A conversation with... Markia Jenai

The Conversations Series creates a positive image for young girls to refer to, by having conversations with different business owners, entrepreneurs and creators. Here, we are catching up with Markia Jenai, an illustrator whose goal was to create worlds where people of colour are front and centre. When she is not drawing, she likes to watch documentaries, listen to Dungeons & Dragons live streams, and read historical articles—all of which fuels her work!


Our featured artist for our Film Issue is Emily Chin. You can read all about her journey. Buy our latest issue here

 Markia Jenai


What was the experience like working on the It’s Her Story series

Working on the series was my first real jump into graphic novels for children. I learned a lot about story pacing and the design of panels. I also learned a lot about the historical figures given to me; Josephine Baker and Shirley Chisholm were two women I knew by name, but not in-depth. Being able to draw their life-story really put some things into perspective for me about the eras they grew up in.

 It’s Her Story: Shirley Chisholm   by Patrice Aggs illustrated by Markia Jenai

 

When did you discover your love for art? 

In elementary school, I would say. My classmates used to ask me to draw dragons all the time. I didn’t really take art seriously until 7th grade when I had to move schools for the first time. I didn’t know anyone, so I would open a Game Informer magazine and copy the pictures I saw there. 


What mediums do you create your work in?

I use Clip Studio for the bulk of my work and Procreate. I’m a strictly digital artist even though I still want to learn to do inks traditionally. 

  It’s Her Story: Josephine Baker    by Lauren Gamble  illustrated by Markia Jenai

 

How would you describe your illustration style?

It depends on the day, really; I have various styles in my pocket, but overall the influence is a mix of American comics, Disney, and Manga. I bounce around a lot and I love experimenting. I’m influenced by many artists. 


Describe your creative space. And why is it special to you?

I honestly don’t have the luxury of a creative space. I just have a desk by a window. No decorated walls or anything. I grew up constantly moving, so I never found a reason to decorate. I learn to just shut off my brain, sit down, and do the work. The most important thing for me in my creative space is music or Let’s Plays of Indie Horror games playing in the background. I love making playlists and discovering music. 


Who inspires you? 

This is a hard question because I haven’t thought about it in a while. My art inspiration stems from artists like Joe Madureira, Philip Wight, and Ami Thompson. However, my motivation to get up and draw seems to stem from wanting to be a good example for my family and my hometown of Detroit.



Quick Fire Round  

Your favourite snack?

Cucumber slices covered in lime, salt, and chilli powder. Try it! It is great.


Any hidden talents?

I haven’t done it in a while but I know how to fish.


What book are you reading now? 

When We Were Birds by Ayanna Lloyd Banow and I am re-reading
A Bride’s Tale by Kaoru Mori.

When We Were Birds by Ayanna Lloyd Banwo


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