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02. Interview with "Fans In the Mirror" Book Cover Contest Winner

 Young Talent On The Rise

An Interview With Jessie Gottlieb

Winner of the "Fans In The Mirror" Book Cover Contest

Jessie Gottlieb’s perfect adaptation of a young fan standing in front of a mirror while imitating Michael in one of his iconic poses dressed in an oversized jacket, shoes and classic fedora, won my heart the first time I saw it. It personified the book title Fans In The Mirror so completely; there was little doubt in my mind that it would become the winner of our Book Cover Contest.

The vision behind Jessie’s entry was just as sincere as her drawing, and as she explained in her cover letter to me, “I thought, man in the mirror and fans in the mirror. What MJ fan doesn’t on occasion stop to dance and pretend they’re as good as him, or pretend to be him? I know I do, and kids have a big enough imagination to see themselves actually as him. So this fan in the mirror sees himself as the man in the mirror, Michael Jackson.” 

Jessie is seventeen years old and lives in British Columbia, Canada. She first saw Michael in his Smooth Criminal video when she was six or seven and has come to love and appreciate his music, dancing and kindness as a person. She joined the Michael Jackson Tribute Portrait website in January 2010. Over the course of the last few weeks I have come to know Jessie on a more personal level, and was privileged to be able to interview her for this article.

Valmai:   Jessie how long have you been drawing? 

Jessie:    I started my drawing as soon as I could hold a pencil or anything else that could leave a mark on. 

Valmai:   Was there anything in particular you liked to draw at first? 

Jessie:     I always drew horses so when we moved to Lavington, BC to our acreage, I finally got one of my own and horses became a big part of my life as well as drawing. I drew horses so much I got picked on at school and found myself the odd kid out. But does it matter what I like to draw? So I kept drawing, never giving up or letting hurtful words get between me and my paper. 

Valmai:  Well, we are very happy that you never gave up. When did you start drawing portraits? What inspired you most?

Jessie:    Actually, I started listening to music and found my love for it. I began drawing my
Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash; anyone who found their way to my stereo or
record player. I managed to get made fun of for liking them too, but I kept doing my own thing. I’m a very old fashioned girl. I spend lots of time with my grandparents and I love them beyond belief. I usually spend half my summer with them. My grandpa taught me how to play the guitar and it’s become one of my many passions. We always play the old songs. I’ve been told many of times I was born in the wrong generation. My grandma and I watch old movies; I know what they are and the names of the actors. We usually end up doing trivia at the end.

Valmai:  It’s wonderful that you are so close to your grandparents, Jessie. Tell me, when did you start drawing pictures of Michael? 

Jessie:    I grew up with all types of music. My dad was always playing music on our stereo
and I loved each style.
Michael Jackson always seemed to Billie Jean it through the speakers along with Smooth Criminal and The Way You Make Me Feel. I didn’t realize how much of a huge MJ Fan I really was at that time, because I was fairly young. When he passed away and they began playing all his music videos, I came to the realization that this guy was a talented, wonderful person and not the freak you see being shot down on the news every week.

Valmai:  You also draw collages of Michael, I understand? 

Jessie:    Yes! I began drawing him in collages, because I can never find just one picture I want to draw. The costumes, facial expressions and poses make it fun to draw him this way, and it’s a complete spin from just your smiling portrait.

Valmai:  What are your goals and plans for the future? 

Jessie:      I will continue drawing him until my hands drop off. Even then, I’ll find a way to leave my mark somehow. Just because you’re a little weird or different, doesn’t mean you can’t shine. You shouldn’t stop doing something you love because someone else doesn’t like it or agree with it. You should be able to live your life the way you want to and not how everyone else expects you to.

Jessie won $1,000 in a recent District Scholarship Show that she entered along with some of her classmates, receiving very good reviews from the judges for her artwork. She plans to put this money toward College. We sincerely encourage and support her goals for a career in the field of art and we expect to hear great things about her in the future.

Valmai Owens
Creator/Editor of Fans In The Mirror
Patchwork Project Organizer, MJTP

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Jessie Gottlieb
Username: Jess68
Dot # 243139

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