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Tampa Bay-area Filipino artist 'JUJMO' spread joy through bright colors, imaginative figures

JUJMO says seeing her art live in a public space is empowering.

TAMPA, Fla. — Vibrant colors? Check! Strange creatures? Check! 

Staring at JUJMO's mural and it's bringing you nothing but happiness? Check, check, and check!

Cheryl Weber, who goes by the artist name JUJMO, is a Filipino-American artist in the Tampa Bay area who is known for her bright color pallets and her cartoon-like characters. Her distinctive style can be seen throughout Tampa and St. Petersburg.

Credit: @jujmo

"I really love Japanese folklore a lot and Filipino folklore, the characters and all the fun symbolism like flowers, different colors, mean things. I really love that," JUJMO explained. "So, I try to translate that into my work and find meaning within color and using deliberate symbols. And I really love dainty things such as flowers, seashells, and leaves, organic shapes. I really love that."

Check out the full interview with JUJMO here.

When it comes to creating art, she doesn't use just a canvas – but expands canvas to walls, helmets, shoes, tote bags, and even cars. But her true love is with murals. Murals follow under public art and with that, they can be perceived in different ways. 

"Not just like one variant, a person that goes into a gallery and loves art. You get people that are exposed to art just nonchalantly like in the wild," JUJMO said. "So I think that's cool because then their perception changes on how they perceive art and seeing art live in that public space is like very empowering. 

"I like that I have a wide array of people looking at my work and some people can perceive it and I perceive it or just exist with it. So it's just part of nature and I really like that they're there."

JUJMO grew up moving around as a military kid. While living overseas, there wasn't much access to cartoons on base, and limited to what was available on the Air Force Network (AFN). 

When moving back to the U.S. and having access to cartoons and anime, she says that it really inspired her to want to be an artist but shaped her personality to be an animated person. So, being a product of the 90s and 2000s, it's easy to see the influence it has on her work.

Being a Filipino-American artist, JUJMO understands that representation is important in every aspect. She says that she didn't have that entirely while she was growing up. 

While moving around her entire childhood, she has seen many Asian communities and how they can shape the community. But here in Tampa, she says you can only find pockets of Asian people but hopes to see more Asian artists creating art in the future.

"I feel more comfortable and more connected to a lot of Asian artists because they're Asian. And since I'm Asian American, it's cool to feel validated and see other people like me being successful," JUJMO said. "I like having that as a role model for other people to follow in her footsteps. Like it's possible to do it because a lot of times in Asian culture, being an artist is not really the best thing that our parents want us to do."

Credit: @jujmo

Since posting her work on social media, she had tons of people messaging her expressing that they are also Filipino and thrilled to see her art. She says that because of how different she grew up, it's nice to relate to other people.

"I think it just starts with like one person setting the tone and maybe that's just me and maybe more people will be a part of that conversation," JUJMO said.

Once you look at JUJMO's work, the colors and strange creatures will be recognizable. Even when collaborating with clients, there will always be a touch of her in each piece but it will be completely unique to them. 

The main goal that she has when painting each mural is to bring some type of joy to each person that sees them.

"I just want to invoke some sort of like happy emotion and honestly, nine times out of ten, that's what people tell me when they see my work, that they're very elated, very happy," JUJMO said. "And they said the colors just, like, make them so excited. So I love that feedback and it helps me continue on with what I like in my work."

Jujmo says as an artist, she is receptive to how others perceive her art because it helps her evolve her style but wants to make sure that she doesn't lose herself with people's opinions.

"I can take it, but also like, I'll take a little bit and then I'll roll with my own thing," she said.

You can check out JUJMO's work on her website or her Instagram where she's most active.

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