In this RAW community we all have 1 thing in common; we use art to express ourselves. But rarely do we see an artist that uses bold colors, patterns and shapes to visually and specifically express emotions, fears and thoughts onto a face. So when we found OKWow! for our Hollywood showcase we wanted to get to know the artist behind these profound and gorgeous images. We really connected with Jason and his artworks, so we’re happy to share this Q&A with you and can’t wait to hear how it inspires you like it has inspired us.
“I love expressing all feelings but my favorite themes are courage, seduction & bliss.”
How did you start as an artist?
I started drawing ever since I can remember, I think I was 3. I've always been very curious about the world around me, and am absolutely driven by new experiences, I wanted to have the same effect on people by being a part of those new experiences. My family also helped me become more creative by always encouraging me to empower myself, even if we didn't always agree. I really owe it to them to help me start to see who I am.
We love that you create a beautiful simple image and then throw so much emotion and power into it. How did you develop this style?
Thank you! As for the development of my style I took a lot of inspiration from the work of many artists, but mainly such artists as Raphael Vicenzi (MyDeadPony), who is my absolute all-time favorite artist, and Minjae Lee (Greno), who melts my mind with every single thing he creates. Both of these artists have greatly inspired me. With such role models as these, I guess I began to feel more bold in what I was willing to do and try, and I'm very glad that I have, because it helps my work evolve.
You call yourself a conceptual illustrator/graphic artist. Can you explain what one of your pieces starts with? A feeling, idea, emotion?
I usually start with a strong, basic and primal emotion, the types of emotions that drive us to the deepest reaches of ourselves. I love expressing all feelings but my favorite themes are courage, seduction & bliss. Once I know what feeling I'd like to convey, I try to imagine a visual representation of that, the colors, patterns and textures that will best speak to the emotional theme of the piece.
What is the process behind making a piece? Do you work with pencil and paper and then go over to graphic design?
It depends, some of my work is completely digital, some of my work is all hand drawing & illustration, some is a blend of digital and mixed media. All of my works however, start with the eyes: they are my favorite part of my works and the first thing I work on. I try to make sure that all of the eyes I create are hypnotic (I design them to follow you around if you move around and stare into them, it's meant to be seen in person), if the eyes engage you then I proceed with my piece, otherwise, I start all over. I usually complete the outline first, and add graphic or painted visuals over, slowly adding layer by layer with whatever medium(s) I happen to be using, and hope for the best.
As a Los Angeles native, how has this city influenced your art and your perception of beauty?
Living in Los Angeles has been incredibly influential because there is so much diversity and culture here. It is really a hub, and has so many world famous places. Being a very high fashion area, I see a lot of the creative beauty such as designer clothes, exotic cars, street art, nature and too many other visually inspiring things to list! But I have honestly met some of the best and worst people here, and Los Angeles definitely has a vibe to it. I guess my work is an attempt to capture a frame of my experience riding the wave of that vibe.
We love that your work is open for interpretation and can say so many things with just one glance. When we look at your images, we see true human emotions and passions that we keep inside our heads and hearts that are rarely expressed or showed visually. It's like you've taken the simple image of a face, and then painted all of the thoughts and complicated feelings on the outside, making that image so much more human. It's amazing. What made you decide to use colors, patterns and shapes to express emotions and thoughts? And have you always done this on faces and bodies?
Thank you! I love psychology, and spirituality and am fascinated by the relationship between colors and shapes to emotions and thoughts. For me, I tend to be a mix of eccentric and subtle, so I love to work with contrasting colorways, such as some kind of crazy neon with neutral colors. I have not always blended people with other elements, but the further I explored my spirituality, the more my art developed along with what it means to me and what I'm trying to do with it. I always try to experiment with a varying mix of shapes and colors when I create as well. I tend to associate a sharp shape like a diamond or triangle to some kind of neon, whereas blues and purples go with curves and such. Each time is a different journey and always puts a smile on my face the whole time.
How do you want someone to feel when they see your art? Have you had any powerful or interesting reactions?
Mainly, I want the person to feel inspired or full of wonder/curiosity, these to me are two feelings that really drive us at our core. To light that fire in the soul is my life's goal with all I do. And I have had a range of reactions, from tears to someone getting so scared of a piece they got really quiet, and suddenly went home! Each one is different for each person, but it makes me glad that at least people feel something from my art, that means I've done my job.
You fuse a human image, nature and thoughts all together to create a stunning piece. How do you think nature impacts the human experience and art? How has nature inspired you?
I think everything we do is nature, or in our nature rather. We come from, and are a part of all things living, but I feel we as humans tend to have forgotten a good deal of that. This is why I love conveying core, primal emotions, I feel it brings us back to our true selves. Even though we are far removed from our roots, these same primal urges and core feelings drive us. As for nature's inspiration to me, I can't help but be absolutely in love with it because it is so much bigger than us, the creative expression of The Divine. So humbling and powerful, nature is truly timeless
“Being without fear is a journey and a goal that I am working towards.”
Do you have a favourite image you've made? Why is it your favourite?
That is a tough one, but I have two favorites, “Without Fear” which I the image of the girl wearing a crown of jaws and a new piece I just finished called “Always”, which is a digital piece. “Without Fear” is my favorite because it is a personal life motto that I find very simple yet commanding of so much power, to be without fear: it makes us feel invincible. Being without fear is a journey and a goal that I am working towards. I felt I really captured the feeling of this motto with that piece. “Always” is also the other favorite because it is the first piece I created to break my digital creative streak, which went on for over a year, and I also happen to feel a lot of things from it since it is my newest. Both of these pieces I also created when I stopped using my given name and began creating as OKWow!.
What is your goal with your art?
My goal with my art is to first and foremost create inspiring or curious feelings in people, to spark something. I want to create the kind of art that people can't stop staring at or thinking about. I also use my art for therapeutic purposes, all of them are a part of me, and it is very powerful to me to literally bring my imagination to life. My other goal is also to hopefully use my art as a platform to connect with other artists and like-minded individuals, to stay creative and inspired so that I can be the best version of myself I can.
It's clear that the female body heavily inspires your work. Are there any specific women in your life that have inspired you to give a female image so much power and edge?
There are very many women who have inspired me, from my mother and sisters, to girls I've dated to my female friends. All the women in my life are pretty powerful, amazing beautiful and slightly mysterious.
We can't wait for everyone to see your work in person at your upcoming showcase! Do you have anything new or any surprises for the RAW Hollywood show coming up?
I cant wait to be there! I have some pieces that I have never displayed before, so I'm pretty excited about that. A few of them I have actually created specifically for the show, so I can't wait to see how it all turns out!
Amazing. Well we can’t wait to be there in person to get the first look at those new pieces. Thank you for sharing your story and amazing vision with the RAW family and inspiring us and other artists to not be afraid of our feelings, emotions and expressing them through our art.
If you’re in Southern California, make sure to grab some tickets and stop by to check out OKWow!