The artist interview series is coming to a close with one of my personal favorites: Jessi from EttaVee! Jessi was one of the first artists I found after launching my IG account and I was blown away by the way she used colors to create feathery, rainbow abstracts. Since then, I've loved getting to know her and watching her career develop. I cannot wait to introduce her to the Rachel's Shoppe blog!
For those who don't know you, can you tell us a little about yourself and EttaVee?
Bonjour and hello everyone! I’m Jessi Raulet, an American artist & mama currently based in Paris, France. I own a brand called EttaVee, where I create bright and colorful abstract art that energizes and uplifts!
I make my living as a full-time artist by selling original artwork and licensing my artwork to be used on products.
You’re originally from the USA, how did you feel about uprooting and moving to Paris? Has becoming a Parisian added to or changed your creative habits in anyway?
I was born and raised in Evansville, IN and later moved to San Francisco for grad school and to work as an art director. SF played such a huge roll in my creative journey and it was hard to leave because of all of the wonderful ‘framily’ I had made there. I met Pierre, my French husband, whilst living in SF and began traveling to France a few times a year. When got engaged and Pierre asked me if I would like to move to Paris, and I couldn’t imagine a greater adventure. I had been to Paris a few times before moving and didn’t particularly love it, so I was feeling a bit anxious about the move. I knew it would be hard to move to a new country, especially with no friends and family in the city. I tried my best to mentally prepare myself for such a big move! However, on the other hand, I was thrilled to be able to have this exciting adventure with Pierre and to hopefully learn a lot about myself in the process!
I definitely experienced culture shock and homesickness my first few months here. Simple tasks such as going to the post office alone seemed so daunting. I cried a lot, felt a little lost, was frustrated learning a new culture and a new language. Though the start was a bit rough, I’m so glad I stuck it out, as things definitely turned around!
Paris inspires! France has mastered many forms of art such as fine art, culinary arts and fashion. It’s hard not to be swept off of your feet looking at the beautiful Haussmann architecture in Paris. I think the biggest change in my creative habits is not so much rooted in living in Paris, but more so rooted in the act of leaving the US workforce and what society/ my family expected of me. When living and working in the US, I had my whole career path ahead of me. The last job I had before moving to Paris was in tech and I could see how I could climb that corporate ladder. However, being in France made me realize that I had left the corporate world and owed it to myself to explore my true creative passions while exploring this new country/ culture and new side of myself!
Can you tell us a little about your painting process from start to finish?
When starting a new collection, I’ll look towards a theme that inspires me and under which I can build a series of pieces. When creating new art, I try to push myself just a little further creatively than I have before in order to produce something fresh.
I take a critical eye to my existing work and ask myself, how I can grow as an artist. I’m a big consumer of art and am always striving to make something that I myself, have never seen before.
I’ll start by doing what I call ‘play’. This is a time for creative exploration and absolutely NO judgements - just fun! I love the concept of play, as I believe that’s where the magic is found! For example, my popular painted fruit series and painted glass pieces both came from ‘play’ sessions!
Next, I get to work! If ideas come to me, i’ll sketch them to get a general sense of composition, but for me, directly on the canvas is where I work things out.
Who are some artists/people who inspire your art?
I’m often inspired by artists of color in various different art forms such as Ella Fitzgerald, Beyonce, Kehinde Wiley and Frida Khalo. Beyonce inspires my hustle and Kehinde Wiley’s colors are true eye candy. I think it’s because I can see bits of myself represented through their art. This is why representation is so important! I hope in turn that through my art career, I can inspire other girls/ women of color and any color to pursue art as a profession and share their talents with the world!
Finding a style is a big deal on Instagram and in the art world. I think it can often be really tough for emerging artists to settle into one that makes them feel original (without stepping on anyone’s toes). When do you feel like your paintings really began to say, “This is EttaVee”?
For me less about finding an ‘original’ style, as there are many artists out there who have similar styles to me and who also do brush strokes. For an artist, I believe more focus needs to be placed on that artist’s unique creative vision and artistic expression all while playing on their personal strengths. Many people have similar painting styles, but it’s the creative voice they give to the art and the stories they tell, that will set their art apart! I’m talking less visual and more of a feeling - a message that jumps out of the art!
The uniqueness found in EttaVee artwork is all based in the color palettes that I use. I LOVE color palettes and color theory! Color is my strength and I use it to tell my stores in art. It’s the way I consistently use color in my work to express myself, it what allows others to easily spot my artwork in the wild!
Did you try any other styles before you settled into your vibrant and bold brushstrokes?
