We’d love to get to know you better. Tell us about your personal and artistic journey. How did you get to where you are today?
Oh gosh, where to begin...
There is a part of me that always knew I would be an artist. Growing up I was always in love with cartoons, legos, and video games, and on top of that my parents are very creative as well. My Dad is a "Postmodern-Pop" artist, and my Mom was always very creative and crafty, so I guess the odds of being anything other than a creative wasn't really in the cards.
I think what surprises a lot of people is that I didn't take any art classes after probably 4th grade, and instead was primarily focused on music from 5th grade all the way through high school. I started off playing trumpet, but then switched to tuba in 8th grade and ended up marching sousaphone and playing tuba all through high school. The even crazier part is that I almost went to college for audio engineering and tuba performance, and boy am I glad I did not to that.
On top of playing tuba at school I also played bass in a ska band called, Five Second Rule. I was also our defacto artist and did a lot of our flyers and our one t-shirt we had. My love of music, band tees, and tour posters etc ended up being a huge foundation of why I wanted to go into art (even if I didn't realize it for a few years.) I remember going to Hot Topic as a youngster and love seeing all of the band shirts, or going to shows and buying a sweet shirt that you'd never be able to find again.
Towards the end of my senior year of high school after having the crushing realization that tubas are stupid expensive, and that being a tuba player isn't that cool I decided that I needed to figure something else out. I ended up spending a year at a branch campus of Ohio State University where I took a few art and design classes with the intention of transferring to main campus sophomore year and going into their Visual Communications department. I ended up not getting accepted into the program (due to some wild portfolio parameters and only accepting 18 students per program...) and getting super bummed out feeling like what in the world am I supposed to do now. My art professor sat me down and was like "You know what, that program isn't what you really want to do anyway. Have you heard of CCAD? They have an illustration program that is probably a lot more up your alley…”
CCAD and the illustration program there was everything I could have ever asked for in an education. It was the first time I felt like I thrived at school and wasn't just doing what I needed to in order to not get grounded by my parents (so I could keep playing video games and hanging out with my friends to make music.)
While in college I got adopted by The Skashank Redemption (a ska band in Columbus who took me in and became my rag tag makeshift family) and started creating posters for them and other bands that we were friends with in the city. I also started working for a small apparel company doing misc jobs and working with DTG printers which helped lay the foundation for me in the apparel industry.
Once I graduated college I moved back down to Cincinnati and started working as a designer at a small licensed apparel company called Ripple Junction, designing a lot of Attack on Titan, Rick and Morty, Riverdale, Bob's Burgers, and Playstation t-shirts. After working there for about a year and a half I saw an open position at Hybrid Apparel out here in Cypress, applied for that and then got moved out to California a month later for the job.
When I first moved out here and didn't know anyone I would design flyers for smaller local shows of bands that I loved in exchange for getting me into the show. It didn't always work, but it definitely did more often than not, and it was a great way to meet people and build relationships. One of the first flyers I created was for this dude who goes by Netherfriends, which ultimately ended up planting the seed for where I am today because we now work together a lot, and I have started working with his extended network of homies.
At the end of the day it's pretty wild when I think about how fortunate I am to be doing what I do, and how if I was able to go back in time and tell the 13 year old version of myself what he'd be doing in 10 years he'd be so stoked.
For those who aren't familiar with your work, can you describe it to us?
The term that I have coined for my art is “Psychedelic Absurdism” - It’s basically a giant playground where all of my inspiration and influences all come together and have this big weird party out in hyperspace. I think a good way to describe it would be if Quentin Tarantino took a bunch of acid and decided to make his own version of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.”
Whats been a big memorable accomplishment?
I think the one that really comes to mind was when I got to create one of the Stashboxes for Showgrow in early 2019. I had moved out here a few months prior and didn't have any connections at all in Long Beach, so I was super fortunate when they found me through IG and reached out to me.
I was so stoked when they did because I had been to their shop a handful of times and thought about how sweet it would be to design one of those boxes, but had no idea who to even contact in order to do something like that. The owner Mikey just happened to find a flyer I did for a couple bands for a show at The Echo and thought my work was really cool, not even realizing that I was a Long Beach local who lived around the corner.
