Jon Lyons [frogisis]
What do you do? How do you define yourself as an artist?
That's a difficult question - I have enough trouble answering it when I'm asked what I do by a barber or a neighbor. I've always thought there was an enormous amount of overlap among various fields of creative endeavor, each one trying to engage different human senses in a different way, and that it's difficult to categorize an impulse to create, and to shoehorn it into one area like "painting" or "sculpture," or even "cooking" or "dance," and then churn out an endless series of marketable variations on that theme. I suppose my answer to this question would be "I do everything," if only human life were long enough, but since I have to be a little more focused to make use of my four-score-and-twain, I've realized that it's the 2D, pictorial art that primarily speaks to me, and that I primarily create. That's a pretty broad spectrum, but so is human experience.
What is your message?
In short, I suppose, to mirror the world in all its messy, schizophrenic, amoral, mutually-exclusive glory, and then attempt some kind of synthesis. I have a major interest in humor, also, so often times just push for pure entertainment, but I don't think there's any Jeffersonian wall of separation between the two - The freest and breeziest fantasy can ring true if the emotions and worldview behind it are complex and honest, while an attempt to be serious can fall flat if it's over-calculated and stolid.
Science is a powerful influence on me, and I'm fascinated by its attempts to bring together disparate notions and by its Big Ideas, so I've also often found myself working as its cheerleader.
Your biography in four lines.
- Born St. Paul, MN U.S.A - Lived in Belgium until 6 years old.
- Groaningly ordinary canon of American growing-up experiences.
- Fun College times, switched area of interest from physics to art.
- Present: Art and illustration, sketch comedy, etc.
Do you upload your work to the web? If so, where could we see it?
Some of it, certanly:
How is an idea born? For you, what is inspiration?
Everything for me springs from daydreaming, essentially - Letting concepts float freely and stick onto each other like molecules in the primordial soup, and seeing if some of them form the basics of life.
While it's irritated my friends to watch me fall into a reverie at inappropriate times, usually I can smuggle some idea back across customs into the real world. The trick, of course, is separating the wheat ("What kinds of emotions do you feel if fascism appeals to you?") from the chaff ("I wonder what all the food in this grocery store would look like as poop..."), although of course it depends on what you're after. Bouncing ideas off of people is an excellent barometer for that.
What role does technology play in your creative process?
The internet is absolutely invaluable. In a previous age, I suppose, the same function would have been filled by libraries, but having not only an enormous database of reference photos but scores of essays, books, and newspapers at my fingertips really streamlines the process and makes it less of a chore to build up a mental bank account of idea-pieces. The temptation, of course, is frittering away all your time.
I've been doing a lot of digital painting over the past year, as well, and Photoshop is to the canvas as the word processor is to writing, which is to say a massive time- and swear-word saver. It's still just an expedient for me, though. I'll never give up my preference for physical materials since they're so much "looser" and I need to be comfortable when I draw.
What is art?
Whatever is better than it needs to be.
When do you get your best ideas?
Those moments in life when one is especially aware of ones surroundings and general place in the world. Those moments where you take stock and alternatively think, "life is good," or "life is hell," (Depending on the day and maybe what you ate for breakfast). For me, those feelings need to go somewhere.
How do you evaluate whether an idea is good or not?
Well, there's always, "Hey guys! What do you think of..."
I usually write the idea down and then sit on it for a week or so, and if I still like it when I look at it again it's probably solid. Although there are times when you're really passionate about it immediately and you can just kinda tell.
Three creative ideas that you would have liked to have created?
- Modern computers
- Street art
- The electric guitar
When and how did you begin to see yourself as an artist?
I've been drawing as soon as I had the motor skills necessary to hold a crayon, and it was suggested I be one for longer than I can remember, but it was only in college that I decided to take the plunge.
Why do so many artists and creators have such volatile personalities?
I think if they didn't, they would have become the proverbial doctors and lawyers and business executives. It's a tough road to travel, and if you don't have any fire in your belly, you'll cave in before making it.
Do you consider yourself postmodern?
In some ways, about some things, some of the time. Which itself sounds like postmodernism to me...
How should a work of art be evaluated?
Throw it in the river. If it floats it's a witch, and if it drowns it was innocent.
If we knew finally and forever the answer to this question, art would be over.
Must an artist reinvent him/herself everyday?
Maybe not every day, that would get exhausting, but if you're going to do the same thing for your entire life, why be an artist at all?
Which artists do you admire and how do they influence your work?
Magritte - I love his calm, sedate touch and airy compositions.
Heironymous Bosch - Big, busy riots and boisterous action really appeal to me and are fun to create.
What do you think about public funding for the arts?
Thorny. If they're against it, do you have a right to use people's money to make them eat their cultural broccoli? I hope so, but I'm not sure.
Is art necessary?
Is anything really -necessary-?
Does it pain you to let go of a piece you have sold?
Not really. I'm motivated to make something better.
Is a work of art purchased, or is it better said, that it is the artist who is bought?
A, until it happens enough times, then B. But always a little of both.
In art, there is no guide. How do you know what the next step is?
By stepping back for a while and imagining different possibilities until something clicks.
How do you feel about the fact that the pieces exhibited in contemporary art museums are often of artists already deceased?
Seems kind of counterproductive. It's nice to be able to go in there and see classic works side by side with modern, but I begin to worry about my own place in the sun.
What role have the figures of art dealer, gallery owners, representatives, and intermediaries in general played in your career?
They're immensely important. They're doing all the jobs I don't want to do and have a much greater reach of exposure than I do on my own. I'm terrible at marketing, but at least I can schmooze with them.
What types of jobs do you usually do?
I get tapped for illustration and commissioned paintings of various kinds, but also do a lot of self-started projects for galleries or cartooning publications.
Which of your jobs or tasks do you most enjoy?
The whole process has its appeal throughout (usually), but I especially like starting a new project, and then at the opposite end stepping back when it's done and being able to say, "Yeah, I like that."
Do you personally collect any items?
I used to, but now I think owning and taking care of things is such a chore. And I feel like the internet makes collecting things on your own kind of obsolete.
Which websites do you frequently visit?
What advice would you give to those just beginning?
Do the work. Don't think you'll be good and get noticed "eventually" - start now.
Helena, MT, USA