Friday, February 26, 2010

An Interview with Jasmine Becket-Griffith

Here at The Hamilton Collection, we recently had the opportunity to sit down with acclaimed artist Jasmine Becket-Griffith to learn more about the inspirations and passions behind her work. Widely regarded as one of the contemporary masters of fantasy art, she continues to attract adoring fans who love her paintings of wide-eyed fairies and mystical characters. Few may realize, though, just how accessible she really is. Driven to paint, she is also driven to respond to her growing fan base and prides herself on answering all of her fans’ emails. At shows, she can be found painting and stopping to talk to anyone who wants to talk to her about her work.

On this sunny afternoon in Florida—her home state—Jasmine is comfortably curled up in our lounge. Her friendly gaze is calm and puts everyone at ease. Dressed in jeans, sneakers and a fitted tie-dyed tee, her thin frame is set off by her alabaster skin and raven-black hair that flows long and loose, much like the hair on her fairies in her paintings. Sitting at her side is Matt, her devoted husband and manager.

Hamilton: What first inspired you to paint?
JBG: I started painting when I was little, about 4 years old. I was inspired by fairytale books as a child—Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Alice in Wonderland. At 5, I was going door-to-door to sell my paintings.

: Where do you go now and what do you do to continue to be inspired?
JBG: I travel a lot—Asia for pop culture, Europe for history and classical elements. I like nature—hiking, nature trails—it’s relaxing and inspiring.

Hamilton: Fairies have been hot for a while now. Do you think this trend will continue? What do you see as the next big trend in fantasy art, and will you follow that trend or stay true to your fairies?
JBG: Fairies will always be popular. I think Fantasy and Science Fiction will always be popular. I see Steampunk gaining in popularity as well as mermaids. I also think we’ll see more fine arts and high fantasy with some classical influences.

Hamilton: How do you find the energy to paint as much as you do?
JBG: Painting is my favorite thing to do! I’m a passionate, compulsive painter. I feel incomplete without painting, and I never leave a painting unfinished. I paint a new painting each day.

Hamilton: A painting a day?! So, when it’s time for you to break away from painting and relax, where do you like to go? What do you like to do?
JBG: I love to travel, so I do that a lot—Europe, Mexico, Japan…I also love cruises. I love music, too.

Hamilton: Are there periods in history that fascinate you?
JBG: I’m fascinated by dinosaurs, prehistoric times. I am drawn to the Rococo era, too—the time of Marie Antoinette.

Hamilton: Are your fairies ever based on actual people? Are there people in your life that deeply inspire your work, and if they do, why?
JBG: Yes, family inspired me—my sisters, niece and nephews. I also do some private commissions, so those have their own inspirations. The history I have with people inspired me.

Hamilton: What are some of the things your fans tell you they most admire about your paintings?
JBG: Definitely the eyes. They also like the color palettes I’ve used, and they like the historical reference or the mythical story and elements I’ve chosen. They like the cute-yet-creepy dark feeling they get from my work. My fairies are tough.

Hamilton: Your fan base continues to grow, and your fans really love your work. So can you share with us the highest price ever paid for one of your original paintings?
JBG: A non-commissioned painting once sold for $5,100.00 on eBay.

Hamilton: Are you mostly self-taught or did you have formal training in painting?
JBG: I’m self-taught. I made money in college painting.

: In your “Faces of Faeries” series, each fairy conveys such a different emotion. What was the inspiration behind this series and what are you trying to convey to admirers of your art?
JBG: This series allows me to experiment with faces and different ethnic looks. I’m also exploring different shapes—it’s fun and experimental.

Hamilton: On a more personal note, how did you meet your husband, Matt?
JBG: We met on the Internet while we were both in high school.

Hamilton: What are your top 5 favorite paintings you have created?
JBG: Marie Masquerade, Alice at the Spanish Court, Snow White and Animal Friends, Mermaid with the Golden Dragon, Befriending an Alligator, Dinosaur Friends—that one is of my imaginary friend as a child.

