Andrew Jerz‘s illustrations and paintings are saturated in this vibrant and unmatched awesomeness, and it is clear the artist is as well. During his collegiate stint at Syracuse University, Andrew studied illustration and was introduced to several influential illustrators. Some showed him the serious side of painting and pressed him to take his work seriously; others handed him metaphorical buck-teeth and clown noses, and taught him to “stop being such a serious freaking painter and live a little.” In each of his pieces, you notice artistic skill and technical comprehension, but it’s the cheeky composition and way he constructs a personality with thoughtfulness and paint that leaves a lasting impression.
ArtVenue, prepared with disarming questions, dug into the deepest regions of Andrew’s mind. These are the treasures we unearthed.
Home is where the heart is-where is home for you?
Short answer: I grew up in a place called Cohasset, MA.
Longer, but related answer: I grew up in a two-hundred year old house with a lot of crawl-spaces. If there’s one place that ISN’T home, it’s in clean, newly-rendered and disproportionately boring spaces. I feel comfortable in places with layers and layers of historical grime.
“I go see magazines and websites every day full of illustrators way better than me. Does that have to be hopeless? No. If anything, it’s inspiring.”
How and when did you discover yourself to be an artist?
There’s not a day that’s gone by – no matter how many day-jobs I’ve had to work when art money gets slow – that I don’t look at a group of young, urban, professional pharmacy students about my age (you can actually spot them a mile away) in their “goin’ out” clothes on a Saturday night on the Red-Line and think, “Whew…that’s a bullet dodged.” Not to say there’s anything wrong with what they’re doing, I just can’t believe how “not-for-me” it feels, even after living in general squalor and indebtedness for so long. I guess I always knew…I just never…knew. How esoteric of an answer is that? Proof that I’m an artist.
What are a few things on your artistic bucket list?
Getting consistent calls from Rolling Stone magazine, which will probably never happen, because by the time the art directors at Rolling Stone stop throwing my unsolicited post-card promos in the trash, the magazine will probably have abandoned its print-publication - reduced to merely an iPad app that repeatedly notifies you several times throughout the day of how awesome Bob Dylan used to be. So, apart from that? Honestly? I’d love to do a mural. Like, a really big one. In a public place. I think murals are great, there should be more of them everywhere.
”Read about the way a hand works. That’s art. That’s real art. I’m just fascinated by it.”
What is your creative process, typically? ( Mood, time of day, rituals, duration of work, surroundings, caffeine intake, sleep-deprivation levels, etc…)
It’s funny that you mention caffeine intake, because I’ve been experimenting with this for a very, very long time. It’s an almost impossible, perfect balance to reach. Too much and you have no fine motor control over your furiously frenzied fingers; an old professor of mine, John Thompson, once told me, “whatever you do in your career, if you get swamped with too many fast turnaround assignments — don’t do speed! It doesn’t make you do ART faster, it just makes your HAND move faster!” Best advice I was ever given.
When I wake up on my day off, it takes about two to three cups of coffee and EXACTLY TWO slices of left over pizza from the night before to obtain the correct caffeine buzz; around five, when the tighter parts of the work have finished, I’m really sick of noodling with a pencil and a chisel-tipped brush on the darks, and a midtone wash is down and dried, switching to beer is essential for broad looser lay-ins of the lights and highlights.
Late night re-noodling to correct any drunkenly dramatic brushstrokes occurs to tighten these areas up when the threatened cerebrum kicks into primordial survival mode with some kind of weird, mostly inexplicable energy boost around midnight or one in the morning, depending on how much beer is involved. Gin and tonics and or whiskey will have you passed out on your drafting table at seven, and should be avoided unless absolutely necessary. Punctuate the slow points in this process by watering the plants out back or calling your girlfriend/significant other to plead on deaf ears as to the reason you can’t come over tonight (you’re “in the middle of something!”)
Describe your art with 3 adjectives, a genre and a metaphor.
- “Inebriated,” “wily,” and “vaguely-smelling-of-salami.”
- Is ”the barnacle on the whale of fine art” an acceptable genre?
- There’s a song by a band that goes, “if money’s all you want, then money’s what you’ll get; I’d rather be drunk and in love.”
What is art to you?
Go find an anatomy book – not, you know, an artist’s anatomy-drawing book, I’m talking about something a medical student would study – and read about the way a hand works. That’s art. That’s real art. I’m just fascinated by it.
Pick your favorite piece on ArtVenue. What is it of, why is it your favorite and what does it mean to you?
Right now there’s a piece on there called “Matthew.” Matthew was an acquaintance of mine who ran a “Free Store” from the basement of a derelict apartment building in central New York state. A friend of mine brought me to him because I needed a replacement wheel and sprockets for my bike (the old wheel had become warped and useless), but I didn’t have any spare change to buy a new one with.
Matthew found me the exact right size wheel and sprocket set in his expansive, basement Free Store, but I had to hang out with Matthew for three or four hours in a dark basement to get it. I didn’t really remember what Matthew looked like when I painted this, but this picture is definitely what hanging out with Matthew was like. I like this piece because I love portraits that tell more of a story than just the likeness…think George Grosz.
“The barnacle on the whale of fine art.”
What is some advice you could give to budding artists, hopeful to make a name for themselves or looking to build a portfolio?
You think you’re good now? You could probably be better. Do I think everything I do sucks? No. But that doesn’t keep me from stepping back after I finish a project and thinking, “ok, this could have been done faster; this could have been executed better; next time, I’ll plan my time better to make that deadline.” You can be self-aware of your condition without being self-deprecating.
I go see magazines and websites every day full of illustrators way better than me. Does that have to be hopeless? No. If anything, it’s inspiring. If they can do it, so can you – you just have to want it enough.
You’re creative, right!? Find yourself a way to set yourself apart from those [other] nincompoops!
View Andrew Jerz’s complete ArtVenue profile!
ArtVenue would like to thank Andrew Jerz for letting us pick his brain a bit. We are so happy to have him on ArtVenue – welcome to the family!