Jaclyn Altieri on Using Art as a Force for Good, Staying True to Her Craft and Leaning Into The Waves

Jaclyn Altieri on Using Art as a Force for Good, Staying True to Her Craft and Leaning Into The Waves
Photo of Jaclyn Altieri
Courtesy of Jaclyn Altieri.

Have you ever met someone who instantly makes you feel happy? Artist, photographer, maker and content creator Jaclyn Altieri is one of those people. So if you could use a dose of joy, definitely check out her Instagram. I met Jaclyn in real life around 2012, and I was drawn to her handmade headbands and jewelry. Recently, she’s taken her creativity to canvas and paper, painting whimsical art, and we couldn’t wait to learn more.

Acrylic painting of a woman by Jaclyn Altieri
Acrylic painting by Jaclyn Altieri.

Artisan Joy: Tell us about your art.

Jaclyn Altieri: My hands are always dipped in a few projects at a time. Currently, I’m working on a body of artwork compiled of acrylic paintings on canvas and paper. My work was reignited during COVID-19 and served as an outlet full of joy, color and happiness. My paintings mostly consist of women, sometimes singular, sometimes in pairs, and each painting has a story behind it. They are all a part of me and serve as a source of the fantastical and sometimes a funny storyline.

Acrylic painting of two females by Jaclyn Altieri
Courtesy of Jaclyn Altieri.

AJ: What drew you to painting?

JA: I’ve always been into art, but I began to paint again over this past winter when I was searching for something that would put my creative juices to work, bring bright colors into existence while also serving as an outlet for my itchy hands.

AJ: When did you realize that you could sell your art?

JA: I started putting my work up online through my Instagram feed and started receiving a great response. It was exciting to know that my art would be decorating people’s spaces, bringing them joy and color.

Acrylic painting of a woman by Jaclyn Altieri
Acrylic painting by Jaclyn Altieri.

AJ: Where do you find inspiration for your creations?

JA: I find inspiration in color and from other artists who aren’t afraid to put their work out into the world.

AJ: How do you apply that inspiration to your work?

JA: I’m really drawn to colors that feel like happiness and joy to me. I love searching the web for other artists. What I love most about what I do is that I don’t think about it. Their faces and accessories just sort of come through me and onto the paper or canvas. It’s a time to really turn my brain off, just go and let my hands lead the way.

AJ: What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?

JA: Hmmm, I don’t know! Maybe that I’ve lived a lot of different lives with careers, travel and focus shifts. I’m always afraid of change, but somehow, when I learn to lean into the waves, life gets better and a little easier.

Painting by Jaclyn Altieri
Acrylic painting by Jaclyn Altieri .

AJ: As creatives, we can be continuously creating and refining our art. How do you handle perfectionism?

JA: As a Virgo, and someone who can sometimes be very type A, even if I’m not necessarily feeling one of my projects, I just keep going. Sometimes I will put a painting aside for a few days, a few weeks and then return when it feels right. Sometimes I begin again. Isn’t that what life is? — just a cycle of beginnings and endings and beginning again. I really try not to overthink any of the pieces. I notice that when I start to get really critical of a work, it tends to ruin all the magic of it, so I go back when I can just get lost in the act of flowing.

Acrylic painting of a woman by Jaclyn Altieri
Acrylic painting by Jaclyn Altieri.

AJ: Has someone ever criticized your artwork? How did you handle it?

Yes! I’ve had a close family member say to me, “Who would buy these?” I’m sure they didn’t mean for it to be insulting, but as an artist, I am super sensitive about my work. I’ve also been criticized about my jewelry by several companies who didn’t want to hire me. What I’ve learned is that these comments are my best motivators. They inspire me to keep pushing forward, stay true to my craft regardless of other people’s acceptance, and not be afraid to be authentically myself. I recognize that I don’t need everyone’s approval to create my art.

AJ: What advice would you give to someone interested in putting their art out into the world but feels vulnerable about it?

JA: Just do it. Don’t think, don’t stress about what others may think or say. Not everyone will love your work, but it’s more about the artist and the connection it has to you. Your art, your craft, is a piece of you, and it’s a beautiful thing to put it out there. Who knows where it will take you. It’s fun to think of the possibilities.

AJ: Creatives are often very in tune with what’s happening in the world. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming. If this happens to you, how do you cope?

JA: The pandemic and heavy political climate really inspired me last year to do something proactive. I raised over $6000, which I donated in $500 increments to 12 different organizations and charities. It felt necessary for me to contribute to people and charities that desperately needed it. It helped me get creative and satisfy my need to do something to help.

Acrylic painting of two women by Jaclyn Altieri
Courtesy od Jaclyn Altieri.

AJ: Are you passionate about a cause, and why?

JA: I’m passionate about Black Lives Matter, mental health awareness, making sure people and children have access to healthy food, safe shelter and a good education. I used to be a social worker for teens, and that is near and dear to me. Equality is important on every level. I’m passionate about the lives lost to gun violence. I’m passionate about helping people who don’t necessarily have the stage to speak out from.

AJ: What brings you joy?

JA: Making art, being creative, connecting people, seeing my work in your homes, donating to worthy causes, doing some good and contributing positively to this world. My baby, my friendships, my little family. A good meal around a table of lifelong friends. Ice cream.

Thanks, Jaclyn! You can visit socialluniac.com, shop Luniac Style jewelry and accessories on Etsy, or follow Jaclyn on Instagram. Here’s a peak at a few of Jaclyn’s jewelry and headband designs. We just couldn’t resist sharing them with you.

Collage of two headbands and two pairs of earrings by Jaclyn Altieri.
Jewelry and accessories by Jaclyn Altieri. Etsy Shop: LuniacStyle

This interview has been edited slightly for clarity.

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