What a lot of people (including people from the Detroit area) don’t know about Detroit is that in its post-industrial American evolution, an art scene almost incomparable in its creativity, independence, and grittiness is thriving. There are many who’d say that it has always thrived but has always been passed over in favor of New York to the east and Chicago to the west. And there are many that don’t even realize how unique and potentially powerful the art scene is in the city once known as “The Paris of the Midwest.” Amongst all the creative furtiveness stand out a few truly unique artists – one of them is Gwen Joy. A self-promotions machine, Gwen is an all-encompassing artist and entrepreneur. At once an artist of varied media, a musical performer, fashion icon, and model – Gwen is the quintessential representation of the creativity inherent in the past, present, and future of Detroit.

Graciously, I thank Gwen for participating in this edition of “I’ve Got a Question.”

Gwen joy1. With the rise in the popularity of mainstream fashion due primarily to the likes of Project Runway, do you feel that fashion in the broad sense is losing its focus in either being too inaccessible or, conversely, being too mainstream? To me there doesn’t seem to be a certain creative middle ground that is both of those extremes.

Gwen Joy: I think programs like these make fashion more mainstream overall. I think they need to throw in some very striking designers and models in the mix to shake things up a bit.

2. With respect to Detroit, do you think that the art and fashion sectors are getting passed over? In what seems like a veritable hotbed of talent, not much press seems to make it out of Detroit. Am I wrong?

Gwen: I would have to agree with you. But there are exceptions. For fashion, the Fash Bash is an event that gets beyond state exposure and for art, Tyree Guyton, Niagara, and Glenn Barr are known outside of Michigan.

3. You are one of the most relentless self-promoters I have ever seen and most certainly the most relentless I’ve ever known. How conscious was your intent in making your art your job? Did it all just roll or has this come about, as I suspect, through tons of work?

Gwen: It does take a lot of work; figuring out what events and galleries to show at or go to. And also figuring out your market. This is key to being successful – and also not falling into one clique. It’s important to show and go to all kinds of places. And to be friendly and approachable. It doesn’t work being shy or snobby.

4. It takes a certain amount of self-confidence to think that you can get in front of a camera and model. I can’t even do it using my own digital camera! How has your modeling changed how you view yourself and, especially, how people view you?

Gwen: I think it is interesting to see how you can change day to day. It is great to see that flexiblity and to have others enjoy it too. Modeling can be a very creative outlet. The interaction with the photographer and with the makeup artist and stylist adds another dynamic also.

5. What projects are you working on currently? Do you have anything in the works for the near future? I am infinitely interested, as are many others, in what the hell Gwen Joy has brewing in her head.

Gwen: I have a solo art show at the Black Box Diamond gallery/ jewelry store in Chicago April 5th. I have been commissioned to paint two murals early April at The Park Bar in Detroit. I am curating the art gallery for this City Fest (formerly the Taste Fest) this year. I’ll have work in the show. I am still working as a cigarette girl, too. When I do that I sell my Joytoys. These are on my website Gwenjoy.com and often feature half animal bodies with plastic clown or animal heads.