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by Je’wel Lucas
Je’wel Lucas is a 20 year old visual artist who creates art to inspire and encourage others. Her art focuses on Black people, and she has a sizable online platform that she uses to amplify her art.
I created this brand in 2017 after a successful Custom Ink campaign. I sold about 25 hoodies with my famous “likeminded” designed screen-printed across the chest, but I barely brought in $200 from selling these. I was happy to sell my first products, but I was upset that I got ripped off for my profit, so I decided to take matters into my own hands.
I started drawing… A LOT. I played around with designs to see how they would look on clothes and observed what kind of art people like the most. I learned the mechanics of painting on clothes; what kind of paint to use, what kind of fabric to paint on, what kind of fabric medium to use, etc. I put a lot of research into this venture. It has only been 3 years since I created Black Jewels, but it feels like I’ve been at it for a lifetime. I have also invested hundreds of my own dollars into creating this brand. I purchased my own heat press, every shirt I paint, every paint brush, bottle of paint, and every canvas all with money from my own pockets.
“Black Jewels” is kind of a play on my name. I go by the name “Je’wel” but my family always calls me “Jewels” so I stuck with that. I’m also SUPER Black; not when it comes to skin tone (clearly) but when it comes to culture, I am Black before anything. I put such a heavy emphasis on the love I have for Black culture because if the world doesn’t love us, it is up to us to love ourselves. I enjoy educating myself on radical Black leaders such as Malcom X and the leaders of Black Panther Party. I immerse myself in the works of influential Black artists and creatives such as Ernie Barnes and Basquiat. The influence of my culture is very prevalent in my work and this is indeed purposeful.
Much of my work depicts Black women. I try to create dark-skinned masterpieces as often as I can. As a lighter-skinned Black woman, I feel that it is my job to create welcoming spaces for dark-skinned women. If any of you may be reading this, I want you to know that you are beautiful and I create for you! I have also been trying to push myself more to create more artwork featuring Black men; you all deserve the same love and representation as Black women, as well.
Ultimately, I did not create this brand for myself, I created it for my family. I grew up as the child of two awesome and hard working parents. Despite being subjected to low-incomes, they always provided for me and encouraged me to be great. Creating this brand is one of the best ways I can pay them back. I want to show them that all the years they spent raising me were not in vain. When my brand levels up, I plan to buy them a house one day. The Black community is also my family. I create for all of us. I live to inspire and encourage others. When Black Jewels is mature enough to stand on it’s own, I plan to give back tremendously. Black Jewels is going to be something you don’t wanna miss.
Want to hear more stories about art activism? Check out this episode about art as a form of activism!