Montréal artist Jeena Ragheb is changing the way we see colour

Updated: Jan 18, 2018

Winslow: First things first. Tell us about yourself.

Jeena Ragheb: Hello! My name is Jeena, better known as artbyjayr or byjayr. I’m an

artist, animator and a DJ based in Montreal. I am 21 years old and currently finishing my undergrad in Communications and Media Studies at Concordia University.

Winslow: What does art mean to you?

Jeena: My interpretation of art is split into different perspectives. There’s the visual aspect of art, where viewers see it for the pleasure of the aesthetic. Then there’s the emotional aspect, where the viewer feels something within them while looking at an art piece. Lastly, there’s always the technical side where the viewer questions a piece. But for myself, art is a little sneak peek of an artist’s soul being exposed to the outside world.

Winslow: What was the first thing you ever created? Do you still have it today?

Jeena: Woah. I don’t think I can remember, I’ve been drawing since I was four years old. My sister still has a collection of some of my baby artwork but I honestly don’t remember.

Winslow: What aspects of yourself can we find in your art?

Jeena: I think each artist subconsciously creates themselves in most of their individual work. A lot of my friends tell me my art pieces look like myself or reflect my persona, without me realizing it. I always draw girls with similar hairstyles, features or style as mine, like the girlie skater beach-vibe with a bob cut hairstyle.

Winslow: What is a major challenge you’ve faced as an artist? How did you overcome it?

Jeena: As an artist, there are many challenges you face, such as receiving criticism from others, to having patience with your work. But the challenges are mainly with yourself. I need to keep myself challenged or inspired. When I become bored or stuck after a while, that’s when it becomes really exciting, because it motivates me to learn new techniques to enhance my skill.

Winslow: You made a beautiful piece of Simi and Haze, which they reposted on their Instagram. How did this feel?

Jeena: Thank you so much! Yes! It was very lovely of them to repost it. It made me realize how small the world is and how we’re all somehow connected to one another or to what we truly want. The law of attraction, pretty much.

Winslow: Your work can be viewed across Montréal in various spaces, but most recently you curated a piece for Mandy’s. How did this come about?

Jeena: Mandy’s played a great part in my art career in 2017. I approached the owner, Rebecca, when they first opened their Old Port location on Saint Nicolas street. As soon as I walked in I fell in-love with the space. It was stunning. All I could imagine was painting in a space or having art pieces up in a space that looked exactly like it.

Besides it being my favourite restaurant in Montreal, I just knew I had to collaborate with Mandy’s. By that summer, I had art pieces displayed in all 4 locations and I created a mural for Mimi & Coco, a boutique owned by the owners of Mandy’s. From there we decided to collaborate on the most recent piece, currently displayed at their newest location on Philips Square in Downtown Montreal. It’s the biggest piece I’ve ever had displayed.

Winslow: What are your hopes for the future of your craft? Where do you imagine being in 5-10 years?

Jeena: There’s a lot I’d like to do with my craft. I’d like to continue collaborating with musicians as a visual artist/animator since I have a passion for music alongside art. I am also working on my brand, byjayr, so that in 5-10 years I can envision myself having my own skate-shop by the beach. <3

Winslow: What does the Montréal art scene mean to you?

Jeena: It’s an eccentric scene. It’s a very special city to artists across Canada, it’s a canvas for artists. Every corner you come across you’re distracted by a beautiful painted mural on the wall. Montreal’s filled with so many talented artists. I see a certain style that Montreal artists sort of have in their work, including myself. Most of us are into the hipster retro-vibe. I see that in a lot of people’s work. It’s cute because it really shows how artists are connected here in one way or another.

Winslow: What is something about yourself that most people wouldn’t expect?

Jeena: Most people wouldn’t expect my favourite colour to be black.

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