June 24, 2015

Spotlight: Justine Reyes

Peep the youthful world of Justine Reyes.

Justine Reyes is a nineteen year old artist originally from California, but now living in Brooklyn. I’ve been following Justine for about a year and a half, and I was originally drawn in by her photography which has been featured in Cherry Mag, The Pulp Zine, and Pop Culture Puke. Her photographs, which are mostly portraits of her friends, depict youthful exploration. Anything from dog presidents to lounging nude women can be seen in her drawings. As I’ve become friends with Justine, I’ve become intrigued by the ways in which her personality can be seen in her art, which is why I decided to catch up with her for The Le Sigh.

THE LE SIGH: Has your art changed after going to Pratt for a year?

Justine Reyes: I think studying at an art & design school helped align my priorities concerning my personal art, which allowed me to become more thoughtful about the things I produce. My first year at Pratt was all about foundation skills to further your development as you move on to the classes specific to you major, so I was exposed to an entirely new skillset and a lot of new mediums. I learned what things I liked and disliked about certain pieces, mediums, techniques, etc., which gave me more of an idea of what I wanted to produce as I took myself more seriously. I don’t think art school is really necessary for most artist, but it’s really nice to expose yourself to new mediums and to go through that experience with other art students.

TLS: Do you think that your change in location (from California to New York) affected your work?

JR: Surprisingly not! Being in a city that’s filled with so many important and prolific artist really just motivates me to do my best and to dedicate most of my time to producing art. New York is nice for growth I think, but once i’m done with school i’ll probably move to a more natural environment with lots of plants and open spaces near the water. For me, New York just happens to be the location of my school of choice, but i’ve really grown to like it primarily because i’m constantly surrounded by other creative people. A lot of the people i’ve made friends with here have become some of my favorite artists, which is really cool and amazing.

TLS: Your Instagram has a very distinct style, I think. Are there any Instagrammers in particular who you look up to?

JR: That’s really strange to me because I feel like the photos I post are so mundane. I take about a billion pictures on my iPhone, but the only ones I really like to post on instagram are weird, zoomed-in details of things I see everyday that are either funny or intriguing to me… I’ve been taking photos/had a flickr and a photo blog since I was like, twelve, so I feel like that helped trainthe eye? I don’t take it too seriously, it’s just really fun to mess around with and I take too many pictures. Some people on instagram I really enjoy are carpet_sample, eyebodega, lattefan, kellysurdo, my boss Josephine’s (josephinenoel), my boyfriend Sam’s (samaronie), and my friends’ Morgan (morgan.maher) and Sophia (phia_olla).

TLS: How has online girl community affected or inspired your work?

JR: Overall, I think the online community has been positive, and has been giving well deserved attention to a lot of young internet based artists. I’ve posted my work and have been making friends online since I was really young, and it’s impacted me a lot since then. It has definitely given a way for younger people to spread their work, connect with other like minded people, learn from others, etc., but it can come with a lot of downsides as well. I still find it really difficult to find a space online that is fully representational and intersectional, which surprises me. It has given POC, trans, queer, genderqueer people, etc., more of a space in the art community and I hope to see that grow and flourish. But yeah, it is super inspiring to see people empower each other and to grow as a person and an artist within online communitieslike that. I’ve also made so many good friends off the internet, it’s crazy how personal you can get with someone you’ve never even met before.

TLS: What is your preferred medium? 

JR:  I really enjoy painting, sculpting, woodworking, and taking photos, but i’m really focused on textile arts for now. I got into it by painting and drawing on clothes for myself and some friends, but now i’m trying to do more weaving, sewing, embroidering, crocheting/knitting, and quilting exercises to get my hands used to all the patterns and rhythms of working with fabrics and textiles. It’s extremely therapeutic and really satisfying to finish such a substantial piece of work that you can touch and feel and interact with. It involves a lot of physical labor and handiwork, which is really engaging for me. Since it’s such a traditional “domestic” art form i’m really trying my best to reclaim it by tying it in with more modern ideas and concepts that I hope will break some of those ridiculous barriers. My favorite things to make right now, and probably the most difficult, are large tapestries with a piece of writing and an image weaved or embroidered on.

Justine's work can be seen on Tumblr here and here.

Rachel Davies is a Canadian teenager and the founder of a zine called Pop Culture Puke. In her spare time, Rachel likes to tweet about Kanye West and Greta Gerwig here.