Artist Q&A: Jonathan Paul Jackson 

From a young age we all have things that peak our interest, things that we show passion in at an early on. For most of us these become hobbies or things we appreciate from afar because life is too busy to seriously pursue. For me it has always been creative expression and city culture. I’ll leave the elaboration for another day (see our mission statement). Needless to say these things still hold my interest today.

For most of us we are more deeply involved in life’s day to day menial activities instead of creative exploration. Which is why it’s that much more powerful when someone truly dedicated themselves to being a creator. The artists life is not an easy one but it’s rewards are priceless. Both to the artist and the art appreciator.

Which brings us to the subject of our latest volume of our artist q&a series. Mr. Jonathan Paul Jackson, a very talented and productive artist. Devoted to his craft and to his expression. His work captivated me when I first checked it out, and still does. As honest and humble as the man himself. Another example of hard work paying off, and it shows in the volume of work he creates. I hope you appreciate his perspective as much as we do.

You’ve obviously always loved art, but what was that initial thing that inspired you to create?

That’s such a tough question, my earliest memory of making art I had to be 8 or 9 and my grandfather telling me how much he liked this “ dog” I was trying to draw. It was terrible of course but this man that raised me gave me what I can remember to be my first compliment which really motivated me to make more art.

I read that you’re mostly self taught. Is there a particular artist that influenced your style?

I will have to say Marcel Duchamp is probably one of my most influential artist, not his style but the philosophy in which he applied to art. Which is that art is mostly about perception. Until we perceive art to be art it is not art it is just this object, but once we perceive something to be art it changes our perspective of what our idea of what art was before and art is after looking at that particular object.

Houston has a reputation of not being kind to it’s artists. Do you share this sentiment?

I agree and disagree, I had to get recognition in other cities before people in Houston really started to pay attention to me which is fine, it made me get out of my comfort zone and really push myself as an artist and for that I am grateful. But then there are some artist that get so much recognition here that it leaves no room for innovation if the same artists keep getting the same grants and opportunities it makes artist like myself not want to submit to get grants and go to other cities. Which only really hurts Houston in the long run.

Acrylic or oil, why?

Acrylic alll day erry day! I can get the same effect with acrylics that I can with oils. Also Acrylics dry faster. I like to work a lot and fast so Acrylics allow me to do that.

I see a lot of depth in your work. Would you say your pieces are more emotional, political, or open to interpretation.

All of the above, it just depends on the painting. Most of my paintings dont have titles those are left open to interpretation. The ones that do have titles i want the viewer to feel or know that the painting is about a particular subject.

You are very active in the Houston art community. How important would you say it is to nurture
relationships and build with fellow artists?

It’s really important to talk with other artist about art and things going on in the community. That’s how movements start, groups of artist talking and making similar work or have similar ideas, and with out
talking with to each other we will never know what can be.

Are there any new artists that you are really into right now?

Brittney Anelle
Ian Sayer
Meredith Richey

As a professional fulltime artist are there ever moment when you feel more forces to produce, or is it always a natural way you go about creating?

I always love making art, if I could I would never sleep and just work all the time. Inspiration strikes me all the time. But it’s because I live/work in my studio that has allowed me to train my brain to not be need to feel moved. I always feel moved to make art. I have been on dates and left the date to go make art. Its terrible I know but again I love making art. alot.

How big of a role does social media, ie Instagram or Facebook play in the way people get exposed to your work?

Its 50/50 it gets you a lot exposure but it’s more difficult to get sales via social media. They are free platforms so to not take advantage of them is kinda silly.

Does the exposure even matter?

It just depends on what path the individual would like to take.

Any advice for other artist?

Just make the work, the meaning behind the work will reveal itself once the art is in front of you. But the work has to be made first. This philosophy only works if you make over 10 paintings, you cant find the TRUE meaning just making 10 paintings, But if you make 50 paintings you have more to study, more to go off of. Think of yourself a Scientist, they do a number of studies and experiments before presenting their findings to the public. As an artist you want to do the same paint and experiment until you have refined your findings until the are coherent and you are able to explain your work in just a few words.

"All that glitters isn't gold"
By Jonathan Paul Jackson

Artist Q & A: Robyn Redish

“Bat Country” by Robyn Redish

     I think I was on Facebook one-day when I noticed a friend expressing the opinion that what some consider art was in fact not art, but something else.  In that half hazard way we sometimes comment I proceeded show the definition of art and to say that it’s all about perspective.  Needless to say I think I ended up coming off wrong (lol).  What I was intending to do was express that ones opinion does not make or not make something art. 

     I often relate collage art to hiphop & punk rock.  Hiphop in the sense that it takes from other elements to create something new.  Also in the way that like other artistic forms it was challenged as to if it was in fact a valid form of expression early on.  Well like punk rock & hiphop it actually is very valid.  It speaks to us all because of the ability to gravitate to that familiar imagery.  Old magazine clippings and other publications lay the ground work for collage artists to create.

     Which brings me to the subject of our latest edition of our q&a.  The talented Toronto artist Robyn Redish.  She has an eye for captivating imagery and a knack to make the separate images fit naturally.  In an era of instant gratification and at a glance judgements, her work makes you stop and look.  To appreciate the simplicity and juxtaposition in the subjects she chooses.  It’s like her works make poignant statements without intending to do so.  Enough of our perspective though.  Let’s check out hers.

