If you've been to our Williamsburg market lately, you'll have noticed the bright, shiny new addition glinting in the sun in the front of our Mural Room. Painted just weeks ago by Williamsburg staple Jaima (of Jaima Art Apparel) and based on his experiences in this beautiful, crazy city, this new mural encapsulates all the things we at Artists & Fleas love about our community: diversity, artistry & craftsmanship, freedom, and sunny dispositions. We got Jaima to talk a little bit about himself and his work.
A&F: Tell us a little bit about your background.
J: When I was younger I loved to doodle. During elementary school, my teachers were always concerned that I wasn't paying attention during class because I was always doodling. They thought I wasn't listening, but then would ask me a question about the lesson, and I was always be able to answer correctly. Drawing was actually a way for me to focus my senses, so I could listen and pay attention. As I grew older I was actually drawn more towards music and began playing the guitar and performing in bands with my friends. I even have a degree in audio engineering and music business. While I was in college, I would paint shoes and bags for friends as a side gig to earn some extra cash. After I graduated, I started working as a designer for a jewelry and accessories company, but I was still always working on my art on the side. After a few years, I decided to pursue my art full time.
A&F: You're a talented designer and illustrator – when did you realize that putting your art on apparel was the direction you were headed?
J: It wasn't really an "Aha" moment, but more of a gradual evolution. I always wanted to share my art with my close friends, and this was a creative way to do it. I liked the idea that art doesn't have to be confined to a wall in gallery, it can be mobile.
A&F: What was the first product you designed and how do you see your brand evolving in the future?
J: I initially started painting on shoes for myself because I wanted something unique and fun that no one else had. I shared some pictures on social media with friends, and started getting requests for customized shoes. One thing lead to another and I started creating more products with my artwork on them. I enjoy creating bold and colorful designs that show the interconnectedness between things. I wanted my designs to stand out in a sea of earth tones and monotones. I'd like to expand my current product lines and venture into new products as well. Eventually I'd like to come full circle and have my own line of shoes.
A&F: You've just created a beautiful, shining new mural in our Williamsburg location. What was your inspiration?
J: NYC! I just moved here a year ago, and I quickly realized just how dynamic the city really is. Even though the buildings are iconic and known around the world, I felt this energy that comes from the combination of ideas and interactions that exists on the streets in between the skyscrapers. I wanted to show this with designs flowering out from the buildings.
A&F: We're looking forward to seeing more of your art and apparel as you grow. Any other big projects in the works we should be on the lookout for?
J: I've a got a few new designs and products that are in the works! I'm also going back to my roots and I'll be offering more art (original paintings and prints) alongside the apparel.
Stop by and check out Jaima's mural at our Williamsburg market Saturdays & Sundays from 10am-7pm.