American artist Jayma Forman received a Bachelors of Art from Florida State University in 2013 and since then she has been steadily developing as an artist and has regularly exhibited her work over the last two years in both solo and group exhibitions in the Chicago area.
Forman's work features bold colour and rough textures created from different tools, though most commonly used is a palette knife. Rarely, if at all, are subjects depicted with realistic features. Her artwork is predominantly abstract, using blind contour to distort their features and asking the viewer to use their knowledge of the subject to truly identify with it.
Whilst inspired by current events, Forman also finds inspiration through music and travel. Her artwork channels a passion for political and environmental issues and the effects they both have on our planet; from landscapes and oceans, to us mentally and physically as human beings.
American Artist Jayma Forman
Forman's mission is to transfix the viewer and allow them to see something unique that speaks to their life experiences, past or present. She wants them to look upon these pieces and take with them what they did not have before: a curious feeling that brings on a need to educate themselves on the political and environmental changes we are affected by daily.
What initially drew you towards becoming an artist?
I wanted to use my thoughts and experiences, put them on canvas and see how each viewer interpreted the image differently.
How would you describe your own personal style?
My style is a bit dark, abstract and super texturized.
What pushed you in that direction and how can you see your work evolving in the future?
I think my style is a complete reflection of who I am as a person and the thoughts, images, fears, hopes, political angst, etc that's bouncing around in my head.
What inspires you in your work, is there a driving factor that draws you to the easel?
As of late I would say the political and environmental climate has both influenced my art. I'm inspired by old school rock; Led Zeppelin, The Doors, AC/DC, Patti Smith, Black Sabbath, Jimi Hendrix. Music is constantly playing in my studio, it helps me get in the zone and stay focused.
Are there particular individuals who have encouraged / inspired you along the way, friends, family, teachers, may be even other artists?
I would say friends first and foremost, and ironically a lot of my friends are fellow creatives. I'm really blessed to have their encouragement.
"Bikini Girls", Jayma Forman, Oil Stick and Oils on Canvas, 91.5cm x 61cm, 2017
When it comes to creating your work, do you have a preferred medium, certain types of brushes or tools you love to use?
Oil paint is my preferred medium and a palette knife is my tool of choice. Lately i've been drawn to using oil sticks, they're really messy and a ton of fun to work with. I'm finding that I like to use my hands more than a brush on my most recent pieces.
When it comes to the subject matter of your work, what draws you to those themes?
I'm fascinated with the peculiar, with anything that draws you in immediately, holds your gaze and makes you want to covet it - I feel like I emulate that thought process in my artwork.
Could you describe the process behind your art? How do you get from concept to execution?
Each painting has the same four steps for me. I have an idea and I immediately scribble it on paper or start on a canvas, I also see the exact colours I want to use for each piece. In the beginning, the vision will be on track and its clear skies ahead. Then the middle comes along and things get a little rockier and the questions start in. Do I want to keep the arm this colour? Is this abstract, bold enough? So I'll stew on it or just start changing things which makes me a little nuts. The third stage I’ll typically be turned off by the piece. I'll think I've gone in a bad direction, I've done too much, too little, etc. The final stage will come after I've sat on it for a bit, or had another image pop into my head of what to do to finalize the piece, I finish and typically I'm happy with the end result. It comes full circle.
Could you describe your normal day as an artist? Have you set routines and rituals or is a more a case of when the moment is right you work?
When I wake up I answer emails / apply to shows for a few hours. Then I get ready and head into the studio. A really great piece of advice I received from a friend of mine was, "even if you aren't feeling very inspired - get into the studio and create, put a brush to canvas, a pencil to paper and it will come." I usually spend eight hours or longer in the studio. I do get inspired at the weirdest times so I've started carrying a small notebook with me.
When you work, do you focus on one piece at a time until completion or are you working on multiple pieces at the same time?
I'll typically be working on multiple pieces at once.
How has your art evolved to be where it is today?
I think I'm still trying to find my voice and style as an artist. I think a driving force behind that is my passion for the political and environmental climate, I'm slowly working on how to incorporate those factors into my artwork. Another great piece of advice I received was "Don't censor yourself or your artwork, because if you censor yourself it becomes unnatural to you and you won't be proud of what you create." I try to keep that in the back of my mind when creating.
"Run" - Jayma Forman, Oil and Acrylic Vinyl, 122cm x 91.5cm, 2017
Which of your artworks are you most proud off?
I would say Run, and Shake for me Girl. I'm really happy with how Run came together and the feedback I've received. Shake for me Girl really represents oppression for both women of colour and women in general and I'm happy I was able to put that image together.
Is there a fellow artist alive today that you admire? If so, why?
I admire Damian Gomes, I bought a piece from him and we developed a friendship. He's a wonderful sounding board for me and he's insanely talented.
If you could travel back in time, is there a particular artistic period / era that you would like to have been involved in?
The 70s, I mean c'mon - the fashion, the music, the lifestyle, the mind-set.
What challenges do you feel the 21st century artist has to overcome?
Because everything is so readily available for us. I'm finding that it’s really difficult to find buyers who want to invest in an original piece when they could just buy a print for cheap somewhere else. Everything is free, free online magazines, free social media, free delivery, so finding that buyer can be a challenge.
What advice would you give to a young aspiring artist currently studying art?
Don't get discouraged in the politics of this industry and stay true to you and your vision. My biggest piece of advice would be that success (however you measure that) does not happen overnight, keep pushing and it will come.
"Tap", Jayma Forman, Oil Stick and Oil on Canvas 91.5cm x 61cm, 2017
Despite having developed your own distinctive style, is their another style of art that you are immediately drawn towards and admire? Why?
I am fascinated with Salvador Dali and Erte. Both artists paint with clean, beautiful lines, and each piece is aesthetically balanced. I have always admired both artists and their work. An ironic juxtaposition from my work, which is so chaotic and texturized and completely lacking of clean lines.
We have all heard of the unfinished masterpiece, even Da Vinci laboured away at the Mona Lisa for years and years, have you works that are in a continual process of evolution? When working on an artwork do you find it hard to let go? Knowing when enough is enough?
Absolutely, I have a few pieces that I've been working on for years. Even a few pieces that I've redone after having them in a show. For me the hard part is knowing when to stop, when to walk away.
Many people see artists as storytellers or advocates for a cause, do you believe that it is an artist’s responsibility to shine a light on a particular subject / theme, or do you create purely for the sake of expression your creative nature?
I do, each creative was given a gift and they can choose to use that gift however they please. I'm not saying everyone has to be an activist with their art but if your passionate about an event or wrongdoing by government or whatever you should use your gift and convey your message so it can become a discussion and get people interested in both you and the message you're trying to relay.
"The Taste", Jayma Forman, Oil on Canvas, 91.5cm x 66cm
What are you working on at the moment?
I'm working on putting together a solo exhibit, so I'm working on finalizing pieces for that, and I have a few commissions for the Holiday season, I'm juggling and I love it.
Have you ever been part of an artistic group / movement? How did your work benefit from that experience?
I was a part of the Nasty Woman Art Show, each piece that was sold had 100% of its proceeds donated to Planned Parenthood. I'm really proud to have been a part of that. I think my work benefited because it showed me that I can use my voice to be a part of something bigger than myself.
When is your next exhibition? Is it a solo or group exhibition? Could you tell us a little about the exhibition, when and where it is?
I'm working on putting a solo show together. I'm still working on getting a solid 20 pieces together, once I have that I'll start scouting places to have the show.