This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
Hey, my name is Jenna Putnam. I am a writer and visual artist.
My interest in writing and visual art probably started when I was a kid. I was really fascinated with reading stories and documenting, and I was constantly writing down things in my journal. I was fascinated with capturing other people’s stories and telling my own in a way that translated into writing or images.
When did you know you could do this for real?
I started becoming confident with photography and writing when I lived in New York. It stemmed from me experimenting with photographs and led to people asking me to shoot stuff for them—brands or things like that. It was trial and error and I just went with it.
“I think as human beings, we care what other people think. Realistically, what’s most important is you being confident in yourself and believing in yourself, because if you don’t, then no one else is. Which sounds very cliche, but it’s really true. You just have to be confident and own it and just do whatever the fuck you want to do.”
What was your first real break and who gave it to you?
I don’t necessarily think there was a big break. I think it was just being ever-present in the community. Being in Los Angeles and New York City, you meet so many creative people and they let you into their worlds. You’re just able to express yourself and collaborate with people, and I think those are probably the little opportunities that led to feeling like I was really creating something.
What would you say to young Jenna?
If I could go back in time and tell myself something—you know, words of encouragement—I would just tell myself to lighten up, maybe. To stop taking things so seriously and just be confident and believe in myself. Just believe in what you’re doing. I think as human beings, we care what other people think. Realistically, what’s most important is you being confident in yourself and believing in yourself, because if you don’t, then no one else is. Which sounds very cliche, but it’s really true. You just have to be confident and own it and just do whatever the fuck you want to do.
What does creativity mean to you?
Creativity means freedom to me. It means really being a human being and letting your emotions pour out, letting yourself feel what you want to feel, and expressing what you want to express with no boundaries. You’re like an open vein and it’s refreshing and it’s therapeutic.
What makes you come alive?
I would say the thing that makes me come alive isn’t necessarily my art. It’s sort of the path of getting there. Meeting people, acting on all these ideas flying through your head, and being unaware and not super self-conscious of what you’re doing. Maybe something like traveling or just connecting with people is really what makes me feel alive. Yes, your art can make you feel alive, but I think it’s more about the connection and the process of doing it. That’s probably what makes me feel the most alive—just living and existing and acting out on what makes me feel in general.
This interview was conducted on November 1st, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.