Today we’d like to introduce you to Jenny Yuen.
Jenny, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I was born and raised in Orange County, California and spent most of my childhood lost in imagination and drawing the afternoons away. I studied Painting and Art History at Boston University and then moved to New York and was hired as a painter for the artist Takisha Murakami. This was one of my favorite jobs, mainly because I loved the team of artists that I was working with at the time. I think this is where I really developed a steady hand and a love of drawing lines and undulating shapes and bright colors.
I was working there during the whole Murakami and Louis Vuitton bag craze so after that, or because of that, I was recruited by fashion labels such as J.Crew, Coach and Rebecca Minkoff to design accessories and handbags. I really enjoyed being in fashion and designing accessories but at the same time during this period I really missed drawing and art and being creative for myself.
I remember someone suggested I read the book “The Artist’s Way” and I read it cover to cover and did all the exercises and was really diligent to reinvigorate my creative spark! Not sure what it was exactly, but I ended up trying to do a daily drawing every day, and then that turned into 3, then 4 then larger ones then colored ones then more elaborate ones. I was posting it to my Facebook page and friends started to respond to it and it gave me momentum to keep on going with illustration.
In 2012, I self-published an erotic adult coloring book called “Letterotica” based on a collection of old love letters I had. Some of them were pretty racy and erotic and caught the eye of one of my friends who was working for Cosmopolitan Magazine at the time. That’s when I got my start doing a lot of their Kama Sutra Illustrations. One of my first assignments for them was “”28 Mind-Blowing Lesbian Sex Positions.” It was Cosmo’s first article on lesbian sex in the magazine’s 50 year history! It was fun because it went viral and I was receiving messages from friends that they were seeing my drawings in news articles all over the world, but the best was when my illustrations were mentioned as part of a question on NPR’s Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!
I eventually did an entire Kama Sutra Book, “Cosmo’s Sexy Sutra” published in 2017 by Chronicle Books. It was a lot of work but also a lot of fun and I also did the cover which I think came out really cool and beautiful.
It’s kind of crazy to me because a few years earlier I remember going to the Museum of Sex in NYC and seeing an illustrated Kama Sutra book and thinking, “Wow, that’d be fun to do! I want to illustrate something like this.” And well, I did!
I’ve moved on from the Kama sutra type work, but it’s really where I got the first start at being an illustrator. I’ve moved away from overly erotic and I’ve started creating work that are more sensual than sexual. Now, I like conveying sensuality and sexiness through subtleness and symbolism. It’s like a visual poem or puzzle.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
I always find it difficult to talk about my art because sometimes I feel like I’m really doing it for my own pleasure or expressing a secret part of myself. I guess in real generic superficial terms, I make illustrations used for magazine editorials, logos, t-shirt designs, product designs or patterns etc. I use traditional pen and ink for the base of the drawing and then use Photoshop and illustrator to finalize them. I’m always inspired by Art Nouveau, Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints and comic book artists, so I feel like I’m always trying to recreate the lines and feelings of my idols.
Some of my favorite artists or illustrators are Alphonse Mucha, Milo Manara, Guido Crepax, Aubrey Beardsley and William Morris. They all have such a way with curvy and hypnotic lines. I guess I love how just sometimes simple lines on a way can really create a whole universe on a page that you really want to dive into and maybe that’s what I hope people feel when they see my work.
The stereotype of a starving artist scares away many potentially talented artists from pursuing art – any advice or thoughts about how to deal with the financial concerns an aspiring artist might be concerned about?
I still believe in that saying “If there’s a will, there’s a way.” I didn’t start out doing illustration work full time. When I first started I was working as a freelance handbag designer and I would find time in the evenings and the weekends to devote to creating and developing it slowly. I think it is still possible to have a creative and artistic path that is quite fulfilling even if it isn’t your full time gig. Also, I have two types of work, one that is client work that pays the bills where I release some of creative freedom, but also I do work just for myself where I have 100% creative freedom that I do simply for the price to do something I love.
I think also conditions for artists today make it easier to support themselves with social media and online sales platforms. It’s made it easier for an artist to share and publish their work online and also sell to their audience and fans through sites like Etsy and Society6 or even direct from their own websites.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
My works mostly lives online on various websites that I work for or you can see my work on my website www.jennyalamode.com or on my IG @jennyalamode
- Website: www.jennyalamode.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jennyalamode
- Other: https://www.etsy.com/shop/Jennyalamode or https://society6.com/sexedelica