We had the good fortune of connecting with Jana’e Stubbs and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jana’e, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I pursued an artistic career because creation is who I am. I’ve always been considered an outcast. My siblings & I had age gaps that affected our relationship with one another. I’m the youngest of 4 girls & of course, everybody thought I was the annoying little sister. Not to mention I’m a twin so for those who know, you’re never truly you’re own person as a twin. The two of you are constantly compared. The people around you make it a point to pin you against each other with a never-ending line of “who’s who” questions. Who’s the bad twin? Who’s the good twin? Smart? Dumb? You get it. On top of being the youngest, & receiving the championship title for being the “bad twin”, naturally, it was easy to feel lost in translation. From elementary to high school, I tried making friends to escape the loneliness I felt at home. I played volleyball, softball, joined Girl Scouts, art club, joined band, the list goes on but even then I never felt like I truly fit in with just one group. I was like a geek-socialite-athlete but neither were ever more preferred to the other. I loved that about me though. Don’t get me wrong. I loved the dynamic. I loved the complexity, I loved that I could float from one “clique” to the other. I felt like Mystique. That’s for my X-Men fans but for those who don’t know she can shape shift into literally anyone and that’s how I felt at the time. I just liked doing what I wanted. I didn’t like having to choose and I didn’t feel like I had too. I could just be me. Creatively though, I’ve always done little drawings. Who hasn’t? I want to say I officially picked it up in 5th grade. A friend of mine had his name written on his binder and it was so pretty to me. I asked how he did it and he taught me. I know now that it was calligraphy, but that’s my earliest memory of deciding “Yea, I like that, I can do that.” I obviously kept drawing after that but to this day, outside of being a pop art artist, my strong suit is still calligraphy. Eventually, at home, my sister Tia & I got closer. I would come back home from school, show her what I learned and that eventually became a thing for us. Tia was the artist of the family without a doubt. We all had our roles and that was hers. If you needed it drawn she could do it for you. That girl was blessed by God himself. I would come into her room and see anything from her own anime series to her idea of what the planets looked like as cartoons. I would be the person she tested her new pieces on but it didn’t matter to me. Anything she did would’ve impressed me. She made it look so easy. I aspired to have that level of effortlessness when it came to expressing myself. I looked up to that girl from the beginning of time. I’m serious, ask my family. That was our thing. We just made our own creations and shared them with each other. It was the only thing I could do that had no limits. No boxes. I could create any reality I wanted without feeling encaged. Little did I know we both had that in common. We just wanted to be ourselves, whatever that meant. Unfortunately in 2015, Tia passed away and is no longer with us. I was 18 at the time. I got to be with her during her last moments and didn’t pick up a pencil to sketch for about 3 years after that. After years of blaming myself. I decided to keep both my passion & my sister’s legacy alive. Art brought me out of a really dark place and I wanted to share that experience with as many people as I could. To anyone who feels invisible, I see you. This is for you. That box they want you to choose? Don’t. We’re more than the constraints they try to put on us. Tia was the first person that made me feel like it was okay to just be me, I want everyone to feel like that.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Right now, I’m working in the world of sales and occasionally in film. The goal is to apply the knowledge I gain during my day job and apply it to how I run my business. Working in film is more of a side gig but whenever there’s a project being filmed nearby with my mentor and producer, Tricia I try lend a hand. She gave me my first real opportunity in production, so if she ever needs me, I’ll be there. I relocated from Chicago, Illinois to Houston, Texas so my biggest concern was finding a position that paid well enough so I could live alone, once I found it I was content with having a job but not really caring too much about the day-to-day. I’m just here to pay my rent. I’m taking in as much as I can while I’m here because after a year or two I’ll never have to worry about clocking in again.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If I was given the task to show someone around Houston, it would be a Sunday Funday vibe. I’d take them to Taste Bar & Kitchen for brunch. The food and mimosas are amazing. My friends & I love it, especially Courtnee. I would recommend one of the specialty waffles if you’re looking for something sweet. I love the fruity pebble ones. They use icing instead of maple syrup for that one. I think it’s genius. Next, we’d get daiquiris to go from Candy Shack. I think you can get a 16-ounce cup for 8 dollars or something like that. I get sour gummy worms & peach rings in mine. After that, we would go to Seismiqiue. It’s cute, it’s fun, it’s enticing-it’s perfect for everybody. It sucks you in. It’s perfect for pictures, & it’s just an aesthetically pleasing place altogether. We’d leave and by now, knowing me, I’m hungry again so we’d go to Torchy’s and get some tacos. I feel like it would be wrong of me not to. Above all else, I’m getting a queso dip. Before they even show me where I’m sitting, I need them to know I want that to come out first. There’s one with guac, cojita cheese, cilantro & Diablo sauce, and its chef’s kiss. I love the Baja shrimp taco. It comes with a chipotle sauce, drizzle on a little, and it’s needs nothing else. I love the Democrat taco too, it’s a barbacoa taco with avocado, cojita cheese, cilantro, onions, and lime on a corn tortilla. Very simple but with some tomatillo sauce? Forget about it. They have good frozen margaritas here too if you wanted to keep that train moving. I get house margarita frozen. To top the night off we’d get passes to the aquarium downtown. Who doesn’t love looking at the fish? People can try and act like it’s lame but I guarantee you if you had an aquarium in your house they’d be like “aye man, this is nice”. We’d work our way through the exhibits and at sunset we can ride the Ferris wheel. Boom. A picture-perfect day for me in Houston.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to thank God first and foremost for blessing me with the supporting family and friends I have. I never truly have to worry because I know they’ll never let anything happen to me. I love my family to death but more specifically, my sisters. Dee & Jaime are my rocks. Thank y’all for keeping me grounded. Another shoutout to my best friends, Naz & Courtnee. These women are the epitome of what a friendship should look like. We all have goals and help wherever we can to push the other forward. How do you think I got this interview? We all just have genuine, pure love for each other and we inspire each other to be great.

Surround yourself with like-minded friends like mine. Tavion is my accountability partner. He’s always giving me new ways to expand my brand. I like that he keeps me on my toes. Everybody needs somebody like that around. They’ll make you a little uncomforable but that’s neccesary for growth. Lastly, my boyfriend Joey. I brag about him all the time but he really does deserve it. It doesn’t matter what I need. Whether it’s paintbrushes or a new canvas, he’ll see to it that I get it. He’ll do anything to see me happy. I’m grateful for each of you truly.

Instagram: @blkartsforum

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