Creative Chicago: Jayma Forman, Artist

Jayma Forman is an artist specialising in abstract painting and drawings, “Leading up to this point in my life, I was a custom stylist for both men and women. Like my art, I created a look that appealed to the viewer and showed them something that they might not have seen on their own. My ultimate goal is to combine the two in the future with a clothing line. 

Before moving to Chicago, I was living in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, a seaside city just north of Miami. Now, I love a bikini and mojitos as much as the next person but sweating everyday just walking out the front door gets old after a while. Plus, my body is incapable of getting a tan, so I stood out like a pale thumb. Those reasons to the side, I wanted a fast-paced environment with affordable living and a seasonal climate, which led me to making the move up to Chicago. I’ve been here for about four years now and I’m so thankful for the friends I’ve made here and the studio space I have located in the West Loop, the warehouse district.

As a child I was so enthralled with archaeology and would read books on various digs and discoveries from the ancient world. Archaeologists have historically been able to immerse themselves in various cultures and civilizations, connecting the past to help us better understand our future and unlocking a previous realm of creativity. It’s interesting because I do feel like that transfers into my artwork. We all have a history, we’ve all learned from those before us, and we’re constantly evolving from what we used to be. I want to shed light on the world around us by capturing the present day political and environmental climate with my art.”

I’ve been painting and drawing since I could hold a brush. I grew up always wanting to make a living being an artist but was always deterred by the widespread belief that artists constantly struggle. When I started doing art full time, it was like a personal liberation for me. I made the jump and I’ve never been happier. I’ve also worked in the fashion industry since I was a teenager. I’ve always been super passionate about art and fashion and I’m very thankful I’ve been able to make a living doing both. By transitioning from fashion to art full time, I’ve been very fortunate to be a part of group exhibitions and organizations such as the American Cancer Society and The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

As for the moment, “I’ve been playing around on a number of different pieces with Japanese ink, which is usually used for calligraphy, and combining it with spray paint, oil pastels, and earth elements such as tea leaves and flowers. Daily, I challenge myself to incorporate a new technique with my existing style. I’m also putting together 20 or so pieces to do a solo show in the next few months while working on a few commissions and collaborations as well.

I have a wide assortment of tools that I use in the studio and I’m always collecting random items, like perforated paper from a gift or a small tree branch from the park, that I know I’ll use for a piece in the future. Generally, I’ll use a palette knife, oil sticks, and numerous paintbrushes. As for sustainable practices, I am a vegetarian and working towards becoming vegan. I support the humane treatment of animals used in food production, the ethical use of fisheries and the maintenance of wildlife refuges. I support clean energy in the push to reduce America’s use of fossil fuels and I buy mostly vintage furniture and clothing to help reduce my carbon footprint.”

One of Forman’s recent artworks is titled Kindness Matters (above). “It’s well known that America is currently in a state of turmoil, with conflicts involving religion, government, and equal rights. I created a piece for an event called Nasty Woman Art Show in which every piece sold went towards Planned Parenthood, a non-profit organization that does research towards family planning, reproductive health, and contraception for both men and women. It gave me tremendous strength to be a part of something that disagrees with our government’s attempt at taking away our citizen’s rights to protect their own bodies.”

As for career highlights, “Broadly I would say any time my artwork invokes a feeling within my viewers is the greatest feeling for me. The fact that different viewers are able to look inside themselves and question their past experiences to connect with one of my pieces is truly a special thing. I have a few clients that have become collectors of my work and that is the ultimate compliment. People will buy several pieces for their home or a few for their home and office.”

Forman has a lot of admiration for others in her field, “So many artists! Off the top of my head, Damian Gomes, Genieve Figgis, and Kerry James Marshall. Unfortunately, we live in a time where almost everything from music to movies and artwork seems like a carbon copy of something that has come before. Finding originality can be hard sometimes and I admire these three artists for being unique in their work.”

Look out for her upcoming exhibitions, “Currently I’m working on putting 20-25 pieces together for a solo show. It will be my biggest show so far and it’s both exciting and frightening at the same time, but in a good way. I have a group exhibition in April titled HER. My work and other female artists will be there, and I think the show will be quite powerful in its message on the female in our society and what we have endured and continue to endure within this country and others.”

See more of Forman’s work at and follow on Instagram for updates. Links below.

Jayma Forman’s Top 5 Chicago

Map via

To Eat: Rangoli. The best Indian I’ve ever had, and I’ve tried it in numerous countries – even Mexico! I know it sounds weird to get Indian in Mexico, but the opportunity knocked, and it was delicious.

To Drink: Snickers. The dive of all dive bars. I take everyone here and it never disappoints. You never quite know where the night will go but one thing’s for sure, you’ll be drinking for hours with young creatives, men in suits, tourists, and local blue-collar workers.

To Party: Beauty Bar. I love good music and a dance floor where you can move without some random trying to sidle up next to you. They’re always playing old school hip hop, pop or rock and everyone dances all night.

To Walk: Andersonville. It’s a bit north of downtown and it’s the perfect mix of everything Chicago has to offer, with its wide array of shops, restaurants, and general oddities.

To Shop: The Brown Elephant. It’s a resale shop that has vintage furniture and home decor with all proceeds benefiting LGTBQ health and fund care for the uninsured/under-insured at Howard Brown Health. The selection is divine and the people who work there will be your new best friends by the time you leave.