Artist Profile: JPO Art

Artist Profile JPO Art

Where are you from?

Bridgeport, Connecticut

Does where you grew up influence your art? 

Yeah. The scenery and time I grew up in, in the late 80s and early 90s, graffiti was a thing. Some of my friends in grade school were doing tags and I started doing it.

How did you get interested in art?

I always drew and liked drawing or coloring. I drew everything from cartoon characters to monster faces from White Zombie album covers. I liked to draw album covers a lot.

How did you get involved in street art?

I never intended to become a street artist. I just started doing art in the street. I never liked the title of street artist. I just like being called an artist because I do gallery shows, I paint on the street and I paint on clothing. And I don't like to make a big deal about being an artist.

I've always been taught to stay humble and stay grounded. I've worked with Gap, MTV and done shows. My career just passed the 4-year mark.

In 2013, I answered a call for artists ad for a New York pop up art show that paid $50 to show my work in it for one night. I made it look cool. I didn't sell shit. I med Zimad the artist there. He gave me a solo show at 5 Pointz. They had a warehouse room in 5 Pointz and I was the last person to show there before it was white washed. In October 2013, they white washed Five Pointz.

That is how I got my start. Zimad put me on and kind of mentored me. We support each other.

What kind of art did you start out doing?

I always liked drawing but didn't think I was good at it. I never drew realistic photos and didn't think I was good. Until my sister showed me a movie about Basquiat and he came into my life and changed my views on art in general. What I owe to him is realizing my approach to art - I try to capture art through a child's mind - very free and not caring, letting the painting paint itself. I listen to music when I paint and have memories and I stack a lot of layers. 

Do you listen to music when you create and how does it influence you?

I listen to all types of music, from Animal Collective to the National. I like upbeat music for wall painting like EDM. I don't like to listen to music that's too aggressive. I like peaceful music. I think the world is aggressive and crazy enough so you have that vibe already in the city. 

I try to make my work melancholy, so like writing music with minor chords. Like the Smiths wrote beautiful pop in all minor chords. 

How would you describe your style?

I try to get people to connect with my work. I use bright colors to try to draw them in and catch their attention. Then they can examine the paintings and see different images. That's what works so well with the layers. I usually put a message in the piece, like a quote or something people can relate to or remind people of things in their past. I try to make it as timeless as possible.

"Not Kansas" appears often in your work. What does it mean?

My dad grew up in old New York, like the 70s, and he was playing at cbgbs and opening for big bands. He always took my to St. Marks Place and the Village. It had a good vibe. I always thought to myself I'll be moving here. I always loved New York. I moved here and went to the same spots. But you can never go back to the way things were. Not Kansas is a call to attention of the change of times. 

Where can people find out more about your art? 

I'm also a co-founder of Sold Mag, all about street art and artists in NYC.