Wynwood darling Jenny Perez

By  | 


If you’re a true Wynwooder – then I’m sure Jenny Perez needs no introduction. This local artist and Wynwood darling is a strong cultural icon using her work and fresh perspective to empower women and convey messages that represent many movements, pro-social efforts and bringing many communities in strength to prosper through her artwork. Basically, she is a badass and I love her. I linked up with Ms. Perez to talk about her journey as an artist, her work, and her feelings about life purpose.

Jenny Perez Interview


Did you always know you wanted to be an artist? Describe your journey.

I didn’t always know…but I suppose I have always had a strong attraction to the arts. My favorite class in grade school was art and also growing up, my fondest memories were when I got the chance to visit the art center on Lincoln road or rummage through art related books at the local book store. But to shock you a bit, I originally wanted to pursue chiropractic medicine and nutrition in college. This was before realizing that art was a feasible career. Once I had this realization, I dropped my studies and pursued art full-time. It was the only thing that truly ever consistently excited me in life- hence why the drastic change of lifestyle was justified. It was exactly like what they say, “when you know, you know!”  besides this, I enjoy that no one can ever tell me I’m wrong; there are zero mistakes in art and for me, it was my way of saying fuck you to everyone who told me I always was.

Did you have any mentors or influential people who helped you on your path?

Of course! my dearest aunt, Dinorah De Jesus Rodriguez, a prominent film-maker and artist in Miami, was married into my family when I was 5. I think she saw the artist in me just lurking around, begging for some release.  She often would encourage me to draw, and when I didn’t, she forced it upon me. I remember specifically on one occasion her setting up a picnic table outside of her house filled with art supplies so that when I came over i’d be entertained. On one hot summer day, I begged to stay indoors for whatever reason, and instead she locked me out, telling me I couldn’t come back in until I had painted something. It was a bit intense as a child, but I’m grateful. I never had that kind of attention or passion from anyone before, it was nice. It was almost as if this woman knew creating was good for me or that it would save me someday. Every christmas and birthday until I was too old to get presents, I received sketchbooks and art supplies from her despite the constant criticism she and I both received from my mother and father.

Can you describe your creative process?

My creative process varies. At my studio there are “must-have’s” before I can paint. Music, coffee and smokes. In that order. it gets me going for whatever reason. I begin by writing, random thoughts. I do this for as long as I need to. After, I dissect the writing and allow that emotion to be the driving influence in the painting. Sometimes, I don’t write at all, I simply begin by throwing paint down, allowing those layers to build and at this point, I’ve got a nice flow so its all spontaneous creation from there.

How do you stay inspired?

I stay inspired by falling in love with moments throughout my day. I fall in love with a bird making a pretty sound outside, or a beautiful conversation with a friend. I just try to find beauty in things, and I allow myself to fall in love with every single one…all the time.

Most of your work incorporate the female form. Who is this woman you portray?
Or are there many muses?

I am often inspired by the people in my life and the relationships I develop. There have been instances that my female character will resemble a dear friend , this typically stems from a subconscious level. More often than not, my character is a direct reflection of me and where I am at in my life. They are all essentially self-portraits, because as i see it, my friends are also reflections of me as well.

You went to Dubai recently for a solo exhibition.
What was that like?

The best way to describe Dubai, is that it was like a dream. I had never imagined that my art would take me that far, and it actually wasn’t until I was on my flight just as we were passing Paris, that the reality of it all hit me like a ton of bricks. I had, for 6 months prior to this moment worked everyday and every night creating the artwork. It was a total of 23 originals, all of which I was so excited to share but I didn’t have the time or energy to process what was really happening until that moment on the flight. This opportunity to share what I do, halfway across the world, with a fresh new audience was equally intimidating and exciting. I will eternally be grateful for Street Art Dubai for signing me at the time that they did because I don’t feel like i had really been “discovered” until they came along. In addition to it being my 1st solo-exhibiton ever, it was the 1st time I had ever traveled out of the country for my work and it was the 1st time I had ever created such a large body of work at once. For this gallery, I was one of the 1st female artist to come, representing Wynwood Miami which if you ask me, was the best part. Girl power!

Tell me about your latest collection- Rich Girl.

Rich Girl was created specifically for Dubai. I was inspired by the culture of the city as it’s known to be one of the wealthiest places in the world. I thought it would be nice to pay tribute to this all while honoring my own beliefs and experiences with wealth. I was never raised around money, I never had nice things, or drove a fancy car, and so for me it was like a way of saying that wealth is relative and can be defined not just by material things because despite my lack of the finer things, I was always pretty happy. What better place to exploit this concept than Dubai?

Do you feel like your creative process changes a lot as you transition
from the canvas to the street? And which did you start with?

Yes for sure. I find myself envisioning different things for public art and mural work than I would for canvas work. Aside from having more space, I also use different tools so it helps bring new things to life, like technique and even style. I started with canvas work and after a vivid dream I had of me standing in front of a huge white wall making huge broad strokes with my arm, I saw it as a sign or suppressed urge to dive into street art. I painted my 1st mural one month after on Biscayne blvd and 73rd street in 2010. That launched a stream of new outside projects and opportunities, all of which were so much fun.

Why do you feel public art is important?