What got you into art?

I’ve always loved doing arts and crafts since I can remember. My parents are both artists so I had access to paint and glue and markers and all that. I can recall doing collage-type pieces from the age of about 5 or 6, making paper dolls and and pictures. Art has been a hobby all my life, and in the last few years has it become a real passion for me.

Some artist get inspiration internally, while others find it in the world around them.  Where does your inspiration come from?

I think my main source of inspiration comes from the magazines, books, and pictures I use. I love seeing what can be changed or added to make it different. It’s really fun to mess around and see what I can make.

(Collage 2017) by Robyn Redish

Who were your biggest influences?

Biggest influences…hmm, I would list all the collage artists I see all over instagram but it would take forever. 

Would you say you were strictly a collage artist or do you experiment with other mediums? 

I’m not strictly a collage artist, but its definitely the medium for me. It puts my fine motor skills and love of vintage magazines and photography together. I used to do a lot of art journaling, watercolour painting, pastels,and mixed media. Eventually I just stuck with collage and it’s been my favourite ever since.

(Pastel Drawing from 2014) by Robyn Redish

You have an eye for making completely different pictures with different subject matter fit. Is that more just your style or is it to relay a particular message?

I just started making collages with pictures that I like, and my style has emerged from there. I like to make more simple collages, and play with perspective and scale.

By Robin Redish

Are you more of a student of newer artists, or older ones?

 I guess newer artists. 

What would you say a big challenge as a collage artist is?

I think the biggest challenge is that collage isn’t such a respected art form. Cutting and pasting seems like a craft that children do, perhaps some  people don’t really understand the work and thought that can go into it.

Your Dead Kennedy’s fanzine.  Was it done to kind of pay homage to Winston Smith?

I can’t take any credit for the thought behind it. I was lucky enough to be invited to participate by my friend Chad, (@computarded). I’m sure a lot of collage artists were influenced by Winston Smith, I can see some similarities in the pieces. but no, I don’t think this project was created as an homage to Smith.

Dear Abby (Collage for ‘Holiday In Mar-A-Lago’, Dead Kennedys fan-zine) by Robyn Redish

What music are you listening to lately?

I’m a huge (classic) rock fan, I love Queen, Springsteen, Meatloaf, The Band, CCR, The beatles. Recently I got into Joan Armatrading, she’s super cool. I also love Cat Stevens, Simon & Garfunkel, Donovan and Bob Dylan.

Is there a goal in what your doing artistically?

I think when the time is right,I’ll try to sell more prints, I would love to do album artwork. This has all started as a hobby, so whatever happens with it is just an exciting bonus.

Any advice for other artist?

Any advice I could come up with, everyone has already heard. So just make the art if you want to. And have fun.

“I hate driving” by Robyn Redish
“He who held the birds” by Robyn Redish

Hidden in Plain Sight: Lamonte French

Lamont French

Sometimes its easy to stay in a particular role or station in life. To merely settle and be what is expected of you. It takes courage and passion to step out of the shadows and be more than what people expect you to be. Lamonte French is nothing short of passionate and courageous in his pursuits. Making his mark with unique art full of poignant themes. Everyone reacts differently, but the way he touches on history and social issues is undeniable. We live in a volatile time and Lamonte French’s work speaks eloquently to it.

We had a great conversation that touched on various subjects. From how he intentionally uses a flag theme in some of his pieces. To briefly touching on his fathers football achievements. I never took the time to inquire as to his name. Though he is a well respected athlete. It seemed inappropriate. The man I spoke with was his own man. Passionate and driven. Focused on progressing as well as creating. Its not always easy making your own way, but the journey is worth it. The achievements of our family sometimes leave a legacy to live up to. Sometimes those achievements are reminders that you are destined for greatness. Not leaving us burdened with expectation, instead motivation. And I saw motivation.

We like to think that the goal of most if not all artists is to try to make a poignant statement with their work. I mean as it should be when so much effort and time is put into this labor of love. Often times the love is (for lack of a better term) lost in translation. Lamonte French is different in the sense that the love to me was apparent when I saw his work. When we spoke with him about his work the love and passion for creating was apparent. The symbolism hidden in plain sight show an intent to inform as well as express. From influences like Basquiat, to piers like Robert Hodge. Lamonte’s got plenty of inspiration to match his tenacity in art.

They sometimes say the best way to get away with something is to do it in plain sight. So obvious that no one would watch, because I mean who would do something so brazen in front of everybody. I think in a way Lamont French is doing just that.

The message is there if you’re looking. Who would say that now, or in that context? Who would navigate and succeed that way? Look close. He’s out there maneuvering right in front of you.

