How This Watercolor Artist Became Insta-Famous
Can’t decide whether or not to post that [insert creative project here] you just finished working on? Maybe you’re working on a drawing, a weaving, a music video? You want to post it to share with your peeps but have that classic creative-person insecurity — will my friends/family like it? Will anyone else like it? Okay, maybe I won’t post it. Well, as you’ve probably guessed from the title, we’ve got an artist’s story that just might give you the confidence to post all your creative work. Because you never know — it just might lead to a total career change!
Meet Jenna Rainey, the completely lovely gal behind our Intro to Watercolor Online Class and our featured maker this week! A few weeks ago I spent an afternoon with Jenna, wandering the streets of the Mission in search of coffee, pastries and cocktails. Along the way, I learned a heck of a lot about this brilliant artist.
Before I let her tell her own story, let’s get to this Insta-fame. A couple years ago, Jenna was minding her own business (and technically, the business of others), working as a financial planner. Though she’d grown up surrounded by artists and creating her own work for her whole life, she hadn’t really considered a career as a professional maker. Then she decided to start posting some of her creative explorations, specifically watercolor and calligraphy, on Instagram. Lo and behold: an Insta-star was born. Her friends started liking, commenting and sharing — and then commissioning. All sorts of folks found her on Instagram and inquired about custom work, rates and more. She described the whole thing as so surreal, it almost felt silly. Is this really happening? The answer was obviously yes, and pretty soon she was able to quit her nine-to-five and turn her passion into a career.
Now, let’s hear more about Jenna in her own words.
What inspires you? Why do you love to design, create and make?
I’m most inspired by people. I think the way we interact, our stories and personalities are so fascinating. I’m also very inspired by the arts in general. A particular song can send me into a wave of creativity that I won’t be able to stop for a few hours. I might not produce the best work during that time, but that feeling alone is all worth it. I love being able to feel free to create for myself as well as interacting with a client’s particular taste and vision on a project.
What inspired your company, Mon Voir?
Mon Voir began out of a passion for painting that began when I was a little girl. Growing up in a family of artists greatly influenced my own story and technique as a self-taught painter, calligrapher and designer and has helped to develop a truly unique approach and style. We specialize in fine art and calligraphy for beautiful, bespoke wedding and event stationery. Along with stationery and print materials, we also offer fine art and calligraphy expertise for branding, logo design, tattoos and any other pieces you can dream up!
What’s one piece of advice you’d share with other makers?
Don’t waste your time feeling incompetent. Art is more about the experience and journey than it is impressing others. Once it becomes more about impressing other people, you completely loose who you are as an individual and a creative.
Tell us how technology has changed and supported what you do.
Instagram and social media in general have given me so many jobs and opportunities. While I was working at the financial planning office, I began exploring creating for more than just myself, eventually getting bold enough and posting work on social media. Things kinda snowballed after that, and I was able to quit that job and do Mon Voir full time because of all the jobs I was getting directly from posts!
What’s on your studio playlist?
Ha! No music, or Claire de Lune on repeat. It sounds depressing, but actually music is a huge part of my life (I sing and play piano), but I just get so distracted by it if I’m working.
How do you get into the creative flow? How does it feel?
In order to get into the creative flow, I either need complete silence or a particular song on repeat… usually without words. I’m so easily sidetracked that if I’m listening to music that’s just one notch too loud, or the lyrics stand out to me too much, I won’t be able to create. I also need great natural light to feel comfortable. Once I’m there, it feels like I’m dancing in a ballet. It’s soothing, therapeutic and my mind is able to turn off.
What do you love about teaching people to make? And inspiring people who don’t think they are traditionally creative?
The most rewarding part is when people realize that being creative IS for everyone. People get really hung up on talent and if they don’t have any of it within the artistic creative realm then, well, they’re not creative. But that just isn’t true. Talent is produced from hard work and dedication, whereas I believe creativity is something we are all born with and just need to tap into at the right time. So, each class presents a challenge to help someone see that with the right materials and training they can tap into that, and I enjoy that challenge the most I think.
What is the story of how you got to where you are today?
My mom and both of my grandmothers are all painters. I’ve grown up observing them and their technique for art along with having the freedom to create with no hinderance. I went to school for psychology, where I learned the importance of listening, learning and bringing out what’s best in a person. This has translated in so many ways to how I run my business as well as teaching workshops. I feel art is something that everyone should enjoy and not be afraid to try.
Before I became a full-time artist, I worked in restaurants for seven years, and my most recent job prior to Mon Voir was working for a financial planner for about four months. Both of these jobs taught me how to work hard and manage stressful environments. I feel that my experience as a waitress has far outweighed any experience I would’ve had at an art school. You learn how to put people’s needs first, deal with unruly/angry customers and work long hours under pressure.
What other makers inspire you?
Well, Luli Sanchez is my favorite watercolor artist, ever. I could never be so bold to paint with such dark, moody colors. I’m also inspired by The 2 Bandits (jewelry designer) and Ariele Alasko (wood worker). Van Gogh has always been my favorite painter.
What is the weirdest, most unusual or worst job you’ve ever had?
I would have to say working at a tiny sports bar in downtown Chicago, IL, where I’m pretty positive the owner was affiliated with something shady. Let’s just say, I had to call the police on a regular basis, my manager got in fist fights with a customer (regularly) and not many people who worked there showed up sober.
What other things do you love to make?
music and food :)
Scroll on to see a few more snaps from our wander around the Mission. Warning: Things got weird… in the best way ever ;)
Everyday Watercolor: Learn to Paint Watercolor in 30 Days, to really put your new creative skills to good use!