It’s important on several levels. Firstly, it creates a sense of accessibility between the fans and the artist. the best way to describe it is like seeing your favorite band in concert. Its one thing to hear the music from your heads phones or radio, its another experience to see the artist perform it. Somehow, that experience is more memorable, invigorating and inspiring.

Also, street art has helped with the development of impoverished neighborhoods like Wynwood become a safer more beautiful place to reside.

In addition to that, if you are an artist with strong political or social messages to convey, public art is the most effective way to reach masses amounts of people without having to try too hard. Art has consistently been the ultimate catalyst for change, growth and empowerment and street art is just the stage provided for us to perform, which in turn, helps to some degree, change the world.

In Art Basel 2014, Rone painted a mural in Wynwood, using you as his muse.
How was that experience for you?

Well, not to blow smoke up my own ass here, but it was probably the coolest thing that has every happened to me! I’ve always been nicknamed ‘Jenny from the Block’ I suppose now, the name is most fitting. Rone typically paints these stunning modelesque women, and to be asked to be the new face of his work was so flattering and besides this, I think I was his first curly haired muse, so that was like adding the cherry to my already so delicious chocolate sundae.



What or who are your top three inspirations?

Im inspired by alot of artists , but I always find myself obessing over the same three every so often. Warhol, Basquiat and Haring. I dive into documentaries, books and try to catch shows of their work as often as I can. I enjoy them all for specific reasons. Warhol inspires me because he did something that no one has ever done before- he was a game-changer and I think that is really important if you are going to do what we do. Basquiat’s art for me speaks to me on such deep personal levels and I enjoy the rawness and fluidity of his technique as well. Haring for me is the pop artist that broke social boundaries by exposing his work on every medium he possibly could. He became commercial while still keeping the integrity of his work alive. I would love to be able to have a global presence like they did, I can only hope someday someone will be inspired by me in the way I am with them.

How does Miami’s emerging art scene influence your work?

I feel such a responsibility to create now more so than ever because the movement here is growing and becoming so powerful. It drives me to keep working, I would hate to miss out or to not be apart of what’s happening- it is history in the making.

Do you have any upcoming projects you’re excited about?

I am very excited to get back into the studio and work on a new collection. The last few months I have been so busy with side projects, charity initiatives and murals so I’m feeling a strong pull to create privately now. I am crossing my fingers for a solo exhibition in Miami, as it’ll be my first here at home. I can sense a surge of change approaching in my style and or medium- and it’s been a long while since I’ve felt a need for growth and change , I am looking forward to what’s next, the birth of something new. There’s so much more, and things always change, but i’d say the best way to know of my where-abouts is through social media: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter! Get on it! @jenn_aaa or @jennyperezart!

When are you the happiest?

I am happiest when I am doing things that connect to my truest nature. I am a creative to the core, so when i am surrounded by creative people or doing creative things I am happiest.


Life Purpose

What do you feel is your lives purpose?
How do you feel one goes about discovering it?

I remember once during a meditation, I was asked to go to my happiest, safest place without allowing any boundaries or limitations to hinder me envisioning this place. It was so vivid when I finally arrived; I was in a big white room, facing a large blank canvas. I suppose that’s when I knew deep down I had a real purpose here, and that vision has always motivated me to continue to create. I often get into these crazy mental blocks where my thoughts begin to over power my heart, and my thoughts usually never have anything nice to say, and so I begin to have doubt and fear. The best way to discover what you are meant to be doing is to just envision your brightest most amazing dream EVER, and eliminate all fear, judgement and reality from the process of finding it.

What are some obstacles you’ve overcome in the journey?

People can be asshole sometimes, and by people I’m not just describing the occasional hater, but instead the people I get closest too. My biggest obstacles have been my family and “friends” who have often said things to make me feel like I am doing everything wrong. For me, it makes all the difference to have the support and love from the people in my life and if I find that someone in my life isn’t willing to support me, I cut them out, no matter how bad it hurts. I simply can’t allow anyone to get in my way. So… sorry but not sorry to all my ex lovers and friends- I have so much to do, and you will never understand.

How do you feel about money and the starving artist stereotype?

I hate that money sometimes is a huge block from being able to do certain things. for the most part, I try to not allow it to stop me. I find a way somehow to achieve what I want, with out without money, because as I’ve always experienced in life, money is transient, always flowing in and out. I do have a problem with the stereotype only because I feel like it instills fear into other aspiring artists to pursue this as a career. Luckily, I’ve been surrounded with plenty of successful artists and they were such great motivators and inspirations. I got to see 1st hand that  the starving artist stereotype is just an urban myth to those who want it bad enough- to those who don’t, then i find that it becomes their reality.

Lastly, how do you riot?

I’m from Miami and I am latin. Thats pretty easy. We are notorious for living passionately with reckless abandon!
To be honest, I riot in the simplest of forms. I enjoy my life, I enjoy to drink and dance, to laugh and to lead by example. I often forget (because I’m always just in a happy bubble in my head) that people are watching me, and that they pay attention because of what I do. It surprises me to know that, but its also empowering. I must be doing something right, because I get the loveliest of messages from fans all over the world about how much they admire me. That’s the riot, to be who I am , despite all the shit that tries to get in the way, even if that shit sometimes includes me!

Follow Jenny on Instagram & Twitter @jenn_aaa and @jennyperezart.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *