Hoboken artist Jamie Pomeranz is the creative power behind Devils May Care fluid art, formerly the high-end T-shirt brand that shared the same name. In the past few years, Jamie moved into fluid art after falling in love with her main medium, alcohol inks, which she tells me is the refill for professional illustrator markers. Jamie has made Hoboken, NJ her home for 15 years, and is humble, empathetic, and approachable. She bears no airy mystique, or aloofness that usually comes with being in the art world. Her natural anti-elitist, no-nonsense attitude is probably why, upon meeting her, you’d never guess that her work graced an entire season of “American Idol” or that Leonardo DiCaprio (among other celebrities) purchased her work.
“People think they’re adding value [to their work] by acting like they’re above other people, and that’s really not my thing.” I got the chance to sit down virtually with Jamie Pomeranz to discuss this artsy elitism, her connection with her audience, juggling motherhood, and growing away from our circular life patterns.
Do you still own and operate Devils May Care apparel, or has it morphed into something else?
You’ve done your research! No one’s asked about my T-shirts for a long time. It has morphed into something different, but it’s now the name that I’m using to present my art. Everything I create now falls under “Devils May Care.” As I started to look for another outlet, I just never changed the name.
Can you talk about the transition from apparel to fluid art?
When I had kids, I took a break to focus on the family. I had this fantasy that I could be a stay-at-home mom and run a business. The art ended up taking a back seat. One day, my friend came over with her alcohol inks and some wine, for a little “wine and whine session,” and I just immediately woke back up, falling in love with the alcohol ink. It’s been a sort of obsession ever since. Then I decided to start posting stuff [on Instagram], and you can really see the whole journey of [me] learning the inks, figuring things out. But really, the transition [from apparel to alcohol inks] came from the need for a creative outlet to focus on “me” time.
Your work has a beautiful, dreamy quality. The alcohol ink transforms itself, and for me, it was almost like if paint were to come to life. What exactly is alcohol ink?
Alcohol ink is the refill for illustrator markers. Professional illustrators use markers they can reuse; they just change the tips and replace the ink. It’s only begun to gain traction in the U.S. in the last few years. One of the things I love about the ink, especially the metallics, is that they almost breathe life. They change, so from one angle it might appear flat, but as you move, the metallics just light up, the colors get brighter—it’s amazing!
What inspires you? Do you have a specific creative process?
It can be random. One of the things that inspire me is trying to control chaos. I’m a bit of a control freak. But while you can control alcohol ink to a degree, you have to be able to let go. So I find that it’s a good stress reliever, and I find inspiration when I’m a little stressed. But I also find inspiration all over the place! Other artists, color combinations, New York—the light, the speed of it, music. I find that [music] inspires me, and the colors change depending on what I’m listening to. I enjoy translating the vibe I’m feeling from the music into my work. You can tell in some pieces [that] are more chaotic than others that I was probably listening to something a little more aggressive. While with the smooth, dreamy pieces I was probably listening to Lana Del Rey or something.
You said New York is part of your inspiration, are you from there?
I’m a Jersey girl! I was born in Manhattan but I grew up in Bergen County. I’ve been in Hoboken now for 15 years.
What brought you to Hoboken?
I love New Jersey, it’s a great place. I lived in Brooklyn for a couple of years after college, and to be honest, I just wanted to live on my own, and I couldn’t afford to do that in Brooklyn. But I could afford Hoboken. At the time, everyone was asking me, “Why would you move to Hoboken?” Other than having the chance to live alone, I would be closer to Manhattan than I was when I was living in Brooklyn. I never looked back. There’s a whole neighborhood vibe, and I like that. I liked getting away from the city and the chaos, with the ability to jump back in whenever I could. Now it’s cool to live in Hoboken, but not when I first moved here, I had to defend it!
I know it’s a bit of a tired question, but you really can’t get through this year and not bring it up: Has COVID affected your creativity at all?
I wouldn’t say it’s inspired me or anything, but it has been very good for me. I’ve been fortunate that no one directly has gotten seriously ill. But it’s actually opened up opportunities for me and I could focus on my art. Even though I had been doing fluid art for less than two and a half years, I was still the primary caregiver. When school ends, that’s the end of my workday! I got into a fantastic creative pattern of being able to go work, create all day long without worrying about picking anyone up. I just had more time.
I’m always looking for symbolism in everything, so I’m curious, is there any symbolism in your work? A message you’re trying to get across?
There can be. I won’t say that every piece has an intention, but absolutely there are times where I’m going through something, and it’s nothing that you could necessarily pick up on [in the work], but there’s an energy that I’m trying to put into it. I definitely have pieces that I look at, and I know exactly what I was going through in that moment, and what I was trying to present with the colors. But I would say that it’s hard for onlookers to pick up on that. One of the things I do like about the fluid art pieces is that people project their own thoughts onto my work. Almost like inkblots. Often I feel like the things people see in them are reflective of what they’re going through; so I ask what they see.
I did a piece on circles recently (and this goes back to the COVID stuff, because I found myself having the same conversation with different people); they grew and learned about themselves [during quarantine] but then fell back into their old habits. So I thought, how do we break these circles we get trapped in and embrace the growth that we’ve had, rather than just falling back into the same pattern that was making us miserable? The circle piece was very intentional because of those conversations. Growth away from our circles.
I love how engaged you are with your audience—on Instagram, your website— it’s very touching and not something you see very often in the visual art world. Does that factor into your inspiration at all, or is that just part of who you are?
It’s just who I am; I have a bit of a background in marketing, so I knew that if I was really going to build this, I needed to brand it. The brand is me, and when I was first exploring the techniques of alcohol inks, there were certain accounts that I was drawn to. I noticed this was because they were being genuinely themselves; they weren’t being stand-offish. They were personal, helpful, and engaging. I just knew that was the kind of artist I wanted to be.
As I said, I was turned off by the fine art world, and I think that was because it was so standoffish and snobby. I love that with this type of art, especially abstract art, you can be good at it, but anyone can do it. When someone says: “My three year old can do that,” I’m like, “Awesome, let them do it!”
I feel art should be accessible to everybody, but people are intimidated because of that stereotypical frigidness associated with artists. When I started building the brand, I was very intentional about trying to be me, admit my mistakes, show growth, answer people’s questions, and admit when I’m wrong.
Everyone has to start somewhere, everyone has to learn, and I think many people look to Instagram influencers for advice but often get blown off. I can’t teach everyone one-on-one, but I try to be as approachable as possible. I’m like that in real life too. I walk through Times Square with “Approachable” on my forehead. I’m used to it! So I just ran with that.
Your Zoom lessons, Ink & Drink, and team-building exercises look so fun! Can you tell me more about those events?
I haven’t done anything in-person in a while, not since before COVID. I don’t feel comfortable hosting anything in person at the moment. But the Zoom lessons have been great! That’s something that wouldn’t have come about had it not been for quarantine. Before then, I had been playing with the idea of doing online lessons but didn’t really know what platform would be best. I was even like, “Do I become an art cam girl?” [Laughter]
Then Zoom exploded, and once I was comfortable with Zoom from all the homeschooling and hanging out with friends, I decided there was no reason not to do it. And the response was great! My schedule is flexible enough that it doesn’t matter where in the world you are. I also enjoy getting to know the people that have been interacting on my [Instagram] account, so it’s been fun.
Do you enjoy helping people build confidence through art?
I do! I enjoy watching the butterfly effect of my work and [I] love being tagged in something where I’ve inspired someone, especially when I’ve never met them before. It’s wonderful to think about how many people are looking at your art or being influenced by it without you realizing it. When those things pop up, I kinda get warm inside; things I’m doing are spreading throughout the world. Seeing other people inspired by what I’m doing just feels so good.
It’s a nice feeling when you know that your work has touched someone.
It feels better than selling a piece, to be honest! Especially when they reach out and say they were in a tough place, and they started [fluid art] because of my feed and are finding it to be the perfect therapy. I relate to other people in that way because it [fluid art] saved me too in a lot of ways. I was really needing a creative outlet, and I don’t know where I’d be if I didn’t find it.
Pandemic aside, do you have any plans for workshops, lessons, or in-person shows for the future?
I tell people that I have a show every day on Instagram and Tiktok. The art world has changed so much, even since I graduated from the International Center of Photography in 2006, not even that long ago! You couldn’t become an artist even back then without connections. You had to know people in galleries, you had to be shown in galleries, or you weren’t considered an artist otherwise. That gets back to elitism in the art world. Social media has changed that. It’s created opportunities for anybody willing to put the work in. I read so much on how to leverage algorithms: what works, what doesn’t.
I had planned on team-building workshops before Princeton approached me and asked if I’d do one with them. That’s the only one I’ve gotten to do so far, but as the world opens up again, more people have expressed interest in hiring me for corporate retreat events. Once things are deemed safe, I’d certainly do it, and I’m very open about being approached with any opportunities that come up!
You can follow Hoboken artist Jamie Pomeranz on Instagram @devilsmaycare and TikTok @devilsmaycare. You can also check out her website for news, lessons, workshops, and to purchase her work at Devilsmaycare.com. Purchase Jamie Pomeranz prints through iCanvas.