BABE #289: AMY JENKINS - Freelance Illustrator/Artist
Ever since she can remember, Amy has deeply loved all-things creative. But growing up in a small conservative town meant facing belittlement from the community that oftentimes made art seem lesser than, particularly as a career path. Being the true BWH that she is, Amy quieted the naysayers and persistently pursued her passions. Today, she’s a self-taught freelance illustrator and artist, providing custom illustration work for fellow businesses, book authors, magazines and more. Using her skills to elevate brands and ideals that align with her passion for environmental activism, it’s safe to say that Amy made the right choice in following her dreams.
Hometown: Springfield, Missouri
Current city: Springfield, Missouri
Alma mater: N/A
Very first job: KFC — which is really funny, because I’m a vegan now.
Hustle: Freelance Illustrator/Artist
Babe you admire and why?
Madison Hedlund; she’s my life coach. I just hired her on and started taking her program. She lives in the same small town as me and has faced a lot of the same challenges. She created her coaching business from the ground-up. She continues to do daily work embodying what it looks like to choose yourself and take responsibility for your happiness.
How do you spend your free time?
I’ve been trying to make more intentional time to do things for fun: traveling, spending time with my family, summer activities such as hiking, kayaking, camping.
Favorite fictional female character? Why?
Lisa Simpson. We’re both strong misunderstood females fighting for environmental change.
Go-to coffee order and/or adult beverage?
Caramel latte with soy milk.
What would you eat for your very last meal?
Rice, tofu, broccoli and mushroom bowls. Yum!
What’s something you want to learn or master?
Myself. I’ve spent too much time absorbing the image of what others wanted me to be. Now, it’s time to unbecome and shed the masks.
Tell us about your hustle.
Every day is different for me, but it’s a constant hustle, for sure. I spend my time creating original pieces of artwork to turn into products such as prints, stickers and buttons. I also focus a lot of my efforts getting custom client work and maintaining an authentic social media presence with my business. I have to keep track of orders: packaging and mailing them out. I have to maintain my website, email clients, create content and so much more. I do not have anyone working for me officially, as of now. I do have two assistants currently in college courses who are interested in freelancing, and are going to start helping me out very soon. I can’t wait for some help.
Have you always had a creative spirit and a passion for art?
Yes, I absolutely have always had a passion for creative expression. My dad’s mother was very artistic and always had crafts available. I was always drawing, crocheting, sewing, taking photos—anything I could get my hands on. The arts were always in me, but growing up in a small conservative town it seemed as though I was stifled. I was told I wouldn’t be able to do anything with my talents; that I should do something else, like become a nurse. (Not that there is anything at all wrong with becoming a nurse, but my soul yearns to express itself in other ways.) After lots of attempts with various career paths and pointless college education I now have nothing to show for, I’m here doin’ my thing. No one is ever going to tell me what my limits are.
How has social media helped grow your business?
Instagram is my biggest source of exposure and client connection. I started my “business” account about two-and-a-half years ago, and just now have experienced more consistent growth. The numbers do not matter. I was able to have a successful art career for years with 2,500 followers or less. Focus on what speaks true to you and don’t place the comparison game. No one has what you have to offer.
What’s your approach to new projects?
I like to wait for the feeling to hit me. I really don’t like to force it. I like being relaxed at home in my comfy clothes watching a show on the TV. Maybe a nice snack or two and cuddles from my corgi.
How have your past professional and academic experiences prepared you for the work you do today?
I’m someone who didn’t go to school or have any specific training for my exact career. I have used some things I learned while I went to Paul Mitchell School. They taught us a lot about representing yourself as your business, because doing hair successfully is both talent and communication skills; making your clients feel special and representing your authentic self so you attract clientele that works for you.
What’s been your biggest career milestone?
I love this question, because it allows me to focus on all of the cool things I’ve been able to do so far. When I did physical paintings, one of my biggest accomplishments was creating a mural for an Airbnb in my city. 2019 has been one of the biggest yet for my illustration business. I have been hired to illustrate for a children’s book and I’ve been hired on as the official illustrator for Waste Free Magazine.
How has being a woman affected your professional experience?
At the job I was working before (as a technical support customer service employee taking incoming calls over the phone) … men specifically treated me horribly simply because I was a woman. They would ask to speak to a manager and immediately take their word as gold, even though I told them the exact same thing. I took it very personally and it made me question my worth. I was working so hard and treated like shit. So, I would say as a fellow employee or manager—please say something. Don’t allow someone to be talked down to for any reason. We all deserve respect.
What’s the gender ratio like in your industry? Do you see it evolving?
Honestly, I feel like it’s relatively even. However I feel like in my area there are a lot more female creatives/makers versus males Overall though, I see both male and females killing this game.
Who are some women in your field that you look to for inspiration?
@codieoconnor is a brilliant abstract painter; @erikaleesears does amazing lifestyle paintings; @madelinekate_illustrates has beautiful illustrations. I mean, let’s be honest: The world and Instagram is full of amazingly talented souls and I could fill up a whole book, but those are a few.
Career and/or life advice for other babes?
Focus on yourself. Listen to yourself. Ask yourself daily what you want and what will fill your life with joy. I lived too long trying to make everyone else around me happy. Once you take those steps to connect with yourself, you will blossom and your audience will find you. Be the one still in the fight when everyone else has given up. Resilience is key!
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