Mind processing art comes in many sorts of fashions, specially if you're starting out as a Fine Art Undergrad student, while also being a teacher's assistant. It is, in fact, an overwhelming process. Its tough to know where to start out when being asked so many questions. Yet something about the calm, self-aware illustrator makes the picture appear to be much more optimistic. Less complex, more fun. She turns around the viewpoint of trying to give you the right answer. She perpetually answers in the most simplest form, 'just keep painting'.
This answer may not be what an art student, or any student, for that matter, would be expecting to hear from a teacher. But it is the one promise she is able to provide to any fascinating individual who just wants to know the correct way of 'color mixing'.
"Not telling your students the answers can make you feel powerless, even stupid," Jen says, "but its the nature of the profession itself that is very insecure. There is no way that you can promise people that there will be success."
Her work explains her views and how honest her personality is as well. Jen simultaneously expresses the natural way of how people act around and outside of art. Perhaps its the fact that the witty and wise New Yorker, who ever since she stepped into the streets on Manhattan, has not stopped gazing out at people and putting down her sketchbook. Ever since she moved to the city in May 2016, she came to realize that New York was her calling, as the work she did during her years at the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University, was not enough.
"When you're in grad school, you forget about opinion," said the illustrator. "I think in a certain way it is true there is contact in this specific academic field, but outside of it, there are billions of ways to portray it."
As I speak to Eugenia, her and I come to realize there are certainly multiple ways to portray 'art'.
What is art anyway? It can be anywhere and everywhere, only if you choose to see it. This is what Jen saw. She began to see the bigger picture. She began to see art as life, not just as education.
"I feel happy that Im around in the city [of New York]," she says. "I may have a small audience of people, but at least Im trying to get more out of my way to do things."
And out her way she has been. It makes me think more thoroughly about it as I take a look at the cup placed right in front of me. There is a teabag inside this cup. The teabag is special, the brand is'Yogi Tea' and it's got a quote on it.
'You are Unlimited,' it says.
I immediately think of not just Jen, but of everything and everyone. Its a limitless period, where everything and everyone can do whatever they want, and Jen is the perfect example of a millennial of our today and tomorrow.
Jen says that by being unlimited, things sometimes come out that she wouldn't have expected. The uncertainty of it though, may provide her a lot of pressure into things. "I always had this feeling where I thought that if I don't become a great artist, I will fail in the end," she says. "But the truth is that you're going to keep being you, you're going to keep being that artist." She lets this optimism come through by the means of meditation while she paints. "I just let my mind process stuff while Im in front of this blank slate on my desk."
Once you start talking to her, you realize how its remarkable that even at this early stage on her career, she hasn't only accomplished so much professionally, but that her mind has been enthusiastic and focused. She talks about how she 'held off' illustration for a long time, as she felt she was influenced by other people's approval.
The scary feeling didn't last for long, as she learned the lesson to follow her own instinct. "As an artist you have to learn how to grow and evolve," said Kroik, "you have to also apply what has worked for you in the past in order to keep moving forward."
What secret does Kroik always apply to her work then? "I see something, and I react to it. I produce."
And as much as she produces, she also shares with the rest of her students. As by the time she began teaching in 2016, she has always tried to give them every bit of advice. "I think its fun to be part of someone's creative process" explains the illustrator. "Everyone is so different, our practices are different because of our personality, our luck and where we come from."
After an hour and a half of our on-going conversation at her Upper West Side studio, I realize my time is up. Sadly, I'll have to leave both her breathtaking view overlooking the Hudson river, as well as the interesting subjects we were discussing. She leaves me walking out with enthusiasm though, something that many of us were lacking on that particular day (the night after the 2016 Presidential Elections). I don't even have to ask her the thoughts on that, lets just say, no matter what happens, she'll never put that paintbrush to rest, "lets all just keep going," she says.