Jasmine Romero

by Nisha Btesh March 12, 2020

Jasmine Romero

6am: wake up. Brush teeth and skincare routine. I use Angels on Bare Skin from LUSH and The Ordinary products.

6:30am: I consult my planner/notes, see what’s on my to-do list. Put on music!

7:00am: get some basic house cleaning out of the way.

8:00am: I start working on personal art projects or commissions. I focus first on what is most urgent, but I also like to switch back and forth between my personal work and commission work so I don’t spend too much time on one thing. Keeps it from being monotonous.

 

Tell us a little bit about what drew you to your medium. Did you choose to work with this medium or did it choose you?

 
Collage took me a very, very long time to discover. I was always an artist, but I started with illustration as a kid.
 
I taught myself how to draw and design characters. My focus was on evoking personality through the character’s form. I was in love with drawing people, and the look and feel of a pencil.
 
I eventually began painting in high school when I realized I wanted to incorporate as much color as possible in my work - and the way color looked when applied by brush just made me hungry. I painted a lot of blue and pink-skinned women that were going through a transformation.
 
I painted for a couple of years, and grew dissatisfied with my execution. I felt like I still wasn’t expressing myself the way I wanted to. 
 
In college, I took on photography. My passion for music went to the next level. I became an amateur music photographer, and went to local shows every other week, or at least once a month. This is when my personal art journey kind of took a halt, because my work wasn’t about me, it was about the musicians.
 
I changed my major from Art to TV Production and made a couple of documentaries based on local artists/musicians. As a college radio DJ, I was immersed in the Miami scene as a documentarian. I made a lot of good friends and experienced personality changes I never saw coming.
 
Around the end of college, though, I wanted to focus on my own art and expression. I had taken a lot of time focusing on the work of others. I went back to illustration, but it didn’t feel the same.
 
I casually began collaging circa 2015. I started by collaging on mail envelopes. I liked the literal but playful idea of “sending messages”.
 
The collages gave me the ability to take from all the mediums I enjoyed. It made me feel a new freedom. It also brought me genuine interest and reactions from others.
 
Maybe it’s because I’m more outspoken now, and I promote myself more, but collage has become the medium I feel most connected with, as well as the most well-received.
 
In the year I moved to Jersey City from Miami, I’ve had two solo art shows with my collage work! That’s something that probably wouldn’t have happened back in Miami with the work I did then.
 
I still draw and have many illustration ideas, but collage has become my number one. I don’t regret that at all, either, because I think a lot of illustrators now are doing the same thing. Collage, at least for me, brings out my uniqueness better than anything else.
 

Tell us about how you became the woman you are today. Where did you grow up? What moments in life have influenced your character most?

 
I grew up as the youngest of four in a Peruvian family in South Florida. I was the only one born in the States in 1995. My parents worked all the time, but as a child, I didn’t realize what that meant. I was raised in the not-so-nice part of Broward County, which, you’ll know what it’s like if you’ve seen season 1 of COPS.
 
I stayed inside a lot. I never had too many friends. I lived kind of in my own head and on the internet. The internet was otherwordly to me. I learned how to make digital art, how to code, how to edit video, and how to use (“free”) Photoshop by the end of middle school.
 
My best friend was my brother, who is another huge influence in terms of mindset, music taste, and humor. He is still one of the smartest people I know. Together we watched cartoons and anime, discovered music by Frank Zappa and The White Stripes, and played video games. We also read a lot of spooky stories to each other when it wasn’t even Halloween, so there’s my interest in the supernatural and the occult right there.
 
I grew up chubby. I got bullied for it. Not so much physically, but more emotionally. I noticed right away the difference in treatment when you’re not skinny. People neglect you, don’t pay attention to you so much, just because of your weight.
 
I had a lot of social anxiety (I still do) and struggled with how to present myself because people only saw me as a nerd, and while I was definitely weird, I knew I was fun. People seemed to not know that. It got worse in college when I got heavier.
 
I wasn’t far from 200 lbs when I began experiencing issues with my body and the college nurse I saw told me I was obese, and that was the reason. Looking back I should have realized it was discrimination, but alas, I decided to hit the gym.
 
A year later people I saw pretty regularly didn’t recognize me, were impressed with my weight loss, and seemed to look at me in an entirely different way, which annoyed me. I was there the whole time.
 

It’s insane to think about how superficial people are, and this is why I always, always show people I am genuinely interested in what they have to say no matter how they look. 

Growing up as an American, rather than having been born in Peru, has been a privilege, but also awkward, as I am lighter-skinned and not the most fluent in Spanish. I’m used to not feeling “Hispanic enough”, as family members and other Hispanics have implied growing up. White people tolerated me, but I still wasn’t exactly white to them, either. 