I have dabbled in many different art forms as well as learning the classical realism style taught in undergrad. But when I think back to the first paintings I created out of undergrad using my own style, they were large loose brushstroke-y bright florals that still totally fit the current EttaVee vibe! My parents recently found a painting dated from when I was four and there are brush strokes in it haha!
Fear is a big obstacle for many artists and can often keep them from sharing their work. Do you have any advice for overcoming fear and showing up anyway?
There’s a book titled “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyways”! I haven’t read the book, but live by that message. I used to be so shy and fearful, to the point where it prevented me from taking any action. However, when I saw others going for their dreams and later finding out that they too were scared all along, it gave me permission to do the same. I now embrace fear with open arms. Having fear is a gift, it shows you care! With any goal or dream one must ask themselves, how bad do you want it? Get focused on your goal, only listen to those who are offering CONSTRUCTIVE criticism and give it all you got! By the way, I’m a few years into my art business and definitely still have fears. Only difference now is I know the more I continue to put myself out there, the more I grow and in turn become braver/ more confident.
You published your first book last year, what were your hopes for how would impact others?
I’m so proud to have published my first book, Happy Abstracts, last November! My goal was to empower artists of all levels to pick up a paint brush and explore a fun new painting style! The vibe of the book is really inspirational and features six art projects where readers can explore different aspects of abstract art! It’s truly been rewarding to see what everyone is creating with the book! I LOVE when artists take my colorful loose style and apply it to their own new designs!
This book is full of the steps to complete a painting in the EttaVee style. What are your thoughts for the artist who wants to sell the completed work? Was it hard to write your book knowing that people would create work and then possibly sell it as their own?
The purpose of Happy Abstracts is to introduce my painting style to the world and to encourage people to pick up a paint brush and let loose! I feel honored to be able to present my style to others in this manner, as it’s something I'm often asked about. The projects in the book are my copyrighted designs that I use to TEACH different aspects and techniques for abstract art.
My hopes are that if someone gets inspired and wants to become a professional artist (sell the work) using the same style, then they should gather the techniques they learned from the book, not the designs, and build upon it to make it their own! If an artist is looking to build an art career, then they should aim to create an original work/designs that tells their own stories! We all have such unique perspectives that need to be shared! All of the projects in the book were inspired by personal experiences that I’ve translated into art. The art on the cover was a beautiful fiery sunset I experienced in Normandy while driving along the coast with family, right after finding out I was pregnant. It was such a beautiful moment that I just HAD to paint it! So yes, it would be strange to see someone recreating it and passing it off as their own original work haha.
To further clarify, copying art is OK for educational purposes only. It’s how we learn painting techniques in art school when we dissect the work of “The Greats”. However copied art should not be placed in your portfolio and should not be sold. It is for educational purposes only. With that said, I’m thrilled my book has inspired thousands to create, explore the colorful world of acrylic painting and launch their own original art careers!
For the artist looking to get into licensing their work, where do you recommend they start?
Oh my! Art licensing is something I’m asked about daily. I’m currently working on many resources to help educate artists on ways they can start making passive income by licensing their art! Here are five ways to get started!
1. Get a clear vision of what it is you want to achieve with licensing your artwork. Is there a certain brand you’d like to work with? Certain products you’d love to make? Is the goal to build a brand and license art under a brand name, like EttaVee? Or maybe you just want to make passive income from licensing, but not build a brand? Really take some time to get clear on what it is you want out of licensing. This is the first step!
2. Research, research, research! Study the industry, study other artists who are currently licensing their artwork. Are they independent are they signed to an agent? Learn what type of art sells and why. Study design trends.
A great way to study design trends is to walk a trade show! I walked Surtex a few years before I started licensing my artwork and it truly helped me get a better understanding of the business.
3. Build a strong portfolio of original work! Art directors and product developers are always on the lookout for new, fresh and exciting work!
4. Get your work in front of the right people! Share your work often. Social media has been an amazing tool for when it comes to getting my artwork in front of art directors. These art directors spend a lot of time browsing through Instagram, looking for artists to work with! Share your work!
There are many sites where you can get started on earning a commission from your work. Minted holds design challenges for independent artists. It’s a great way to start getting feedback on your designs and seeing which ones buyers gravitate towards. Here are a few places where you can get started on selling your artwork for a commission: Minted, Society6, Deny Designs, Casetify, Redbubble and Spoonflower!!
Where can we learn more about you + shop your art?
You can check out my art and stay up-to-date on my day-to-day happenings on Instagram @ettavee Keep an eye out for new IGTV content where i’ll answer your art licensing questions!
Shop EttaVee licensed products: http://www.ettavee.com/products
Shop original art: www.ettavee.com/shop
If there’s anyone based in San Diego, i’ll be painting a mural with non-profit boss babes Ladies Who Paint this fall!