The man at work…
Family Tree by Lamont French
Family Tree
“I picked up the pot when we was out of options”

Artist Q&A: Bryan Danial Joseph aka DadaSoulFace

The Game Hunters Unique Catch
The Game Hunters Unique Catch
One Eyed King
One Eyed King

     The love of art is deep sometimes undescribable, but in the same breath beautifully undeniable.  Most artists and art lovers alike have a tendency to immerse themselves in what they love.  I think no one does this more than the collage artist.  Partly for research, but mostly to gather material for their work.  Just like a hiphop producer might sample pieces of music, they sample pieces of photography.  Photography after all is an artform that often lends itself to be sampled.  Bryan Danial Joseph aka DadaSoulFace is no different.  His love of “wandering through thrift stores and second hand shops looking for the perfect book to cut up” is a testament to this.  The pictures he cuts to form his creations are not an attempt to destroy “sacred “media.”  Mostly self taught, but he admits to learning a bit from highschool classes and college design classes.  For some the goal is to inspire and stir up deep emotions.  To Bryan Joseph it’s “creating graphic tension” with his hand cut collages using vintage images to cause striking juxtapositions.  He takes pride in knowing his work is not diluted thru some “pressured theory or constrained rule.”    

     Sometimes as a creatives we get our inspirations from various places.  Like rainforests and baron terrain beauty can be found in unlikely places.  Bryan found his in everything from world history & art history, to Richard Pryor and the Dadaist movement in the early 1900’s.  He also enjoys digging for meaning in the innovative works of artists’ like Max Ernst ,Romare Bearden, Wangechi Mutu, and Winston Smith.  So its no suprise that his musical tastes are eclectic enough to appreciate musician Sun Ra’s compositions.  If you are able Bryan shows his work in and around the Chicago-land area. I would highly recommend experiencing his work live and direct.  To me the best way to truely appreciate an artists work is live & direct.  Though relatively new to me Bryan Joseph has been featured in various printed and online art magazines & publications such as Cults of Life ( Finland ), HorrorSleezeTrash ( Australia ) , and Cultural Dissection Magazine. He was also chosen as the featured artist for the Worm, Rotterdam’s (Netherlands) Afro futurism Now Festival which cataloged some of Bryan’s afro futurist collage works a few years ago. 

     Ones ambitions can manifest themselves in several disciplines.  Bryan manifests his by focusing on doing more out of state art shows with the possibility of gallery representation. There’s absolutely nothing more fulfiling than being recognized for the work yyou do.  Bryan Joseph is defenitly deserving of said recognition. Especially when someone is driven and focused to create what is to me a very potent body of work.  These days this fellow father is raising his children to be thoughtful and compassionate human beings and at night works on commissions ranging from album cover illustrations to magazine placements.  Life doesn’t stop and neither does the need to create and pursue creativty.  Mr. Bryan Joseph is in a way an everyman, in an other ways a cosmonaut.  Exploring expression, and conveying poignant messages to those of us willing to look.  We had the pleasure of getting to shed some light on his unique perspective…  Enjoy…

Dance of the Apaches by DadaSoulFace
Dance of the Apaches
We Will Not Resist by Bryan Joseph
We Will Not Resist
Dada High Priest
Dada High Priest

1.  How would you describe your work?

        My work is spontaneous and in the moment. It ranges from absurdist view points to futurism and back again. I’ll take cue points from art history and interpret my own experiences within the same groove. My visual art is done much like a sampling Dj/ Producer makes a beat. He or she may not have an idea when turning on the sampler. But the minute that beat maker starts listening to records and looking for sounds to sample that is when creation begins. It’s the material at hand that dictates the work. Once a solid concept can be seen I then follow up with conscious design decisions to enhance the idea I find in the process of creating. 
2.  Some artists express emotion or some less tangible emotions.  What are the emotions that you intend to stir up with your work?

        I want people feeling confused or perplexed with a hint of mystery. However I’ve had people disgusted by my art before and I kind of enjoyed that response .Hey, talk to my psychologist about that one.lol   

3.  Do you have a preferred medium, or is it just a matter of what you have on hand?

        Paper collage is definitely my favorite medium to work in. I enjoy surfing thru vintage magazines or books. In a way it’s like time travelling. I go thru these old periodicals and choose the most eye catching images then stitch them together to create a hallucinogenic poem from the future. Collage is really a sub-psychic typewriter. I cut and paste visual poems from the subconscious. BUT for relief I really, really enjoy painting in acrylics. Also long walks on the beach are enjoyable.   

4.  Are political commentaries an intentional theme in your work?

        Yes and no. I will take social commentary over political talk. Sometimes these two are circles that intersect. Politicians are necessary targets for artists. The satire is there to show us flaws in the design. 

5.  Where are you from?  How has your origins shaped your style, and artistic perspective?

        I was born and raised in Aurora, Illinois. It’s a gritty working class suburb of Chicago that lost out to technology in the early 70’s. It’s trying to make a comeback through the arts and humanities but the struggle is real right now.   I love my hometown and I love showing there. There is some really incredible artist that show up for downtown Aurora’s First Fridays that happen every month. My friends from TBA (ThemBadApples crew) throw a really ill Hip-Hop festival every summer.  Famed and elusive Graffiti artist  Scheme of the classic B-boy documentary Style Wars was throwing down last summer at the fest. There is a great hip hop scene in Aurora. Crews like P.O.B.U.M.S and TBA have held up the CULTURE of Hip Hop there since the 80’s. paving the way for the next gen of emcees, Djs, graf writers, and bboys.! Respect and love to them brothers and sisters. *side note* to those who are 90’s movie pop buffs. Aurora Illinois is NOTHING like the Aurora portrayed in the movie Wayne’s World. That’s the original FAKE NEWS flick. Haha ! but for real my hometown help me become real cynical.  *wink

