Erik Jones: Contemporary Art, Contemporary Artist
Gloobbi recently talked with New York based contemporary figure artist Erik Jones on his transition from illustration to fine art, and the independence of artists in this modern age of social media.
Jones was raised in St. Petersburg, Florida, a beach community with a proclivity for sunshine and folk art. In 2007 he graduated from Florida’s Ringling College of Art and Design, where he studied media and digital illustration.
Today, the artist combines traditional and modern techniques to create vibrant, techni-colored portraits with a certain pop-edge cool about them, contrasting with the delicate and dreamy aura projected by his female subjects.
“I build my entire piece digitally first. It’s my plan, my matrix. I probably spend more time in this stage then I do the actually painting. Every color, every shape is methodically mapped out. Once I have the image I like, I project the line drawing and outlined shapes to paper.”
He then uses a blend of traditional techniques including watercolor, colored pencil, oils and acrylics to bring the works to life.
Jones’ greatest inspirations are contemporary non-representational, or abstract, painting and fashion photography, often using fashion models as his subjects.
“I’ve been photographing models for years, so I have quite the collection to take from…I can normally “Frankenstein” my reference together with prior photos to create something fresh.”
Jones could write a book on the subject of self-promotion, believing that the greater overall exposure an artist can muster (using all means available), the better.
“I can’t believe how many people don’t take advantage of social mediums that focus on self-promotion and developing a “fan” base. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr… You should be on all of them. I believe this is the number one tool for the modern artist to achieve success.”
The artist’s active online presence is testament to this mantra. Unlike many artists whose public exposure exists purely through gallery websites, Jones has his own interactive website and blog where viewers can see and read about his work, watch videos and order prints and apparel. He also benefits from people re-blogging and sharing his work.
“It’s really important for an artist to be aware that this is a business. Being a free agent is beneficial (for some). You meet more people and do the legwork yourself, creating contacts and making friends. This is very, very important.”
However, Jones is by no means anti-gallery. He has a healthy view on the role galleries can play and works collaboratively with Spoke Art in New York. Currently enjoying some space from commercial projects, he acknowledges the benefits of working on personal projects with a gallery.
“It’s very tiresome and challenging to have to worry about finding [your own] shows, making prints, marketing yourself, etc. Though for me, again, having a degree of independence is the way to build my brand.”
Coming from the illustration world, accessibility is a no-brainer to Jones. However, he appreciates that one does not want to flood his or her market, and has refined his creative process to avoid the point where his artistic integrity or creative process is hindered.
“I used to create paintings simply to sell them. There was no consistency, no heart, no feeling behind the work. I was flooding my own market so everyone could have a piece, ultimately just to make money. My new series has totally changed the way I think about creating. I went into it not caring if the pieces sold – it was more for my own creative therapy. This way I was able to create something that was really unique and dear to me.”
by Jenny Wylie