A Multicultural Artistic Odyssey Woven with Threads and Passions
By Guillaume Jean Lefebvre
Born in Yerevan, Armenia, and later embarking on a diverse journey to Irkutsk, Russia, before finally settling in Los Angeles, the multicultural artist, Rita Janikyan, weaves a tapestry of artistic expression deeply rooted in her origins. The Janikyan surname, associated with the Janik village near the City of Van, holds a mysterious allure, though details remain elusive due to limited accessible resources and the unfortunate absence of an opportunity to explore family history, primarily because her father's grandfather passed away at an early age, leaving a gap in Janikyan's family knowledge.
Art has been an intrinsic part of Rita's life, a manifestation of her Armenian heritage blending with the diverse influences of her Russian and American experiences. Growing up in Armenia, she imbibed the artistic spirit of her surroundings. In Russia, she honed her skills through various art classes, exploring techniques such as embroidery, knitting, beading, thread mosaic, sculpting, and more. By the time she arrived in Los Angeles, her artistic repertoire was well-developed, providing a foundation for her later ventures.
The shift from Siberia's varied weather to the perpetual sunshine of Los Angeles may not have directly impacted Rita's artistic perspective, but the absence of distinct seasons left her yearning for the varied inspirations that come with the changing weather. Nonetheless, she continued to create, drawing from her imagination rather than external influences.
Rita's true passion for art was evident from a young age. Her artistic journey began at eight, with her first art piece displayed in an exhibit, marking the commencement of a prolific career. Her deep connection with art intensified, leading to numerous awards, interviews, and her first solo exhibit at the age of 16, attended by over 1500 people.
The thread mosaic technique, a distinctive art form Rita mastered over 23 years, provided a rich palette of colors that, while not directly shaping her current style, allowed her to create unique blends in her artwork.
Art, for Rita, is not just a hobby but an integral part of her identity and a means of expressing the ineffable. This commitment led her to transition from art as a pastime to a full-fledged profession, driven by the inability to envision a life without it.
The decision to attend makeup school in 2016 marked a pivotal moment in Rita's journey. Despite personal challenges, she embarked on this path, supported by her parents and a fortuitous reconnection with an old friend. Balancing family life with professional pursuits became a complex but navigable challenge, thanks to the unwavering support of her mother.
Rita's diverse skill set extends beyond traditional art into the realm of makeup and special effects. The fusion of these skills has birthed her venture, "Handmade Hunters," a Christmas shop specializing in unique, handmade ornaments. This project, an extension of her love for Christmas and art, allows her to share her passion with a broader audience.
Her dedication to art is unwavering, even influencing her entrepreneurial endeavors. "Handmade Hunters" reflects her love for Christmas, offering exclusive and collectible ornaments that evoke nostalgia for the festive season.
Despite the challenges of juggling a family and a thriving career, Rita remains committed to her craft. Her current project, in the works since 2019, promises to be a unique fusion of various art styles, showcasing makeup characters in a captivating art show project.
Rita Janikyan's journey is a testament to the transformative power of art, transcending borders and seasons, and finding expression in myriad forms across her multicultural odyssey.
1. Your artistic journey spans from Armenia to Russia and finally to Los Angeles. How has each cultural shift influenced the evolution of your artistic expression?
My artistic journey, transitioning from Yerevan to Irkutsk, and later to Los Angeles, has been profoundly shaped by the diverse cultural environments and experiences I encountered. Each transition offered a unique backdrop that influenced the evolution of my artistic expression.
In Yerevan, my early exposure to Armenian culture likely infused my art with aspects of its rich artistic heritage, perhaps incorporating traditional motifs, color palettes, or themes from the region. The move to Irkutsk, where nature was prominent, likely introduced a newfound appreciation for the natural world and its potential to inspire art. The unique Thread mosaic technique I learned at a young age in Russia further enriched my artistic toolkit.
Upon relocating to Los Angeles, the stark contrast in climate and environment compared to Siberia must have had a significant impact. The vibrant and diverse cultural scene in LA likely influenced my style, potentially adding contemporary elements or adapting my approach to align with the artistic trends prevalent in the city.
2. The Janikyan surname has connections to the Janik village near the City of Van. While details are elusive, has this familial mystery inspired any specific artworks or themes in your creations?
Not really. The uniqueness of my last name is the only aspect that made me feel special.
3. Coming from a region with distinct seasons in Siberia to the perpetual sunshine of Los Angeles, do you find your artistic inspiration influenced by environmental changes, or does it predominantly stem from your internal imagination?
