20 questions w/ Jerod Barker

Madelife visited Community Hangout Winner and Natural Feels Artist Jerod Barker at his studio for a quick chat before his group show at Madelife!

Don’t miss the opening reception of the Natural Feels Gallery Show, this Saturday at Madelife.

Art by Jerod Barker

Describe yourself and your work:

I am easily distracted and always looking for something new, which could be why my medium and style tend to change with time.

Who or what has been your biggest influence?

My biggest influence has always been music. I dropped out of the journalism school a year into college once I saw some live shows and realized I could be making gig posters for my favorite bands.

How did you get started in your career as an artist? 

I’ve always been fascinated with drawing and with color, but I didn’t pursue art as a career until my early 20’s. One special day toward the end of my freshman year at KU, I came across someone painting quietly in a big, empty studio with a great view out the open windows, and I decided that was what I needed to be doing for homework.

What piece of work best represents you and why (image too please if possible)? 

My screen print Merge is a good representation of me because it represents water. It’s in motion, it’s fluid, it’s shapeless unless contained. Water is also interesting because it can be seen as a single thing or trillions of individual things bumping into each other. You can step into the same spot in a river, but it’s never the same river.

How do your materials influence your work?

I prefer pen and ink to create the illusion of surface and texture with heavy line work. I also like getting more abstract with fewer, broader paint strokes using a larger tool like cardboard or a cloth. Charcoal is a great middle ground between these two routes.

Where do you go daily / weekly to get inspired (websites, galleries, book stores, antique shops – can be physical or digital and can be more than one answer)?

By far the best spot in town to go clear my head and get inspired is the Boulder Creek. I benefit immensely from taking a speaker and a hammock down to the water where I can surround myself with green leaves and sunshine. When I do need a screen, however, the library is a nice compromise. Online I’m always browsing Designspiration and Behance. Bookstores are dangerous because I’ll blow my money.

Art by Jerod Barker

What have you learned through creating that has surprised you?

My biggest lesson learned over the years is not to judge a work in progress. Whether you’re attached to an initial idea or not, the piece almost never comes together until the very end, so keep moving. Don’t worry.

Describe your work routine for your artistic practice (i.e. morning person / night person; how many hours at a stretch, organized or spontaneous, warm-ups – you get the idea).

I’m always a better artist later in the day. I love warming up with aimless line repetition and patterning. It’s both mindless and meditative.

Tell us about any recent collaborations, why they worked or didn’t.

I haven’t collaborated on any official projects thus far, but there are some on the horizon.

How do you balance being an artist and making a living? 

I work as a graphic designer by day, so I’m fortunate to always be creating and improving in the digital, corporate space. Playtime is still important, though, and I can feel a difference when I don’t give myself enough time to draw and paint without guardrails or a deadline.

What is your process for coming up with new work?

I have a huge list of subjects I want to cover and concepts I want to put down on paper. I always have a poster I want to make. With job assignments and commissions, though, I work backward from the market and the message my client wants to send.

Why do you believe art has value?

Art is great because of all the different impressions one piece can make on an audience. The variety of experience is always fascinating, but what’s equally interesting is when it makes people relate to one another. Art can express a shared idea that viewers can’t communicate on their own. It reflects back to the feelings we’re not equipped to verbalize and opens a connection to each other in the same way we bond over music, creating a link not possible with words alone.

What is playing on your stereo these days?

I’m listening to Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever and Day Wave right now. If you like hip-hop you need to listen to Oddisee.

What are you reading right now? 

I’m reading The Book of Lies by Aleister Crowley.

Where is your favorite place to visit (here or abroad, visited or wanting to visit)?

I very much want to visit Iceland, but my favorite place in the world is San Antonio, TX.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received in your creative career?

“If you want hot, write cold” -Adam Desnoyers

Art by Jerod Barker

Which new (or newly discovered) artist is currently inspiring you the most? 

Tattoo artist Fredão Oliveira blows me away with his compositions and his line work, especially considering the patience it takes to draw on skin.

What’s the best thing about your studio/ workspace/ workshop?

I’ve gotten better with age at separating my workspace from my leisure space because the best flow comes with a clear path to your chair, a clear view from your desk and minimal distractions.

What do you do when you hit a block? 

Walk away from the work if you’re hitting a wall. You’re missing out if it’s totally miserable or not moving forward, because it should feel like movement. Go do something else and reset your system.

What’s the best part about being an artist?

The best part of being an artist is learning to recreate what you see in the world. Being an artist teaches you about form, light and gravity. It helps you understand relativity and space. It trains you, over time, to see accurately and objectively. It reminds you that you can shape your own life and the world around you to your aesthetic, creating your reality like images on a flat surface. The power is in your hands. Remember to look up. Know what you like.

Learn more about Jerod’s work at jerodbarker.com

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