This week’s #WCW is creative Jody Wasserman, a fellow Canadian who made aliyah to Israel two years ago. Jody is extremely talented and when friends and family started asking for her drawings she decided to turn her hobby into a business. Jody is brave and driven, she decided to move to an entirely new country in her early 20s and she is fiercely pursuing her dreams of becoming a successful artist. I’m honoured to call her a friend and I can’t wait to watch her all of her success in the future. Read her interview below.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?
My name is Jody, I am 23 years old, and I was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta Canada. 2 years ago I made the courageous move to the land of Israel. I am a passionate Line Artist. My entire life has always revolved around creativity, and new artistic challenges. When I was 17, I enrolled in a beginner level art class in High School. That is when I bought my first black coil sketchbook. I had no idea that the first assigned project would open my mind, and change my entire outlook on what I wanted to pursue in life. “Design your own Tattoo”- Seems simple, and sort of tacky right? Well, most people drew skulls, and flowers, and tribal designs circa 2004, but I drew something I have always found beautiful and electric. A Hamsa hand, or Hand of Fatima, is a palm shaped amulet which is sacred throughout the Middle East and North Africa. As soon as my cheap Sharpie pen glided across my new carton paper, a fire was lit inside me, and I was in love. I worked 3 weeks on this baby, and with all my heart I believed it was the most incredible thing i’ve ever done. This is where my journey began. Within a couple of months my sketchbook was filled with endless curves, swirls, and details, to reflect who I was, and my spirituality.
Why did you choose to start Amazonia Artwork?
After about 4 years of drawing almost every day, alone in my room, until 3 in the morning, I started receiving offers from friends and family to purchase my work. This was an entire new experience for me. When something is your hobby, and your “quiet” passion for so long, you don’t necessarily imagine it to become professional, and to decide to take the risk of exposing your personal work, and sharing it to the world can be frightening. Although with the endless support of my parents, I began creating commission work for people I knew. It wasn’t until I moved to Israel in 2015, that it began to flourish. Amazonia Artwork was born when I received a position at the famous Nachalat Binyamin Art Market in Tel Aviv. Having the opportunity to sell every Tuesday/Friday with all of my original artwork. This was the first time presenting my hand-made work to a jury of established artists. I was sweating, and mumbling as I explained where my inspiration stems from, and how many hours each piece takes to create. Within 30 minutes they made the decision to allow me to sell at the market. With tears of joy I called my mom to tell her the news.This was a euphoric moment for me, and that was truly the moment when Amazonia Artwork came alive.
What Inspires you?
I’ll keep this one short. Nature always and will forever inspire me, the countries i’ve traveled to, and the beautiful animals on this planet.
What is your personal mantra or mission statement?
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” -Wayne Gretzky. Yes, how very Canadian of me. This is something I truly believe, and through personal experience, I have received incredible opportunities simply by “going for it” and stepping out of my comfort zone.
What does happiness mean to you?
Happiness means being outside, and taking a second to appreciate the beauty in the world. Whether it’s lush exotic flowers and vines latched onto an apartment building, or feeling the warmth of sunshine kiss your face. Appreciating nature and all it’s wonders is something that makes me smile every day. This is why I moved to country with such a wonderful climate, beautiful mountains, beaches, and landscapes.
What are your hobbies?
Artwork is my #1 hobby, but I also love to engage in other creative projects. Painting, building, and creating. Soon I hope to learn video editing. I also play and compete in beach volleyball. Playing on the beach with friends is one of my favourite activities. Something about being close to the Sea, and getting your sweat on is so rewarding!
What are a few things you do every single day to keep yourself on track?
I’ve learned that waking up early enough to prepare for the day ahead, and taking the time to walk to my destinations is the perfect way to start the day. Eating quality foods and fluids, along with physical exercise keeps my mind sharp, and always leaves me feeling ready to conquer my day. I also write on my calendar one week ahead of everything I need to do, or want to do! I’m not a huge fan of using my phone for organizing, I find it better if I write everything down in a book, or on paper.
If you could give advice to someone looking to get into your field what would it be and why?
I’ve had younger people in the past who tell me they admire my work, and show me their artwork for advice. I always say to practice every single day. Buy a sketchbook, and quality materials, and fill your pages with everything and anything. It took me about 5 years to become professional, and to financially support myself with my artwork. Once you have perfected your style, after years of practice, so many doors will be open for you. Stay true to your style, and your work, and be original.
What has been your most rewarding experience so far? Work or personal
My most rewarding experience so far is one that happens every time I sell my work. To see people stop in the street from my designs, and to see the look on their face as they stare into my work of detail and intricacy. From young people, to children, to seniors, and even religious people, I notice that my art draws people in. When they purchase my work, I am forever thankful. My work is now worldwide in different homes and apartments. Given as gifts and personal traveling keepsakes. When someone keeps coming back to collect my work, or shows me their wall of seven Amazonia Artwork pieces, it always amazes me.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve overcome in your life thus far? What did you learn? Are you thankful for what it taught you?
My biggest challenge in life was moving halfway across the world to Israel. At age 21, I packed 2 suitcases of clothes, some drawing paper and pens, and moved by myself to this foreign country. Learning a new language, dealing with Israeli bureaucracy, new people, new environment, new start. My first year was extremely challenging, and I considered moving back to Canada plenty of times. But what i’ve realized, is I would never flourish as the person I am today, without these everyday challenges. Hard work is part of growth and new self-discoveries. I had to do everything alone, and I am so thankful for this.
Who is your role model/ who has been the most influential person in your life?
I am fortunate enough to have 2 wonderful role models in my life. My mother and Father. My creative, fashion-forward, and eclectic mother was always an artistic inspiration growing up. Any craft I wanted to do, we had cubboards full of materials. Throughout my childhood, she has taken on endless projects, and personal creative jobs. I’ve never met anyone as creative as her, I admire how hard she works every day, and what she has created and achieved all by herself. My father is the reason I have the values that I live by. Since I was a little girl, he has taught me to treat others the way you would want to be treated, and to be a “good” person. He also told me to always stand up for myself, and to protect myself. Being a fifth degree black belt in Karate, he definitely taught me how to “protect myself”. My Father is also an extremely creative thinker, intelligent, and builds amazing corky inventions. His kindness and love is something that I aspire to give onto others, and his compassion is something I feel each every day, even across the globe.
When do you feel most inspired?
Many Artists know that inspiration can hit you at any moment. You are awake at 4am, focused, and creating something absolutely spectacular. Sleep, appetite, and the outside world is not a “thing” when you are inspired. Unfortunately, I can go months without drawing anything, and the thought of touching a pen to paper makes me feel angry. I’ve learned to accept this, and to understand that I will have that jolt of inspiration when the time is right. When i’m in a new environment, or travel to another country, the natural beauty can easily inspire me. As well, when I see other young people creating art, and moving forward in their career, I also feel inspired to keep pursuing my work, and get back to the drawing desk. Or, sometimes I just need some new and fancy drawing utensils!