Illustrator, muralist, painter and creative entrepreneur—Jonel Imutan is a beautiful soul who tells stories through her art using (mostly) elements of fantasy and pop culture. Her artistic career has been blooming in the past two years and it keeps getting exciting! After leaving J & M Printing and Stuff—a company the young artist was co-founder of—she decided to adventure on the creation of bigger projects that are align with who she truly is. “If you have something you’re passionate about, don’t stop, go for it!” says Jonel about how to be a stand for what matters to you.
Have your illustrations always been fantasy related?
Half and half. The illustrations that I mostly like to do are fantasy related. I remember being in middle school loving Lord of The Rings and other fantasy books, all the geekery stuff started there. However, the other half of my illustrations is portraits of animals and people. I think portraiture is a way to capture someone’s essence; I enjoy getting to know people that way. I’d say that no matter in what way I’m illustrating, my artwork is always about storytelling.
Do you remember your first drawing? What was it?
I used to draw my mom and I together; mom, dad, me, my little sister and our house; always putting a happy sun in the corner. I always loved it, drawing everyone as they were, telling stories about them.
How has your work evolved in the last few years?
Knowing what I want to do. At first it was very sporadic, I just drew anything, from abstract to surrealism, I didn’t really have a voice. Now, I think it’s not this whole spectrum of random things anymore, it’s more developed and my skills have definitely sharpened.
Who or what are your current sources of inspiration?
I love comic books, video games, concept art such us Skyrim.
In terms of artists I’d say Ono-mono, Elda, Bara Chan, Danielle Sylvan, Oskar, Jo.
In the same way, since a lot of my work is storytelling, in either fantasy or portraiture, I capture memories, situations and environments by implementing parts of what I’m going through, my emotions or little aspects of personality of people who I know.
If you were to describe yourself in one word, what would it be and why?
Mercurial. Always moving from one thing to the next; one day my hair is green then the next is blue! It’s always a mix with me. I’m always changing *snaps fingers* I’m really random.
Your artwork and the integrity of your persona are priority in your life, how did you became a stand for who you are so now, you could quit working at J & M Prints and Stuff, and how has your life been since leaving the company?
Growing up, my family was always opposed to the idea of me being an artist. I actually started as a psychology major in college because I was told “No, you can’t be an art major, it’s too risky.” “It’s a waste of time, you won’t get paid.” Even though I was a psychology major, I was out there in the community painting and sharing drawings on Tumblr. I did a mural about bulling and I got to see people connecting over a piece of art. To me that’s bigger than the fear of “oh, I’m not gonna make it.” To me it’s all about community and getting people together, being creative and putting art works out for others to see and inspiring them to be artist if they want to. I want to be a stand for them. Half way through college I realized what I wanted to do and decided to make my dreams a priority, I was like fuck it, you know, and so I changed my major to arts.
I quit the company that I was working for –J & M Prints and Stuff— because, sure I can do web design, I can do presentation and I can help other people and collaborate BUT it’s not what I’m committed to. I’m committed to helping artists, I’m committed to help them get out there and be seen by people. That’s the way I want to leave my mark in the world, supporting other artists, but I can’t do that sitting behind a computer all day, every day.
Since leaving the company my life is definitely freeing. I have time to catch up on commissions and just kinda take a step back and really prioritize what I want to do because eventually I want to work on video game concept art, or children’s book illustration or something that it’s stretching my creativity in an extraordinary setting, something inspiring and really whimsical, magical.
With this chapter of your life closed, you’re taking on new projects that are align with your true self, such as the creation of CommunityCon. Tell us a little bit about this project you’re developing and what inspired you to do it.
So right now I’m developing CommunityCon. I just remember being a teenager in high school and not really knowing the opportunities that there are out there.
There’s this whole bunch of artists who are so inspiring but as my younger self, they don’t count with an art community supporting them, they don’t know how to put their artwork available to the world, some of them are not on the Internet either and people don’t have an opportunity to see their talent. With CommunityCon, what we’re going do is invite artists from local high schools as well as colleges, to be part of our art convention that intends to get people together and share their work and support each other. We will also be providing training in how to showcase their work and have a portfolio to whoever requires the training. We won’t only count with visual artist but writers as well, who might be interested in making a graphic novel or a comic book, and by being part of CommunityCon, they can see that there’s a big community they can connect with and make plans to collaborate.
When doing Murals, I’ve always had parents approaching me every now and then, telling me about their kids and how they’re talented but how their kids feel lost and are afraid they won’t fit in so they might just as well go and do something else with their lives without knowing all the opportunities they can have. But you know, if they really want to do it, we are here to support them.
What advice would you give to the readers so they, as you, can be a stand for who they are and what they want?
If you have something you’re passionate about, don’t stop, go for it! If you’re having any difficulties, always reach out. There’s always communities and other artists willing to support, thou it can be difficult at first, with enough determination and enough time put into it, going for it full thoroughly and full heartedly, with your passion and what inspires you, you can make it happen.