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Rising Stars: Meet Jacqui Smith

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jacqui Smith. 

Hi Jacqui, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I always knew I’d work in a creative field and through trial and error, I was able to find the path that best suited me. I started drawing at a very young age and tried just about every form of art I came across including painting, sewing, architecture, graphic design, and more. I eventually settled on animation and graduated from Columbia College of Chicago with a degree in Traditional Animation. After moving to Burbank California, I worked in a small animation studio in Santa Monica. I soon realized I wanted more creative freedom, so I left the animation world to pursue freelance illustration. After a few years, I was able to focus entirely on illustrating and I’m currently represented by the Bright Agency working on children’s books, educational materials, print ads, and murals. In addition, I’m also designing murals for Walmarts across the country. 

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Although I attended college, many of the tools I use today were self-taught. One of my biggest regrets was that I didn’t take business classes in college. Once I became self-employed, I had to learn how to negotiate contracts and pricing, navigate self-employment taxes, and build a structured multifaceted brand that would allow income to flow in even during dry periods. 

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I’m a professional Freelance Illustrator and passionate about creating illustrations that showcase diversity among women of color. I’ve released four coloring books titled “Know Yourself: A Coloring Book for Women (& Girls)” that focus on positive self-identity for girls and women of color. I created these books because growing up, I often didn’t see people that looked like me in coloring books, toys, films, or other media. For years, I struggled with my self-identity as well as my self-confidence. I wanted to give women of all ages something that would motivate them to love themselves as they are while also being presented as a fun activity. 

Are there any books, apps, podcasts or blogs that help you do your best?
I highly recommend “The Graphic Artists Guild Handbook” to anyone working in the creative field. This book was recommended to me a few years ago by a fellow artist when I was having difficulty determining price points. The book provides information on various artistic jobs ranging from royalties, expenses, marketing, negotiating contracts, and much more. 

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