PALMER— Alaskan artist Jamie Janko recently participated in a question and answer interview to discuss her first year running her own booth at the Alaska State Fair after many years of selling original artwork at festivals and other events across the state.
Q: How’s your first year at the Fair going so far?“It’s been going pretty good... Talking with people is really nice. People who come to my booth generally talk about the one thing I can talk about without being super clumsy, artwork. So, it all works out really nicely... People often like the colors... I’ve had a lot of positive feedback. One comment I get from the older generation is that it takes them back to the 70s. I often like to tell them that I’m reincarnated from the 70s,” she said with a laugh.
Q: What’s it like being a vendor at the Fair?“The Fair’s just hard to get into... I was able to get in because I applied in 2019. As far as the application goes, you’re lucky if you get in. They accepted me. So, I definitely jump on it Once you’re in, you’re in. So, you wanna come back every year anyway... I’m really interested in being a vendor next year because it’s just one of my favorite things. Just being available and having my art at a place like this is one of the things I’ve looked forward to for a long time. It’s my livelihood. So, I can’t imagine life without it. I’m so happy to be back in the festival game, doing events like this. We didn’t have any festivals or anything in 2020 to go which was a huge bummer and it sucked. But, it was really nice to do other things that didn’t require me to be at a certain place at a certain time.”
Q: What’s it been like taking your booth to different events across Alaska’s festival circuit over the years?“It’s definitely a different relationship with different people at different festivals... But I lucked out and made friends with the people next door [at the Fair] and they’re really, really cool... We’re like neighbors. It’s definitely a survival thing. We’re here 11 hours to be functioning and open... It’s definitely like a living situation almost for a while. So, I tried really hard to make sure my booth and tent setup was like, on point and could like smart any element that came at me. Because Palmer ain’t no joke.”
Q: How long have you been making art, pretty much your whole life?“Yeah, my whole life... I wouldn’t say that I made art when I was younger I just kinda colored snd stuff, but it’s always been something that I was really passionate about and I never put it down.”
Q: When did you go full force with your art to start making it professionally?
“In 2015, I had some spare time on my hands because my part-time job was all I needed to pay the bills. So, I started to do what I wanted to do; and then, people started throwing money at me for paintings. Other friends started asking me if I was gonna go to festivals and encouraged me... Without even having a way to my first festival or tent to display it in, I decided to buy a vendor ticket, and then everything else kind of became available to me. It was really nice.”
Q: How would you describe how important art is to you?“Art is my livelihood so it’s extremely important to me. Not only is it a way to make a living, but it’s also a therapy for me.”
Q: How did you develop your own style over the years?“I’ve always been a really big fan of super bright colors- you can ask my best friend from middle school- just obsessed with neon colors. Even before that, I was drawing eyeballs and mushrooms and stuff. It eventually all kind of melted together into one, and it was before I was ever even introduced to anything remotely psychedelic.”
Q: Could you imagine a world without art?“No, of course not,” she said with a laugh. “I don’t think any of us could.”
Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at firstname.lastname@example.org