This past fall, our editorial team had the opportunity to sit down with James Jean at his home and studio in Los Angeles. There we discussed his suburban upbringing, his transition from illustration to the fine art world and what his current work is informed by. Some excerpts below, and read the full interview now online.
How important is it today to be able to juggle between analog and digital mediums?
I definitely feel as an artist you need to have those skills, but I think it comes naturally to almost everyone these days. When I was going through school, we weren’t taught these techniques at all, but as result of being young and being technology literate, people are able pick it up fairly easily. I feel that by not learning how to work freely in digital mediums, an artist is actually putting him or herself at a severe disadvantage. But ya, I love taking photos and editing them on the phone and vice versa, sometimes I’ll use photography tools and apply them to my illustrations. The quick back and forth is efficient and it’s amazing how everything is so easy to grasp nowadays. I remember there was one guy in my illustration class that used a computer to enhance his work and he was shit on by everyone because it was all about traditional painting and drawing skills at the time; now it’s the opposite. But I didn’t start experimenting with digital tools until after I graduated in 2000-2001 so I was on the cusp of when these tools started to become more accessible and user friendly.
Has your audience been receptive to your digital work as a viable medium?
Not in the beginning, it’s only recently now that people don’t care at all. People used to be hung up on it, but now I’ll do a piece that is made completely through digital means and it’ll do well based on the strength of the image alone. I had a blog a few years back where I would show my process and sometimes it would require the use of a projector, the feedback was very negative, but I don’t care, I see it as another tool and a part of my method now. I think people now are so used to it or maybe oblivious, that it comes down to simply the strength of your ideas and how you express them.
Read it in print in as part of issue 05 of intelligence Magazine.