Interview with artist Jim Mckenzie - 1.part

Once upon a time, "an artist of some sort" did exist. His name was Jim Mckenzie and he lived in his own little pumkin Wonderland. White rabbit lived there too, he was always whispering: "Surreal cupcakes, you´re late, you´re late!" So, please, hurry, read the story about pumpkin Wonderland and hide in the fairy tale hole. 1,2,3 now:) And the reality just disappeared for a while....

Hello dear Jim, tell us a little about you and how did you find the artist inside you. How long have you been doing art?

I'm Jim, currently 23 years of age, and I love buffalo sauce.
I work at an animation studio called Nathan Love as a designer and director for commercials, TV shows, music videos and feature films. At night, I focus mainly on my work as a fine artist. I don't think there was ever a starting point where I said, "I think I'll do art now" but more of a second nature that's been with me ever since I could remember.

What was / is your major influences? Other artists, books, movies, music or any other media....What inspires you to create your artworks?

Music is a major influence in every move I make. One of my favorite songs to listen to while working is Viva La Vida by Coldplay. It's a sad but inspirational song that can correlate with anyones life. We all hit a peak in our lifetime and it's just something that motivates me to keep pushing further. Inspiration can COME from anything really. Hearing other peoples stories and seeing whats out there. I love going to gallery openings and trying to figure out how a particular painting was created. It's like solving a mystery. My dog, Gordo (Gordito McKenzie) influences a lot of my work. Everyone enjoys the company of an honest soul, and what better subject than your dog.

How does "a normal day of an artist" in your life look like?

I wake up in a black and white striped room, pet my dog and brush my teeth. Put on the same clothes I wore yesterday and drive to the train station. Once I'm on the train I pull out my computer and Wacom tablet and work on personal projects for an hour. Then I get to New York and hop on the subway to work. Fueled with caffeine I work from 9am - 7pm on commercials. Then I'll get back on the train to Jersey, work on my laptop, drive home and eat dinner. I'll use the remaining 2 hours of the day to paint. Then do it all over again the next day! Weekends are my favorite. I like to plan out each hour of my weekend and use all that time to work on paintings.

What medium do you most often use and why?

I'll use any medium it takes to tell the story I'd like to tell. As a commercial artist I work mainly on the computer so I'm always drawing on my Wacom tablet. Most of my personal work is digital as well. I never limit myself to one medium per project. If I'm going to work on an acrylic painting I'll incorperate the use of clay sets, digital photography, and a Photoshop paint-up before my paint brush ever touches the canvas. You can go and paint a picture directly from your imagination but if you don't have photo reference of what it is you're looking to tackle then you'll miss out on a lot of subtle details.

How would you describe your (pop) surreal style? What themes do you pursue?

 I don't necessarily consider myself a pop surrealist since I rarely incorporate established or popular imagery in my work. As many artist do, I work from my subconscious. I've always been fond of the idea of kingship. Friendly creatures interacting with others in their own personal sanctuaries. Just because you have a crown upon your head doesn't always mean you're the brightest in the room. My animated short film, "King Killian" is loosely based off of my inner child, and my fear of death. There's a world that we all dream about that's outside of our reality. Our own little fairy tale, where we're the hero and everything that seems impossible makes perfect sense. I like to keep my work playful and fun. Usually when a person who's less familiar with the art world see's my work, their first reaction is, "Oh that's very Tim Burton!". I don't mind the comparison as his work influenced mine as a child, but his style is much darker than mine. When I'm creating something the last thing on my mind is having someone stick a categorized label on it. I don't see myself as a dark artist, but perhaps there's small traces of evil in-between the cracks.

What fascinates you the most about (pop) surrealism? What "(pop) surreal art"  means to you as an artist?

Sometimes I don't know what I love more, creating or admiring art. I guess they go hand and hand. There's so many great artist out there right now doing such amazing work. It's just a constant flow of inspiration for me. I feel like the term Pop Surrealism can sometimes be loosely thrown around. A lot of the more relevant art that we're seeing today is labeled as pop surrealism or low brow art.
This day and age you've got magazines like Hi-Fructose and Juxtapoz that float all of the latest contemporary art to the surface. Sites like Facebook and Tumblr are stuffing our mouths with and endless spoonfuls of artist that may have never gotten the opportunities to be seen if these outlets didn't exist. We are having art thrown in our face every corner we turn and I can't com pain.

What do you love most about creating? What does “being creative” mean to you?

You've got to be adventurous! Being creative is spontaneously putting things together in a playful manner, for me at least. You've got to bend the rules if you want to discover something new. Everyone and their mother will think of creative thoughts, but you need to act upon those ideas and create something in order to achieve creativity. It's about surrounding yourself with the energy that inspires and enables you to flush out the most vivid and abstract ideas that you didn't even know you could ever think of. When it happens, you can feel it. It's like an electrical serge rushing through your body, through your brain, and out of your hands.

Can you describe your typical workflow / artistic process when you’re working on your art?

I'll start off with an idea, or a story I'd like to tell. I'll flush out a few quick sketches and see what works best compositionally. Then I'll sculpt the scene out of clay and usually shoot it on my front lawn. I like my characters on grass, it just feels more natural. After shooting the scene I'll comp up the image in Photoshop, adding some extra photo elements to the mix. Then I'll print it out and use it as reference to paint either digitally or traditionally.

What is your personal favorite artwork from your portfolio and why?

My favorite pieces are the ones I haven't created yet. I work on multiple projects at a time so once one is completed, I move on to the next. I always take a long deep breath in relief right as I'm about to finish a painting. When it's done, it's done and my mind automatically switches to the pursuit of creating something even better. I want to constantly one up myself, making each piece better then the previous. I'm working on a really fun acrylic painting for Last Rites Gallery's "13th Hour" show this October. That may turn out to be my favorite piece… Well, maybe until November.

Where do you see yourself in the future? Professionally, what’s your goal?

Oh I can't give away the ending already, It's only the first quarter. I'm not certain of the specifics, but generally it will involve doing and creating things that I love. I do enjoy directing animated commercials and working on films. I enjoy making paintings and personal pieces when I'm at home. I've recently found joy in creating resin art figures as well. These are all things I'm doing presently, which may or may not reflect what lies ahead. Perhaps the concept of future is not something one should predict because, well, whats the fun in that.

Thank you dear Jim for a wonderful interview and we see you soon in the 2. part of this interview... very very soon:) Stay tuned, dear oh, so surreal friends!