April 21, 2020
capturing the women of lowriding
Hi Jacqueline! So I know a little about your work and I am excited I am getting the chance to deep dive more into! I know you recently graduated from Cal State Long Beach. How has the transition from working in an academic setting to a "real world" working artist been?
Honestly speaking transitioning from an academic setting to being a working artist was a bit rough. On one hand I was really worried about creating work. This worry stemmed from knowing that the majority of art majors do not continue to pursue a career in the arts years after graduating. This frightened me but also pushed me to try to establish my art practice. I knew I wanted to continue to make work after my graduation, but I also had to look for a day job that was convenient to my art practice, figure out how to balance this with pursuing a career in art, as well as learning to navigate the art world. Rearranging my whole life so that it would flow easily with my art career was a challenge. Luckily, I was able to find an easy day job working as an art instructor/homework tutor with children. This job gave me enough time before and after my shift to continuously paint. But then came the hard part. I feel most artist know that making art is half the challenge. The business side of the art world is the hardest part to navigate as an emerging artist. I quickly realized the importance of everything that had been drilled into me throughout my last year at CSULB. "Create a strong network", "Be dependable, reliable", "Always work on your art when possible", "Make time to go to openings, to museums, anything art related". I remembered this over and over again because it really has been key in the small successes I have had since graduating. I had to push myself to seek out opportunities to show my work. This is probably one of the hardest things I have had to adjust to since my transition. I vaguely knew how to look for opportunities to show my art, but I quickly mastered it in the months following my graduation. I began to follow hashtags on IG that were geared towards open calls, scoured through different websites that list artist opportunities, reached out to community centers or local businesses. So far it has paid off because even if I haven't always gotten an opportunity I have applied for I have learned to create my own opportunities. I do think my time at CSULB prepared me for this transition because I created a strong work and research ethic. But it was still very hard the first couple of months to continuously work on juggling everything. I feel now that I am approaching a year since my graduation I have really figured out how to make my art career work for me as well as just learned to explore and take chances I would not have imagined myself doing while I was in school. I've managed to have a solo show, I currently have three shows I will be curating for the remainder of this year and I've started to sell my personal work. So even though I felt like I was drowning a bit at times during my transition I have come out stronger and ready to take on more challenges.
Has the recent covid-19 crisis affected your day job or any side hustles? How are you coping with all this craziness? Has it affected your artistic practice and or routine?
Well prior to the Covid-19 crisis I was working as an art instructor/homework tutor with an after school program and I was also doing commission work every now and then for spare income. My "day job" was a 2-6pm shift from Monday-Friday. Thankfully the hours were convenient, because I always had time before and after work as well as during weekends to paint. So basically I would paint during the weekdays 9am-12pm and 8pm-12am and then all weekend long. Usually I would paint at least 55 hours each week. Which sounds crazy now that I think about it! Since I was painting within those many long hours I would try to take on commissions whenever I could and would squeeze those in to my regular studio hours. This honestly left me with no spare time to really detach from my art practice and hangout with friends or family because at the time my top priorities were making art and having a steady source of income to fund my art career.
Since the Covid-19 crisis I have been out of a job. It was nerve racking because basically on a Friday two hours before our shift was over we were told that we would not be coming back for an unforeseeable amount of time for the following weeks because the district was closing. I had to face the fact that the side hustle (commissions) to my side hustle (day job) was about to become my main hustle. I immediately figured out a way to make my own income without this steady job. Luckily, I had a ton of stickers that I hadn't really advertised on IG. I jumped on that fast and was able to make a few sales out of stickers. I also came up with an idea to begin to paint watercolor pet portraits. Which was honestly wild because I sucked at using watercolors, but I had the materials on hand and had to find something that I could do. Basically for the last month or month and a half I have been surviving solely off of painting watercolor pet portraits. I am so grateful that despite this situation I have been able to find a way to financially sustain myself. But I would be lying if I didn't say that in turn my personal work has largely been impacted. Essentially my personal work has been put on the back burner in order to assure that I am able to make bill payments and buy any art supplies I may need to make more commission work or for my own personal work. I went from working mostly on personal work and on one or two commissions at any given time to suddenly working on 15-20 pet portraits plus any small oil painting commissions I get. It's been a bit draining so I have been coping with this routine and art practice change by baking a ton of banana bread, spending more down time with my family who is also stuck at home with me, and hanging out with my trusty studio assistants (actually my dogs: Bruiser, Smokey and Echo).