My artistic inspiration primarily springs from my internal imagination. While the environmental shift from Siberia to Los Angeles did not directly impact my artistic perspective, I do acknowledge that the distinct seasons in Siberia offered a unique source of inspiration. The changing seasons evoked various emotions and feelings, something that I miss in the perpetual sunshine of LA. Despite this, my creative process remains fueled by my imagination, allowing me to craft my art irrespective of the external surroundings.
Photographer: Seda Stepanyan - @sedsphotography
Model/ MUA: Rita Janikyan - @lacharmed
4. Your artistic skills were honed through various classes, including embroidery, knitting, and thread mosaic in Russia. How have these diverse techniques shaped your current artistic style, and do they continue to play a role in your creative process?
I can't exactly pinpoint how these techniques have shaped my current artistic style, but they have been instrumental in my ability to create and utilize these skills for my new business, Handmade Hunters. In this venture, I craft doll ornaments, requiring me to sew dresses, design, sculpt faces, and paint them. These techniques serve as a foundation for my creative process in bringing these intricate doll ornaments to life.
5. Your deep connection with art began at a young age, with your first exhibit at eight. How do you recall that initial experience, and did the response from viewers influence your artistic direction?
Certainly, that early experience of showcasing my artwork at the age of eight holds a special place in my memory. I vividly recall the mix of excitement and nervousness as I presented my creations to an audience. The response from viewers was overwhelmingly positive, with many kind words and expressions of appreciation. Witnessing the impact my art had on them was profoundly inspiring. Their encouraging feedback fueled my determination and passion to continue creating art. It gave me a sense of validation and confidence in my abilities, ultimately influencing my artistic direction by motivating me to explore and experiment further, eager to evoke emotions and connect with people through my art.
6. Thread mosaic technique has been a significant part of your art for over 23 years. While it may not directly shape your current style, how has this distinctive art form contributed to the color palette and unique blends in your recent artworks?
This technique has allowed me to explore and work with a wide array of colors, giving me the ability to mix and blend them in ways that are distinctive and captivating. The mastery of this technique has enhanced my understanding of color combinations and harmonies, enriching the visual impact of my art.
7. Art is not just a hobby for you but an integral part of your identity. What pivotal moment led you to transition from viewing art as a pastime to embracing it as a full-fledged profession?
I reached a point where I realized that art was more than a hobby for me; it was an essential part of who I am. It became clear that I needed to turn my passion for art into a profession, not just for sustenance but also to fulfill my purpose and share my creativity with the world. This realization was the turning point that propelled me to fully embrace art as a way of life and a career.
8. Attending makeup school in 2016 marked a turning point. Can you share more about the personal challenges you faced during this decision and the role your parents and an old friend played in supporting this journey?
In 2016, when my daughters were little, I hesitated about attending makeup school, uncertain if I could manage. Discussing my ambitions with my supportive parents, my mom offered to care for my girls. As I searched for the right makeup school, a friend from college, Seda, unexpectedly came to mind. We hadn't seen each other in years, but I decided to reach out. To my amazement, she was already applying to Elegance International, the school I aspired to attend. It was a serendipitous moment - not only did I find a companion for the journey, but also a solution for childcare. I was determined that this was my path, and I would pursue it wholeheartedly.
9. Handmade Hunters is an intriguing venture, combining your artistic skills with handmade Christmas ornaments. How did your love for Christmas inspire this project, and what unique elements do you aim to bring to people's holiday celebrations?
My deep love for Christmas has always been a part of me. Every year, I enthusiastically create my own Christmas ornaments. Recognizing that my passion for Christmas and art could bring joy to others, I decided to open a shop where I could share my enthusiasm with people. My goal was to create something new that would evoke nostalgia for Christmas in people's homes. Last year, I successfully sold over 150 pieces. I pour my heart into expressing my love for Christmas and invite everyone to experience this special holiday. It's a magical time of the year when we revisit and cherish our childhood memories, and through my creations, I aim to bring that magic into the homes and hearts of others during the holiday season.
10. Despite the challenges of balancing family and career, your commitment to art remains unwavering. Can you provide insights into how you manage this delicate balance and your strategies for staying dedicated to your craft?
I don't follow specific actions or routines; I rather approach the balance between family and career in an organic and natural way. My dedication to art is so deeply ingrained in me that it naturally fits into my daily life. It's about finding moments amidst family responsibilities, work demands, and daily chores to immerse myself in art. Sometimes it's a few stolen minutes during a break, and other times it's dedicated art sessions when my family understands my need to create.
The key is being flexible and understanding that the balance may shift from day to day. Art is not just what I do; it's a part of who I am. So, it seamlessly integrates into my life, allowing me to nurture my passion while fulfilling my family.
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