Here is the trailer to that film:
Janis is best known for her unbridled vocal performances and wild child charisma however she first began expressing herself through drawing and painting in grade school. The film never goes into her interest in making art or her original desire to be a fashion designer so I took to the internet to seek out some of these sketches myself.
I love this snapshot (below) of her drawing the scarecrow from Oz. It is particularly wild to see Janis looking more like a cast member of Leave it to Beaver as a kid.
Her transition into life as an outcast began in grade school when she stood up against segregation in Texas when few in her community would. She was threatened for her belief in equality as well as mercilessly teased for bad skin, frizzy hair, and being slightly overweight all throughout her school years. Her response was to explore art, read beat writers, start dying her hair, and spend weekends hanging out drinking in Blues bars with a small circle of beatnik friends - all the opposite of what accepted ladylike behavior was by the mainstream. The peak of cruelty from others came when she was named "Ugliest Man on Campus" by Texas University frats in college. She left Texas and tried never looking back however the years of being tormenting had already taken their toll. Drinking and taking drugs were one coping mechanism but luckily for music fans, so was overcoming her haters to pursue her passion of making music.
"You are what you settle for"
Janis Joplin never settled. She was the child of a 1940s/1950s reserved family living in an equally conservative state yet she had the courage to push back against the masses no less allowed herself the freedom to reinvent herself. She defied her gender expectations by being among the first women to use screaming to enhance her vocal performances. She looked exactly as she pleased, including a tattoo which was nearly a half century before it was trendy no less acceptable for a women to have. She crossed color barriers by belting out her own raw take of the Blues. She was as a single, bi-sexual woman forging her way in a mostly male dominated music world. She had no mentor cutting the path for her. She led the way alone. The making and eventually breaking of this star had a lot to do with being a victim of bullying (eventually also leading to her body dysmorphia). For nearly a decade she carried a relentless drive to show the world that she was worthy of love and had something special by channeling that pain and self doubt into her art. The tragic irony of her life is the strife that helped fuel her talent would also be the same thing that helped extinguish her flame.
Friend of Joplin's Country Joe McDonald once stated that "Sexism killer her." and this quote haunts me. Janis refused to buy into conventional beauty or what a female front person should behave/sound like and she paid the price for it. She was finally earning the love and respect she craved from fans but for most of her short life, her trusted inner circle never delivered the kind of support system she needed desperately. Joplin also sadly lacked the self love to rise above the criticism. She found it difficult to escape feelings of loneliness and never learned to cope with the lows that followed the high of performing to large and enthusiastic audiences that wasn't in a bottle or drug.
Joplin's life was over by the unbelievably young age of 27 in 1970. Her official cause of death was a heroin overdose but her heart had also been broken one too many times. We have had the opportunity to hear her bravely express herself unlike anyone who came before her through her voice but I appreciate seeing an added dimension to her character through her pictures.
The bulk of Janis Joplin's artwork below was created before music took over from approximately age 12 to 20.
As a final side note, in my search online I discovered that Joplin's niece Malyn Joplin has created a fashion line inspired by Janis called Made for Pearl.