Your work's subject matter revolves around the lowrider culture and community; when did your interest in the low rider community start?
I grew up off of Whittier Blvd. This boulevard is an iconic lowriding destination in Los Angeles. So, I would see lowriders every weekend as they went to or came from cruise nights or afternoon cruises. I always thought the cars were beautiful but my interest for them didn't really peak until I began a relationship with my current partner. He grew up around classic cars, hot rods, lowriders and so on. Being in a relationship with him I became more exposed to the lowrider community. Starting at the age of 16 or 17 I was the only person who helped him restore and work on his first lowrider, a 1984 Chevy El Camino. Later in our relationship he went on to buy me my own lowrider, a 1975 Cadillac El Dorado. I had always tried to involve lowriders as a main theme in my work but it never came full circle until I became a lowrider owner.
I love that your compositions are busy but yet it all flows harmoniously. How do you go about setting up your composition?
I tend to work fairly intuitive while setting up my compositions. Generally speaking I try to make it a central composition with the figure and their car as a main focal point. Yet, while actually drawing everything out I work my way from micro to macro. I begin from the outside of the composition and work my way inwards. This usually means adding pixels and geometric patterns that mimic lowrider patterns/road maps first. Then I add in different types of larger and medium sized graffiti. Following that I add the image based content such as traffic signs, lights, streets signs, city scape architecture (bridges and freeways), and lastly the figure and the car. I try to stick to this main composition but as I begin to lay down paint sometimes I feel the need to add more pixels or to take out specific parts so I allow myself to do that. Once this whole composition is covered and rendered to my liking I begin to deface it so that the composition mimics what a deface mural would look like in real life. So I add a combination of buff marks and more graffiti all with different types of materials ranging from oil pastels to house paint. I follow this exact process almost each and every time I create a painting. It's what works best for me. I do not tend to sketch out any of these compositions I just gather a handful of reference materials for each painting, sometimes reusing references from older paintings and draw everything directly on the canvas.
How do you determine the content that goes in it?
I always conduct an interview with each woman. From this interview I am able to determine key locations, imagery, and ideas that should go into each individual piece. Each painting is meant to tell a story about the individual woman lowrider and her life experiences. I always ask them for reference pictures that I can use for the paintings. I also have a folder on my MacBook where I store a ton of reference materials that simply have to do with graffiti, cityscapes, traffic lights, signs, and so on. Using a bunch of different reference pictures I piece together each painting. Now that I think about it this is a way that I have translated the way in which I worked with those first lowrider collages in to a part of my painting process. All of the actual content for each painting is fairly planned out but the actual placement of everything is more intuitive. I switch back and forth between planning what goes into my paintings and being intuitive throughout the whole process. Once I get to the final steps of my painting process I dig back in to my references in order to begin to deface my paintings, and finish off the compositions.
Any books or podcast that spark your interest?
I feel bad saying this but I completely suck at staying on top of this part of my research process for art making. I have started to make it a point to buy more art centered books so I have begun to collect different books that have to do with different painting eras, Chicano artist, women artist, and graffiti. "A Concise History of Modern Painting", "Graffiti: New York", "Women and Art" and "Art as Image and Idea" to name a few. I also have a few books in my Amazon shopping cart that I have been meaning to buy because I do feel that having a deep understanding of any art practice or artist that you admire plays a key role in making your own successful art. As far as podcasts I don't really listen to any because I tend to rewatch different series I like or listen to music while I paint. But if you have any suggestions for podcasts I would love to learn more.
Whats next for your immediate future?
These next couple of months I plan to expand the themes that my art explores. I still would like to focus on the lowrider community, but I feel that there are still sections of this community that aren't embraced such as lowriders from around the world, lowrider painters, and children who grow up within this community. Beyond changing some of the themes of my art I also want to continue to seek out and make my own opportunities. In particular I would like to organize and curate more shows to create more opportunities for myself and other artists like me. I also plan on applying to some residencies or some grants that could benefit my art practice. Another dream is to paint a mural because I feel that my work is becoming more large-scale and because of it's themes and images murals would be a logical next step. Lastly, I am hoping on applying to various grad schools throughout California as well as out of state because I plan to continue my academic career. Right now some schools that are high on my list are Berkley, UCLA, and UCSD.