Featured guest artist
In this section we will be featuring an up and coming star in the art world and giving them a platform to show off their work, tell more of themselves and generally help us appreciate the enormous talent out there.
Alena Savenia Jenkins
(Click here for Alena's website)
CASO: Greetings Alena, could you tell us a little about yourself?
ASJ: 'May you live in interesting times. That curse is about me. I came to the world in 1987 in a small village in Belarus, a part of Soviet Union. My mother was a teacher, and father was a head of the village council.
In 1991, the Soviet Union crashed; one night, unknown person burnt down our family house. Miracle that we got out alive. It is funny, but being only 4 years old, I was proud that I was a survivor. Counting, that I went through the consequences of the nuclear disaster of 1986, maybe it was true. Since then I was always studying – and still keep learning things every day not to waste my life.
In school, I loved painting lessons, history of art but… I did not follow my passion. I had to bring justice to the world and went to the Faculty of Journalism. After that, I finished a filmmaking course, was a public activist, and even became an international election observer. I was searching, searching but could not find my way. Finally, I realised why: as a philanthropist, I always helped others, but never myself.
So, I took a hard-working but poorly paid photography job on an american cruise liner and started a long journey around the world. It changed my life and my mind. I met my future husband there, in 2014 moved to The UK and started portraiture photography business. In 2016, I finally allowed myself to do fine art, a half-life later then I supposed to. My brother says, 'No one can escape happiness'. Well, thank gods I could not.'
CASO: What's been your greatest artistic success?
ASJ: I have started to show and sell fine art recently, on Artfinder. The success for me is that I sold my first photograph only in a few days after registration, and I got more than 700 likes for pictures in just two weeks.
The greatest success for me is the fact that I stopped being my own enemy and let myself to create art.
CASO: Why did you choose your chosen medium?
ASJ: I make manipulated photographs. I love photography and retouching process. The quality of fine art paper makes the final piece looks stunning. In future, I plan to add watercolour and acrylic spots on top of the photographs printed on cotton paper or canvas, and then put sealing on top. Still figuring out how it will work for a framed picture.
CASO: What is the best part about working with manipulated photographs?
ASJ: I can change the picture to express how I see things, and it still looks real.
CASO: What do you wish you knew about art before you got started?
ASJ: First, everybody can find his or her audience. Second, there are particular ways to do it and better learn them. Third, it is never late to start.
CASO: Do you do anything in particular to sell your art?
ASJ: I plan to organise an exhibition in a while when I am ready, with other artists of the same style. Do promotion on social pages, of course. What I really want to do is to get my own big studio for portraiture business with a gallery space. So mostly, I dream so far. J
CASO: What is your creative process like?
ASJ: I have two approaches. 1) I take occasional photos and let my brain to cook the idea. It's totally subconscious action. Then I retouch on the computer, often at night. Until I feel satisfied, I can change the final image a million times. 2) I get the idea, plan the photos, and the rest is the same.
CASO: How has your style changed over the years?
ASJ: I like different styles in painting, especially impressionism and surrealism. Sometimes I try to add its features to my work. I guess my style changes together with my understanding of life: the more clear the idea I am passing through the photograph, the more harmony and confidence in the work.
CASO: What do you believe is a key element in creating a good composition?
ASJ: For me it is all about the impression. If you look at a picture and feel discomfort then something is wrong. Art gives energy of inspiration, makes us think and feel, so of course it cannot be controlled by strict schematic rules only. On the other hand, if an artist wants to break the rules, first he/she should know them by heart. Therefore, the key is harmony of impression.
CASO: How do you come up with a profitable pricing structure for your work?
ASJ: Photography and art have high competition, so the main point is to promote myself to find my audience. I am still working on it, my husband and my friends help me. I registered myself as a self-employed photographer a year and a half ago; at first, I was lost and did not know where to start, especially in a new country with a non-native language. Now my daughter is 3.5 years old and it is easier to work with her at home, but then it was a challenge.
I have a realistic view on what I do. I never overpriced my work only because I needed money, and keep the prices flexible. I respect my customers and expect them to respect me. However, it took a while for me not to under-price myself, and I believe that is the worst mistake a new artist can put into the habit.
I have a clear plan and vision of what I will do in 5 years. Therefore, if you ask me the same question in 5 years I will be more specific and useful. J
CASO: What would be your one piece of advice for up and coming artists?
ASJ: Do not give up after criticism and learn.
CASO: Thank you Alena, we wish you well in all you do.
ASJ: Thank you and wish you same!