Interview with South Wales Artist, Zaeger Jones
22 Jul, 2012
For more on Zaeger Jones visit: www.ZaegerJones.com
Zaeger Jones is an artist from South Wales. He has shown in various art galleries, art spaces, bars, houses, hotels, and music venues throughout Europe. He recently participated in an art show in Berlin, which was held at The Freies Museum. Taking inspiration from memories and nostalgia from his childhood, as well as his facination with human behaviour, Jones describes his artwork as vibrant, humorous and at times, deadly serious. He uses acrylics in which he usually outlines with ink, and also incorporates spray paints, graphite (for shading) and collage items to create his interesting paintings, sketches and sticker art.
Dig In Magazine: Where are you based out of?
Zaeger Jones: I’m based out of a place called Caerphilly. You may have heard of Caerphilly castle or Caerphilly cheese? (Yum!) It’s a town in deepest darkest South Wales and is a few miles away from Cardiff, which is the capital city of Wales and is arguably the hub of artistic activity in my country.
DIM: What is the art scene like in South Wales?
ZJ: It’s pretty healthy at the moment, especially in Cardiff, which has numerous galleries and artspaces. There are many people here dedicated to the arts who are passionate and are accomplishing great things. From the famous Wales Millenium Centre to the artspace, which is actually a garage (it really exists!) There is a genuine camaradarie amongst the folk who strive to create interesting artistic endeavours and who also help to promote welsh art to a global audience. Not being formally trained myself, I really had to get out there and see what it was all about, which helped me make good contacts. So, in my experience, when I was starting out, I had nothing but encouragement, good advice and support, which was undeniably helpful and humbling as an emerging artist. So, I thank my peers for that.
DIM: Have you shown art outside of your hometown and if so, where?
ZJ: Yeh, I’ve had some great opportunities so far. On a local level, I’ve exhibited at a few spots in the surrounding areas of Cardiff. I’ve also participated in a show across the border in England and have just recently took part in a group show at The Freies museum in Berlin, which was entitled ‘A Taste of Wales’.
DIM: When did you first discover that you wanted to be an artist?
ZJ: As a creative person it seemed like the logical step to be a so-called ‘Artist’ for a living. But,it ain’t that easy, so I do have a 9 to 5 which is incredibly mundane but keeps the wolves from the door. Obviously, the dream is to one day be able to do this full time (fingers crossed!) I am steadily getting more commission work and occasionally I sell paintings at my shows. Global domination is not my goal, as tempting as it may sound! I’m just happy to be able to get my work out there, seen and hopefully enjoyed.
DIM: How did you get into art?
ZJ: I have been drawing and doodling ever since I was a kid. I vividly remember being around four years old and creating my own comic strips! Just inventing these strange characters who would be getting into big adventures in alien worlds. I still have a few of those old comics and I really enjoy looking through them from time to time. So yeh, I’ve always been creative in one way or another.
DIM: What is your favorite artistic medium?
ZJ: Painting with acrylics is a process that I’m comfortable with and I usually outline with inks. I also sometimes incorporate spray paints, graphite (for shading) and collage items into the mix. I’ve painted upon many different surfaces such as cardboard, wood and walls but for the majority of the time I use canvas.
DIM: How would you describe your art?
ZJ: Vibrant sometimes, humorous sometimes, and deadly serious. I may paint an amusing character with odd features, but I invite the viewer to look closer. There may be a message in there or perhaps I’m reflecting on something. And it always comes directly from the heart and soul., which may sound twee but it’s a fact.
DIM: Your artwork is very cartoon-like, how do you get the ideas for the characters that you draw?
ZJ: It’s interesting you should say cartoon-like as I used to self-publish my own comics around a decade ago. I was heavily into sequential art and kind of geeked out on it for a while. I’m fond of using bold and vibrant colors and the characters I paint are distinctive, I guess. It’s a style that I’ve stumbled upon and I’m generally happy with the results. My work may change again, but for now, these characters are saying what I want them to say. And they are also a lot of fun to do! Actually, a few acquaintances have asked me if I based a certain face in a painting of mine on them? I always answer no, but it could be a subconscious thing?
DIM: How do you come up with your ideas for your sticker art and do you trade your stickers? Are you in a sticker crew? What do you generally do with your stickers?
ZJ: The stickers thing is new territory for me. I’ve only stuck up a few here and there, but I’m having a lot of fun doing it. My favourite one so far is the dog and bone I did on cardboard. I’ll definitely keep it up and will hopefully begin trading soon!
