The Intriguing Gothic Fantasy Art of Jasmine Becket-Griffith
Jasmine Becket-Griffith is a world renowned Gothic and fantasy artist. You can find her unique style of fairy, fantasy and Gothic artwork in galleries, books and even big name retail stores across the country. Her characteristic style has a dark yet beautiful aspect to it that blends the mysterious with the dreary. You can see all of Jasmine Becket-Griffith’s work on her personal site, strangeling.com.
Jasmine Becket-Griffith is a full-time artist who makes her living selling her artwork. She has been selling her original Fairy, Gothic, and Fantasy artwork online since 1997. Often growing weary of the mundane world, Jasmine Becket-Griffith tries to slowly create her own through her fantasy artwork. Jasmine believes that with each piece of art she gets out of her system, onto paper, and into your home she has done her part to make this place a more magical planet.
1. How did you become an artist? You have been selling online since 1997, what made you decide to take the leap?
I’ve always been an artist really, since I was a little girl. I was always the one at school sitting in the back of the class, drawing pictures all day. As a student I always enjoyed art contests and student shows, it was the only thing I really enjoyed about school. 1997 was the year I graduated high school, and it was that summer I decided to try to start taking my art seriously as a career. I was working at Dairy Queen and knew I wanted to try to pursue something more creative. The internet was new to me then (new to a lot of people actually!) and I immediately saw it as a wonderful visual medium to show the world my paintings! My dad got me a scanner for my birthday, and I used it to scan in my paintings and put them online.
2. Who is your inspiration? What keeps you making art?
I make art because I have to. I’m an obsessive person, and art is my compulsion. I sometimes begin to feel physically ill if I haven’t painted a painting yet that day. My hands don’t know what else to do with themselves! My paintings are very much how I express myself, I am not a very social person but I have a very rich inner world, and I share that part of me by painting my ideas and showing them to the rest of the planet. Almost all of my paintings are self-portraits in a way – the characters I paint are caricatures of myself in fantasy environments that are pure escapism for me. I don’t think I would live a very fulfilled life if I didn’t spend the vast majority of my time painting. And of course – as art is my only job, and my husband and my brother-in-law all work for me as their sole sources of income as well, that is a huge inspiration as well, hehe. Knowing my artwork has to support three households directly is a serious thing to consider. There are also dozens of people behind the scenes who work for the licensing & merchandising companies – my art is a big part of their livelihoods as well, so that is a big responsibility.
3. What is your process?
I wake up every morning and do my daily exercise routine at 6:30am, eat breakfast, and then I paint until noon, have lunch, and then paint until about 10:00pm and eat dinner. I do this every day. Typically I finish a painting in a day’s worth of time, and then I scan it in and post it that night. I only take days off I have family in town visiting, or if I have an art show, or if I’m out of town. My husband works alongside me as my assistant and follows the same schedule. He makes my picture frames, processes orders, and handles the shipping and other mundane aspects of it all. We are hard workers – there are no evenings & weekends, hehe.
As far as my painting process goes – first I picture the painting in my head. I usually think it up while exercising in the morning – by the time I’m taking a shower I already can see the painting in my head. Then after breakfast, I prime the piece of wood, canvas, or masonite I am using. Mostly these days I paint on wood. I only use acrylic paints, and I do it the old fashioned way – only my fingers, paintbrushes, paint & water. I usually begin with a several layers of neutral ground to create a smooth surface and a good starting point. Then with a dark neutral color (typically an umber) of paint mixed with a LOT of water, I begin scribbling out a very rough sketch with a skinny paintbrush. I don’t sketch with pencil since that makes everything all grey and gunky, just thinned paint with water. At this point it’s not much more than a stick figure and some vague shapes. Then I go in with darker paint and a thinner brush and make a much more refined sketch – almost like a drawing – this provides a good basis for the painting and I can still change stuff around at this point since I can always refine things with opaque paint. Then I begin painting my layers – I paint with just a few drops of acrylic paint dissolved in water – hundreds of impossibly thin layers by the time I’m done. I start with shadow areas, giving it all a sense of depth – that way my brain knows where to put the highlights later. I don’t ever use colours straight out of the bottle, I mix my own. I don’t really blend on the canvas, just mix slightly different shades and layer them transparently after the previous layer dries. I use my fingers to smudge it around to keep things from getting streaky. I then go in with colors, starting with darker more opaque colors and finishing with brighter, more transparent shades. Finally I add highlights, considering the light source within the setting of the painting. Then when it’s all done, I scan it in and show it to my online friends & fans! Then I put a coat of varnish and add a hanger or have my husband frame the finished piece.
