Helga Sierra
Helga Sierra

Journal: Stories on Creativity & Adventure

Learn about the artist's process, photo stories, traveling & more. 

Jen Irias creates to save the ocean

 As kids and teenagers we were a part of the same art studio under the teaching of Carolina Carias, who has now become more of a mentor.  Jen, an engineer by education, recently made the decision to pursue art as a career.  Her love for painting remains and after several coffee hangs, here's a blog post.  Without further ado, here's Jen, she'll share about why she created here newest collection with the hope of donating to the marine habitat of Roatan (which happens to host my favorite place on earth).


Meet Jen


Tell me about your background

As a kid I grew up coloring and drawing anything that caught my attention. When I was 12 years old I got enrolled at a private art studio. Since then I´ve been collaborating with the studio. I worked as a teacher’s assistant, participated in group exhibitions, community outreach projects and fundraising activities for local and international nonprofit organizations.

I graduated as a Civil Engineer and Master in Business Administration. I worked a nine to five job for four years, I did some engineering and administration jobs. I came to the realization that if I kept working for someone else in the engineering industry my time to create art was becoming less and less. I went home and had no energy, no inspiration, sometimes I had to take work home. I felt drained.

My parents were struggling with cancer, both of them. It was like eye opening, I was giving up on art to become this professional in the engineering industry that didn’t make me as happy as creating art. Experiencing cancer so close kind of snapped me, and made me realize that life is so short to make a living from something that you don’t enjoy, you can become sick in any moment and not experience what really makes you grow and blossom in what really makes you unique.


You recently had your first solo show and are working on a show for Roatan. How did your time in Utila affect that? 

I had my fist solo past November titled “Transiciones” Transitions in English.  I moved my studio to the Island of Utila in the Bay Islands, with the purpose of getting new vibes and experiencing new lifestyles as a source of inspiration. I became fascinated by this diving movement which is the main activity in the Island. Its natural sceneries, lots of virgin land and the warmness of the locals just makes this place perfect for the creative process. I was constantly looking at beautiful turquoise color water and eclectic architectural design. I came up with art pieces inspired in underwater experiences, marine life, Carribean nature and lifestyle.

I named my exhibition Transitions because I wanted the spectator to notice that I had recently decided to become a full time artist but in order to make that decision I had been working on it for years before. I wanted to make a statement that an artist has to experience different transitions in its process for a long life career. 

Photos courtesy of Jen Irias.

New Artwork and Show

Tell me about your upcoming show. Why did you want to show your work in Roatan/What inspired you?

My Utila experience created the need for me to keep working on ocean inspired imagery. The ocean makes me feel alive and frighten at the same time. It awakes the deepest feeling in me. It makes me become aware of my inner thoughts. It awakes the best version of myself. That is why I titled my Roatan Exhibit “Awake”.

I wanted to give something back to the community who made my stay inspiring. Although the exhibit will take place in Roatan, the sceneries and warmness of its people was very similar. Showing my work will be a form of saying “look what your surroundings inspires, embrace it and lets work together on protecting it for other generations to come and experience this beauty.”


 How did you choose a style for the show?  Does your engineering background affect that? 

I was influenced by the Gaudi Mosaic style, the simplicity of the Island beauty made me use simple forms, plain colors, and three colors palette.

My background in engineering makes me a neat freak, especially in drawing and when it comes to lines my precision has to be on point. It also gives me an advantage to understand more easily scientific based information in order for my art investigation to become richer. 

Side Note

Park Guell.  Taken in September 2016 on my recent trip to Barcelona

Park Guell.  Taken in September 2016 on my recent trip to Barcelona

Inside Sagrada Familia.  Taken in September 2016 on my recent trip to Barcelona.

Inside Sagrada Familia.  Taken in September 2016 on my recent trip to Barcelona.

Barcelona and Gaudi...what a dream. He was recycling materials and creating mosaics in the early 1900s. It looks chaotic if you've never seen it in person, but that guy was a genius. If you miss my Barcelona Blog post, check it out. 


What are some of your favorite pieces in the show? 

My favorite piece is called “Clear View”, a figurative line constructed landscape of Pico Bonito Mountain. It was inspired in a clear day where we could see Pico Bonito 75 kilometers away. Usually is not very common to see because of cloud formation, smog, and light. It was a very magnificent view, it had like a spotlight on the top, it was like an AHA moment in which you realize nature has a particular way to say look at me. I stayed there by myself in silence embracing its majesty until it became dark. I made this peace as an analogy from that experience, as humans we have those AHA moments, when you solve a problem, when inspiration comes, when you have a clear path on your meaning of life or of a particular time in your life. Those moments usually comes from an in which you’ve meditated, an experience that snaps you or enlightens us to take action afterwards that moment when you have a clear view.


You mentioned you wanted to work with conservation efforts in the island. Why? 

In my next exhibition, I will be donating with the gallery 10% of the sales to the Roatan Marine Park a nonprofit organization dedicated to coral reef conservation who works with the community to create awareness of the importance of the reefs to make it a sustainable environment.

I think it is important to keep efforts on the reef conservation in order for our future generations and future artist in look of inspiration from the beauty of our oceans and their surroundings.



On Inspiration and New Projects

tell me about your inspiration.

I get inspired by nature, history and design. I believe we all should have a moment in our lives in which we experiment nature as a part of understanding our origins before we had concrete jungles and technology. I am very visual and curious, if I find something that I´m interested in, I search for the meaning, it could be a plant, flower, symbolism in design or architecture itself. For me those three thing are basic to my inspirational process.

Photos courtesy of Jen Irias.

Photos courtesy of Jen Irias.


What's happening after the art show?

My next project will be a collaboration with a fashion designer and a jewelry designer for a runway inspired in local birds. Honduras is emerging as a Bird Watching site because of its unique variety of beautiful birds. As artists and designers it is important to create interest and support in our natural resources for the world to notice from a creative point of view. I will keep working on the bird watching concept to create my next art show probably at the end of this year.

I´m also currently working on applying for artist at residence opportunities, which I believe is important for an artist to have those kinds of intercultural exchanges keep experimenting and growing in the intercultural experience, technique and concept.




 What advice would you give to someone who is trying to create?

Create for yourself at first, let your ideas flow in your natural ways, read, investigate and experiment. Surround yourself with positive people who will just encourage to do stuff, although sometimes you need some criticism, take the critic as a compliment because as humans we tend to take criticism as a drive to prove people wrong, it becomes a fuel to make things better.

Gracias Jeni!

keep up the hard work, thanks for taking care of our ocean, wish you all the best with the show! 

Follow her on instagram or check out her website.

If you missed any of the past blog posts, or need some inspiration you should check out more guest posts or the newest travel posts + I recently went to Costa Rica and have some new black & white pictures that' I'm looking forward to sharing with you!