We had the good fortune of connecting with Jennifer Ellé Boudreau and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jennifer, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I’ve been drawing since I could hold a crayon, and apparently the creative bug never left me since. I drew on almost any surface available to me, whether just for the exploration of making something, or to access a flow state while taking notes class, or to express a feeling. For a while, I thought I would be able to channel my creativity into a career as a writer, and though it’s something that I still have a great love for, I found that doors kept opening up for pursuing art instead. I began to see what happened when people experienced my art—sometimes delight or wonder, sometimes a deeper feeling that tugged at the soul—and that began to drive me to take steps to becoming a freelance artist. Whenever someone tells me about their experience with my art—especially if I’m crafting a piece personally for someone as a commission—I feel like I’m giving a unique gift, and that’s an addicting feeling to me.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My art is designed to draw the viewer in to an experience—and I like to create different experiences. I pull realism or impressionism into modern abstractions in order to convey skill without overwhelming the viewer. Some of my favorite moments in making art have been working on commissions with clients—their vision allows me to channel my creativity, and often challenge me to stretch and try ideas or methods that are not my first inclination. Entering the freelance world has been tough, and I’m still learning my way into it. I feel like an “advanced beginner”—I haven’t yet made the jump into full-time freelance; I work for an outdoor adventure company to support myself as I grow into my artist career. I sometimes have to push myself to make investments in my artist career, because I’m not one of those “Go big or go home” types, and networking is a slow process for me as an introvert. The biggest struggle is becoming the businessperson—I would just make art for free if I could, since I enjoy it that much. Talking to people and other artists in my community has been a big help, as well as keeping up a social media platform. I also curate art for The Abbey Coffee Lounge, and this helps me into networking situations that I have a hard time pursuing on my own.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
That depends on the activities the person is into! Santa Cruz is a great place to explore nature—it almost goes without saying that it’s a great place for mountain biking, hiking, and surfing. I’d absolutely take a friend on an adventure through the Coast Redwoods in either Henry Cowell State Park or Nicene Marks. If it’s a warm day, the beaches on the west side or in Aptos would be the next place to hang out or play in the waves. You can’t go wrong with any of the Thai or Sushi restaurants for food, but classic Santa Cruz is definitely getting a Verve or Cat n Cloud coffee, followed by a breakfast burrito at the Point Market, where you can enjoy your lunch while watching the locals surf circles around everyone else. In late spring, driving up then 1 to Davenport is a great time to see the sprawling coast line and pick strawberries at Swanton Berry Farm. Ending an evening at one of the local breweries is a must—Shanty Shack, Steel Bonnet, and Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing are all great hangout spots. I might get hunted down by my friends if I give away alllll the local spots—rest assured if you visit a good friend in Santa Cruz, you’re bound to have a good time. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My entire family, especially my parents, for supporting my creative endeavors from the start…A long list of my incredible professors at Azusa Pacific University who laid the ground work for me to become both a creative Artist and a creative Human, and teaching me ad nauseum to keep asking questions…And my past supervisors at The Abbey Coffee Lounge—Lina Quitasol, Shellie & Jared Dyck—who saw my talent and paved the way for me to have my first public art show, and enter the art scene in Santa Cruz.