Fashion plays an integral role in our business at J.Forks Designs. Our mission is to inspire others to live boldly and discover their personal style with a little help from our jewelry designs. Whether it is the clothes we wear or the music we listen to, our style defines our character. Here at the J.Forks studio, our musical inspiration reaches as far as the Pacific Ocean is wide spanning from classic rock to Texas red-dirt, and jazz to hip-hop. Recently, the sultry voice and hair-raising guitar skills of emerging R&B/pop/rock artist Jackie Venson captured our attention. Jenny was intrigued by Venson’s ability to tear up the guitar and her dare to live boldly. This left us wondering, if jewelry designers are influenced by music, how does the fashion industry influence musicians?
Before defining her personal style, Venson attended the Berklee College of Music where she studied classical piano. After graduating, she picked up the guitar for the first time. She promptly compiled her first EP Rollin-On (2013) with her first album The Light In Me (2014) trailing closely behind. Since then, she released her second album, two EPs, and eight singles. In 2017 alone, Venson played 84 shows spanning from her hometown of Austin all the way to Finland, and Los Angeles to New York City. This year is already rounding out to be just as eventful. Venson has gained respect as an artist who takes her craft seriously, and her industry has begun to notice. In 2017, she opened four shows for blues legend Gary Clark Jr. and will perform in the 2018 Austin City Limits Music Festival.
Needless to say, this girl embodies dedication, so we assumed that when it came to defining style and visual stage presence it must have always been an integral part of her career. “Well you know, honestly, for the first four or five years of my career as a guitarist, I did not even think about it at all, and I refused to believe that it was important.” This was not due to laziness or her taking some wild stand. “I was already overwhelmed with all the other stuff that I had to do as a developing artist that I did not want to add anything to my plate”.
“There is no instruction manual for this career so the only way is to learn by observing people.... If I want to be where John Mayer is, then I need to go and research John Mayer to see all the things that he does that I do not do, and I need to start doing those things. He has a really great website. He has really excellent pictures. He has a stylist, he has a publicist, he has really awesome music videos, he has live albums and studio albums… So, all that being said, my observations lead me to the fact that style and fashion are pretty integral to an artist.”
She not only discovered that style is important as a professional musician, but it also played a roll on who she wanted to become. “These people [fans] are coming to your show, yeah they are hearing the music, but they are not just hearing the music, they are looking at you. And it is supposed to be an all-around experience not only about the music. If it were only about the music then I would just be a songwriter for a living... Or maybe I would just be in someone else’s band, if it was only about the music. But I do not want to just be in someone else’s band or be a songwriter. I want to be a performer. And so, as a result, I have to accept the responsibility that if I am going to perform I need to have a vibe, a look, and a sound. For the longest time I had the sound, but I did not have the vibe or the look. Fortunately, two years ago I finally accepted it, and I have been working on it ever since.”
Venson has been working with two people, her sister Christina and stylist Kate Priestley, to develop her current style which she describes as sometimes wacky, sometimes sleek. She gives them examples of her personal taste like bright colors and eccentric shoes, but also details some of her apparel boundaries. “Shoes have to be sneakers because I will break my freaking legs if I try to play the guitar and wear high heels. I [also] tell them that I do not like shirts that would require me to wear a bra. I hate bras.” But, she never puts too many limitations on them. “I am still new to all of this, so I am still experimenting. I am still figuring out what I like as a person, and I actually am really excited about it because you know it is never going to be like this again. Once I get styling, then I get it, but right now, I am in this cool discovery phase.”
Discovery and experimentation go hand in hand for artists. Neither one exists without the other, and they help develop the musician both professionally and personally. “I have just been experimenting, and I think that is all part of the process for an artist. If you look at some artists from 10 years ago, they do not dress the same way they do now. If you look at Beyoncé 10 years ago she is definitely not wearing gold sequin leotards. She came to that.” Venson knew that in order to not become overwhelmed by the task of finding her styles, she had to view it as a growing process just like her music.
Growing processes are an inherent component to every artist, whether a musician or a jewelry designer, change is inevitable, and the great ones (one what? Artist, musician...we just used artist, so maybe we can use another word?) welcome it. Musicians like Jackie Venson, who dare to step outside their comfort zones and live boldly, inspire us. We encourage you to give this gal a listen.