Visual Vernacular: Artist Blake Jones
Opening this Saturday at TOMO Mags, artist Blake Jones shows a different side of his artistic ability with a staggering amount of new pieces that accumulate his love of color and texture. Well-known in our community as an illustrator and graphic artist, Jones decided to plunge into the strange and abstract. Using perception paired with geometric shapes, Jones creates an imaginative and other worldly experience in his show, Caint Stay Too Long. The work is a juxtaposition between the vivid and the defined, with patterns used to break the visual line between the shapes. It’s an impressive output and a style I hope he continues. He took the time to answer some questions about his new-found process and aesthetic along with his dream gigs.
FPH: Tell me about your background in art?
Blake Jones: Education wise, I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from the Art Institute of Houston but really that doesn’t have anything to do with any fine art stuff. I’ve really just been drawing and doodling since I was a little kid.
FPH: What brought you to your use of color and texture?
Jones: In the past few years I’ve just become weirdly attracted to patterns and textures. In this new work I’ve tried to create a bunch of new and weird textures to show off. I want a lot of the pieces to look like they’d be more interesting if you could touch them or view them at different angles.
FPH: What are the elements from minimalism that vibe with your work?
Jones: Most of my use of basic and minimal shapes and lack of fine detail mostly come from having weird ADD and a lack of confidence about over-doing detail on things. There are plenty of times when I’m drawing or sketching and I feel like when I try to do proper shading or detail, I end up over-doing it and then that’s it. I can’t really take that brush or pen stroke off the paper. Having things simpler and cleaner usually just ends up much more visually appealing to me.
FPH: What types of mediums do you normally work with?
Jones: Usually I’m just a pen and paper person. I have to do tons of illustrative and digital work in my freelance design work. So for this show particularly I really wanted to challenge myself, every piece in this show is cut paper, paint, and very little amounts of pen. Even for most of them I tried to switch to different types of pens: metallic, calligraphy pens, highlighters, paint pens, etc. I think a lot of people are expecting tons of illustrative work in this show, but I decided early on to step out of my comfort zone and create a huge body that was consistent and unexpected.
FPH: What kind of balance do shapes and layers provide in your pieces?
Jones: I think because of my design background it’s much easier to create contrast and negative space in my work because visually the pieces look like that could very much be designed posters rather than the normal framing of paintings. Some are justified left, right, or super centered. All the pieces are built from hand-cut basic simple shapes all layered to create bigger images. It’s really kind a weird collection of creatures and faces that all look like they are from a different planet, but not like in an alien monster kind of way, really loose and figurative. I’m sure everyone will see different things when looking at it.
FPH: You’ve created over 80 new pieces for this exhibition, which is a great feat in itself. What has your workflow been like to accomplish this number?
Jones: The final count actually came out to 102 individual pieces in three different sizes. As far as the actual work, I don’t want to say the pieces were easy to make, but they all were made with the same basic steps and meticulous formula.
First, I kept a sketchbook with the three different orientations drawn out, then I drew the basic shapes, sketchy versions of any types of textures or patterns that would be on them, and if I had specific colors I’d note them. Second, I take stacks of papers and lay sheets out and add weird textures to them with spray paint, airbrush, ink, and acrylic. These things were then smeared, rubbed together using saran wrap, just whatever I could think off to mix, combine, make textures on the papers. Third, I cut the shapes from the sketches out from what I thought were the most interesting parts of the textured paper. Fourth, I would glue the shapes down. I would sit down and make at least 5-10 a week. It was very planned out and disciplined which is new to me.
FPH: Have their been any exhibitions, concerts, or other events that have influenced your work of late?
Jones: Honestly, this whole show is basically me wishing I was as good as Dave Kinsey’s work from the past few years. When I saw that work, it really stuck to me and when I decided to start attempting to do collage/cut/mixed media stuff I refused to go back and look at it because I didn’t want to fall into a trap of copying him or even really using the same color schemes him.
FPH: Do you have a memorable reaction to your work from a viewer?
Jones: The few people that have seen the new work have all been close friends who say they really like it, but they are friends and who knows they may actually not care for it. I think people who know me who haven’t seen it are more so going to be surprised because this collection is a lot different from the work I usually put out. I’d be a liar if I said I don’t care what people think about the show. I’m sure some will, fingers crossed.
“Caint Stay Too Long: A Solo Exhibition by Blake Jones” opens this Saturday, May 29 at 7 pm at TOMO Mags (1206 Hawthorne).