This was a memorable moment because it really acted as a cornerstone of my foundation out here in California. It helped get me introduced into the amazing art scene out here with people like Jaime over at Art Chemists, Daniel Toledo, Allison Bamcat, and Joon the Goon. All of whom I am so grateful for taking me under their wing and giving me advice, throwing some freelance my way, and introducing me to other creatives for live art and mural events.
Do you have a regular art practice to keep your skills sharp?
I have been very fortunate because for the last four years I have been working for different apparel companies creating licensed apparel, so even when I'm not drawing or working on my own work I am always designing and keeping my skills sharp in some capacity.
For those wondering what exactly licensed apparel is it just means that I design graphic tees for things like Nintendo, Marvel, Disney, Star Wars, Playstation, Rick and Morty etc for major retailers such as Hot Topic, Target, Urban Outfitters, Box Lunch, TJ Maxx etc.
As for my personal art practice outside of work I just try to draw regularly and continue to try and make things on my own outside of work. I feel like the best way to help develop your own style is to just draw a lot and not be afraid to experiment and try different things.
I absolutely LOVE Pinterest and consider it a corner stone of my practice, which is probably kind of weird to say but whatever haha one of my favorite sketchbook exercises is to just find some cool or weird photo and then follow the rabbit hole from there, drawing whatever images strike my fancy.
I also kind of hate drawing with pencil and tend to prefer sketching with either microns, sharpies, or poscas because I feel as though it makes me trust myself more and I don't get caught up erasing things. I think this partnered with drawing the images from Pinterest really helped to solidify my personal drawing style.
I love how funky and colorful your work is. What or who are you most influenced by?
A huge influence for me has always been cartoons. I was born and raised on early 90’s Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon, along with classics like Looney Tunes and Popeye. I realized recently that “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” is a far larger influence on my work than I ever really realized. This surprised me because it was never a household favorite growing up, I had seen it maybe once or twice but kind of remember it freaking me out as a kid. It wasn’t really until recently when I rewatched it that it in a way is exactly what I am trying to do with my art. I love how the cartoon characters live hand in hand in the “real world” and how they are able to go back and forth between LA and Toonville. I think the reason I love cartoons so much is because there aren’t any rules, and you can bend and shape reality however you want. There is this liberating sense of endless creativity because you can bring life to anything you can conjure up in your mind.
You recently had a few sketchbooks in "The Sketchbook Show" at _flatline. How do you utilize a sketchbook for your artistic practice?
I utilize my sketchbook kind of like a gym for my creative muscles. It's the best way to help work through ideas, experiment with new techniques, and to work through whatever roadblocks creatively, mentally, etc.
A lot of times I'll draw out something with a pen in my sketchbook and then take a pic or scan it and then take it into photoshop or procreate and flush it out from there to create something more refined like a poster or a t-shirt.
You mentioned that you recently moved to Long Beach not so long ago. Where did you move from and how was the art scene there?
I moved to Long Beach end of July in 2018 from Cincinnati, Ohio. I grew up in Cincinnati, and moved to Columbus for college when I went to Columbus College of Art and Design. The art scene in Columbus is pretty vibrant and alive which is awesome, but it still doesn't compare to somewhere like NYC or LA.
Are there any cultural differenced that you noticed, and what have you enjoyed the most about living in Long Beach?
I think the biggest thing is how much more culturally diverse it is out here. Back in Ohio unless you are in the heart of a metropolitan area it is not very diverse at all. It's awesome just being out and about, and not being in a sea of straight white people everywhere you go.
We are all currently under lockdown due to the covid-19 virus. How are you coping with with it and/or has it changed your creative practice/routine?
As a whole I am coping pretty well. I got furloughed from my job, but I have been fortunate to be able to pick up a lot of freelance, along with working on personal projects that I have been meaning to work on for awhile.
Jack is currently in the process of launching his own lifestyle/apparel brand (hopefully within the next month) so keep an eye out for Ajax Anvil Company! (@ajaxanvilco)
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