6.  Would you call yourself a Dadaist or just heavily influenced by that style?

             Dada was a seed art movement that started in 1916-17 out of a psychic upheaval created by World War 1 and the Russian revolution.  It was short lived but the impact on the modern art world was everlasting.  Yes, I would call myself a neo-Dadaist…An Afrodadaist. I am a Futurist and Surrealist too. Depends on what Ism chamber I’m in that day.  Lol  I have my own brand of ism(s) though. Soulfacedadaism over all art movement labels or attached pre-fixes. I stay moving in my own lane.
7.  What are some other influences?

        My own personal experiences, my family, and world history are all influences. Mother Africa and her REAL history are influences. Let’s keep it fuckin real you cannot talk about the arts and humanities without talking about Africa and the contributions made. Now ask me who my favorite artist is and I will say Richard Pryor not Picasso . That’s how I roll. I’m a record collector (mostly records that have drumbreaks in them) so music is a large influence on me. From Jazz, soul, funk, punk, hip hop. My musical tastes are pretty spread out. Romare Bearden ,Basquiat, Winston Smith, Graffiti art, street art, Wangechi Mutu, and Max Ernst are all influences too. 

8.  Would you say you borrowed your style from those Influences or did they just provide the inspiration to do what it is you do?

        I snatch, steal, rob, and murder my influences and inspirations. I create from my own experiences in an automated way, without thinking just doing and whatever drops from my subconscious becomes the subject. I think that answered that question?  

9.  You use technology in some of your pieces.  How important would you say technology is to an in general and your art in particular?

        Technology is like a pen or a brush. It is just a tool for the artist to utilize and create with. I’m just now discovering the beauty of collage GIFs.  

10. How receptive had the art world been to you?  How much has that hurt or helped your progress as an artist?

        I’ve been doing shows locally for a minute now and the reception is always good. Lately I have been working on art more than showing it. I’ve been focusing on working larger with my collaging.  I’m experimenting with some success, but mostly failure. Lol My output has slowed down a bit because of it. I do have a few shows lined up in the summer. One show will be a group show with my good friend and folk artist MiguelSZ, and my wife Erin Jones Joseph down in Louisville, KY (Tim Faulkner Gallery).  Miguel named it “Love is Our Weapon Show” and that’s in the works right now. I’m also bouncing around the idea of doing a one man show sometime in the near future.

11.  As an artist do you think notoriety helps or hinders growth?

        Fame is the goal I suppose. I come from the idea of respect over money. But audience matters when you have something to say. Notoriety can be a double edge sword. Its all about how one wields it. 

12.   Any advice for other artist?

Be persistent, resistant, and original. Don’t stop your body rock. 

Anything else you want to add?

I would like to give a shout out to my family and friends for your support and honesty. Thank you to my patrons and supporters locally and internationally. Shout out to the Artbar crew, even though I haven’t been doing shows out there lately. I love most of ya’ll lol  Peace to the international collage community. Cats like Niko Vartianen and the Cults of Life family have been a blessing to me. PEACE

You can view his portfolio…

On Tumblr

On Twitter

On Instagram

We Will Not Resist by Bryan Joseph 

MysterySkoolsOvEgypt
Blood Sculpture
Unwilling Vista
Egyptian Black Majik
AstroBlacknaut
Dream Mask

Leo Phoenix & “Lucy’s Dream”

Leo Phoenix

     “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.”  Zora Neale Hurston spoke volumes with this line.  We often forget the part time plays in helping to solidify ideas, and allowing them to evolve.  Skill and progress take time, I think we all can attest to that.  For Leo Phoenix it is no exception.  Lucy’s Dream was an idea that first came to Leo some 20 years ago and grew over  time.  It’s evolved from that seed or thought into what is now a diverse body of work.  Some of that work make up the book “Lucy’s Dream and the Sun Blockers.”  Described as a dream about every creative inspiration within us.  An inspirational children’s story about Billy the Bus and his adventure through dreamland.  Leo creates a beautiful dreamscape with both imagery and story, but I will leave details about the story for him to tell.  Though I think the art work is equally important part of the story as well.

     Sitting down in his studio surrounded by his inspirations and his work.  We spoke for a few hours about everything.  From Dali to Seuss, and how they inspired him to create.  As a matter of fact you might appreciate his unique way of paying homage to them in his work.  Simplistic but detailed…  It’s no wonder he has a background in graphic design.  No stranger to computers, Leo chose to create his art in a more organic medium.  Paper.  Armed with an exactor knife and  Canson-Infinity colored paper the dreamland is sculpted by hand, layer by layer.  From a distance his work is impressive, but upon closer inspection the texture and detail comes out.  The layers make you really appreciate the work and time put into his craft.  The use of color makes you appreciate his history in graphic design and eye for detail.  If wine gets better with age I’m glad this idea was given time to ferment and become this dreamscape.   

