Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Interview With Myself... Get To Know Jason Fleurant the Artist

People always seem to ask me the same questions time and time again when they find out that I paint. And since I'm not great with on the spot responses (I'm much better when I can sit and think my thoughts out) I decided to take the time to answer more thoroughly the simple questions. So I interviewed myself.

What's your back ground?
I'm Haitian American, my parents are from Haiti and I was born in Evanston, Illinois. We lived in Chicago for a period, but I was raised in West Palm Beach, Florida. So I'm a southern gentleman.

How and when did you start doing art?

Growing up I used to sketch all the time, but I never really took it seriously because it came to me to easily. I always figured it can't be that special if I can just do it as easily as I breathe. Yet I loved to draw so I would still continue. When I was little the church we went to hadn't had it's own building yet so it was based out of Lake Worth High School. Our Sunday school class was usually held in their art classroom, so I would stare at the artwork and emulate what I saw. It's where I learned the basics of "Shadowing" and how to draw faces and do the body positions. I'd flip through the class work and learned from there (my bad to anyone's work I was messing with).

In school, I was known for that style and people would always be standing over my shoulders watching as I'd draw. It was pretty annoying and uncomfortable to me because I'm a naturally shy person so it felt as though I was becoming something of a show. One of my teachers suggested that I audition for the school of arts for high school, so I went for it. Unfortunately I wasn't accepted so it took a blow to my confidence with art. Not only that, but at the time I had people who were close to me downplaying this "talent" to the extent I started believing that I wasn't good at all. When I got to high school, I took a art class freshman year but due to my teacher continuously telling me I wasn't cutting it I started to hate art.

I lost desire to draw all together, dropped that class and just focused on living life. The only time I revisited art was when I had emotions building up to a point inside of me that I needed to vent. So I'd have these random moments of artistic outburst and then I'd fall back. Years flew by with out me really caring about art till I met a friend who inspired me and I did a portrait for her. After that I did a random sketch or two out of bordem but still wasn't caring about art.

That was until January 12, 2010 when the earthquakes shook up Haiti. I remember just sitting there stun seeing these images, images of my people suffering. Sitting back horrified, wondering if my family was okay and how much more my fellow Haitians could and would have to endure. My frustrations for not being able to do anything burst out on to paper, where I would just sketch these images I seen. That led to me getting color pencils, which led to me getting Walgreen's watercolor, and that led to me getting paint. Still at this time I wasn't taking it serious, but at some point my art wasn't just me painting what was going on in Haiti. It started to become paintings based on lyrics in songs and just ideas stuck in my head. And I would just keep and keep on painting.

My friend Yanatha would go on to suggest that I get canvas, and start painting and selling the art. I obviously still didn't feel confident in my work but did eventually make my way to Michael's and brought those. The day I started painting on canvas, I was hooked and never looked back. I think the one advantage I had from not being formally trained in art is I don't feel restricted by any rules. I can do what I feel like doing with styles and colors. One of my biggest supporters was The Stage. They gave me an outlet to display and share my artwork with people and I so very much I appreciate Shawn and Desiree for it. As well as Yanatha, who got me my first showing at Lynn University, for an event ironically enough that was born from very tragedy that birth me as an artist.

What media do you work with? What type of style of art would you claim is yours?

I've been exploring all types of mediums to work from. It's been a lot of trial and error because I was teaching myself, but I think I've got a solid handle on acrylic and oil. I prefer Acrylic because obviously it dries faster and is easier to control but I love the way that a canvas feels after it's done. It's weird to explain I guess, but when you touch the original painting when it's done it has this smooth silky feel. With that said I also like oil but I'm mostly rock with acrylic. My first ever oil painting was a self portrait of myself.

In terms of claiming a particular style or genre I don't know what to tell you. What artist wants to label themselves any way? I hate labels, and I know that I automatically get casted into being in the "Black Art" role because of my skin. I think that's silly, a white person could paint the same painting I did of "S On Her Chest" and it would just be considered art. However since I'm the one who made it it's labeled "African-America Art". I think art is art no matter who created it.

Who are your influences?

