Velvit Welcomes Jas Helena
Artist Jas Helena opens up about the evolution of her artistic style, how her work is received, and how important it is to support fellow independent artists
Velvit met with illustrator Jas Helena for a better understanding of her motivations as an artist, her views on art in the fashion world, and how she lets her hands do all the thinking.
Velvit: When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
Jas Helena: Art was always something that was a part of my general make-up. My most memorable times growing up involved art. It started naturally and now it's just the way for me. When I began to really focus and learn more about art, I started doing these large paintings of several different subjects, but everything I made had some sort of pattern to it. Not too much has changed on that side of my art.
V: How has your work evolved since you first began illustrating?
JH: There was a time when making art served as a pause button for my everyday life. When I started putting those emotions and all I had to give into my work, it soon developed into a style that I felt was a reflection of me and what I wanted to show the world.
V: How would you describe your work?
JH: A lot of black, a lot of dots, and a lot of lines. The result is a mix of beautiful, delicate themes with hints of death or demonic imagery.
V: When you're not working on commission pieces, how do you choose your subject matter?
JH: I think it chooses me. It happens very organically the more I create.
V: What are your favorite mediums to work with?
JH: A pen, [pen] nibs, loose ink, and a pencil are all I need.
V: How do you feel about the way your art is received?
JH: Hearing any positive or negative feedback is always really motivating, but what impacted me most was when an artist I look up to started to show appreciation for my work.
V: What is your creative process like?
JH: I like my work to have a really raw sense of development. I typically just make a quick sketch on paper, then I just let my brain shut off and I let my hand do all the thinking.
V: Are there any particular artists whose work inspires your own?
JH: Laurie Lipton: need I say more? I've been really loving [the artists of design team] Give Up. I'm a bit fixated on the messages of their street art. And Ann Demeulemeester; she has a way with making such simple designs so memorable, which is something I think every artist strives to achieve.
V: Do you think art plays a role in the fashion industry?
JH: I feel that they tend to go hand-in-hand. They both start from an idea or sketch, then with time and hard work, a product is made. The two are just displayed differently.
V: What pieces of clothing or accessories could you live in forever?
JH: I recently bought a Zana Bayne belt that I wish could just be sewn onto me. Laura of Hunter-Gatherer Chicago gifted me some rings that never come off. As an artist, I think it's important to support independent artists and to motivate each other's work.
V: Does music influence your work?
JH: Music is a huge influence. I sometimes draw textures to the rhythm of a song. I can't play anything, so I just draw as if it were an instrument. I tend to re-play certain albums for about a month before playing something new. Lately it's been Mournful Congregation, Hell, Portal, and Current 93.
V: Do you have a strong attachment to your earlier pieces?
JH: I like to keep the art I made when I was really young and motivated to make good art. They are pretty terrible to me now, but it just shows the impact of time and hard work. In 6th grade or so, I drew a lady laying down and her face exploded into little pieces that puzzle her face together. I drew a heart on her chest with a zipper down the middle. I'm not sure why, but the subconscious mind is an interesting thing.
V: What advice would you give an aspiring illustrator?
JH: Stop looking at other artists' art all day and start creating your own art. It could be magical.
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