Yessica Jimenez is a visual artist and illustrator who creates illustrations under the brand Xeroine. Born and raised in Milwaukee, she incorporates various aspects of her identity into her art, be it being Chicana, queerness or spirituality among others. She currently sells prints and wearables like shirts and resin earrings, as well as accessories like pillows, coffee mugs, phone cases, and stickers through her website.
Jimenez has been making art for as long as she can remember, she explains.
“When I was younger, my sister Nancy liked art and she was really good at drawing. She and I are eight and a half years apart so when I was little and she was a teenager she gave me scraps of paper and honestly that’s how it all started. I remember I used to go back to the back of my homework when I went to UCC and they always returned it and told my parents about it, but I didn’t understand what the problem was (laughs).”
Jimenez attended all art schools from middle school and beyond, including Lincoln Center for the Arts and DIAL (which no longer exists). She graduated from MIAD in 2014 and this summer she sold for the first time. Jimenez recalls how she gradually found her artistic identity: “After graduating from MIAD, I felt really lost because I was so focused on finding a style during college. Because I went to illustration school where our whole job is based around creating for other people, I’ve been trying to find a style that appeals to other people, but at the end of the day someone will hire me for a piece because they like mine Work.”
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“I felt like I had my work whitewashed while I was at MIAD because a teacher told me I didn’t know how to draw white people (laughs); I think what she meant was that I didn’t have to draw that and could just draw myself and other people who look like me, but in my head I thought she meant that the majority of my clientele would be white, which a wild is thing to think about. Ever since I found my voice in art after graduating, my biggest influences have been women of color and the search for spirituality outside of Christianity and the Church.”
Jimenez mainly works in series; One of these was her Zodiac series, in which all women of color represent each astrological sign and their corresponding planets, constellations, crystals and flowers. “When I started the series,” she explained, “I went to Instagram and Pinterest to find inspiration and see how these characters were already being portrayed by other artists. The pattern was that everyone illustrated white characters, although it’s not just white people who relate to these symbols. I wanted to create something that I and my friends could relate to, so I made a point of only illustrating brown and black women.”
Do something for Milwaukee
Another one she recently did was her 414 Hood Witch series, which debuted earlier this year. Jimenez said, “I’ve always wanted to do something for Milwaukee that would be relatable to me and others because a lot of the Milwaukee merch I find has pictures of downtown, which is cool, but I wanted to do something that I can identify more with. I decided to do the four one four fingers up because I had never seen anyone do it. I’ve made a few versions of this – the one with jewelry and tattoos, one celestial with constellations, and one with plants growing out of the hands (with each hand representing a different dome than the Milwaukee domes). When I first made them it was just prints and stickers, but then people kept asking for shirts and that turned into a great idea – thanks to everyone who suggested it.”
A recent series she is working on is her 30 part series leading up to her 30th birthday. “It was a very random thought and there really wasn’t a plan for it,” Jimenez said. “I bought these bags for my prints but they are too thick for the sleeves I have so I used them for the jewelry I make instead but I still had so many that I never use them would. I decided to make mini pieces just for fun. It’s good practice for me because I’m really bad at sketchbooks and these everyday little paintings really get me going.”
Lately, Jimenez has been working with resin on wooden canvases and making keychains as their latest wearables. She plans to make her own deck of cards next, which has been a goal of hers since college. “It’s going to take longer, but I think that’s my next big project,” she said.
Yessica Jimenez was admitted to the Brady Street Art Walk on August 20th, so keep an eye out for her there. In the meantime, visit Xeroine Illustration’s website and online store here.