DIM: What inspires you to create art?
ZJ: Memories and nostalgia from my childhood. I grew up on a farm and always felt so free and being a creative kid my imagination took flight from an early age. I see the world in a certain way, I guess, and so much inspires me to paint. Human behaviour and our individual traits are also captivating subjects. It could be something that I see on the news or on the street or on a bus. The catalyst for an idea can come from out of the blue sometimes. When I have an idea I’ll begin to obsess about colors, compositions etc. until the time comes to actually put it on canvas and that’s when I go to town!
DIM: What in life inspires you?
ZJ: Again, human behaviour and our capacity for good, the courage we possess and our need to be loved and to love. It’s the light against the dark right? And of course, my two kids, who truly are the center of my universe and the reason why I get out of bed in the morning.
DIM: What are the themes within you artwork?
ZJ: Well the mixed media stuff that I’ve done in the past could be described as ambiguous, especially as the titles never gave much away. This was my intention as visually I would only hint at the meaning. I’d leave it up to the viewers own interpretation. Truthfully though, the work is always saying something honest. I like to think that I’ve been brave in what I’ve laid down on canvas, wood or whatever. It’s cathartic expressing ones life experiences in this way. Things such as depression, family and friends leaving this world naturally and unnaturally, substance abuse, things like that which are some of the stark realities of life. To visually express the emotions one goes through can be a release of sorts. But I’m a glass half full kind of guy so whatever it is I’m trying to say, there’s always hope in there somewhere. My more recent work focuses more on human behaviour and is represented by a whole host of strange characters that hold a mirror up to ourselves, the human animal. I’m poking fun at us, showing admiration, disgust, respect etc. It’s a subject I find fascinating, because let’s face it, we are extremely complex creatures.
DIM: What are you trying to communicate through your art?
ZJ: There is a quote by the famous scientist Richard Dawkins that I like, which states “We are all going to die, but we are the lucky ones. Because in order to die, it means you have to be born.” I use that quote, because it kind of summarizes my work, which is a celebration of life with all it’s ups and downs. I’m saying ‘Hey, it’s ok to be a little fucked up’. My art is for absolutely everyone out there: The weird, the lonely, the downtrodden, the contented masses, the suppressed, the extroverted. My artwork may not be to everybody’s taste, but I hope the people who do take a look at it empathize with it to some degree as a fellow human being making their way through this thing called life.
DIM: Where has your art been displayed?
ZJ: In galleries, art spaces, bars, houses, hotels, music venues…the list is growing.
DIM: I heard you participated recently in an art show at a gallery in Berlin, can you tell me a little about you involvement there? What other recent art shows have you participated in?
ZJ: I was selected along with a number of other promising welsh artists to take part in a cultural exchange between a German and Welsh gallery. The exhibition was held in The Freies museum which is situated in a place called Charlottenburg. The German artists who have been selected to come over to Wales to exhibit will arrive in early 2011.The show was a success and was priceless for me in regards to getting exposure. Before the Berlin show, I painted a wall mural for an art and music festival which is annually held in Cardiff.
DIM: What do you like to do outside of art?
ZJ: Well, I’m a father of two young kids, so as you can imagine that keeps me pretty busy! I love being a dad so much. I’m into literature, music, movies, walking my dog, boxing, keeping fit, and the simple things like sitting down and drinking a nice cup of green tea. I also love the beach but as I live in South Wales, I don’t see much sunshine to truly appreciate the coast. It’s just rain, rain and more rain!!
DIM: Where do you see your art going in the future?
ZJ: I’d like to try my hand at some installation based work, maybe combining my paintings with that somehow. I have only had a few opportunities to do mural work, but when those chances have arrived I’ve given it 100% and have thoroughly enjoyed the process. So, I’d definitely like to do more wall paintings. I see my work getting more candid, more honest, edgier, while still having that big beating heart running through it.
DIM: What are your goals and dreams in terms of your artwork and beyond?
ZJ: I’m always pushing myself in terms of subject matter and technique. I want to progress, not look back. Evolve, keep learning, improve theoretically, aesthetically etc. Also, hopefully one day I will be able to leave my 9 to 5 so that I can live the dream!
DIM: Do you have any advice for young aspiring artists?
ZJ: I’d advise them to go to art school, but it’s not a prerequisite to being an artist. Read the books, go the galleries and just do your homework. And experiment with all mediums to see what suits you best. Let it come from deep inside and trust that. Did I mention experiment?