Interview by Visual Collaborative
May 2019 6 min read
j.st.jaimes is a makeup artist, men’s groomer, and creative director based in Chicago in the midwestern U.S. In this interview of our Voyager issue, she talks about her work and diverse background in the creative industry as a woman of color.
(VC) Chicago is easily the cradle or landmark of the midwest. How has its diversity and commercial environment affected your work?
(Jana) There’s so much culture, hustle and inspiration here, it’s impossible for my work not to be influenced. Honestly, my art aesthetic is very “Chicago”. My paintings and photography are rich in color, sound, and gritty perspective just like the streets of the city. However, my makeup work shares the city’s sense of beauty and fragility. Overall, I’ve borrowed Chicago’s rebellious spirit and quite a bit of the South Side’s truthfulness. Chicago is raw and loyal, yet very unforgiving. There’s resilience all over me.
(VC) Aside from many individuals, you have worked with some major brands such as Nike and Atlantic Records. What was your involvement with these two companies?
(Jana) I was tasked with executing Nike’s hair or makeup looks for their e-commerce merchandise for about 7 seasons. Nike was one of my dream clients, so working with them was a great experience. I was able to sharpen my skills as an artist and really challenge myself when creating looks for their Sportswear and SB categories. Regarding Atlantic, I provided hair/makeup services for some of their recording artists for television and press appearances. Working in TV is demanding and definitely keeps you sharp.
Behind the scenes, there is still a huge disparity as it relates to gender, artists of color, and even decision makers of color. Sure, it’s great to see some overall progress with the emergence of more women entrepreneurs in the fashion or entertainment space, but we need more access to the top.
(VC) There is a population of people who do not know the size or dynamics of the makeup industry, does the flamboyance of your work tell a backstory or your subjects are case by case?
(Jana) The current makeup industry is definitely flamboyant but my aesthetic is not. My work comes from a very simple and thoughtful place. It’s really honest. For me, I approach my clients on a case-by-case basis. Everyone has their own story and I choose to honor that.
(VC) You are clearly into imagery, photography and creative direction, what are your cameras of choice or do you delegate that part to freelancers?
(Jana) Not sure if I have a camera of choice. I shoot with what I have available and right now that’s my Canon. However, I still consider myself a great iPhone photographer! Some of the best photos I’ve taken have been either with a phone or a polaroid. I guess I’m resourceful. Go figure.
Photo courtesy of j.st.jaimes
(VC) In your field you meet a number of celebrities and prominent figures, how does this affect your personal relationships or this is regular business occurrence for you?
(Jana) Meeting and working with celebrities and prominent figures is common practice and definitely a blessing. However, my personal relationships aren’t affected by my clientele. You see and hear a lot of things in this industry that can ultimately affect you and your work so it’s important for me not to mix the two in order to stay grounded. Besides, I can’t tell all my secrets.
(VC) Outside the political scene in the Western hemisphere especially in the United States, there are several movements making room for women entrepreneurs and progressive woman rights all over. Do you personally feel the impact of these movements or what more would you say can be done?
(Jana) There have definitely been some changes in the fashion/beauty industry in terms of inclusivity but it’s not enough. Behind the scenes, there is still a huge disparity as it relates to gender, artists of color, and even decision makers of color. Sure, it’s great to see some overall progress with the emergence of more women entrepreneurs in the fashion/entertainment space, but we need more access to the top. If anything, there needs to be more support and resources for women and people of color. The industry needs a real culture shift. Once we get the gatekeepers to hand us over the keys and invite us to their networks, we’ll be able to finally build the strength and sustainability of creative people of color.
(VC) If you could work alongside any creative professional in any field, who would it be and why?
(Jana) There are so many awesome creatives across so many disciplines that I would love to collaborate with. I would love to partner with artists who many consider to be rebels and groundbreakers.
I would love to collaborate with. I would love to partner with artists who many consider to be rebels and groundbreakers.
Those are the kinds of creatives not afraid to push boundaries and challenge us to think beyond what we know.
Isn’t that what art is about? Having the opportunity to brainstorm and create with someone sharing the same artistic fearlessness would be epic! Creatives like Kanye West, Pat McGrath, FKA Twigs, Marni Senofonte, Dana Scruggs, Rihanna, and Kehinde Wiley would fit the bill perfectly.
(VC) As a black woman in America who is well traveled and maybe privileged, what do you tell the aspiring young woman or an entrepreneur about success and business risk?
(Jana) Get out of your own way and just do it! Sometimes you won’t have all the answers or a solid plan and that’s ok. Pray, muster up your confidence, pull together your resources, and make it happen. You’ll do yourself a disservice by overthinking. Working in fear will cost you trust me!
(VC) Tell us what music you are listening to now or enjoying if any?
(Jana) I listen to everything literally! I like to consider myself a self-proclaimed music connoisseur. I think I was a dj in my former life. On any given day you’ll hear me play Fela Kuti, River Tiber, Anita Baker, Ten City, Flying Lotus, A Tribe Called Quest, Tchaikovsky, Donny Hathaway, Little Dragon, 21 Savage, Wande Coal, Lamar Campbell, Def Leppard, Prince, Chicago, 2Chainz, Fred Hammond, Roy Ayers, Kaytranada, Wham!, Nirvana, and everything in between. Let me know if you need a good playlist or two, or three.
(VC) What can the world expect from j.st.jaimes within the next 5 years?
(Jana) In the beginning of my journey, I spent a lot of time being stuck as a new entrepreneur. Now, I’m able to appreciate every peak and valley. I welcome the next five years continuing to live as a growing, stretching, and learning creative. I envision living comfortably, advancing my makeup career in television, shooting for fashion/art brands, encouraging young entrepreneurs, developing strong business relationships, curating art shows, traveling the world for work/inspiration, giving myself permission to create unapologetically, and being kind.
The being kind part is really important!