For this Be a Villager series, we sit down with our good friend Jenna, the artist behind Village Juicery’s Summer 2015 seasonal bottle, fitness model and a truly inspirational entrepreneur.
VJ: Tell us how you got to be an artist?
JC: I was always an artist, I think. Since I was very little, I was cutting up my clothes and wearing them differently.
When I was in university, I started painting. I made my first commission at 21 years old. I got very little for it, but it hit me: I can do this for a living.
My first exhibit was at the Gladstone six or seven years ago. Then, I got involved in chalk art and that’s what I mostly do now. I work with restaurants, cafes and offices. It’s a great niche for me. I still paint, but I mostly paint for myself.
VJ: What’s it like to be an artist in 2015?
JC: There’s a stigma that it’s a solitary profession, but it’s not. I get to interact with so many different people. Like when I’m out doing something for a restaurant, I’m meeting their whole team and getting to know the ins and outs of the city.
VJ: Where do you get your inspiration?
JC: Other artists, mostly. I see art everywhere – graffiti, street art. Travelling is a major source of inspiration.
I’ve also surrounded myself with creative people. We feed off each other. Toronto is a pretty creative place – you just can’t avoid it.
VJ: Do you consider yourself to be an entrepreneur?
JC: I do. I’m overly optimistic all the time. I have a pretty positive mindset. There are times when I think: When is my next job going to come? But it does.
I think there are so many ways to be an entrepreneur these days. What I love most is having control over my day. And, when I create things, it makes me happy to see my clients happy.
VJ: You are a very optimistic person. What is happiness to you?
JC: Happiness is your relationships with other people and your relationship with yourself. I know for me, I’m constantly working on myself – self development is very important to me. I feel happiest when I go to bed exhausted. You know, that really good exhaustion at the end of the day.
VJ: You’re also a fitness model. How did you get involved in that?
JC: I guess you can say I developed a health obsession. I started running, got into yoga, got certified and taught for a couple of years.
I then met another fitness model named Lauren and went to one of her shows. I remember thinking all the women looked so healthy; they really inspired me. Lauren took me under her wing. She introduced me to lots of people and that’s how I fell into it. It was just a natural progression.
I’ve done six shows over three to four years. I’m planning on training for one in September with an organization called SAF(Serious About Fitness) based out of Ottawa. They’re about training healthy and clean and do a lot of drug testing. It will be my first competition in two years. I’m really excited about it.
VJ: Is living a healthy lifestyle important to you?
JC: Yes, I think it’s important to be active and have a well-balanced lifestyle. I eat mostly vegetarian, but mainly for ethical reasons. I know protein is good for me, so If I do eat meat it’s free-range chicken.
VJ: What is a healthy body image?
JC: I think it’s what feels good for you. For me, I feel my best when I’m lean and muscular. I can run faster and feel lighter. But then there are times when I’m curvy and that makes me feel great, too. I think if you close your eyes and you feel good, that’s what a healthy body image is about.
VJ: Who is your mentor?
JC: My parents and my sister; they’re my support system. I would say some really good friends are my mentors as well as different men and women in heath and fitness industry who have made a lifelong commitment to health.
In the artists world, I follow Dana Tanamachi. She’s a chalkboard artist in Brooklyn. She’s inspired me to start this.
VJ: Where do you see yourself in two years?
JC: I want to be doing big pieces of work like large-scale walls, either with chalk or paint. What I love about what I did with Village Juicery is that it gets into a lot of people’s hands. It’s so cool to see.
VJ: What is your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)?
JC: I want to use my art to do something that’s important. I’m passionate about animals and ethical treatment. I want to combine art with some sort of activism and social movement.
VJ: We can’t end this interview without talking about your hair. Would you consider your hair as part of your identity?
JC: Yeah it is. It makes me unique. And it’s only been in the last five years I’ve grown to love it. I used to do everything to change it – straighten it, add in extensions. I remember in the sixth grade, I used to cry every morning, but I guess it was the combination of the hair and the braces. It took me 20 years to figure it out!
VJ: Name five things you can’t live without:
JC: Music, my running shoes, my hands, a big blank wall, and of course, my mousse.
VJ: What’s your favourite juice?
JC: All the nut milks. And whatever’s in the seasonal bottle (wink, wink).