We had the good fortune of connecting with Janay Cooper and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Janay, what are you inspired by?
It could come across as a cliché thing to say but I’d have to go with anything that involves a heavy focus on music. Music videos, dance routines, performers, regular ol’ mixtapes, and my Spotify, Discover Weekly playlist. I’m a very visual person so with music, I’ve always been able to see the accompanied look, feel, or scene that would go perfectly with a certain piece or song. When watching a dance routine, you can see the way someone interprets music with their body – or how a Beyoncé performance is the experiential expression of sound – even a music video can change someone’s mind about the meaning of a song through one’s choice of theme and concept. I love the freedom of taking something as simple as what you hear and presenting the explanation through a different medium.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Most of the more personal art I make is quite chaotic but purposeful. A lot of color with bits of collage type illustrations that usually come with a message of meaning. I’m most proud of how much stronger my art style has become. I used to be terrified of commissions because my skills never felt up to standard but through time, art school, and many, many hours of practice and patience, I now feel way more confident in my style. When it comes to where I am today professionally, I definitely had to be on my grind and honestly, I still am – but I think I’m in a place where my skill set is seen and my style is appreciated within the creative class industry. Though I love being in the art scene it sure was not easy. Lot’s of hours and FOMO sacrifices were made to get here. All in all, the biggest lesson I’ve learned so far is to be yourself. Everyone says that and after a while, it feels corny or very much “I know, I know” but it’s true and annoyingly so. Authenticity is HUGE and it’s huge for you and your own soul more than it is for “them”.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Ah yes, this is a fun one. Well in a pre-COVID world, I would take us across the bridge into Portland to visit one of my favorite streets known as Alberta St. I would introduce them to a little spot called Salt & Straw for some ice cream. Perhaps they want a meal – we’d probably head on over to Stella Taco. This area is also an art district so we’re bound to run into some sort of show or pop-up. The rest of the week could be spent hopping around different parts of Portland in a touristy way, eating from every food truck we can find, and wandering around Powell’s Books until the AM. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
100% have to start with a shout out to my parents and brother – always there for me and have encouraged me more than plenty. Big shout-out to my close friends for cheering me on in life and being there for moments of struggle and stress –ready to talk things through anywhere and anytime. Last but not least, a shout-out to every single person involved in ONE School by The One Club for Creativity – SERIOUSLY…thank you, all!