8 Questions with Kimlayn Jeffrey

1. What situation or person motivated you to pursue art? 
Even though I’ve been creative since childhood, I remember a specific moment I felt the obligation to pursue art. My son, Gianni (who was in kindergarten at the time), said to me “You’re really happy when you’re painting. Look at all the art in the house. You’re good mommy. Why don’t you want to do it every day?”. An almost 6-year-old reminded me that children don’t always listen, they watch what you do. How can I realistically raise him to be fearless, dream big, and make sure he never gives up if I don’t do the same? Now there are two of them watching, so I’m in it for good. 

2. From where do you draw your inspiration to create art?  
My inspiration frequently comes from traveling to new places. Even traveling back home to Jamaica brings fresh new ideas each visit. Also, a great source of inspiration comes from 1960s-1990s Reggae music and self-help audibles.  

3. What emotion are you trying to create for your audience through your art?   
A sense of nostalgia that triggers a pleasurable emotion or curiosity to learn more about a particular subject in the artwork. I want to create art that brings peace and love into whatever space it’s in. 

4. Does an artist have an obligation to make a statement with their art? 
Yes, but the obligation is to themselves. An artist statement can sometimes be subjective, and it may not always translate to the person viewing the art. I find it best not to focus on that as much as making sure you stay true to what drives you to make art.  

5. Was there ever a time when giving up was the right thing to do? 
Not giving up entirely but stepping back for a moment can be healthy, especially if it improves you emotionally and mentally. 

6. Is there something in your past career that would surprise people?
I was a letter carrier for 17 years while attending the Art Institute for Fashion Design in the evenings and simultaneously creating an art business, which was my true passion. 

7. What do you see as the most important attributes of a successful artist? 
Courage. As the great Henri Matisse said, “Creativity takes courage”. Many of us are scared to do something different for fear of being misunderstood or being rejected. Pushing through that fear can lead to beautiful works of art. Another important attribute is creating a business plan and having a strong understanding of what it takes to be a professional artist. Read/educate yourself about unfamiliar topics and learn how to talk to anyone. Those simple practices build confidence, and that confidence builds courage.  

8. What is the most valuable life lesson you learned from creating art?
I’ve learned to value time in a way I never did before. Not in the sense of how long it takes to create a work of art, but time as in being present in every moment of my life. Most of us think we have time (for whatever reason) and that’s the problem.  

Kimlayn Batchelor-Jeffrey