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Painting stories for a living

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Jasmine Craciun has been painting for as long as she can remember.

The now 22-year-old first picked up a paintbrush when she was a child to tell stories.

“I have been painting all of my life,” she told the Newcastle Weekly.

“I used to paint my stories and then tell mum what the story was about and she would write them out and tie the pages together like a little book.”

Jasmine’s love of art took her to the University of Newcastle, where she studied Graphic Design.

Now, the proud Barkindji, Malyangapa woman, who has grown up in Newcastle, is a commissioned artist, creating beautiful indigenous pieces.

“I found it really difficult growing up interested in art in general, and then people asked for Aboriginal artworks and I found it strange to create what was expected,” she said.

“It wasn’t until I was older [that] I realised everything I do is Aboriginal art.

“I can be Aboriginal and contemporary as well; it’s been nice to explore my stories as part of my family and other Aboriginal people and acknowledge their stories as well.”

Recently, Jasmine has been working with a group in Melbourne called the National Indigenous Youth Education Coalition.

It’s running a campaign called ‘Learn our Truth,’ and is pushing for Aboriginal history, pre-colonisation, to be taught as part of the national curriculum.

Jasmine has been commissioned to do the campaign’s logo and design templates for Instagram.

For the past two years, she’s also created designs for NAIDOC Week for the City of Newcastle.

“It’s been awesome, I was able to get involved in NAIDOC Week 2018 and did the flag for the city and again in 2019 – they were the first big jobs that I had,” she said.

“I was a bit scared to get straight into applying for jobs after university and didn’t feel I had enough experience for a graphic designer.

“Council helped me get more clients – when people saw I was doing the flag, I had a lot of people reach out to do work for them.”

The council also went a step further and commissioned her to create a mural, which is installed at its city works depot in Waratah.

Currently travelling across Broken Hill, Jasmine is planning to spend next year in Wilcannia with family, working on personal projects and helping at schools with their art programs.

“I think, for me, I never realised I could have a job out of something I love,” she said.

“I want my cousins to know they can do whatever they want to do.

“I’d love for a younger me to know I could do this and it’s nice for my cousins to know that too.”

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