     Part of what makes what I do cool is to appreciate great work that may not have been seen yet. The other part is meeting creative, driven, and grounded creatives who express honestly.  Leo is all 3.  What drew me in when I first saw his work was the emotion that I felt seeing it.  From the ground work for Lucy’s Dream to the abstract work he creates from the clippings of his more prominent pieces.  Did I mention he also is working on a comic book series that I actually hope he releases over time.  All made with care and a methodical technique that is unique to Mr. Phoenix,  They all have that depth and texture that he has learned to use in a way only he can.  Leo’s vision is something that I don’t think would have been the same 20 plus years ago.  Which is why I referenced time. It’s important to understand the part it played in order to appreciate the man and his work.  Leo Phoenix’s work and life are a testament to the fact that sometimes taking time, and ironing out the details is just as important as creating the art.  Art could not exist if not for the birth of an idea or a vision.  Leo’s vision is clear.  He gives us a hint through his work.  We get a peak into his mind when we enter Lucy’s Dream.  A mind where this amazing universe exists.  I’m sure many wonderful adventures lie ahead.

 An original piece from a page that makes up the children’s book “Lucy’s Dream”

Adventures in Art Appreciation:  Art Crawl Houston 2016

One of the many murals done at an earlier date, but appreciated during the Art Crawl…

    It’s funny how as a city Houston is very spread out, and still can be closely knit.  It has the reputation of being diverse  demographically and economically.  The way houston is situated you’d think the city would be very seperate & divided.  In ways it is, but in more ways than  none its not.  I was reading an article in Business Insider about how America was comprised of 11 different cultural nations.  Now I’m not aligning the Art Crawl directly to that article, but more linking the article to the traits of the city.  Spread out but close, if your willing to drive a bit.  

     Still with all of Houston’s sprawling neighborhoods & subdivisions there is still a thriving…  No…  Very active art community.  Both like minds and very different sometimes conflicting perspectives can unite with the common goal of appreciating art.  As is the case with all city centers the creatives tend to converge there.  The heart of any city is usually a place where minds meet & ideas are exchanged.  Either by design or nature it’s usually the way it works.

     Needless to say nothing makes the idea of a united but culturally diverse city more apparent than with the Art Crawl.  For 2 days a year artists studios, galleries,  and cooperatives open their doors for the sake of art appreciation.  It’s an experience most major cities provide, and a very necessary experience at that.  Ideas are exchanged and minds connect.  Though to me most importantly hands are shaken and groundwork for growth is made.  I met established artists & novice artists alike.  Jewelry makers & entrepreneurs trying to build their brands.  People like me.  People pursuing a goal, a dream perhaps.  

     From the people I met who stumbled onto some galleries after brunch, to the art buyer in the market to purchase work from emerging artists.  There is truly something for everyone.  I find when you are confined to your little bubble in life the beauty of it all can sometimes be overlooked.  The humanness of the city.  The part that actually makes your city vibrant can be overlooked.  Times like these we are reminded that it’s people that make the city beautiful.

     I’ve gone for years now but this year was unique.  It was as though I witnessed more of a Renaissance in my city.  A rebirth of the positive energy that I always loved about Houston.  Like I’m rediscovering the city I fell in love with in my teens.  Sounds cliché I know, but it’s heartfelt & sincere.  There are those in the art scene that have a been there done that perspective on events like these.  My advice is don’t listen to them.  Experience it for yourself.  Be a part of your community an active contributor to your “cultural nation.”  Do a service to your city & your soul.  Live!

Artist Q&A: Mark Of The Beast

Stay Woke

     I am of the opinion that there is a rebellious spirit in the heart of every artist.  That stubborn unmoving drive to go against the grain & create.  The spirit of non conformity after all allows a person to nurture ones creativity, and not be slowed down by ones self doubt.  The societal pressures that dictate our day to day maneuvers should be left out of a true artists creative process, or at least in my opinion should be.  Isn’t it the job of every artist no matter the medium to provoke thought, and conjure emotion & feelings?  

     When I first came across the work of MOTB I was taken aback by the brazen & ballsy approach of the work.  It was unapologetically honest, and took something kind of familiar & flipped it.  At a glance you’re see the play on these logos & brands, but once you read it you see its often more than just a joke.  It’s to me more of a poignant social commentary that speaks on our shameless consumerism is this country.   MOTB on the surface looks random and humorous, but if you delve into it you see its very intentionally satirical.  In the vain of your favorite classic punk rock group MOTB speaks on societies ills via logos in a digital medium.  From influences that range from 80’s spoof t-shirts & posters which were common in Cali market places like Venice beach.  MOTB was able to soak up these spoofs & jokes on t-shirts, and give this type of dissent a try.  This was a definitely a labor of love, and very labor intensive as all the earlier work was done by hand.  As is the case when people gain more access to technology, we’re able to do more work at a higher rate.  

     And “down the rabbit hole” they go.  The more logos MOTB came across the more spoofs needed to be done.  Then the logo spoofs started to become more intertwined with hidden backstories.  The vernacular of truth seekers and those concerned with topics of the environment, globalization, religion and politics intertwined in the message.  Thus the content that lured me in.  To put it another way MOTB is so very punk rock the way they operate and express, and that’s a big part of why I’m a fan.  Sometimes what makes art powerful is the message more than the imagery or the originality per say.  The idea of spoofing cooperate logos is not new, but the way MOTB goes about doing it is to me a shining example of civil disobedience.  A great testament to the rebellious spirit that lies in all of us.  A tribute to the tradition of rebellion, and speaking against societies ills.  A necessary voice in our world.  And with that we’ll get into this q&a….

