First im­pres­sions

The self-taught artist re­veals how a strong en­tre­pre­neur­ial streak helped her ca­reer

ImagineFX - - Inspiration Books - Jas­mine Becket-Grif­fith Jas­mine is an acrylic painter work­ing in the fan­tasy and pop sur­re­al­ism gen­res. You can see more of her art at

Jas­mine Becket-Grif­fith talks eyes.

Where did you grow up and how has this in­flu­enced your art? I grew up in south Kansas City, Mis­souri. I went to the some­what blighted pub­lic schools there; it seems like we were all pretty poor and there was a lot of neg­a­tiv­ity. More than any­thing, I think it in­spired me to lose my­self in my art­work and try to bet­ter my own sit­u­a­tion with it. There’s a lot of es­capism within that, es­pe­cially with fan­tasy and sur­re­al­ist art. Is there a piece of art you saw as a child that changed ev­ery­thing? My dad had a lot of art books that he shared with me when I was younger: the works of Sal­vador Dali, Hierony­mus Bosch and MC Escher. We’d visit the city’s Nel­son-Atkins Mu­seum of Art a lot and my favourite piece was Pen­i­tent Mag­da­lene by El Greco. Ev­ery time I went to the mu­seum I had to see her, my “lady with the most pretty eyes.” I think in a lot of my paint­ings I still try to cap­ture that look on her face, over and over again. What was your next step in art? I was al­ways a lit­tle en­tre­pre­neur when it came to my art­work. I re­mem­ber try­ing to sell my art­work door-to-door when I was five. In mid­dle school I won a bunch of money from the Na­tional Spell­ing Bee and spent it on art sup­plies. I be­gan sell­ing more pro­fes­sion­ally when I opened my web­site in 1997, while I was still in high school. What char­ac­ter that you’ve painted do you most iden­tify with? Gosh, I might have to go with Alice in Won­der­land. I see a lot of my­self in her. I like ad­ven­tures, cats, read­ing and ex­plor­ing new things. How much are you on the road? An aw­ful lot. In 2016 alone I caught 45 air­line flights. Count­less miles are clocked up on our van. In just one year I’ve been to 15 coun­tries on four dif­fer­ent con­ti­nents.

I have three homes: my pri­mary house is here in Cel­e­bra­tion, Florida, but I still main­tain a stu­dio near my fam­ily up in Kansas City, and a sec­ondary home in Lon­don. I’m not al­ways trav­el­ling specif­i­cally for art shows, but of­ten it’s tan­gen­tially re­lated some­how. What’s been your best con­ven­tion ex­pe­ri­ence to date? Wow, that’s a hard one. Gotta love DragonCon. It’s the one I’ve been do­ing the long­est and I have the art show ev­ery year there. It was my first con­ven­tion in fact: my friend and fel­low artist Larry El­more con­vinced me to give it a shot – and I’m so glad I did! What’s the most im­por­tant thing that you’ve taught some­one? I’ve just come back from a teach­ing po­si­tion as fac­ulty for The Fan­tas­tic Work­shop in Nashville, Ten­nessee with the folks at One Fan­tas­tic Week­end, which was fun and hope­fully help­ful.

More than any­thing though, I think I teach peo­ple that it’s in­deed pos­si­ble to have a very ful­fill­ing and lu­cra­tive life as a pro­fes­sional artist. Is your art evolv­ing? What’s the most re­cent ex­per­i­ment you’ve made? I’m an acrylic painter and I like to push the lim­its with what acrylic paints can do. Re­cently I’ve been play­ing with the no­tion of cen­sor­ship in art and have been us­ing a ruler to cre­ate grids of tiny squares of paint that re­sem­ble pixel­la­tion blurs. Peo­ple first think it’s done by a com­puter, but it’s all done by hand with acrylic paints. I have fun ex­per­i­ment­ing. Do you make space in your busy sched­ule to paint for plea­sure? I’m lucky in that al­most all of my paint­ing is com­pletely for plea­sure. I don’t do much com­mis­sioned work, and when I do I only take on projects I gen­uinely en­joy, like my work for the Walt Dis­ney Com­pany. So 95 per cent of my paint­ing time is my own, on my own projects for my gallery shows, and so on. What ad­vice would you give to your younger self to aid you on the way? I’d tell my­self to drop out of school as soon as I could. I hated school. I think I’d have been bet­ter off start­ing my art ca­reer full time even ear­lier. That’s prob­a­bly re­ally bad ad­vice for most peo­ple though. Stay in school, kids.

I re­mem­ber try­ing to sell my art­work door-to-door when I was five

Abyssa l Merma id “I painted this acrylic piece for the DragonCon Art Show. It cel­e­brates my love of deep see crit­ters and bi­o­lu­mi­nes­cence.” “This was cre­ated for Pop Gallery Or­lando at Dis­ney Springs – it’s one of my most pop­u­lar pieces!” Alice and Snow White

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