Q & A session with Featured Artist Jeff Mitchell
6 months ago, I attended Jeff Mitchell’s first art show at Joe Momma’s pizza. I had discovered his work on Etsy and fell in love with his colorful pop prints. Now, 6 months later, Mitchell has displayed at festivals such as Blue Dome and Jenk’s Art on Main, had several shows and his image was chosen to represent Living Arts,’ Dia de los Muertos event, this Nov. 1st where he will also have work on display.
1. When & where did you get your start in art? Were you always creative, artsy?
I participated in a program in my first year of grade school that used creative writing as a means of teaching grammar and spelling. Through these exercises, I developed a passion for building something from nothing. This passion has manifested in writing, music, wood working and art throughout the years. I’d been working as a commercial designer/illustrator for several years when I had the opportunity to attend the Photoshop World Conference in Las Vegas. I spent a week in classes taught by some of the best photographers and digital artists in the world, and it opened me to the possibility of integrating a digital skill set into what I’d been doing for years. I spent the next six months developing the process that became the basis for how I work today.
2. Explain your artwork – the process, the inspiration.
The first and most important task I have as an artist is to curate numerous lists of ideas for art pieces sitting on my desk. For every idea that comes to fruition, there are nearly a dozen that will never be complete. A lot of loosely related factors have to align for me to get a piece to press, but my best days are when I visit the print shop to pick up a new print edition. I made the decision from the start that the business model that worked best for me was selling reproductions of my original pieces. My art is rooted in street art, editorial art and concert posters, and the audience for these styles is comfortable with owning prints rather than paintings, so I established a print company in 2011 to distribute my work. I start every piece with paper and pencil. Most of the art is created using a series of painted panels and ink drawings that are shot and combined in a digital workspace, although I’ve relied on various printing techniques such as block prints and serigraphy as well.
3. Share your experience regarding this last year launching your own art business.
I now have two daughters, and I feel can say that starting a business is like having another baby. It is very time-consuming and can be relentless in its demands, but it’s been the most rewarding professional experience of my career. I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without advice from mentors and an extraordinarily supportive wife
4. What goals do you have for yourself as an artist, short term and long?
In the short term, I feel like I’ll always be trying to top past success and strengthen my portfolio. Farther out, I’d really like to move into a bigger studio and hire someone to handle the daily tasks so I can focus more on art.
5. Greatest setback or disappointment as an artist?
I once let a promoter talk me into running an edition based on a painting that he tried to art direct. I wasn’t very confident in the final piece, but I agreed. When the release flopped, the guy was nowhere to be found. There is a real value in art created by hand with artists who make decisions that invest them in the final piece. I learned from that experience that I have trust my instinct and not allow external forces to make business decisions for me. It was an expensive lesson, but a valuable one.
6. Greatest accomplishment thus far as an artist?
I was very proud to almost sell out my first art show. I displayed 15 pieces and only came home with two, which gave me a lot of confidence as an artist.
Visit Mitchell’s Etsy shop here