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  • Writer's pictureTelênia Albuquerque

A long month and Jenifer Prince's interview

So much adulting happened this month that Soft’s new pages took forever to finish, but you can read ahead now.

That said, last Saturday Soft completed three years on Tapas! (but considering the last few years it feels at least like six) If nothing gets in the way, Part4 will finish around October and I hope the new ending will still be as satisfying as the previous one.

AND for some reason I’m trying Instagram again… As my Twitter remains abandoned, I decided to try to keep a more active account somewhere. Let’s see how long my will lasts…

 

Interview

March’s guest is Jenifer Prince! Fellow brazilian and illustrator of sapphics with old time vibes~

Please, tell us a bit about yourself. H! I’m Jenifer, a Brazilian lesbian illustrator who loves to draw lesbians and sapphics in a vintage-inspired aesthetic! Now, starting with one of our recurring questions. Was there something or someone queer you felt pulled to before you even understood why? That’s a great question. That happened a lot on a personal sphere more than with any media or famous person. I think my friend group in school had mostly queer people that only came to terms with their sexuality in college, including my best friend who’s a gay man (I was the first to come out when we were still in high school). The first person I remember being pulled to was this neighbor I had when I was 9 years old that was a tomboy girl one year older than me. Once I got to know her we quickly became friends. I always had this admiration for her because of how she expressed herself, her gender and her love for what was considered “boy things” (and later for her relationship with her sexuality), but I only got what that meant to me — and actually talked about that with her — many years later. We’re good friends to this day, which is very cool! What about your creative path, have you always wanted to work in illustration? Did you receive formal training? I’ve always loved drawing and creating, but I didn’t think working with illustration was a possibility and I only realized that in college. I went to school to study Arts and Design thinking I would be a graphic designer (which I was for a few years) and ended up discovering illustration as a career path. I had the opportunity to focus my studies on Illustration and on Visual Arts. To work exclusively with a vintage style is so specific. What led you to it? I believe the vintage aesthetic came naturally to my style as a result of the combination of my many interests. My visual references were always comic style drawing and pop art — I had a moment in college when I was obsessed with Valentina, by Guido Crepax. His style definitely did something to me! I also love to learn more about queer culture around the world and more specifically about lesbian history, so that also played an essential role in this inspiration to work with the vintage aesthetic.

Does it extend to other areas? Is your house a secret lair of all things 50s? Absolutely! I have from posters and postcards to ceramics and candy boxes with beautiful vintage labels all over the house! Still need to work more on the decoration though. [laughs] Your work is so consistent. Do you have a routine process? Ah, I’m glad to hear you think so! I go back and forth with the techniques I’m using, so the routine is not exactly strict, but there’s definitely a methodological way of thinking about the process. I make the sketch first using photoshop and my intuos, then I make the outlines using procreate on my ipad and I add colors and textures using photoshop and my intuos again. This last part is where it gets less methodical as I try new things everytime (new textures, new brushes and so on). I also work every day (Monday to Friday) to keep up with my commission schedule and have enough time to work on my personal projects.  What about reference research? One of the most fun parts! My reference research is very specific. If I’m working on a noir-inspired illustration, for example, I’ll search for noir movies from the 40’s and 50’s, detective pulp covers and noir-inspired photoshoots. I want to make the process of creating the illustration fun for me, so I watch the movies and read the stories I come across! That’s how I get motivated. For pose references, I usually go to models and photographers who make reference photos for artists like Jennifer Günthel and/or use myself and my girlfriend for the photo references. I confess, I’m partial to your Evelyn+Celia fanart… Are there any characters you dream to draw in a professional capacity? Or any other dream projects for the future? Oh since you mentioned Evelyn and Celia, it would be so amazing to work on something for Evelyn Hugo! That’s definitely my dream job. It would be so fun to do a cover for a special edition or something like that, a poster for the movie that Netflix is working on… Literally anything!