I don't have so much to say "influences" as I do artist whose work I've just come to love. Growing up seeing that I wasn't really paying attention to art because I didnt feel a connection to who we saw where artist, the Piacsso's, Leonardo's and so forth I wasn't really inspired by them. I mean, I admire their work and had an appreciation for what they've done, but they seem like they were from a different world than me so I wasn't that crazy over them.

Admittedly the only artist I was checking for when I was a kid was Louisianne St. Fleurant. And that was because one day at school I decided to look up my last name and stumbled on her. I don't believe I'm related to her, I just really liked seeing someone who wasn't just black, or Haitian but having the name Fleurant. Other than that my favorite artist were from the world of comics/graphic novels.

Most would dismiss comics, and I think that's foolish. There is alot of incredible talent and detail that goes into it. One of my favorites would be Alex Ross, his work on DC's Kingdom Come is amazing! I implore you to take a deeper look at the artwork in comics, see pass the stories (which in my mind our pretty much modern day myths) and look at the remarkable beauty. Also Billy Graham (no not that one), he was a black artist who worked on comics like The Black Panther and Luke Cage. Nowadays I'm learning more about artist as I research like Rei Ramirez, Kehinde Wiley and Jean Michel Basquiat. The floodgates have open, so I feel more connected to art seeing people I can identify with doing it..

What Inspires You?

A lot things inspire me, there is no one singular source of motivation. I think when you've found something you are not only good at but enjoy anything can light a flame in you. I've been inspired by lyrics, poems, stories, current events, dreams, people in my life and so on. It's pretty much an anything goes type deal. Like when I painted Runaway, Phoenix. That was inspired by Kanye West's short movie "Runaway" and the song "Don't Look Down". Or the painting 2Roads2AmericanDreams, that was inspired by a line I heard my friend Shawn "ConsiderThis" spit countless times and for whatever reason resonated with me one day. So with that said, I guess the real question is what will inspire me next.

What's your process like, how do you choose your colors?

I'm sure my answer isn't the most impressive or climatic. The process pretty much is the idea pops in my head, I think about how I want to interpret it, sketch it and then go from there. Like when I did the Lupe Fiasco inspired "Words I Never Said". I had to ask myself how do I express the image of words escaping or when my friend Talton came up with the concept "Music Is The Sound Of Love". I had to sit there and think how I do I show that?

Now when you see my art, there's a signature style of mine in the use of colors. People often asked me why I used colors like that, and how do I choose which to use. There's no method to my madness. Basically it comes down to whatever colors are present at the moment. I know some feel like there is some kind of deepness to it and maybe subconsciously there is. Maybe it's my Haitian blood, cause when you look at a lot of Haitian artwork there is a great use of color, I'm not sure. I just like colors and how they look.

What are your goals as an artist?

Before art I never really had much of a game plan for life. I just kind of kept it moving. When I was into music, there was never a real desire to get signed and become a star. That wouldn't of work well for me anyway seeing that I'm not a fan of the spotlight. However now I do have some goals, and dreams. I want to cement the name Fleurant in the world's conciousness. I want to open doors and inspire people who are just like me, from the places I'm from and have talent in art. I want them to see someone they can connect with and hopefully motivate them to pursue it.

My friend Shawn mention to me a while ago how in black culture we explore and praise all these other aspects whether it be sports, music or spoken word but some how art get's neglected. And I'm guilty as charge with that crime. I hope to one day open my own galleries and museums showcasing artwork from your everyday "urban" (as they would say) people. Mostly I want to create a legacy for my future children and their children. I want to leave a Beach Chair.

What I mean by Beach Chair is if you ever listen to Jay-Z's song "Beach Chair" you'll hear how he's leaving a legacy for his future kids. Something they can be proud of and will secure them so they can enjoy life to the fullest. That's what I want and hope I can do with art. Prior to art, I wasn't sure I wanted kids one day, now I'm certain. And when I do, I want them to have a shinny new beach chair and a father they can be proud of.

1 comment:

  1. I did not know that u just started painting last year. Thats awesome because I just knew that u had been painting for years. Ur level of talent and vision is very inspiring and I just want to encourage u to continue on. Your art is ur voice, never silence that for any1 sir.