SJ The Artist: Creativity Beyond the Machine

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If you’re from LA, chances are you’ve encountered or experienced the multifaceted creativity of Stephonie Jones, also known as SJ the artist. Whether you’ve been touched by one of her paintings, eaten one of her culinary creations, seen a music video she’s worked on, or been a customer at one of her businesses, her artistic influence has touched many lives across Los Angeles County.

SJ’s creativity bursts at its seams. Something that she can reflect back on as early as 3 and 4 years old. She fondly remembers making clothes for her dolls and drawing her classmates. Her high school years were no different, as she continued making clothes, drawing, doing her friends’ hair, and cooking. Throughout her journey, her artistry has taken different forms. There is nothing she can’t do.

Yet, beneath this multilayered artistic exterior, Stephonie wants it to be known that she is not a creative “machine” churning out art on demand. Rather, she is an artist driven by raw emotion and boundless creativity.

“I feel like a lot of people don’t understand that being an artist isn’t a job,” she reflects. “A lot of it is just raw emotion, and people that don’t possess that can’t really—they can’t break that down. An artist can understand it.”

In the early 2010s, SJ was one of the pioneers in the world of fancy cakes and cupcakes. She established her own company, Cali Cupcakes. Over the years, the company did quite well, and she purchased a truck that serviced across Southern California. It should also be mentioned that she painted, designed, and built out the truck herself. And her culinary adventures didn’t end with cupcakes; she also became a sought-after chef known for her delicious crab boils, soul food, meal preps, and anything she feels like cooking at the moment.

Throughout her culinary journey, she never put down her brushes. Her murals graced the exteriors of storefront businesses, the interiors of clothing stores, barbershops, and the homes of football players and fellow artists. Her talent for drawing inspired her to tattoo. She’s done names, figures, portraits, and has even inked herself.

SJ is also a talented seamstress and designer. She’s done hair and makeup for the set of music videos. She’s also written treatments for music videos, including Quincey White’s “On Me” featuring Slim 400, may he rest in peace.

SJ is truly a renaissance woman. Her creativity even extends into carpentry work. She can install TVs, and even build tiny homes. Anything that requires creativity, she can do. But she admits that it becomes burdensome when people underestimate the amount of time and effort she puts into her creations.

“I literally can be suicidal and paint something that conveyed that, and got that spirit off me. It could have been therapy,” she says with all seriousness. “This is a whole, like, living frame of mind for us that do this every day, waking, sleeping. It’s not a job.”

A significant part of SJ’s journey is her admiration for Black revolutionaries who have inspired her work. She has paid tribute to figures such as Dick Gregory and Erykah Badu through her paintings.

“Black figures as a whole have influenced my work because I’m very proud of my ancestry and where I come from,” she shares passionately. “I’m very proud to be Black. I couldn’t ever be this happy being anything else. I feel like everybody can understand why, or how we are as a collective. It’s a proud thing.”

Say it loud…

If you said it, then you know. “I’m Black and I’m proud.”

SJ’s journey challenges compartmentalized artistry. Her art is not just a commodity, it’s a way of life. It’s a manifestation of her soul, pouring from within her and out in every brushstroke, every dish prepared, stitch sewn, tattoo inked, and in every form of creativity she chooses to take on. Stephonie Jones remains true to herself, unapologetically guided by the free thinkers who have paved the way before her. She is a testament to the various forms in which creativity can flow from, as one living organism.