I am thrilled to present this interview with my youngest sister Jasmine Jones. Otherwise known online by her designer name, “Missus Cis,” Jasmine draws from her love of art, Japanese culture and fashion to create her own brand of kawaii characters and designs.
This past February, she opened her Redbubble store and launched her first collection, “Monster Love” in honor of Valentine’s Day. Some of her designs include “Love Bite” and “Blind Love,” which feature cute heart-shaped vampires and snake-haired gorgons celebrating love.
She also created a line of designs within the collection called “Vampy’s,” her take on drinks for the vampire on the go.
She has also added some new designs for March, including this amazing design, “BRAIDZZZ.”
I interviewed my sister last month about her art, her pathway to clothing and product design, and some deep discussion about the state of anime and manga, particularly where racial representation is concerned. Check out my sister’s site at missuscis.wordpress.com and visit her Redbubble shop, where you can find her products, including journals, men and women’s t-shirts, hoodies, stickers, and more. You can also follow her art on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
How did you get into art?
Well, growing up with you as the artist, that’s where I first got into art. And then I also got into art through of [anime] Detective Conan. It kickstarted my love for writing and my desire to draw. I remember in a lot of notebooks I would have combinations of tons of writings and tons of drawings at the same time. Gustav Klimt also got me started on wanting to draw. Then I never looked back at drawing for a long time until high school, which at ASFA I had a lot of visual arts friends. So around 9th grade was when I for sure decided to make drawing a hobby.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
I think it is very quirky. It is cute at times. I’ll use the word ‘edgy’ loosely because the word can mean different things to people. I think it can also be retro, because I use a lot of bright colors and I feel like bright colors is a retro thing. It is definitely anime-inspired because I watch a lot of anime.
What are your inspirations?
I have a lot of inspirations. A lot of them are manga artists.
Hirohiko Araki, the creator of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is an inspiration to me color-wise, because he does a lot of color combinations that are weird, but cool. I also enjoy a lot of the old ‘90s anime. I also enjoy a lot of people who have their own online stores already, like
Pepperoccini and OHCAROOL and Popalu, Natali Koromoto and Anna Cattish. I’m naming people that I’ve essentially bought something from.
What do you love about art?
I like the creating part of it. It’s sort of like writing a story…After hours of work and staring at a screen, it’s nice to see something beautiful bloom from it. Another thing that’s nice about art is seeing how you top yourself with each drawing. Each time you get better, even though you think you’re not. I notice that each time, something new is added.
What are your anime or other influences that come through your work?
Hilarioulsy enough the Sanrio characters, like Shiffon, this little cute dog with curly ears. There’s also the Sylvanian Families dolls from Japan [otherwise known as Calico Critters in the U.S.] Little cute things inspire me, mainly because these cute mascots are oddly fashionable.
I like those. I also like looking at different Japanese brands, My favorites are 6%Dokidoki , Listen Flavor and a lot of the Lolita brands, like Angelic Pretty, Innocent World and Baby the Stars Shine Bright. I also follow other fashion designers. My favorite designers are Manish Arora and Alexander McQueen.
Another big influence is video games. One of the games I find myself playing all the time is Style Savvy, and they have all these different brands, like regular wear, Gothic clothes, and they have one called ‘Lively,’ which is like 6%Dokidoki. They have Lolita, Gothic Lolita, everything across the board. Their ideas help me think of ideas, such as I could use the ampersand sign as an earring or something. It’s those kind of things that make me think about how I can add my own spin to a character because I want to keep creating characters that look different from other people’s.
Since you’re an anime fan, what do you think of the state of anime and manga today?
It’s funny you say that, because my thoughts about the current anime season are kinda dry. I’m not watching anything this season, which is unusual for me because I’m a person that can watch five shows at a time. Right now, I’m not watching much of anything. Well, I take that back–I started rewatching Inazuma Eleven because that brings me eternal joy. I’m tuning into the latest Pretty Cure series–they have a new one that I think is pretty good. Right now, I’m mostly reading manga.
I have seen a lot of animation clips that look cool, but a lot of the plots are, ‘I’m stuck in a fantasy world.’ I’m not necessarily worried about anime because the good stuff will always come; you always have a dry season. I can’t say anime is headed towards a right or wrong direction, it’s just going. But I think the stories are getting different. They are reaching new ground.
I thought I should ask you this since we’ve talked about it before in real life and since your work is inspired by anime and Japanese culture. Since we are, of course, minorities who might not see ourselves a lot in Japanese pop culture, how do you personally see Blackness in the realm of Kawaii culture?
I’ll say this–I know when I am taking in all of my influences, yes, a lot of my influences are Japanese-based. When I draw a person, I don’t like to not make the person Black. It’s almost as if when people make cute stuff, they often make the same pale-skinned person with pink pigtails as the cute character. And while that description of a character is a-ok, you sometimes get tired of the same thing, that that is the definition of a cute thing. I do hate that that’s the quick way to signify cute. So I try to take what I get influenced by and apply it to things that I actually think can be viewed as cute to people and to myself.
One of my favorite characters I’ve ever drawn is my version of Medusa, in which she is, to me, the definition of cute. She has pigtails, and even though she has snakes as hair, she has all these bright colors, and a smile on her face and big bright sunglasses. There are elements of cute in her, but she’s a Black snake lady. I think people forget that you can easily make cute characters Black people.
Some people who are influenced by Asian culture choose to keep it Asian. Spread the cuteness to everybody. For me, personally, I try to create my own brand of cute by not adhering to any stereotypes, because there are stereotypes for how Black people draw, also. So I try to aim for the middle. As a Black person, I see myself as a cute person, and you put yourself in everything. That’s why most of the characters I draw are Black.
Any final thoughts:
To the people: I hope you find my perspective interesting. I hope you find my drawings interesting. And I hope you find the way I think interesting. I hope people enjoy the things I have up for sale and continue to follow my journey as an artist.