An interview with Mr. Jago…

Mr. Jago at work in his studio
Mr. Jago at work in his studio

An interview with Mr. Jago

Please talk a lil’ bit about the general idea/vibe behind your new series of works for The MODART group show opening this week?
I find talking about my work quite hard thing to put into words succinctly.

Painting for me is a part of therapeutic practice and in this body of work I am working through my own anxiety to do with the worries I have regarding where we are heading as a species, as our numbers increase on the planet I am fearful of the obvious effects we are having on our environment.

I’m hoping at the same time that maybe this is the dawn of a new age where a more conscious attitude and developments in science can help lessen our impact on the earth.

Mr. Jago "Industrial Evolution" / Mixed media on canvas
Mr. Jago "Industrial Evolution" / Mixed media on canvas

How did the Scrawl Collective originally come about? Please share one of your fondest memories from your time spent with them.

Originally the collective came about as a way of dealing with clients enquiring to commission us (the artists) after it had all blown up after the release of the book ‘ Scrawl – Dirty Graphics & Strange characters’. The original members were friends already but many of us had never even worked in the freelance field, so what we needed most was a ‘shopfront’ so to speak. To that end Rick Blackshaw picked up the reins and would deal with clients directly and then from there we would receive our briefs as artists. It seems so simple but you have to remember that at that time I was working in a call centre so had little to no experience when it came to giving quotes to multinational brands.

I would have to say my fondest memory from the ‘Scrawl’ days was one of the first projects we worked on, it was around the year 2000 and Will Barass, Nick Walker and myself were invited to go to Osaka, Japan to take part in a live paint as well as meeting up with some clients regarding clothing designs. When we arrived it was a pleasure to be introduced to the likes of Pete Fowler (monster making legend) as well as Barnstormer generals Kami, Sasu and David Ellis. We were in our mid twenties and we just hung out drew, ate and drank – were really given five-star treatment by our hosts and generally absorbed the vibe of the city for 10 days as well as taking part in the said live painting of course. It obviously had a huge influence on all of us. Especially when you consider that personally I had never even been abroad let alone on a plane and it was all a mind blowing experience as you can imagine.

Mr. Jago "Unnatural Selection" / mixed media on paper
Mr. Jago "Unnatural Selection" / mixed media on paper

What do you consider your biggest overall influence?
That’s always a hard one to answer as I think walking around owning a pair of eyes and ears for the last 37 years I have probably been influenced by countless people, sounds and sights. However I think my love of nature has been the biggest influence, the form’s and flows that exist within it seem to be appearing in my work more and more nowadays.

If I had to name one individual artist whose work gave me the confidence to find my own voice artistically then without doubt it would have to be Futura 2000. Having been a teenager in the 80s exposed books like spray can art and music in the form of the street style electro albums I was completely hooked on the new form of expressive energy that I found in hip-hop culture, that was it as far as I was concerned the aliens had landed. I followed it religiously and years later when studying at college in Bristol and buying records I got into dj’ing, at first I started playing house parties then eventually into bars and the occasional club (certainly a fun way of earning your beer money as well is making new friends). At that time my experience of being in an art institution had left me feeling pretty jaded. Brief wise it all felt very secondhand and I felt like my tutors were speaking of an outside world of illustration that I suspected they had very little experience in! Then Mowax started releasing records and thanks to them and their artistic vision Futura came flashing him back onto my scanners and I was suddenly excited again. I passed my degree with work that fitted within the establishments idea of what was right & from that point on things changed and I spent my time developing the style of work that felt right to me.

Mr. Jago "Gas Leak" / mixed media on canvas
Mr. Jago "Gas Leak" / mixed media on canvas

Please describe your perfect day out in Bristol.
On this perfect day the sun would of course be shining. I would start with a coffee and a roll up on the backyard step, after making a few calls and hopefully agreeing to meet a partner in crime or two I would head into town. This perfect day I would have money burning a hole in my back pocket and decide to pick up an art/design book or two. To rest myself I would then stop for a coffee in the garden of the Boston tea party on Park Street (the first street I set foot on upon my arrival in Bristol, Cathedral at the bottom and a museum at the top). Having wooed every lady there my friends and I would wander down to the harbour side for lunch at the Olive Shed, I would lick through my new books, befriend several dogs enjoy my lunch and declare it time for a beer outside the Arnolfini which without question would turn into a few but hopefully by then friends leaving work would wander by to stop for a chinwag and to make the most of the unbroken sunshine down by the water, and from there we would saunter to the hub of creativity which is The Bell in the Stokes Croft area of the city for a beer garden meeting featuring dinner and many good times. Perfect!

Mr. Jago "Oil Age Man" / mixed media on canvas
Mr. Jago "Oil Age Man" / mixed media on canvas

If you had an unlimited budget and time was not an issue, what grand artistic vision would you look to bring to life?
I think I would love to bring together all of the artist I admire out there today to work on a feature length film set to music, a kind of Fantasia featuring everyone collaborating via the mediums of paint, drawing and three-dimensional media. I know the Barnstormers have already done a phenomenal version of this but you said budget wouldn’t be an issue so I’m talking an international cast of huge proportions.

Mr. Jago "Far From The Path" / mixed media on paper
Mr. Jago "Far From The Path" / mixed media on paper

Upcoming plans following your show with us this August?
No rest of the wicked as I have a show booked at the wonderful Don Gallery in Milan opening on the 22nd of September. I’m feeling good about that as the work I have made for Thinkspace has set me on a pace and direction I am very happy with. My exhibiting year culminates with a group show in October with Gallery 1988 in San Francisco hopefully then I can have a week to rest my fingers.

The anticipation for this one continues to build. Flavorpill even named it the art event to check out for this Friday, so don’t miss it. Check out their full recap here.

If ya’ missed it, Juxtapoz recently did their ‘Back Talk’ feature with Mr. Jago as well. Check it out here. We also just posted a nice studio visit with Mr. Jago on our Flickr. For those that haven’t seen yet – click here.

MODART: Celebrating 20 Issues & All That Lay Ahead
with featured artist Mr. Jago

Opening Reception: Fri, August 14th 7-11PM
4210 Santa Monica Blvd (near Sunset Junction)
Los Angeles, CA 90029

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