Jon Jacobsen is a self-taught artist and photographer born in Quintero, Chile. In this Artist Spotlight feature, Jon tells us about his work, his inspirations, and his highest achievements. With exhibitions both in South America and Europe, worldwide publications and awards, Jon has some invaluable advice to share with all beginners in the craft of mixed media.
I started creating images at the age of 15, experimenting with any kind of camera that I could borrow. At that time technology was slowly becoming more accessible and I was curious to know how far I could get with it. I became obsessed with the idea that I was able to create infinite, surreal artworks from the comfort of my own room.
HOW I STARTED
My artistic journey began when my art teacher from school, Andrea Reyes, saw some of the images I had posted on social media. She pushed me to keep honing my skills by assigning me extracurricular activities such as additional homework, PowerPoint presentations and giving me quick art history classes during the school breaks. This was a key moment in my development as an artist as it was my first professional encounter with Art. I slowly became obsessed with creating visual metaphors with my images.
The Internet also played a very important role in my development as an artist: It was (and still is) my main school. I watch tutorials every day and learn more and more about art. I keep sharing my work on social media, such as Instagram and Facebook, to maintain a close relationship with my audience and to learn from other talents.
It wasn’t until I moved to Santiago (at the age of 21) when I decided to turn this ‘hobby’ into a full-time job. I graduated from university as a graphic designer but decided to present myself as an Image-maker, in order to be more flexible and work in all my fields of my interest: from being an artist who exhibits his work, to creating fashion editorials and films for magazines, and working as a high-end retoucher.
I became interested in mixed media as a way to find an organic result through digital art. I am constantly creating textures, collecting images from my daily life and working with different kinds of materials depending on the requirements of each artwork.
I was selected to be one of the 10 finalists for the SHOWstudio Fashion Film Festival, held in February in London. Nick Knight‘s work was one of my earliest influences, and being chosen by him to be a part of this festival was a big achievement in my career.
My work was also selected to be a part of the “Contemporary Young Artists” exhibition at MAVI (Museum of Visual Arts) in Santiago, Chile last year, where I was able to show my .GIF animated work. This museum was a part of my “Places to exhibit before I die” list.
Last but not least, being able to sustain myself by doing this job feels like a big achievement. I come from a middle-low class family, with no art background. Choosing a life as an artist was a huge decision which I don’t regret. It has opened many doors and presented me with great opportunities so far.
HOW I CREATE MY IMAGES
Working as an artist requires a lot of observation and experimentation. I sketch/write ideas every day and do different exercises on my computer. I develop my ideas in my head while eating, cooking, swimming or dancing, it’s a never-ending process.
If the piece I am planning is a self-portrait, preparing and executing the idea is easier and quicker because it’s something I’ve done since the beginning of my career. When it’s a portrait or a collaboration, I first meet with the subject, we talk about the concept in mind and how it relates to them as a person. This is a very important step of the process – creating a portrait of someone requires getting in touch with their vulnerable side and creating a connection between them and the final piece.
The post-production process part is more personal. I work with the abstraction of digital technologies and the figurative aspects of photography to represent the concept I want to interpret. Everything I learn during this process is later applied, when needed, to my commercial work.
When I create images for clients I always meet them beforehand and discuss references, the concept, and post-processing aspects of the shoot. Everything is set on the table in order to prioritize time: the market requires quick turnaround, therefore efficiency is important. My job in the commercial world is more technical and immediate since the client tends to have an idea of what they are looking for, so we analyze how to best achieve that within their budget and the team we are working with at the moment.
For my fashion projects, I also like being the creative director, so I do in-depth research of interesting concepts that can be complementary to a magazine’s brief.
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WHAT IS YOUR PHILOSOPHY?
My work always aims to grow through an honest contact with people. I love feeling emotions and being able to create something that can touch people’s hearts. My work is about the symbolic things we put into our daily lives, and I’m always curious to see how everyone sees the world.
As I mentioned before, I see art as a parallel, innocent language that leads me to different opportunities and challenges to keep growing as a person. Collaborating with passionate people is a great way to learn and expand this sense of digital community around the world.
The late Matilde Pérez, a Chilean visual artist, has had a great influence on me and my work. Even though no one understood her abstract, visionary work in the 60s, she would keep creating, she never gave up. Being so confident in your art is something that is really difficult to achieve, so I’m always thinking of her when I feel hopeless.
There are also other artists who put me in a very good, sensitive mood for work and help me keep my eyes open: Bosch, Caravaggio, Rothko, Miranda July, Sohn, Stina Nordenstam, Susanne Sundfør, to name a few. And of course, my friends and parents.
ADVICE FOR BEGINNERS
Having your work published or exhibited may be a goal difficult to reach, especially at the beginning, but keep trying: You don’t lose anything by reaching out to galleries and magazines. Be consistent and forget about immediate success.
If you want to make a living as an artist, be prepared to work 24/7. Working hard and being available is what will help you get work and build trust. Also, learn how to communicate with others. It’s important to be eloquent in your communication with clients.
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You are an artist, but also a business person. Don’t be late to meetings, be responsible and always carry your business cards with you.
Being an artist is the most beautiful job: You unlock love and open people’s minds as they open yours, so keep track of everyone’s journey and meet them over coffee. Don’t be shy to express yourself with honesty, do not try to impress with fake stories, DO NOT compare yours to other people’s careers and don’t speak ill of other people.
So go out, be productive, and again, don’t forget your business cards!