“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves…” – Henry David Thoreau 

 


Controversy
Panama Papers

 How many people are involved in the Mark of The Beast movement, and what parts does each individual play?

I am MARK OF THE BEAST and create all of this artwork by myself.

Your work is kind of a satirical pop art with an underlying message.  What first got you into doing art this way?

Political art lives on risky ground, often alienating just as many as it attracts. By infusing humor into art, a tension is released that allows sensitive topics and further discussion.

How would you describe what you do?

One logo at a time, I’m deprogramming the establishment’s deep-rooted brainwashing that has infested our lives through the repetition and fetishization of corporate marks & advertising.

Who were your biggest influences?

Banksy & Winston Smith (creator of artwork for The Dead Kennedys)

What was the original drive or motivation to do this kind of work?

 I was bored.

I honestly think there is, but do you think there is a place in the fine art community for your work?

Art is a mirror to society, and I believe modern artists have a responsibility to spread light where there is darkness. The fine art establishment is too concerned with fame, money and the status quo. I’m not preoccupied with attempting to be part of the fine art community… and if they had a logo, I’d spoof it too.

What do you think the biggest challenge for an artist in general?  And what’s the biggest challenge for you in particular?

The hardest part of being an artist is finding your true voice and expressing that to the world. Mimicry isn’t flattery, its just being unoriginal. I don’t find it hard to do what I do, its my personal meditation, self-improvement exercises, graphic workouts, brain stretchers and just pure fun. I don’t make art for sale (nor derivatives for the most part), so there’s no pressure or expectations for the work to be anything more than it is.

Where did the idea to do what you do come from?

The ether.

In my opinion art is art, but do you think that your subject matter limits your exposure?  Is that even something that you are concerned with?

I stand by my work 1000% and don’t care much about mass exposure or other ego-driven aspects of self-promotion. Sometimes its more fun to ruffle the feathers of a close-minded individual, than to hear praise. I use an alias to detach any personality, sex, age, race or nationality to the work, which would taint the message. Some people may chance a guess to what type of person I am, but the absence of it all works to my advantage. I’m not trying to be mysterious, we just don’t need to clutter the conversation.

You definitely use technology as a tool.  Aside from instagram what other avenues do you use to market your work?

I have a website that gives a visual history of MOTB art installations, the book from 2005 (made 10,000 copies and gave all away for FREE), street art and more from the past 14 years. The Instagram page was started around two years ago and was originally just a secondary forum to individually exhibit the vast logo spoof collection, but then turned into another wave where I post & create new spoofs everyday.

Any advice for other artist.

Listen to the voices in your head.


Bombing
Swaztika
Drone Strikes

Artist Q & A: JC Jacinto

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       Isn’t the saying beauty is in the eye of the beholder?  I think that statement isn’t necessarily that cut and dry.  There is some art that is undeniably beautiful, as is the case with some well known artists.  I think what’s in the eye of the beholder, is the depth that a piece touches you.  The emotion that a work or body of work evokes is often unique to each individual that experiences that artists work.  JC Jacinto’s  works in his words “are deeply rooted and concentrated on his intended concept,” but readily admits that the emotional effects of his works are out of his hands.  His intentions are not to try to invoke a specific kind of emotion.  Instead they are intended to push the viewer into questioning the connections between the concept and themselves.  He rather wants his “artworks to serve as some sort of door so the viewer can learn more about his specified topic in the series.”  He does so by trying use powerful imagery to draw you in at first glance.  Art in its purist form is not given a label or a category, but rather enjoyed and appreciated for what it is.  For him “concept is everything…”  As it should be when trying to communicate something.  The mystery, rawness and aggression are devices used to get the attention of the viewer, but are always deeply connected to his concept.  Beauty is beauty no matter who appreciates it.  That’s just our opinion, and you know what they say about opinions…

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     Today we are talking with JC Jacinto, an amazing Filipino artist who seems to enjoy letting his work speaks for itself.  He has what to me I can only explain as a unique eye for detail, and a tireless drive to create consistently powerful pieces.  For me when I first came across his work I was very impressed with the elements of hyper realism mixed with aspects of the abstract.  I was captivated by his work because of the way the subject matter was captured.  They say some art speaks to you.  Well JC’s work definitely did to me.  Which is why I’m so excited to have the chance to do this q&a with him.  I hope you enjoy his work as much as I do.  Let’s get to it then…

What first got you into art, and painting?

My very first memory was of me drawing circles on a piece of paper over and over again. There was never a turning point or a transition period where I decided I want to create Art. I just kept doing it.

I feel there’s a lot emotion in your work.  At first glance it could be looked at as dark, but I see more hopefulness in it.  Is that the intended message in your work?

