Jessica Violetta's work is about nature, femininity, and majesty.…with a little bit of an edge.

Identifying strongly as a female Italian American artist and visual thinker, Violetta's creative ideas are shaped by the beauty of juxtapositions— primarily that of her formative inner and outer self.

"Painting is the way that I command space for internal experiences left otherwise unshared," says Violetta.

"Communicating my emotions with the people closest to me was always a challenge. Being in a female body meant learning early that my physicality was somehow both alluring and sinful, introducing me sooner to objectification than intimacy," she continued. "This is the core of my inclination to always offset innocent imagery with details that are provocative, dark, or 'edgy.'" 

We had the chance to ask Jessica about feminine and nature-centric work—and how that edgy aesthetic developed. 

Has your work changed over time—do you find yourself understanding your art career through different periods of expression?

My work has streamlined and gained clarity—more so than fully changing. There are things that I have always gravitated toward but did not know why, as I make it a priority to understand why, I have peeled away the unnecessary layers to focus almost entirely on the core. The more I do this, the more fulfilled I feel in my work.

 

 

Do you have a favorite or most satisfying part of your process?

I really enjoy so much of my process. One of my biggest goals with my art practice is to enjoy everything I make — both the process and the output. That is honestly the North Star in what I create. If I am ever not enjoying something, I ask myself why I'm even doing it.

It's hard to put my favorite part into a specific task because my favorite part is always bringing my vision to life and sharing it with the world. I think that's why I actually genuinely enjoy posting on social media!

 

What has your artistic education consisted of (formal or not)? If you did receive a formal education like an MFA, did you find it necessary for your artistic growth, or did you find that elsewhere?

My journey with education has been a big influence on my creative identity. I was not a good student growing up — that is, I was a good student until I was placed in an honors program where I was the weaker of a stronger group. That, paired with developing early as a woman and receiving sexual attention at a very young age, made me feel like my body was more valuable than my mind.

So, I stopped putting any effort into school. I became a "bad kid." I was cutting classes and getting suspended. My dad enrolled me in a performing arts program halfway through high school which honestly saved me — psychologically and academically. It was the first time I was not bored with school. Once I was college-aged, I didn't really have a foundation to get into a great school, so I went to a liberal arts school for three years and dropped out after a horrible boss at my design internship told me I was "worthless" creatively.

I then went through several years of being very lost and confused — taking odd jobs and bouncing around cities until I ended up in San Francisco. During that time, I had the "a-ha" moment to go back to school—this time, to a good art school—and to take it very seriously. I graduated with a BFA in illustration (but, cumulatively with my previous school, more like two degrees) and graduated with honors at 30 years old.

It was the first time I really felt like I could do anything I worked hard at, and that has transformed my ability to maintain a studio practice.

Unity, by Jessica Violetta. Oil & Acrylic on Canvas 16 x 20 x 1 in. 

Which routines—art-making and administrative—are essential to success in your art career?

I am someone who happens to really enjoy "administrative" tasks when they pertain to something I care about. Particularly, I am a very social and forward person, so the act of regular outreach and building relationships is something that has given me a lot of opportunities.

At least once a month, I have a list of tasks that I make sure to do. The list includes things like collecting inventory reports on the prints I sell with retail accounts, drafting a newsletter, and analyzing social media performance. All of these things are administrative, but they also overlap with human interaction.

Additionally, I find it incredibly important to do things that might seem aimless to other people—like wandering around in my yard or looking through things in my closet. These things feed my inspiration and help me balance the time I spend physically creating something with time spent soaking in life. At the end of the day, this makes my work better.

Emotional Decadence by Jessica Violetta. Acrylic & Oil on Birchwood Panel 24 x 18 x 1 in.

Why did you decide to inventory and archive your artworks?

When I was in my final year of art school, a professor was talking about his art inventory and its importance when dealing with clients and galleries.

By the time I graduated, I had already sold my first painting and had a few gallery shows. I realized I was going to lose track of where things were [if I didn't start one]. 

I'm someone who needs to keep numbers and logistical things organized so I can let my mind wander with the creative parts. When I found Artwork Archive, it was so perfect—the visual aspect of it was exactly what I needed. And, I'm using it to keep track of my many print editions as well!

 

What advice would you give an emerging artist during this time?

Be patient ... like very patient. Art careers rarely have similar trajectories and milestones to other careers and right now the world is in a very difficult era.

If you are feeling stuck, it may not be your fault. Also, it sounds cliche, but really lean into who you are. It may not be clear right away what that means but a dedication to self-discovery can be pivotal for your work and the way the world receives it. For anyone interested, I am developing a workshop called "Finding Your Creative Identity" that will hopefully be available virtually by May or June. Follow me on social to stay tuned!

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