I often wavered between wanting to partake in my heritage and rejecting it. I didn’t really like Spanish as a language and I most certainly didn’t like the older, conservative Christian attitudes. I’ve always kind of felt lost in terms of culture. 

At 24, I have a while to go, but I’m much happier with who I am and where I’m at. I listen to a lot of doo-wop, jazz, and rock. I’m one of the silliest people you’ll ever meet. I wear big jewelry. I’m addicted to ice cream and vintage clothing. I’m fascinated with mythology, magic and my own distant Incan heritage. I’m a passionate multidisciplinary artist. I’ve been through a lot of pain but I’m grateful to have come out stronger for it. 

  

What is the message you're sending into the universe with your work? Why do you feel so strongly about this message?

 
I want everyone to play! Play, or experimentation, leads to a kind of personal evolution. I want my work to encourage positivity, to make people smile, to feel a spark of magic.
 
This is really important to me because of how constructive play is, and how it counteracts negativity. Some people say they can’t make art when they’re not sad. At the end of the day, it’s whatever works for you. But I want to be able to make art in a good mood and have it show!
 
I want my art to show my neverending wonder and curiosity. I want it to depict the feeling of adventure, of being close to the unusual. I want it to feel like you’re in an old mythological tale. I appreciate the romance of being alive and experiencing simple pleasures. Those are the feelings that keep me going.
 
I also want to make art that advocates for diversity, body positivity, feminism, and self-empowerment. In what is one of the most difficult times economically and politically in the US, these themes are key to health and happiness.
  

How do you define your creative gig? Full-time career or side hustle? Explain why you’ve chosen one over the other. 

Right now, my artwork and business are run on the side, whenever I have free time off from work. My short-term goal is to eventually make enough profit so that I don’t need a full-time job. Long-term, I want a small brick-and-mortar business. 

I’ve started small by running an online shop with Threadless, which I’ve done for a couple of months and have seen steady support, along with a Patreon. With the funds from Patreon and Threadless, I’m going to take things a step further. I’m finally making my own prints at home! I want to move on to making buttons, stickers, possibly pins, and accessories like bags. 

After going through the odd handful of jobs since I graduated from college, I’ve realized I can’t stand working for someone else long-term. Obviously I’m not the only one. However, I realize the importance of steady income and health benefits. (I didn’t have benefits for many years!) Right now my job allows me to have more mental freedom. I don’t have to think about my job outside of it. This helps my creative ambitions out A LOT.
 

Finish this sentence. I find myself most inspired to create when I am…

 When I am listening to music. Music jumpstarts my brain. It brings me peace, clarity, excitement, and healing. It’s the one sure-fire thing to amp up or change my mood. It helps me put together colors and visions.
I always make sure to put on music when I’m creating. It’s so soothing and gets me right in the zone to connect with myself.
 

Give us three of your favorite/ most inspiring things right now. It could be a book, a food, a destination, a song, a person, etc.  

A figure I cannot stop thinking about is Venus. Feels like I’ve been deeply exploring her corresponding symbology for a few years now. Venus is responsible for love, passion, harmony, and reminds me of how good design or harmonious color palettes bring us a sense of calm and contentment. Plus, its heavy connotation for women and feminine energy is super empowering. Women or folks with feminine energy, I find manifest beauty with such ease. Women, in general, are inspirational to me.

Another source of inspiration is my tarot deck. My grandmother read tarot quite seriously. My mom taught me how to do some of it as well. My grandmother was the youngest of her siblings, as was my mother. As I am also the youngest female, it just feels like a tradition. For me, it’s a form of meditation rather than divination, although I am fascinated with that quality of it and want to evoke that in my art.

More recently than ever, fashion has important to me. I work with a lot of clothes, and seeing the variety of styles, structures and methods of using colors and patterns have got my head swimming. The same goes for jewelry. I am in such awe of the work of designers behind brands such as Ulla Johnson, Celine, Gucci, and Miu Miu, just to name a few. There are so many things you can say right off the bat with how you dress. Something as simple as shiny socks can get me feeling ready to conquer the day.

Name 3 Artists you would like to see featured on Hola Gwapa next and what you love about them. 

I’d love to see, in no particular order:  

1. Katie (IG: @thesearecollages)

2. Alana Questell (IG: @alana_questell)

3. Ashley Llanes (IG: @seldom_followed)
 
Katie has strong, self-assured collage work. I love the atmosphere she creates with it, and her eye for good design is clear as day. I’m very happy to have her work hanging in my living room.
 
Alana has wonderfully quirky and fun work. Her gentle personality translates into sweet, colorful images. She’s responsible for a lot of the artwork for the band Orlando band SALES.
 
Then there’s Ashley, who I know from my college radio days. She’s another collage artist/photographer who is excellent at translating intimacy into her art.
For more information on Jasmine Romero please visit linktr.ee/prim__cess



Nisha Btesh
Nisha Btesh

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