94: A Conversation with Jamie Smith about Sustainable Boundaries, Symbolism in Art and Her Fertility Journey

Artist/Mother Podcast
Artist/Mother Podcast
94: A Conversation with Jamie Smith about Sustainable Boundaries, Symbolism in Art and Her Fertility Journey

It is truly an honor to welcome an incredible artist and community builder to the podcast today, Jamie Smith! Jamie lives, makes artwork and runs the supportive group for women artists, THRIVE, in East Vancouver, British Columbia. She creates artwork that layers her memories of traveling, family stories and lost places. She began her artistic career by completing a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Victoria and later receiving her Bachelor of Arts Education from the University of British Columbia. Her work is heavily influenced by her years abroad in Latin America, living in the Middle East and backpacking around Eastern Europe. In the spirit of community over competition, Jamie and I have been connecting and trying to learn and grow from each other as we both host community platforms for women artists. We have grown to become friends and I am so honored that Jamie is going to open up to you today and share with us more about her career, building Thrive, and her journey with fertility. 

Growing up in the Vancouver area, Jamie began her art journey by watching her mom teach folk art classes out of their home. In high school, she taught some of these classes herself! In her adult artistic life, Jamie’s imagery is very graphic and inspired by movements like art deco and art nouveau – large ink pools, fantastical landscapes, florals, and winding roads. Jamie talks about a turning point recently where, while traveling for a wedding, she found herself with free time and just drew flowers and leaves sitting around her. She found this moment of drawing in her journal so freeing after a long period of burnout. In a true full circle moment, her mom cuts the wood panels – like eggs and vases – on which she now makes woodcuts! 

We then talk about boundaries of studio time and administrative work. Jamie spends two days on only administrative work and three days of studio time at her studio outside of her home. From turning off emails on her phone to having texts read through her headphones instead of picking up her phone, Jamie has streamlined so many small processes and managed her communication that helps her stay focused. Her online platform, Thrive, is now in its 6th year, and though the staff has lessened, the content has grown so much richer and wider. Through asking questions, supporting other women, and encouraging them to reach their goals, Thrive has seen so many women have life-changing moments and create long-lasting community.

Since Jamie and I are friends, she graciously agreed ahead of time to talk about her fertility journey. In her early 30’s she was unsure of having kids because she wanted to wait until her early 40’s. She found out that in order for her to be proactive about her own fertility, knowing she wanted to have kids, she would have to freeze her eggs (even though there was also a small chance of conceiving naturally). She realized how little she, and women in general, know about their own bodies and their own fertility, and how empowering it was to take control of this part of her life story. Had she not taken the time to explore her own fertility she would not have known she could freeze her eggs, and could have been heartbroken in her 40’s knowing that it would have been too late for her to conceive.

One of the main takeaways from this interview is the concept of mothering ourselves – taking the time to care for our dreams, our time, and our bodies. Fighting the urge to please everyone, we must bravely surge forward – supporting and encouraging while creating the necessary boundaries of self-care. We must dream big and dream often, but not burn ourselves out in the process.

Extra Questions:
Where were you 5 years ago? Jame was a “Newbie artist in Vancouver, struggling to make art, single, dream studio across the street. Money was always tight – ‘working to keep the dream alive’ “.

Where do you hope to be in 5 years? Jamie “Wants to be present. Life will not be about the next big dream, she will be living the dream. Children, spending time with family. Thrive continuing to help people. Wants to make larger artworks.

Jamie’s Final 5 answers:

  1. Biggest art crush: Hilma af Klint and Aubrey Beardsley
  2. Dream trip: Europe to see all the big stones
  3. Inspiring book or film: Company of One by Paul Jarvis
  4. Favorite meal: French fries 
  5. Shout-out: Liezel Strauss

    To see more from Jamie, visit her website, and follow her on Instagram @jamiesmithstudio and check out her artist platform, Thrive.

    The Artist/Mother podcast is created and hosted by Kaylan Buteyn. You can see more of Kaylan’s work on her website or connect with her on Instagram @kaylanbuteyn
Jamie working in her studio
Woodcuts in progress
Completed woodcuts
Installation of Jamie’s woodcut
Golden Eggs, 14×23 inches, pen and ink on paper
Work in progress
Jamie’s Kitchen mural
Studio inspiration
Jamie’s home studio
Golden Windows, 25 x 32 inches, pen and ink on paper

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