2021 End of Year Reflections

Starting Our Friend the Artist has been a journey for both of us. Even though we talk about art all the time, we sometimes forget that we are, in fact, artists! To reflect on 2021 and our creative growth, we’ve decided to have a mini internal Q+A session. These are questions we’ve asked ourselves and each other as we prepare for the new year. Our answers are based on each of our individual journeys and perspectives since we launched OFTA in September of this year.


#1: How did we know we could work together?

Jhana: I knew we could work together because we had the same motivation to work on something extracurricular. It’s a rare circumstance to realize you want to do something AND want to put in the effort to make that thing come to fruition. No one forced us to create OFTA. So, the fact that we both had the drive to act encouraged me and let me know this could work out.


Maricar: With mutual conversations on where we both were in life prior to starting OFTA, I knew that we could start working with each other and see where it goes. It was kind of like we just had to trust each other and take a chance.



#2: What are some things you found out you had to work on?

Jhana: Time management! I always feel like I’m working against the clock. Working on OFTA is fun, albeit time-consuming. Making time to work on this passion project takes discipline. I also realized I need to work on my active listening skills.


Maricar: Definitely, making sure we communicate with each other efficiently. For example, there were times where we hung out with each other without the agenda of OFTA and I currently still have to work on creating a separation between work and play when we have convos.



#3: What did you learn about yourself once you started working with each other?

Jhana: I think, at times, I can be stubborn and only see my way of doing things. Along the same lines of active listening, I need to be more open to other ways of doing things. Currently, it takes me a moment to let go of my ideas and to accept others.


Maricar: That I still have the ability to discipline myself when it comes to working on things that have nothing to do with my full-time career. Also, working on OFTA is a 50/50 partnership so checking in with Jhana and asking for help is something I continue to exercise in order to grow.


Together is better:


#4: What has been difficult for you when it comes to the creation process?

Jhana: Being inspired. Before OFTA, I practiced my creativity through drawing and poetry when I felt like it, not on a schedule. Now we work with deadlines and finding the inspiration to start a new piece can be hard!


Maricar: There’s a lot to think about and research before it comes to the “creation” of a blog post or Instagram content piece. I’d say time can be hard to grasp, especially when it comes to the deadlines we both have.



#5: Can you talk about the challenge of creating something you want to create vs. creating things for people to see?

Jhana: We have never tasked ourselves with something we don’t want to do. Since we’re just starting out, it’s a lot of trial and error. We are just “guessing” at what our audience may want based on what we like. At some point soon, we’ll need to come to a better understanding of what our audience likes and intersect that with what we enjoy doing.


Maricar: I agree with Jhana. We’re new, so we have to test out different things to find out what we will concretely continue to create in the future. That being said, I’ve created posts that I’m proud of putting out there in the world. I wouldn’t create something if I didn’t enjoy it. Surely, someone will be able to connect with the content we put out there.



#6: How do we keep organized?

Jhana: Lots of google docs and spreadsheets! A good file naming convention and a personal planner! A must!


Maricar: Keeping communication, having deadlines, utilizing spreadsheets, and calendars.



#7: What type of content have you enjoyed creating the most?

Jhana: I’m really proud of the blog posts under the ‘Artists’ tab on our website. I love interviewing and writing about artists. Hearing from them and framing a story around their creative journeys is so much fun and a real honor.


Maricar: I’ve been practicing drawing digitally since we started and, although it’s a challenge, time flies when I’m doing it. Usually, I associate time going by quickly as a good sign!


Pieces we've enjoyed making this year:


#8: What is your personal goal for 2022 regarding OFTA?

Jhana: My first goal is to improve my writing skills. I love to write but I need to continually flex that writing muscle to improve. Secondly, I want to get more formal drawing training. I’d like to nail down some foundational skills and be able to put that into practice to make more refined illustrative pieces both on paper and digitally.


Maricar: There are so many other artists out there, specifically within the Chicago community, that I would like to meet. From the many of them, I hope we get to learn about why they do what they love and the reasons why they continue to practice their respective craft.



#9: What will be the key to creating stellar content next year?

Jhana: Doing things that aren’t fully comfortable: try new things, go new places, and meet different people. The key is being curious and going beyond the known.


Maricar: Getting out of our comfort zone. It’s easier said than done. We will have to keep meeting creators from different areas and communities within where we live to continue connecting with others.



#10: How would you like to continue to grow the blog and expand the OFTA name?

Jhana: I would like to continue meeting new artists in the Chicagoland area. I want to be a part of the Chicago art community and to do that, I need to integrate myself within it. This method for growth relies on our collective efforts to find and build a community, A.K.A - moving out of my comfort zone, as Maricar mentioned.


Maricar: Our blog is still fairly new. That means we have so much time ahead of us to continue creating posts we love. I’ll have to agree with Jhana here that we need to continue building a community by being part of a community.


Stepping out of our comfort zones looks like:



We look forward to what 2022 has in store for us. We know that to make things happen, we have to take control, create a path, and lean into learning and growth. Hopefully, our reflections gave you a look at how we started and into our creative minds. Our creative process isn’t set in stone, so we’re interested to see how we’ll change as artists in another year. We are proud of where we’re at but are always striving for better. An advanced thank you to readers and friends out there who continue to support us!



- Jhana Jenkins & Maricar Tamayo




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