Today we’d like to introduce you to Christine “Cj” Jackson.
Christine “Cj”, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I got my start as an artist. In high school, they wanted me to be a lawyer. My teachers and counselors weren’t very happy with me when I very casually stated, “I just want to make art.” I am a photographic & mixed media artist. I’ve spent many years studying and practicing the art of photography. That talent has given me many different platforms to express myself from giving college lectures to participating in and hosting art shows.
Those skillsets, dedication and discipline have led me into my current avenue of art. I create custom pieces and black culture apparel. It allows me to express myself and help others express themselves as well. That’s where I find my joy, helping others.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The late Susan Ste. Marie taught me to always explore different avenues to get my message across and to never half ass it because it shows in your work. I am forever grateful to her. In 2016 I was hit by a bus. As a result, my ability to create came to a halt. I lost the luxury of being able to use my arm in its full capacity. It prevents me from doing everything I was accustomed to doing.
Holding a camera is now excruciating. Lugging around all the equipment to assist me is now exhausting. Working with canvases became daunting. I became an artist with no outlet. It drove me into a deep depression.
Being stuck in that space of disparity led me here to where I am today. I had an idea. I wanted to wear that idea so I started screen printing. The hard part was trying to screenprint with one arm. I managed to make and rig screens to suit my needs. They weren’t the best but they allowed me to express myself.
The inquiries started coming in. I learned new ways to make creating in this new field easier to do with my good arm. As creating became less physically challenging, it became more difficult to be oblivious to the racial injustices that were happening around the world. With a heavy heart, I set out on a mission to make a difference my way.
I Be Doin Shit – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I Be Doin Shit is a small business that creates custom clothing for birthdays, special events, businesses, etc. by using heat press and screen printing methods. All work is done in house. We keep customers involved every step of the way.
I Be Doin Shit is also a brand. iBDS is geared towards creating apparel for the Black Culture.
After being frustrated with the racism in America, I was inspired to do something. It started with a statement piece I designed specifically for a protest. The design took off well. That led to my desire to bring folks together.
Marcus Garvey once said, “The Negro will have to build his own industry, art, sciences, literature & culture before the world will stop to consider him.”
I have taken my one woman show at I Be Doin Shit and expanded it to events titled We Be Doin Shit. I wanted to create a platform for those who want to better themselves and those around them. Every couple of months iBDS hosts We Be Doin Shit where we bring entrepreneurs, small business owners, creators, thinkers, writers, those with the ability to assist and guide others together in a pop-up shop event.
I take great pride in providing a space that allows others to show the world what they can do. Our next We Be Doin Shit is October 25th. At the M.E.N.T.O.R.S. Inc. office at 6622 Crenshaw Blvd from 1pm – 5pm. Its focus is women in business in celebration of Women’s Small Business Month. There will be an array of different kinds of products, services and food.
What were you like growing up?
Growing up, I always felt displaced. I was smart, athletic, reliable and charismatic. That charisma often got me out of trouble with teachers.
It wasn’t until high school at Locke that I felt comfortable in my skin, with being me. I was the token lesbian on campus. I was free to be me. I’ve never had to hide who I was and I was pretty bold about it. I think that gave others the ability to feel free and comfortable with being themselves. That freedom came at a price. There was a music teacher that set out to cause me issues every chance he got. He would smile and joke with me but in staff meetings would complain about how free the gay kids were, stating it was my fault. He would call parents of students he thought was gay and would out them to their parents. Sometimes that outing would result in violence towards that child other times he would get cursed out by the parents. Senior year I asked the principal if she would be ok with me running for homecoming king. She told me NO. My rebuttal was, “But they’re letting them at Crenshaw and Fremont.” As she walked away she told me, “We’ll take your ass to Crenshaw or Fremont cause you ain’t doing it here.”
Aside from the closeted homophobia life as a high schooler was pretty dope. I received a good education. I received multiple scholarships. I was president of multiple clubs. I was the school’s student photographer and videographer. I was a varsity athlete. My scholastic abilities landed me a free trip to New York. I was blessed to have amazing teachers that wouldn’t accept failure. They were the people in my life that showed me discipline and how to achieve my goals. They changed me for the better.
My mother had these photographic images in the hallway of our apartment. She called them “Abstract Art”. I often found myself standing in that hallway staring at one in particular. It was an image of a bus stop bench in the forefront with a set of stairs in the background. The shadows are what intrigued me the most. That photo sparked the flame in me to become a photographer. I was shy yet extremely confident. The family motto was, “I am not conceited. I’m just sure of myself.” So it was important for me personally to do well at all I set out to accomplish. I still hold this same standard for myself as an adult.
I Be Doin Shit takes pride in providing reliable quality products and services.
- $18+ Custom/Special Event Pieces
- $15+ iBDS Gear
- Website: www.ibedoinshit.com
- Phone: 4242306206
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://instagram.com/ibedoinshit?igshid=1enaxg3tffy1n
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/iBeDoinShit/
i Be Doin Shit