No that’s not an intended message, the way you see it says more about yourself don’t you think? I’m not trying to make a viewer feel a specific kind of emotion, I can try and make an artwork look powerful, but I have no power over what people may feel about it. It is easy to interpret mystery and rawness as emotions because it automatically evokes a reaction whatever it may be, those reactions are more like introductions, after that it’s time to get to know the artwork more, the reaction is not the goal. Even the darkness that viewers usually take note of, I don’t make them dark because I want to express something gloomy, they look that way simply because that’s how I paint, I also don’t impregnate my pieces with meanings but I use methods that may push the viewer to learn more and see beyond the surface. I enjoy the open-endedness of things, I don’t want to preach something but I want people to ask the same questions I ask.
My pieces don’t provide answers, they are doors that open to the real concerns I want to talk about. 

How big of a part does your Filipino heritage play in your work?

I am a Filipino, and I am an artist. Does my work attempt to address the issues of being a Filipino? No. Am I forged and influenced by my environment which is the Philippines? Of course.

Who were your biggest artistic influences?

I won’t mention names, because I really can’t. This is not only about the artists I admire, sometimes I’m even heavily influenced by the artworks or artists I personally despise. I do have favorites, but I love their works as an audience, I like being a fan to other artists.

There’s a kind of familiarity in your work.  Is that intentional?

Do you mean familiarity with other pieces done by other artists? No, not intentional, and that’s something most, if not all artists can’t avoid.

What are some challenges you’ve faced in gaining ground artistically?

Mostly the phase where I was struggling to really know myself as an artist. For so many years it was all about trial and error, the immaturity resonated more because even if I was driven, my mind hasn’t reached that state where I can analyze my strengths and weaknesses and work on them.
I then discovered and accepted the fact that my weaknesses as an artist, are the ones I can actually utilize and take advantage of. 

Where do some of your inspirations come from?

When I try to communicate something using Art, it is always about the human condition. My sources are so varied I can’t possibly tell you a straight answer. You can pull an idea out of anything, as in everything you see, hear, feel, taste, all the things you experience and all the things you will never experience. The trick is you need to be ready or be trained to see things beyond what they really are, acknowledge the interconnectedness of all matters so your mind can freely roam through all those connections until you hit a spot or a corner where your psyche can dwell on that place for a while, at least long enough for you to create and finish Art while being in that space.

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You have a very diverse body of work.  Is there a common theme present in that work, or is each piece different?

That’s something hard for me to fully grasp. I don’t have a formula that intends to tie all of them together visually but I have my own ways of approaching the art making process. I consider this approach as my “voice”, if there’s a commonality between my pieces they all exist in the process, all my pieces suffered, died and revived during this period. I was never comfortable with planning all the steps before I take it, I decide as I go along that’s why there’s a sense of spontaneity in most of the paintings. Cheesy or not, I can’t stop being a romantic. 
All my works are participants or characters that morph depending on the series concept they fall under, they all serve a purpose, the purposes are varied, if one piece is created particularly for this or that exhibition then that piece serves as a conduit to communicate the intended purpose of that show, along with all the other artworks present in that group.
I never concern myself with having “regular” imagery just to create an identity. I never had problems with consistency, not because I am consciously making Art that can look good side by side, but because I believe that I am simply being honest with what I do, somehow even if the works may seem varied people can still see “me” in them. I hate copying myself, so I just let the present idea direct me on what to do next. 

With so many publications and artists with work out does it ever seem overwhelming? Do the demands of the industry ever get in the way of your creative flow?

I don’t think so, I love the pressure and I like being overwhelmed. I work nonstop anyway, I put myself in that position with or without the “demands”. Sometimes you just have to stop giving a fuck about the whole industry, when there’s noise everywhere the best thing to do is stay silent, shut it out completely and try to hear yourself instead.

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I guess a better question is how do you balance all the demands of the craft?  Or is it a labor of love?

Time management is a big deal for me, I plan my steps a year or more before an exhibition and I always start early so I’ll have ample time to fail over and over again until I finally reach a stage where me and the artworks experienced and exhausted all possibilities. As you can see, me and my pieces, I want us to go through a lot so yes, it is a labor of love, and hate. 

Any advice for other artist.?

Listen to yourselves, your voice as an artist will be heard if it is sincere. See and experience Art as much as you can and allow yourself to be influenced. Relish your struggles, if you are getting too comfortable with what you’re doing then you might have adapted to living inside a box you created, burn down that box and wander off again.

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Daniel Anguilu And the H.A.M. (Harrisburg Art Museum)

