Before we talk about your studio, tell us abour yourself as an artist.
First and foremost, I consider myself a designer more than an artist. I originally wanted to be a cartoonist and an architect; then a fabricator of haunted house monsters and special effect make up. I am an artist, but almost all of my work is hugely informed by practical applications and external constraints; I almost never sit down and just paint or draw with no intent..the problem solving aspect of my creative process is a huge part of the draw for me. Similarly, I am fascinated by manufacturing processes both modern and archaic; in a design history class I was taught that every form of written or symbolic communication is informed by the tools used to make it (consider that serifs on fonts started as chisel marks to stop lines from splintering rock). I also love research and small details, so generally anything I create is like an iceberg; the artifact you see is generally informed by many other ideas explicitly considered and incorporated. As to subject; I tend to like booze, girls, cars, tikis, monsters, pop culture and architecture. I guess I’m a lowbrow designer (or neo lowbrow..is that a thing?).
Where is your studio located?
Deep underground the side of a hillside..also known as the basement of the ranch home where I live. Also; I like to take my laptop or sketchbook and work at Denny’s. It’s a comfort thing; a throwback to art school. Plus coffee.
What are the most important elements of your studio?
The bar…that I use as a photoset. The collection of toys and tiki mugs that takes up one wall. The slab and flatfile in the workshop area. Really, a lot of my work is digital, and my laptop moves around the house; only the messy stuff happens in the basement. Usually the front room of my house or the library are favourite places to work.
How do you handle storage?
Badly. I have a pegboard which may or may not have all my tools on it at any given moment. The crawlspace under my house is filled with large plastic bins full of supplies by type and old artwork.
Any tips for studio organization?
Keep enough space to be able to pick up and start a new project if inspiration hits. Keep empty bins around to bundle all the pieces of that project into if you need to move to something else.
What advice would you give to a new artist?
The same advice I would give anyone. You learn by doing. You get out of it what you put in. You always have a choice to observe or to participate, and active participation is usually better. Learn to recognize and embrace “happy accidents”.
Any favorite books you like to keep in your studio library?
“A History of Graphic Design” by Meggs. Pretty much every Taschen book I can get my hands on. Several books on old movie poster identity design. A bunch of Dali, Giger, SHAG, Coop, Dore’, Larry Elmore, Sorayama, and Escher.
A link to Jonathan’s personal website: Horror in Clay
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