Jessilyn Park is in no way your typical artist. But then, she’s not typical anything.
I came to know about her and see her work as so many others have: on Facebook. Super colorful, almost always a product of a lighting source, many times a street lamp, her work conveys a positive, hopeful outlook.
A month or so ago I noticed a national contest she had entered, with the winning work to be featured on new labels for Artiste wines, a limited edition winery in California. Using her social media connections, she won, following in the local footsteps of another Orlando artist, Robin Pedrero, who won the year before. She’ll be flown with a friend to California for a reception and the unveiling in November.
The more I found out about Jessilyn Park the more I was intrigued. I met her for the first time this past weekend in Oviedo at an art event. I met not just an artist, but someone I’d say resembles her colorful works in the way she lives her life.
You could say she’s an accidental artist. Now 31, and an executive assistant by day, she’d never drawn or sketched or even thought much about art until last December when her grandmother, a one-time artist now afflicted with blindness, expressed regret none of her grandchildren had ever shown an interest in such. Jessilyn went home and gave it a try. She sold that first work on Facebook.
“Hers were not vibrant at all. All of her paintings were kind of dreary,” she says, as her buoyant manner calms. She says later, “after all this started I was like, hey, Dad, we should paint together, you can probably do it, too. And so I went there and I bought him an easel and everything and his painting was so ugly. It was horrible. He even knew it.”
In January she began searching for an accomplished artist who utilizes the same palette knife techniques used by her grandmother. She then discovered Leonid Afremov, a Russian painter now living in Mexico.
“I emailed him,” she says, as if it’s what everyone would do, “and I didn’t get a response and then I did more stalking on him and I found out he speaks Russian. So I had my co-worker translate my email to Russian and then I sent it off again,” she explains. “And then his son wrote me back and said he would welcome you. It wasn’t free. I had to pay for the training, pay to fly there and stay in my hotel. He taught me for a whole week. His son translated the whole time, in a very thick accent.”
Jessilyn laughs as we talk, sharing her story. I’m amused again and again at how she just jumps in, does whatever she does to the fullest, makes things happen. In addition to all the social media – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, Instagram, Klout, LinkedIn, and others – she uses, she also bought a package on PRWeb and now produces two monthly press releases she says are always picked up by Yahoo, with hopes for a national magazine.
Here locally she’ll be the featured artist in Orlando Home & Leisure next month. “Social media plays a huge role in the success I’ve had in such a short amount of time. My social media reaches 20,000 people across all platforms,” she says.
“When you post something and someone likes it,” she says of Facebook, “it goes to the top of their newsfeed, so then their friends see it and that’s how virality happens. That’s how I won this wine contest. Because I kept posting pictures of it on both my pages, asking for votes. So I had a few rooters here I’d never met, and they would like my stuff and post it in groups and send it out. I’d be at work and get a notification on my phone that my photo had been shared 72 times.”
I ask her about inspiration and she speaks of lights and lamp posts. “I go around the city and take pictures of lamps, and there’s this one in College Park, oh my God, it’s beautiful. I just love lamps,” she says, excitedly mentioning another in downtown Orlando.
Nothing typical at all.
Local Luv'n Local
Winter Park artists Jeffrey Blue and Di St. Jacques-Blue create glass-inspired flower sculptures from recycled plastic bottles and waste paint. The original product has been processed in several ways, but the original materials add to the beauty with various textures, with plastics and the brilliance of the blended paints. Green Art Studios has mastered the concept of “upcycled” art. Jeffrey and Di are an award-winning mother-and-son team. Their works are sold at Earth Inspired Living on Park Avenue, and a new special “Pink Out” for breast cancer flower is now available. Visit 300 N. Park Ave. or www.earthinspiredliving.com
Clyde Moore operates local sites ILUVWinterPark.com, ILUVParkAve.com and LUVMyRate.com, and aims to help local businesses promote themselves for free and help save them money, having some fun along the way. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to ILuv Winter Park on Facebook or Twitter.