4. Who is your target audience? What do you do to market to them specifically?
I don’t have a target audience. Or rather, my target audience is ME – I paint what I like, and am just happy if other people find enjoyment in it as well! I do not have any particular demographic when it comes to fans of my artwork. Children love my work, and I have a lot of fans in the teen/young adult age group, but many of my collectors are adults (some even in their 90s!). Though nearly all of my paintings feature female characters, the proportion of female/male collectors of my paintings is about 50/50. Between a third and a half of my customers & collectors live overseas, all over the world. On a single day we’ll sometimes be shipping to over a dozen countries. I don’t market anything specifically – I just put my work out there for the world to see, and hopefully folks like it!
5. Do you participate in Galleries and Shows?
Most traditional galleries don’t really allow fantasy art, so I haven’t gotten into that scene much. I do however do several shows a year – the Celebration Florida Spring Arts Festival is in my hometown, and that’s a great place for me to showcase my original paintings. Each year I do the Art Show at Dragon*Con in Atlanta, FaerieCon in Baltimore, and MegaCon in Orlando. I really enjoy science fiction/fantasy conventions like these and it’s a wonderful opportunity to meet my fans as well!
6. Your work has been sold on Merchandise at a variety of retailers, how did you create those partnerships?
I have licensed my artwork with dozens of companies. I’ve never created any of the partnerships myself, rather they have always approached me out of the blue and asked me. Typically the art director or licensing agent for a company comes across my work online (usually through my website or online galleries), or in books, magazines, at trade shows, or through other merchandisers. They’ll usually send me an email with a proposal and we’ll negotiate a contract for whatever merchandise line they are interested in producing. I send them the image files and sign the contract, and then they handle the rest. For this a small percentage of sales is sent to me as a royalty payment. I really love it when people license my work because it allows me to share my paintings with the world in ways I wouldn’t have been able to do just as a lone painter. For example companies like the Bradford Exchange, Hamilton Collection, and Ashton-Drake have licensed my paintings and characters for tremendous lines of collectibles like statues, figurines, dolls and other three-dimensional interpretations of my artwork and sell them all over the world! It is wonderful to have teams of talented people working on my behalf and handling the production and marketing of my babies! It is a terrific way to help expand my world while still letting me stay home and paint all day, hehe. Or for example California Costumes has a great new line of Jasmine Becket-Griffith Halloween Costumes out this fall – they’ve done a gorgeous job of creating fairy and fairytale costumes licensed from my artwork – which is something I would never have had time or the production facilities to do on my own. Licensing can also be a phenomenal inspiration for me as an artist – I have been co-licensing Jasmine Becket-Griffith/Disney merchandise with Disney – I was thrilled to create my own Jasmine Becket-Griffith style Tinker Bells, and Disney Princesses for upcoming merchandise lines. Sometimes it really is like a dream come true!
7. Do you belong to any social networks such as facebook or myspace? How is it working for you?
Oh yes, I am on LiveJournal (Jasminetoad), on MySpace (Jasminetoad), Facebook (Strangeling), Twitter (Jasmine Becket), and others. It’s often the only communication I have much with the world outside my painting desk. In addition to just human correspondence and keeping up with family, it’s also a great place to share my artwork and new projects with fans. For example on Facebook I have a Mobile Uploads folder where I post work-in-progress shots of each painting while I work – I snap shots with my iPhone camera and post them online all day – from the new blank canvas to the finished painting! I also post my new merchandise lines there, keep folks updated when I have Art Shows coming up, or new books out, etc. It’s a great way for collectors to keep up with me!
8. You live in Celebration, Florida how does being so close to Disney World impact your art?
I love Celebration, it is a great town. It was built & designed by the Walt Disney company and is a work of art in itself. I am a big Disney fan! I would say that I do indeed get a lot of inspiration from the fantasy and whimsy of Disney World. Walt Disney himself is a big inspiration to me as well, and I think about him a lot. The parks and surrounding areas are beautiful and I am always inspired by the man-made aesthetics as well as the natural beauty of the flowers, woods and swamps of where I live. Oddly enough, my living here doesn’t have anything to do with my collaboration with Disney merchandising, it’s just coincidental (I do all that stuff via email).
9. What do you do when you are not making art?
I travel! Seeing the world is very important to me. I get a tremendous amount of inspiration by traveling. Since I work (ie, paint) pretty much 24/7 and do not take off for weekends or evenings, once a month or so I shut down for a few days, grab my backpack and my husband and skip town. In the past year I’ve been to Mexico, Germany, Japan, Colorado, Paris, the Bahamas, I forget all the places I’ve been lately. Often I combine it with a business trip or an art show, and in truth I do spend a lot of time drawing or doing work online remotely, but it is great to get out and see the world. I live very strangely, sometimes I’ll fly to Europe for two days just to visit arn art museum, then not leave the house for two weeks, and then go spend a few days in the Caribbean drawing mermaids. Sometimes I think I go to the airport more than I go to the grocery store.
10. What are your favorite pieces on Imagekind?
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