We had the good fortune of connecting with Jacqui C. Smith and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jacqui C., why did you pursue a creative career?
I always knew I’d work in a creative field growing up since I was surrounded by others who loved art, mainly my mother and grandmother. I’d spend hours playing alone in my room imagining far off worlds, tucked away rereading my favorite Roald Dahl books, or tinkering away attempting to build a reclining couch out of cardboard. When I wasn’t pretending to be a master inventor, I was watching cartoons, something my sister and I would obsess over, debate, and enjoy for years to come. I drew and drew and got a little better each day. I plastered my drawing attempts all over my room so I could compare my progress over the years. I thought about becoming an architect or a fashion designer since both careers would still allow me to flex my creativity, but ultimately, my guidance counselor was the one to encourage me to major in something I was passionate about, animation. I graduated from Columbia College of Chicago with a degree in Traditional Animation and moved to LA a year later with my best friend. Soon thereafter, I worked at a small animation studio in Santa Monica, but I left the world of animation to pursue freelance illustration. I realized I wanted to be my own boss and pave my own creative future. I love the career path I’ve chosen and I’ll be the first to admit that this is it for me. Art is what makes me happy, what inspires me, and what motivates me to be better. It’s always felt like art was destined to be my future.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m a professional Freelance Illustrator, and I am very passionate about creating illustrations that showcase diversity amongst women of color. I’ve released four coloring books “Know Yourself: A Coloring Book for Women (& Girls)” that focus on positive self-identity for girls and women of color. I created these books because I wanted women with similar stories to mine to see themselves within coloring books, toys, films, tv shows, or other media. For years, I struggled with my self-identity as well as my self-confidence so I wanted to give women of all ages something that would motivate them to love themselves as they are. In addition to coloring books, I also make stickers, prints, buttons, and other merch. I began my journey as a Freelance Illustrator a few years ago after going to various events and conventions in LA and never seeing myself represented in the art. I knew that I could easily fill a void for diverse representation in Illustration, and over time, it became a driving force in my art. One of the things I love most about my art is the dialogue that it brings to the forefront. I’ve had countless discussions about race, representation, beauty standards, and female strength at conventions, art shows, and galleries across LA. These discussions all stem from the same place, there needs to be better treatment, representation, and acceptance of women of color, and I hope that my art serves as a reminder that we cannot and should not be overlooked.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Daytime Activities: Vegan Street Fair, Brunch, Onigiri at Sunny Blue in Santa Monica, Last Bookstore, LACMA, African American Museum of Art, Round One Arcade, Grand Central Market, Malibu Zuma Beach, Little Tokyo, Poke, a day trip to Solvang, Santa Barbara or Ventura for wine tasting, and any local farmers/ flea market. Nighttime Activities: Movie at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Father’s Office, WeHo, Axe Throwing, Brewyard (or any local small brewery), Karaoke in Koreatown, and drinks at the Castaway.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Definitely my family! I am extremely fortunate to have a family that’s always supported my artistic endeavors. I know many parents would balk at the idea of their child going into “art” but my family has always seen my potential and encouraged me which I will be forever grateful for. The amount of love and support they’ve shown me over the years is humbling. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without them.