Jasmine Jina Ortiz and I grew up in Harlem. We attended the same middle school and studied art at the famed LaGuardia H.S. of Music and Art and Performing Arts (yeah, the FAME School LOL). I always knew J would end up creating her own lane. I mean seriously, how many poet-fashion designers do you know? Jina lets us peek at the BEAUTIFUL LIFE she is creating for herself. I hope it inspires you to create your own lane too!
YOU have a right to a BEAUTIFUL LIFE.
So what’s your story?
My story is a bit complicated because I am creating in two different artistic fields/industries. I am both a writer and a fashion designer. I began writing seriously after college, mainly poems for the first six years, and for the last 5 years I have been writing both fiction and poetry.
At the same time, I started taking business and entrepreneurial training courses, seminars and workshops two years after college. I have been both setting-up a writer’s platform, and the start-up step-by-step. In writing, I have been building what they call a “platform,” and in the case of a start-up clothing line, getting the business education and financing I need to launch a sole proprietorship.
What do you create and why?
In the beginning of my journey in poetry, I was writing poems because they gave me a way to express emotions and thoughts in a clever way; I mean there is so much you can express in a poem, both the whimsical and the dreary, and the surreal all wrapped in one. It gave me an outlet to say what I wanted to say about a social topic or a mundane occurrence, but with a punch.
In fiction, it was plain and simple; there was a story about my childhood summers that I wanted to write about. And this story became the kernel to my middle grade novel, Campo Girl.
In terms of my clothing designs, the mission for the company says it all “south beach meets wall street,” in other words, to still have a bit of flare as you are presenting in a boardroom full of executives, or an audience full of readers.
What does your craft mean to you? What have others told you it means to them?
When I am actively writing and researching for a book projects means that I am definitely pursuing one of my gifts, and at the same time, I am working hard to convey the living purpose of the book at hand.
To be honest, I have not asked other about what they think of the writing craft, or about my own craft. With this being said, I believe my peers and mentors at my MFA program can probably tell you that I am competitive with myself (not with others), and fiercely driven. And at the same time, I am extremely cooperative and encourage my fellow classmates and other writers and writing communities. I believe in building the strongest relationship with all kinds of peoples across ethnic, cultural and generational lines, and I believe this is why I am successful and will continue to be. I believe especially as an Afro-Latina that I definitely encounter people that are “stuck” on being exclusively around people that act the same, talk the same, etc. Personally, being born and raised in a divers city like New York City gives me a leg up and a unique perspective in this regard. And I was very blessed to have shared a childhood with you, Ms. Beatrice Clay!!
When writing and designing what are three must haves in your creative workspace? (ex. a cup of chamomile, a colored pencil and fav playlist)
When I am writing or designing I definitely need at least 3 or 4 highlighters, preferably a green, yellow and blue. I also need my planner, and several calendars and a watch or clock nearby, as to time my progress, and keep track of the time spent on an individual poem, story or illustration.
How does life challenge you to write, create and stay relevant?
Well, life definitely pushes me to write; recently, I have received much encouragement from others in the artistic community, and I believe that if you are in the creative arts this is essential to one’s growth as a writer or artist. Life’s daily challenges actually are starting points of new ideas for projects; living and being around people and becoming actively involved in your community whether civically, in church or other venues, definitely keeps me relevant.
What’s happening in the world of art and creativity right now that has you absolutely buzzing?
As a writer, and among literary writers, there seems to be more of a push to writing stories outside the geographical U.S. Many writers, including myself, write stories set in other countries or other time periods. I believe there is a push for people to think outside their comfort levels; I believe a recent article in the New York Times Book Review, quotes Colson Whiteheads tips for writers column, and he even agrees that you are seeing more and more writers traveling and writing from international travels and experiences with other cultures. I suppose people are gravitating towards an Ernest Hemingway sensitivity, who knows, but I think this is positive.
Stepping out into your own venture must have been exhilarating? Name three steps you would encourage an aspiring artist to take to break out of the box?
First step: Plan, and Plan: financially, time wise, and also make personal life goal plans.
Second step: Get a mentor; one person that you trust, and can confide issues that can occur along the way to launching and maintaining a venture going. Someone that has experience, and has been a senior manager/ level in your field/ industry (preferably). I am still at this stage–the “start-up” stage, so I have not necessarily “launched.”
Third step: Continue to learn from others, take seminars, network, network, attend conferences, etc. And always carry a notepad and your business cards everywhere you go.
If you could do it all over what would you do differently?
I think I would have gotten my MFA sooner, this way I would be much further along, I think in my poetry manuscripts. Then again, in this field, everything is slower than in other industries – like fashion and retail.
If you could live inside a piece of art which one would it be? (clothing, furniture, paintings etc anything goes).
I would say a pair of either fuchsia Manolo Blahnik pumps, or within a bottle of Thierry Mugler’s Angel perfume. The constant heightened visual or alluring scents are the way to go if you want to live anywhere–always look great and captivate someone with your scent.
Share a time when passion (perhaps your art/work) and practicality (perhaps paying your bills/steady employment) played tug-of-war with your heart, what steps did you take to make it work?
Definitely keep your day job; in my case, it finances my creative projects and pursues, until I can earn money on them. When you are an emerging writer or an entrepreneur, it is important to start strong! In other words, build a platform – financially, socially, and maintain a familial network of individuals, orgs and places that inspire, support and enhance your state of being.
Share one absolutely joyous moment and one heartbreaking tale about seeking a beautiful life?
I don’t know if I can pinpoint one joyous moment, per se, but graduating from The Solstice MFA-Creative Writing Program at Pine Manor College was one. I have a writing family now; and I think is hard to attain and maintain one. I am very blessed to have the love and support of the faculty, mentors, director and the assistant director at my alma mater. Well, constant rejection (at least in writing) comes with the writer’s journey; and, this is always heartbreaking. The key is to bounce back very quickly, and send off to the next journal, editor or literary agent.
In one word describe your beautiful life?
In one encompassing word or phrase when you hear “for a beautiful life” what do you feel?
I feel encouraged, and the best way to continue that momentum is to encourage others and support someone else’s dream, as your dream and beautiful life is coming full circle!
Company: http://www.jasminejina.com | LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.