Hamilton: Will you share with us a typical day in the life of Jasmine Becket-Griffith?
JBG: I’m up at 6:00 a.m., and I work out. I shower, eat, and then I start painting. I break for lunch and I’m back to painting. I complete a painting each day, so when it’s done, I take time to scan my work and post it to my site. Then I have dinner with Matt, watch a movie and go to bed.

Hamilton: Let’s play a word association game. When we say a word, you say the first thing that comes to mind.
Animal: Toad/frog
Color: Green
Fairy Tale: Snow White
Disney Character: Mr. Toad
Song: “Birdie Hop” by Syd Barrett
Sound: Thunderstorm
Flower: Iris

Hamilton: One last question, Jasmine…what is your favorite figurine inspired by your art?
JBG: I have a few favorites…the “Raven” figurine, the “Vampire” series, the Mermaid figurine and Alice.

Note: Some of Jasmine’s favorites have only been released on a very limited quantity! Stay tuned for future updates about these exciting new releases!

One thing is for sure—Jasmine is not only extremely talented, she is also hard-working and dedicated to her art. Finishing a painting each day, attending shows and giving her devoted fans lots of her attention keeps her busy. It’s what also endears her to so many. We think it’s the secret to her success!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Chinese New Year—It’s All About the Moons

Many people have heard of Chinese New Year, but few know much about it, so here’s a brief explanation:

China utilizes both the western and the traditional lunar calendars. The western calendar is for every day use while the lunar calendar is used for setting the date for traditional festivities.

The traditional Chinese calendar is based on the moons cycle, which is why Chinese New Year falls on a different day each year. It starts with the first new moon in China; therefore, it can begin any time between January 21st and February 20th. The range of festivities celebrating Chinese New Year lasts for fifteen days.

There is a revolving cycle of twelve animals, each one representing a year. The animals included in this list are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. February 14, 2010 will mark a new year in the traditional Chinese calendar and will be represented by the tiger.

Many people find it fun to look up their birth year and discover the animal that represents their birth year. Click here to find out which animal represents your birth year and tell us in the comments below!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Dragons: A Tale of Two Hemispheres

Dragons are legendary creatures that have held the fascination of so many people for centuries. Revered by some and feared by others, the dragon will always have a place in fantasy lore and fiction around the world. In fact, the dragon is represented in completely opposite extremes in the eastern and western cultures.

In the East—Benevolent Creatures
Asian cultures view dragons as large snake-like creatures with a benevolent, or friendly, nature. Dragons in Asia are associated with water, and they are also believed to be able to take on a human form. The Chinese culture so strongly believes in the dragon’s generosity that they made a five-clawed dragon the symbol for their emperors. Dragons are also a recurring theme in Chinese folk lore, and they are a common sight at Chinese festivals.

Here at Hamilton, we have researched these Eastern beliefs to create dragons that embody the traditional beliefs about Asian dragons. Here is an image of an Eastern-inspired dragon we created called “Dragon of Good Fortune.”

In the West—Malevolent Demons
Contrary to the beliefs about dragons in the East, the European views of dragons are quite different. Dragons have historically been described as bat-winged, reptile-like creatures with an elongated tail. Westerners have also typically viewed dragons as fire breathing, malevolent creatures who are earth dwellers—residing in an underground lair or cave. It’s also worth noting that while Western dragons have wings, their Eastern counterparts typically don’t.

Below is an image of a Western inspired dragon we created called “Youngblood.” This is an enormously popular dragon—a definite customer favorite!

(Youngblood is still available and you can click here if you wish to add it to your collection.)

Whether you favor the benevolent, mystical dragons of the East or the fire-breathing demons of the West, The Hamilton Collection has a range of beautifully detailed collectibles that meticulously capture the beauty and mystery of these legendary creatures.