made so many great pieces and I wondered if she would share her favorite. “I can’t say I have a favorite yet. I still feel like I am learning so I may really favor something and then a week later I think it’s horrible. There’s one drawing I did a long time ago that I enjoyed for the idea, not particularly how it turned out. It was a sorrowful giant woman crouched in a certain way with her head and lower body under the ocean. On her back there was an impossibly high town made primarily of wood and scraps growing on her back, I’d really like to revisit that concept again.” I would love to see that concept come to light. Jennalee’s style would be sure to add a unique vision to it.

As her career continues to develop, the life of an artist is never fully satisfied. “I really want to expand more into doing paintings that express my beliefs and concerns. I’ve been scared to tackle it because I don’t want to offend anyone. I want to make paintings that represent our meat eating culture, the consumerism culture and bring more attention to problems with the environment. I feel like I am so spread across the board already with my style that I am not sure I could pull it off by doing paintings of the issues, however I do have another project in the works that’ll have these ideas incorporated in it.” Art is an excellent way to get such messages out there. I think she would be welcomed with such endeavors.

Being an artist is full of challenges. “The most difficult piece I’ve done was a large commissioned acrylic painting I did many years ago. It was for a man who wanted a painting of Kiapana (mother nature) looking over Canada from Alberta to the British Columbian coast crying over a pipeline that showed spills and deforestation. I was passionate about it so that made it easier but it was a giant landscape in acrylic paints. I didn’t get along well with acrylics but it’s all I had at the time, the canvas was as tall as me and I certainly wasn’t used to painting landscapes. It took me a long time to complete but I was proud of how the landscape especially turned out.”

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As an artist, creating a sustainable living can be difficult. However, thanks to modern technology all of that has changed. “I’ve had so many mixed thoughts on this. I used to have a hard time back in the day scoping out work because the Internet had made it possible for companies to hire people in impoverished countries that would work for pennies… It wasn’t until I gave up on freelancing that I found how amazing the Internet could be for artists. I have been very fortunate to amass a following of over 50K [people] online! That, to me, is absolutely mind blowing! … These people are all so like-minded, caring and supportive that they have become good friends to me. It’s amazing how we are so brought together. Having the Internet also allows me to spend more time creating and I can be fully in charge of selling my work through my online store instead of leaving it to someone else to sell my work. There’s so much talent out there and it’s easily accessible so I do feel intimidated some times, but most times it just inspires me to work harder… I’d like to add more awareness if that makes sense, I want to show more and make people think. I’d like to improve on my expressions, angles, patience, speed and anatomy. If I could I’d like to fill a page in my sketchbook every day.”

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Jennalee’s list of inspiration is powerful. “There’s so many. Hayao Miyazaki (animator and storyteller) is the biggest inspiration for me then artists like Soey Milk, Sachin Teng, Jaw Cooper and Loish. As for music I am very inspired by classical, world and most alternative music (fave is Yeah Yeah Yeahs). I follow hundreds of amazing artists and they inspire me to keep working the 75 hours a week.”

She continues to work hard on her next challenge, of which I think will be awesome. “… I am working on a new project … with my partner that is unlike anything I’ve done before… Currently, I am working … on a 20+ page comic; it’s still in the first stages so I can’t release a name for it yet. We are aiming to have it printed near the end of the year. The comic … is a challenge and a test for us to make sure we can handle the responsibility of creating a web comic, which will be named ‘Nen.’ We intend on making Nen within the next few years and once it reaches the final page we plan on selling it as a graphic novel. It’s taken three years just designing the world, cultures, political structures, species, plants, characters and plot line, it’s going to be a huge under taking, hence why we are doing a ‘practice’ comic first.”

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So there you have it folks. I have found your next aesthetic obsession. Jennalee’s skill with color, hair flow and simple imagination of original creatures captivated me from day one. Her talent is only surpassed by her dedication to the growth of an impressive craft. She is definitely someone to watch. Better yet, you should all invest in one of her pieces before she gets stolen away to galleries worldwide. She is simply that good!

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Written by Myles Hunt

Music fan, simple and sweet.

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