Monday, September 5th, 2011 | 2 Comments
From metaphysical pondering
to a grounded love of nature, Jake Pauls’
art probes the far corners of science and myth.
Toronto-based artist Jake Pauls makes the universe fun again through the dizzying detail and frenzied explorations in his illustrations. Whether re-writing the story of the big-bang, or chronicling Ghost Wars, his images always take us to places we need to go.
S&TM: Online there seems to be a shroud of mystery veiled about you. Can you tell us a bit about yourself? What drew you to art/illustration? What inspires you?
Jake Pauls: Really? I would love it if that is true. It’s not something I cultivate, I just don’t put a lot of personal information out there.
I’ve been drawing since I was very young. When I went to art school I got really interested in conceptual art (which I sucked at) and stopped drawing for a while. I would still draw sometimes, just helping friends out with band shirts and album art, but I never hit my stride. Then I got into illustration more recently via an intense period of interest in graphic novels. I guess it just took a while for me to break down the stigma I had attached to ‘commercial’ art and to re-realize that I just want to draw.
I read a lot of fiction and I spend a lot of time outdoors…those things inspire me a lot. Being social and taking part in events gives me a lot of ideas. I will see or do something and think “that would be even cooler/weirder/better if it was like _____.” I think I just draw things that I wish I could see in real life.
Unfortunately, I do just spend a lot of time just staring at paper, waiting for something to come. I’m trying to get better at actively sketching more. As a break from drawing I play my friend’s drum kit (we share a studio). I’m just learning but it just feels good to move more of my body rather than just my wrist. It refreshes things when I sit down to draw again.
I guess it just took a while for me to break down the stigma I had attached to ‘commercial’ art and to re-realize that I just
want to draw.
S&TM: Images like “Ghost War” and “The Spell” have a strange metaphysical quality to them, as they seem to have elements of nature, science and spirituality. Can you describe some of the ideas you were exploring in these pieces?
Jake Pauls: I love nature and it seems to me like if you made a Venn-diagram with science on one side and spirituality on the other, nature would be in the middle. Science is amazing, especially the fringes of it (I’m mostly thinking of quantum physics). But despite how great science is, I think the world is a much better place if you allow for some things to be unknowable. Then you can project your own ideas into it that empty space.
“The Spell” is a mythology of the big-bang/birth that I made up, but it seemed true enough. It is half science, half imagination. “Ghost War” was more about texture and trying to draw something less apparent. I could draw some human-shaped ghosts punching each other (which would be awesome), but I’m always more satisfied when it is abstracted.
S&TM: Your illustration for Raw Design’s 5th anniversary show is amazing! How did you get involved with Raw Design, and can you tell us a bit about your piece?
Jake Pauls: Thanks. I was approached by Raw and hadn’t heard of them at that point. But I’m really interested in design so I was psyched. When I looked at what they were doing I really liked it and felt like we had complementary approaches. I also really liked that they were doing it for a charity in their own community. That made it easy to get involved.
The piece was tricky at first; the theme threw me off because birthdays are so loaded with sugary sweet imagery. It was also scary doing something as a one-off drawing on paper. I usually like colouring on the computer because I can finesse the details. I ended up having to leave in some of my screw-ups, areas of the image that aren’t as well resolved and couldn’t be undone. But it was nice to just have it there in front of me. It made me want to write more letters.
The piece was tricky at first; the theme threw me off because birthdays are so loaded with sugary sweet imagery.
S&TM: You also design pretty badass t-shirts (“Crystal Cat” T-Shirt). Do you have any other creative outlets outside of illustration?
Jake Pauls: Too many…but they say if you chase two rabbits you’ll loose them both, so I focus on drawing. I’ve sometimes had this image of myself slowly shedding all other interests until the only thing left is drawing, which would put me at the top of my craft. Then I realize how devastatingly unhealthy that would be to my life and relationships.
In my free time I write, garden and cook. I’m totally happy to spend three hours cooking a meal. This summer I’ve done a lot of canning; I’ve got years worth of jam!
S&TM: What would be a “dream project” you’d like to work on?
Jake Pauls: Doing album art for Panda Bear or the Animal Collective would be a dream project. Anything where I could work with some of the musicians I admire. I’d like to design some fabrics or wallpaper…you really have to come up with something understated and interesting for people to enjoy looking at it repeated over and over, day after day.
I think it would be great to do a graphic novel because I like writing stories, but I know how labour intensive that would be. I couldn’t sustain it without changing my drawing style. Also, illustrating a fantasy board game would be an amazing project! Unfortunately fantasy illustration seems to be its own genre, with lots of over-sized muscles, boobs and weapons. I’d do it differently than that.
S&TM: Anything coming up we can look forward to?
Jake Pauls: I’ve got a number of half-baked ideas that are waiting to be taken to the next level. Nothing that I am willing to describe out of fear that they might not be finished. Though I’m working on a t-shirt design that has been sitting in my mind and sketchbook for some time and it will definitely become a real thing. It’s called “forest-glove” and the title really describes it well.
S&TM: Many thanks to Jake Pauls for taking the time to do this interview.
All images © 2011 Jake Pauls.