Janae Young is an artist, entrepreneur, and smoothier (my new word for smoothie-maker) from Fort Wayne, Indiana. She began painting around the age of eight, recreating album covers at home while making short story illustrations at school.
Since then, she’s attended Purdue, lived in New York, Miami, Colorado, and most recently in Los Angeles. In each city, she’s learned more about pursuing art, business, and even making an NFT or two. BGN spoke with her via email about consciousness, entrepreneurship, and living off of bodega food in Brooklyn.
You attended Purdue University but left to pursue art independently. What led to this decision?
Ultimately, leaving college resulted from a combination of ideas and realizations. I didn’t want to pursue my degree in dentistry anymore. I didn’t want to be in a sorority, and I didn’t want to pay tuition. West Lafayette is a heavily influenced southern Republican city, and I didn’t feel that I belonged there.
After Purdue, you moved to New York. What was the process like trying to become financially independent in such a notoriously expensive city?
It was very tough surviving New York. I had to be savvy and quick thinking. Naivety in any area would be immediately figured out and manipulated in NY. I worked as a bartender at night and had an unpaid internship during the day when I first moved to Brooklyn. That really led me into everything else that happened over my first summer there. I had one good friend, did a lot of drugs, drank a lot of everything, always rode public transportation, only ate at the bodegas, and never slept.
How would you describe the art scene in the city? How did it affect your own work, if at all?
Moving from Indiana to New York was a complete culture shock in every way, but I loved every day of it. Everything was shifting to Instagram and influencer when I moved to NY, so there was a lot of photography art, events, and themed party installations. Art was everywhere in everything. I was more focused on fashion and photography, I’d say, until the very end of living in NY, when I discovered this art collective from Canada.
Around the same time, One of my neighbors in Harlem left piles of Artforum magazines out for free. I took as many as I could and studied them cover to cover. I had never seen an art magazine. It totally changed my perspective on careers and where I could see myself fitting into the professional art world.
Since then, you’ve moved to Los Angeles. Why here?
When I lived in NY, people often thought I was from LA. I had never been here but always wanted to experience it. I moved to Miami first to study art and then to Colorado to experience hiking and sunsets to finally move to LA when the timing aligned. I feel like there is a good mix of everything in California.
Would you say there’s a difference in art scenes between New York and LA? Whether that is a difference in collaboration, interests, etc.?
There are different generalizations of each city but most art-led arenas travel through big cities with different themes or aspects highlighted. I have a more extensive knowledge of art shows and galleries in LA than I do in NY but the cultures of each city, in general, are totally different. LA is very laid back and chill; NY is very fast-paced and up-to-date on everything from style to pop culture to music etc.
Your work contains media as mixed as cardboard and face masks, and now, you’ve begun producing NFTs. What helps you decide to use one medium over, or in conjunction with, another?
I try not to overthink when I create. I have a lot of mediums in my studio and whatever fits, fits. Sometimes it will be the material’s texture, color, or size. I never know when a piece is actually finished. Sometimes I add elements up until a showing.
NFTs tend to be related in most people’s minds to money, particularly cryptocurrency. How did you decide to take a risk on this relatively new, occasionally unstable platform?
I feel like as an artist, it can only help to make NFTs. I am still learning the digital world of art, but I see it becoming a standard soon, so I think it’s wise to learn and invest in as much as possible.
Your website has smoothies, music, and art — how do you handle juggling this many enterprises?
I manage my day-to-day by living with intention. Every minute of my day, I strive to make it count. I multi-task a lot. It can be overwhelming, but it’s all done to expand and pass off tasks to others. When I’m in a really good flow creatively, I make music and art at the same time. I’ll paint a bit, then work on music the while the layers dry and come up with new ideas. All while drinking a refreshing CBD smoothie, of course!
Your Instagram lists you as an entrepreneur. Would you say this describes you more than “artist”? Do you find artist and entrepreneur to be two inextricable categories? Or did you list that as a joke? Because I’ve personally listed myself as a Grocery Store every now and again.[Laughs] Yeah, so I used to have it labeled as an art gallery. I recently changed it to entrepreneur because I like the way it looks in writing. I would say the titles intertwine because you have to be innovative to be a successful entrepreneur.
Finally, the website is Conscious Citizen or [C]CTZN for short. What does consciousness mean in this context?
I define consciousness as someone present and intentional in their thoughts and actions. A conscious citizen sees the world through a universal perspective lens. I move through life with all things, people, places, and feelings considered.
Finally, what’s next for you? In terms of art, business, or the art business?
I am currently focused on expansion in all aspects. I am building revenue for the smoothies. Vending at summer events and concerts. I am hoping to release an album by the end of the year. Something light and alternative mixed by notable producers. My next art showcase will be a collection of blue paintings inspired by growth.
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Wayne Broadway is a writer from Sacramento, CA. He writes fiction, non-fiction, and is currently obsessed with Pomeranians.