We teased you with a glimpse of the illustrator Jenifer Prince from our 6 Queer Illustrators to Follow on Instagram piece back in November. Since then, this fabulous Brazilian artist has been churning out even more beautiful lesbian illustrations. Just what we needed to satisfy our discontent in what has been possibly the most unique festive season yet. What’s better, you’ll recognise these iconic queer characters, most likely from what you’ve been binge-watching on Netflix.
Naturally, we couldn’t get enough. So we at Nonchalant got lucky to round off 2020 up close and personal in a Q&A with proud lesbian illustrator Jenifer Prince, where we talk art and gay longing, Happiest Season and the difficulties of coming out. Read on for treats.
What’s 2020 been like for you?
Well… It’s been a challenge for all of us, hasn’t it? I have the privilege of being able to work from home, so that’s where I spent most of my days with my girlfriend and my three cats.
How do you identify in the LGBTQ+ community and how does this influence your illustrations?
I identify proudly as a lesbian! The influence in my work of how I identify is huge since that’s the main theme I work with on my personal projects as a way of expressing myself, my desires and my feelings and also portray lesbian narratives and experiences we go through in a positive way.
“To me, working in a vintage style is a way of somehow re-imagining history with a lesbian gaze”
Tell us about your work. Who or what are your greatest influences?
I’d describe it as a combination of mid-century comic aesthetic influence, lesbian narratives (with a good amount of gay longing) and pop culture references. I have so many artists I look up to and so many references that it’s difficult to make a small list! I love vintage pulp covers from the 40s and 50s and artists from that era such as Gloria Stoll Karn. Comic artists and cartoonists also have great influence on my work, names like Milton Caniff and Alex Raymond are great examples. To me, working in a vintage style is a way of somehow reimagining history with a lesbian gaze, which I love!
Do you have a particular creative process? What inspires you?
I am mostly inspired by my own experiences and feelings, but sometimes the inspiration can come from a song I’m listening to or a movie I’m watching that touches me somehow. I’m very used to listening to songs and imagining how that would be as an illustration, so this comes very naturally for me and I try to sketch something every time that happens! Sometimes it turns into a more refined illustration, other times it stays as a sketch.
What’s the best thing about having a community of artists on social media?
The art community on Instagram and social media as a whole is very strong, it’s really nice to see how the artists are very supportive of each other!
Did you watch Happiest Season? Thoughts on KStew, Aubrey Plaza and McKenzie Davis giving us some queer Christmas joy?
Yes! I watched it straight away. I really enjoyed it even though there were some heavy and problematic things going on. The movie, I think, handles that in a good way, especially because it’s supposed to be a light Christmas film. I completely understand how some people didn’t like it though, the aggressions Abby suffers from Harper’s family can be very close to home. But on the other hand, it’s amazing that we’re having different stories being told with lesbian and queer experiences and with such a great casting, direction and production! That was a great surprise for me.
Everyone has different coming out experiences. What was yours like? Did you relate to Happiest Season at all?
To be honest it was terrible. I was outed in a horrible way when I wasn’t feeling ready yet. I actually don’t know if there’s such a thing as a “I’m ready” moment because I was never given the chance to get there. The interesting part of it is that my parents were so shocked by the whole situation that they ended up being (kind of) supportive, especially my mom. I didn’t relate that much to the Happiest Season characters, but I can definitely empathize with both of them, I understand each of their experiences because we all went through something like that.
Are you seeing anyone? Sorry, obvious question for a lesbian magazine!
Yes! I have a beautiful and brilliant girlfriend of two years. She helps me a lot through my creative process and, of course, she’s very supportive of my work.
How did you become an illustrator and what helped you to find your style?
I’ve always loved to draw. I was the kind of kid that sometimes would stay inside drawing instead of going out to play. Because of that passion, I decided to graduate in Arts and Design and pursue a professional career as a Graphic Artist and Illustrator. I’ve always illustrated my personal experiences as a way of expressing myself, so the lesbian theme was always there. In 2016, I entered a poster contest for the Dyke March in San Francisco and it turned out I won, when I was at the Dyke March and saw so many people holding the poster up, I was so touched and I felt so fulfilled! That was the moment I knew I had to keep working with that theme and maybe that would be helpful as a mean for social change.
Do you have any favourite pieces you’ve done recently? We loved your Nurse Ratched inspired work!
Thank you! “Ratched” was such a great show that I instantly felt the urge to make something about it. I like the Pulp Poster series very much, they’re probably my favourite pieces so far!
Who are your top celebrity crushes and why?
I have been binge watching “The Crown” (I’m late, I know…) and Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret in season one and two made my top 1. I also loved Laura Harrier in “Hollywood”. They both have in common the vintage aesthetic, which may be a weak spot for me, who knows?
If you could give some advice to any of our readers who aspire to become an illustrator like you, what would it be?
Try to have fun in the process and do what makes you proud! I would advise anyone to be as curious as possible and make the most of it. Having a lot of references and making sure to try to get better at what you do is definitely a plus. But most of all, be kind to yourself!
Where can we find your work? Do you have any projects coming up that you’re particularly excited for?
I’m on instagram and tumblr, you can find me at @jeniferrprince and jeniferprince.tumblr.com. I actually have a few projects in mind that I’ll try to work on during 2021, but more than an especific project, I aspire to keep doing what I love: creating lesbian art that can be somehow relatable and able to touch people.
Check out our other interviews with more inspiring lesbian, queer and bisexual women. Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment below!