Artist Proof Interview with Artist: Jon Griffin
Global Location: US
I create everyday. I have to. When I stop, I get down. I used to worry that if I didn’t keep drawing, I would forget how. Every little mistake you make merely adds to your style. Embrace individuality.
AP: How long have you been making art for and what lead you to start?
JG: I have made art all my life. When I was small I lived in the Midwest and didn’t play sports. I found skateboarding was the sport for me. My mom (she drew trees) gave me paper and pens to keep me busy. I drew lots of pictures of cars and boats and monsters. All the while, dreaming about being a skateboard artist. I got into comics later in life. Not Marvel comics but underground press stuff, like The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers and Zap. Later seeing a book of Stanley Mouse’s artwork I saw how to take what I was doing and move it into poster form.
AP: Where do you currently live and work ? And how does this influence your work?
JG: I currently live in Decatur, Illinois. A town in the middle of the middle. Traveled around looking fro utopia and I came back to the Midwest. People here that are being creative I try not to let my environment affect me. I figure, your better off making where your from a better place than going to someplace somebody else already did that. So many kids hate where they are from so they decide to go somewhere that seems utopian. I found by experience that people were all thinking the same way everywhere. The internet makes everything a local event. Everyone can see a piece five-seconds after it gets posted so there are no excuses about where we are from anymore.
AP: Did you have formal training if so what? If your self taught can you tell us what you prefer about being a self taught artist vs having formal training?
JG: I took a lot of art classes in High School and Junior college. I got some basic structure there but my real interest in art came when I met a group of art students from my town that were immersed in schooling for art. I watched them and I decided that the only difference between me and them were the assignments, so I started to give myself assignments. I think there are many good things about formal art training that are helpful such as the understanding of the commercial outlets and usages for your art but I doubt many artists gain real interest in art from the classes they offer. If you come into the class with artistic drive the teacher can funnel that into projects and help direct you. To teach somebody the desire to produce art would be I think impossible. That desire comes from within me. I don’t see a teacher teaching it as much as revealing it.
AP: Can you tell us about where you make your work is it in your house, a studio etc.. and how it effects your work?
JG: I work in a converted one car garage in my home, on the bar at my local pizza joint, on my desk at work, in my jeep at lunch, at the park on a sunny day, wherever I have some time. I keep paper with me and most of my stuff starts out with black ink on white paper so I can work anywhere. Sometimes my backpack is my studio. With such freedoms of production, I rarely let environment affect me. Most of my ideas spawn in my brain and are not necessarily things from reality. Ideas taken form the black and white comic pages in my head.
AP: What are some of you favorite design projects/exhibitions you have worked on to date?
JG: I did a graffiti project in a nice College gallery with a couple friends. We got freedom to do whatever we wanted. The idea was to make it look like walls on the outside of a city train inside the gallery. My true passion with my art is to work on posters for traveling bands. Giving art away that gets to go on walls of bars and concert venues across the county. When I hear that people are collecting my posters in Upstate New York and in Colorado and more, it makes it feel worth it.
AP: What is your medium of choice ?
JG: My medium of choice is a pencil, eraser and black pen, Sharpie preferably. I work in acrylics and ceramics when possible. I recently started painting a series of acrylic paintings based upon my drawings. Basically using a white area on canvas surrounded by color to create a larger drawing space for my ink-work. I like to work in ink right over paint.
AP: What is the relationship between technique and content in your work?
JG: I fought with technique for years. Always disappointed that I couldn’t produce a line like the ones I saw in the world. Until one day when I realized that my lines are imperfect for a reason. It is my style. Since then I have not been to bothered by “errors” and by repeating the same little mistakes over and over again I began to see as my style. All the things that I didn’t like were the things that made my art “my art”.
AP: In what direction would you like to see your work going over the next five years?
JG: In the next five years I want to see my art get even more worldwide. Eventually getting to a place where art is all I do. I have to keep working to support the family but someday I hope to get up out of bed and work all day on my art. Someday when money isn’t required for survival. I would like to take my art on the road and go to as many festivals as I can over the summers and paint as much as I can during wintertime.
AP: What forth coming projects and or exhibitions do you have scheduled for 2011?
JG: I am working on a series of paintings for an art opening here in Decatur. I am going to promote local art and music until my fingers don’t work anymore. I will be at the John Hartford Memorial camping festival in June and hopefully creating a poster for The Summer Camp Festival here in Illinois. I will continue to paint and try to keep people working locally wherever they are. The only time a place on the map becomes known is when people decide not to take their artwork someplace else. It is easy to take your art to New York City and San Francisco and sell it where there are a fresh crop of art buyers and collectors. Using the art to make a new scene or awareness of creativity in a place that has struggled to be culturally significant for so long, is the goal for this year.
AP: Take us on a guided tour through a day in your life as an artist.
JG: My days are normal days, I get up, I get out, I g to work, I come home, I eat, I go tot sleep, But in the little times people take for granted, smoke breaks, lunch hours, video game sessions, watching football games, I am creating little pieces of art to add to my archive. Usually about once a day I get a request to make poster for an event or concert. At which time if the mood strikes me I will create a new piece. Sometimes the idea is right there. Sometimes I have to search for it. I do create a poster roughly every other day all year long. Most of them are posted immediately to my jiveafro Photobucket account and then on the pages of people that ask me to do them, on the walls at bars and coffee shops , Kiosks, Bulletin boards and then all their friends see it and then some of them share it and so on…
AP: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions.