On the first day of the last month of last year, I got a chance to talk with an artist doing some phenomenal work in Gate City. Below is a quick profile of our conversation.
AB: Who are you and what inspires you and your work?
JS: I’m an artist. I moved up here for school and settled. A lot of people, emotions and feelings and situations inspire my work. Art is is my outlet. I’m not always the best at communicating emotions verbally, so drawing it out helps me express myself.
AB: Do you connect your artwork to social movement work? I’m thinking of the Movement for Black Lives in general and #BlackLivesMatter in particular in the last few years, seeing a kind of resurgence. Does your work speak to that or is it influenced by those social motions?
JS: I don’t feel like it has much to do with politics. Art is its own political statement. People can consider it political. For example, most of my characters are African American women as opposed what is the norm. In a lot of ways, my art is an uncharted path. There is no set plan. I just go for it.
AB: You’ve mentioned before that your favorite live painting exhibition you’ve been a part of was in Miami. What made that experience stand out in particular?
JS: The exhibition was a Hip Hop show, and a few other artists and vendors were there. The host invited me down, and traveling to Miami was a beautiful experience. A lot folks supported me financially so that I could make that trip. People believed in me.
AB: In a previous interview you also mentioned not taking specific influence from any one artist, but forging your own path. Is there any advice you would offer to younger artists who are not quite sure what to make of their creative potential?
JS: Young artists, just keep creating! Make sure to sketch to keep drawing in order to evolve your style. You can piggyback great or well known artists, but that’s not your only route. A lot of my stuff happened because of experimentation. So for me, being in practice is key. Not to say that practice makes perfect, because I still feel flaws. Art is always one of those things I try to put down but always come back to. Family has supported me. So I would also say surrounding yourself with other artists can be helpful.
AB: One of the recurring themes in some of your work is the importance and visibility nature, particularly of various plants and animals but also outer space.
JS: Well, I’m still in the process of understanding why I gravitate to nature. Space and the ocean are still large mysteries. Some people like to feel like we know a lot, but we really don’t. The ocean and outer space are two themes that in many ways demonstrates our finitude. Our limits. But hey, I can’t tell the next women what to do. There is always more to learn. Always more to feel. I’m just grateful I’ve found my medium.
Jay Squid is a self-taught visual artist inspired by oceans, nasty feelings, things that grow while we are sleeping, creepy faces, tribal markings, colors, love, death and of course…squids.