Ryan Morris submitted this great interview with this Brooklyn based artist last May! Well, emails got buried and we pulled this one out before it was too late... So some of the discussion is a bit dated, but whatever, it's about the art and is a chance for you to get to know this talented fella. Enjoy. -FF
JW: Im really good at making enemys, well not really. I guess what Im trying to say is to make sure that you watch my back, OK.
JW: Well, I wouldnt say that. I just got in a good fight with Jonathan Levine a little while back, but were making up now.
JW: Hes stressed out and disappointed with the amount of work I was giving him. I said Id try, but personally was aiming for a little bit more and he decided to hold me to it. Later we both sort of cooled off. I did a few more pieces and hes a little happier. You know if I dont have enough work for the show, I can just do some more later and Jonathan can sell them on his list.
JW: Probably a year, Im still working on the final touches making my way up to the show date. Last year I had a smaller show with him in March I believe and we just ended up continuing from there after that exhibition. Actually no, in I did an art fair in Miami last summer and after that wrapped up I took the last six months to prep for this coming show. In all its been planned out since last year. As far as the work goes I dont plan that out ahead of time. I kind of just paint as it comes to me.
JW: I use a sketchbook or a camera sometimes. Lately Ive been using pieces of parchment paper so that I can make the pelimenaries different sizes. Its kind of interesting. What Im starting to do lately is putting some of the sketches in the actual shows. After Miami I started adding them as a sort of installation to the work and to show the process I go through. The only problem is that when they sell theyre harder to give up than the paintings. It can be compared to ripping out pages from a personal journal. Its always hard to part with the work, but Ive gotten better at it.
JW: If I need to, I can make a print out as needed. I photograph all my work and have the images at my disposal. The Giclees on the other hand fill a purpose. They will never be as good as the paintings themselves. They are archival, acid free, etc. When it comes down to it the work is just there to be admired while its around. I have a place out in California that produces Iris prints for me and I havent had any complaints. I guess well see when Im dead, if they start turning yellow its not my problem.
JW: I dont know how I fit in. In the terms of Pop-Surrealism or my background in illustration my work meets the criteria. The whole genre thing kind of puzzles me to be honest.
JW: Risda, (Whats that?) the Rhode Island School of Design, in Providence.
JW: The illustration department, I didnt want to go through the painting program, its to free and unstructured. I much preferred the traditional illustration program; I need to be regimented. I never imagined I would eventually become a painter and always thought I would do something along the lines of animation or design of some sort. I guess I was just really lucky how things turned out!
JW: When I arrived in New York while looking for an apartment I ran in to another illustrator and former RISD graduate by the name of Jordan Isip. He told me to give him a call for any guidance or pointers I needed. After a little while I started getting a couple of editorial jobs, slowly making ends meet here and there. Then one day while playing softball Eric White a friend of Jordans who had checked out my work asked me to be a part of a group show he was having down in the lower east side. A lot of people came to that show including Jonathan Levine and basically I have been producing work with him ever since.
JW: My first show with him was down in New Hope, PA. He had this toy factory loft in this small affluent town where a lot of people from New York move to escape the city. At the time he was starting to show talents like Jeff Soto and Dave Cooper, whom he also has on going relationships with. He got to big for that space then moved to Philly and about a year and a half ago I got a call from him that he was moving here in New York.
JW: As the more time goes bye I see myself being less and less involved in the commercial market and more on the fine art side of things. Right after this show Im going to be working on the Society of Illustrators call for entries competition flyer and I wasnt really sure if I still wanted to be a part of that. Illustration involves a lot more planning and forethought. I see myself doing what I am doing now just getting more money for doing it.
JW: With the whole book thing lately Ive been thinking about doing a show that is structured with a story in mind. Having all the pieces correlate to one another. I dont really know if I can work that way being that each part is individual. It might be a little too close to illustration.
JW: Right now its kind of all over the place with my MP3 player. Actually, when you walked in I was listening to that Wolf Mother. Its one of those CDs where I dont think Ill be listening to in a month. But, as of right now I like it! What else, that movie Barton Fink, I feel like after viewing the film Im going through the same experience in my life right now. Almost as a block in how he had difficulties adapting his writing for film. Its kind of similar to the process any artist goes through. During the creation of this show I kind of got stuck and kept re-painting over what I had already done. So that no one really knows all the changes or the process that went into any individual piece. The clash between the artist and the business is so evident in that film.
JW: The book that I mentioned earlier will be out on the 10th of June, which is the last day of the show. Well be having a book signing at the gallery and coincidentally its also around the time of my 30th birthday. So it should be a good time.
JW: Dont do it... Umm, take it all for what it is. I had no choice in the matter. If I had a full-time job Id still paint. If you produce naturally youll have nothing to worry about because youll make it happen. The most dangerous thing about this way of life is having an out. Having a real life is not as stressful. Being an artist, I love it, it fulfills my needs, but by no means does it satisfy them. I still feel like Im outside of the normaal flow of life and the work is always on the back of my mind.
For more information on Jonathon, check his site: http://www.viner.biz/
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