In the era of burn out, we have been forced to rethink routines and our relationships to working on our previous hobbies. A long trial and error process. How have you been navigating that? My life savior was my therapist. I was clinically stressed out at one point and almost burnt out so I searched for therapy. We worked together on finding out a routine that would be healthy and to rethink “work” and what it means in my life. I learned to rest properly! It’s been a long time process (almost three years now) and, as you said, it’s a long trial and error process. Today, I try to balance my commission work with my personal projects the best way I can after understanding how much it means to me to keep my personal projects alive. I fail from time to time, but I always try to learn more about myself and my boundaries when that happens. I also try to keep a consistency with exercising and socializing, which is so, so important! I learned with time that we, as artists, need inspiration from our lives, we need experiences, stories to tell, interesting people that inspire us, so keeping our social life alive and healthy is really important not only for our own satisfaction and growth as a person, but also for our creativity. Same with resting, creative leisure is a thing! What’s the queer story (in any medium) that has your attention right now? I’m re-watching The L Word, so they’ve been on my mind a lot. I’m also reading a book called In the Shadow of Truth, by J.E. Leak, that is part of a series and it’s amazing! It’s a lesbian historical noir novel. Highly recommend it to everyone! What would you like to see more in sapphic/queer stories? I wish we had more lesbian and sapphic movies and TV shows. There are so many great, loved shows being canceled and that’s so upsetting! It’s so bad that people are afraid of starting a new show just for it to be canceled in a few months. The show A League of Their Own is so amazing, it’s a perfect example of what we should see more on queer stories. It has a wide range of diversity in all aspects and tells the stories of the characters with such beauty and care at the same time that the plots are interesting and keep us entertained.

There’s a meme in Brazil that says “finally stories of gay crooks. no one can stand the stories of gays suffering anymore. we want more gays like this, gays riding motorcycles, gays shooting, etc.” and as funny as it is, I think it has a point!!! I would love to see more plot variety in queer stories. Please, share where people can find more of your work. You can find my work on Instagram, Twitter and on Tumblr. Thank you for the space and thanks to everyone who took the time to read more about me and my work, I truly appreciate it! 

 

Stuff I read

A Day of Fallen Night by Samantha Shannon

This book made me neglect much needed sleep, but one of my biggest pleasures in life is to immerse myself in a rich detailed world that relentlessly presses my curiosity and makes me anxious for these poor fictional people who have no idea what they’re getting into! Even better when it makes me squeal about useless lesbians (I’ll never forget that ‘naked like her ambition’ line…)!

It’s longer than The Priory of the Orange Tree (which is the book she wrote first but happens centuries after ADOFN), but also much more queer (I particularly enjoyed the nonbinary honorifics Shannon came up with). The main PoVs are from two lesbians (one in her 50s), one asexual girl and a bi dude. All that said, Ead and Sabran from the Priory probably still remain my favourite couple from this universe.

I’ve already been posting more fanart of them on my Tumblr and Instagram.

(On the audiobook saga, I’ve been enjoying listening to favourites I feel guilty about rereading and giving a new chance to books that fell I bit bland on the first read. It’s been an interesting experience, I might write more of my thoughts some other time.)

 

Stuff I watched

Tentatively watched the 1st epi of Show me Love, new GL Thai webseries about models, beauty pageants and music contests? At least that’s what I got so far.

 

Fun fact

Soon it’ll be Easter. As a historically catholic country some habits permeate the date here, like markets bustling with people buying fish (especially cod, a portuguese influence) and schools closing earlier in the week. In my mother’s time there were even things like not eating candy on Good Friday.

Sunday though people go all in on lunch and chocolates. And Easter chocolates here are serious business. As much literally, because it’s a quite lucrative activity (especially for small business), as because no one likes to not win at least one (of course you can give chocolates in other shapes and sizes, as long as it’s chocolate I don’t think anyone will complain).

Eggs here aren’t tiny things made of cheap chocolate (I mean it can be, depending on who’s giving) and in the last decade or so there was a new development called ovos de colher (literally spoon eggs). Ovos de colher are essentially eggs filled with more chocolate, fruits and pretty much anything people can imagine.

So, wish me luck for this year, I hope to gather a good stock! ; )

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