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      The graffiti world like the streets in which it thrives are clouded in mystery and misunderstanding.  For some its hard to imagine refined art, or a refined artist coming out of that setting.  The environment which nurtures such a vibrant art form is not necessarily conducive to the creation of what may be considered to be fine art.  Does this mean that fine art could not be created in this environment?  This was some of the subject matter discussed with well respected Houston artist Daniel Anguilu.
For an artist who’s roots are in the streets via graffiti instead of the gallery these questions are valid.  Especially when your goals parallel but are not necessarily the same as ones more traditional counterparts.  The literal definition of a museum is “a building in which interesting and valuable things (such as paintings and sculptures or scientific or historical objects) are collected and shown to the public.”  Regardless of ones interpretations David Anguilu and partners he’s working with are trying to create a museum by definition, but a community project by actions.  The building has been a refuge for graffiti artist to paint for years.  It only seems right that it be transformed into a sort of community museum.  A place where artists as well as art lovers can converge, create, and appreciate art.  A place that represents the community where it exists.  At the same time allows the community a chance to take part in its growth, as well as what it develops into.
We spoke at length about the need for something more permanent in an area in the throws of gentrification and reprioritizing of real estate.  A place that stays true to the roots of an area.  East Houston(2nd Ward) has been a hub for Latino culture for well over 50 years.  It seems fitting that Daniel and his partners created a project that nurtures the creative energy of an area that they grew up in.  Though in the early stages the project has huge potential for the artists as well as the area itself.   A chance for the artists in the area to help work towards uplifting the area via art and community action.  I hope to touch on it more in the future to document the progress, as well as highlight the talent in the area.  If your in the Houston area I recommend you stop by and check out the progress for yourself.  It’s a true blessing to the area that people like Daniel are working to preserve a culture and way of life.

H.A.M. (Harrisburg Art Museum)
4300 Harrisburg Blvd.
Houston, Tx 77011

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Artist Q & A: Robert Hodge

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     In life my experience has always been that there is no better motivator than yourself.  I was given the opportunity to sit down and talk at length with acclaimed artist Robert Hodge and got my understanding confirmed.  In what I can only describe as a truly inspiring story of a man who used the examples set by his family and his own grounded approach at life to pursue a dream.  A dream that could have ended several ways, but do to both drive and ambition saw his goals come to fruition.  The works of Robert Hodge are both grass roots and resourceful in the sense that he takes what is found in his surroundings and creates both beauty and emotion.  With his heart so closely tied to Hip Hop, it can only be fair to say that his work is a sort of visual version of the cultures influence.  A grand creation from humble beginnings that culminate in his work.
     Ask any artist and they’ll tell you the art world is not an easy one to navigate.  As is true to most things, there are ups downs and inconsistencies.  In Mr. Hodge’s case persistence and drive have seemed to pay off in allowing him to do what he loves full time.  Don’t get the message confused.  He is as much a community figure as he is an artist, as most of his works are social commentaries on the black condition in America and Houston (his home town).
     We spoke with him about his art and his aspirations to expand beyond the canvas to film and music.  He has a music compilation on  the way titled 2 ½ years.  Like his art the project is deeper than audio it intends to convey a bigger message.  That message being grounded in our history as well as the present.  But lets let him elaborate on himself.

1. You have this way of putting history in your art, but not (in my opinion) in an off putting way.  Do you do this intentionally with your audience in mind or is it just a flow that comes together ?

Its very intenional. My work is based in music and history and I appreoach the work with the intention everytime to have a piece of history that is crucial and most often hidden from the world. Most likely it will be African American history which I consider American History.

2.  We spoke a bit about our humble beginnings.  Do you think that hunger and drive you had at the beginning still motivates you or has it evolved?

The hunger still motivates me. We spoke in length about self motivation and this theory of “man vs man” in the process of creating. I want to leave a body of work that can inspire and ignite in the audience a true sense of their worth and beautiful culture exsisting long before and after “slavery”. Being a product of the hip hop culture I had prime examples of young black people taking their avaliable resources and making something magnificent out of their circumstances.

3.   I like how you use salvaged items in your work.  As you described it’s like the use of samples in
hip hop.  Do you think the energy from those items adds another element to your work?

Yes , i believe in energy and energy can be transferred into things.. The items and images I use somehow commuincate, and I just stay open to hear and recieve the vision. Its also like if your grandmother gave you a necklace and said your grandfather wore it during WWII and now you feel this energy when you wear it. when you know things orgins it changes the perception.

4.   When we spoke you had an expectation that you plan on having longevity in your passion.  How does music and film help with this?

As a artist I have a mission statement, that makes it bigger than just paintings.. This mission makes me a interdisplinenary artist and its a simple mission.. bring art to the people and with that Ill bring the art in any form that will get to the people in a real and relevant way.

5.   Tell us a bit about your 2 ½ years project, and a little history on Juneteenth for those that don’t know.

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. This news came two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation which had become official January 1, 1863. 
     The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance. “2 1⁄2 Years: The Juneteenth Story LP” will break this story down along with a soundtrack by local and nationally known musicians.

6.    Do you have any other projects we should look out for?
I have some more exhibitions planned and a book Im working on for either the end of the year or 2017.

7.   Some artists create very emotional pieces.  Your projects are not just emotional though.  They seem to be a sort of social commentary.  How intentional is this?

Nina Simone said it best..
u can’t help it. An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times.”

8.   I think that’s a major draw to your work is the tangible honesty of your projects.  Is that a goal when you create or is it more free form?

Yes the work needs to be beautiful, intellitectual, layered and relevant.

9.   Where do you see your self creatively in the future?

I see myself having no limits and boxes and being creative in any sense I choose.. It might not be in painitngs anymore.. I might not be in America, but know Im somewhere cooking up something creative thats trying to inspire and promote self awareness!

10.   In closing…  Any advice for other artists?

CONSISTECY is a major key to success.. dont stop.

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As seen at the Houston Museum of African American culture
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Mixed media on reclaimed paper, and medium density fiberboard

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