Artist of the Week: Jaw Cooper
It's long been said that if you are genuinely passionate about what you do it will shine through in all you create, and that definitely true in the case of Jaw (Jessica A.W.) Cooper. What is clear when scrolling through the posts on this California artist's blog is that she loves to sketch and that she is incredibly talented. Whether it is a sketch, a painting, a sculpture, or a fascinating (and occasionally furry) concept piece, Jaw finds a way to consistently create.
Recently, Jaw was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.
Orange Alert (OA): I love being able to look through your sketches on your blog. Do you find yourself using the blog to test new ideas? Do you get a lot of feedback?
Jaw Cooper (JC): I love to sketch more than anything and I use my blog as a way to showcase what I believe is the most fun and important part of my process. I update frequently to encourage people to continue to check on my progress and I love the comments that are left for me. When I was in college and shared a large studio with many talented fellow illustrators I cherished the feeling of camaraderie and access to so many fresh critical eyes. After graduating I felt suddenly isolated, especially since I work from home, and I began to make a concerted effort to update my blog frequently to stay connected. Though I generally receive more well-wishes than critical feedback, both are extremely helpful and encourage me to remain prolific.
OA: How do you decide which sketches will become full blown pieces?
JC: I decide which sketches to finish based on the project (or gallery show) and how long I estimate I'll have to get it done. I do not enjoy painting as much as I enjoy sketching so I will not typically take a sketch to completion unless there is an immediate purpose for it. Beyond that, the sketch has to have a spontaneous fluidity or life to it or I simply toss it.
OA: You recently posted a series inspired by songs, do you typically listen to music while you draw? In what ways do you feel music impacts your work?
JC: I always work with either music or the television on in the background as white noise. My recent slew of sketches have all been based on songs and I've found that to be a fantastic way to come up with motifs and themes that I would not normally have been driven to explore on my own. I'll put a song on repeat and then sift through my library of images and ephemera until I've collected enough reference to translate the image in my head into a sketch. While music has always had an influence on my work in a general way, this latest batch is very directly impacted by it.
OA: What is about the female that you find so fascinating? I love the coy expressions you typically give your characters.
JC: Fashion photography is one of my major influences and because of this the girls I draw are typically long, lean, and vaguely "alien." I love films by Hayao Miyazaki and Luc Besson who tend to feature uniquely beautiful young girls that are strong willed, mysterious and powerful. As a female artist I feel (perhaps incorrectly) that I can get away with a high level of shameless pervyness and so nipples and whatnot abound in my work.
OA: How long does it typically take you to prepare for a show?
JC: I tailor the quantity, size, and ambitiousness of my work to the amount of time I have been given to prepare for a show. I can whip up a small series of sketches in a week, or I can labor over a large series of paintings over the course of a year. It all depends on how much time I have.
OA: What's next for Jaw Cooper?
JC: I work constantly; if I'm not working on freelance illustrations then I'm preparing for a gallery show. I will be participating in the "Paper Pushers" show at Gallery1988 San Francisco which opens December 11th, the "4th Annual Power In Numbers (PIN-4)" exhibit at Gallery Nucleus opening December 12th, and the "Twilight Zone" show at Gallery1988 Los Angeles opening May 18th. I would really like to work on more editorial and advertising illustration in the future as well as continuing to show in galleries.
OA: If you could sit down to coffee with anyone (alive or dead) who would it be?
JC: Hmmm. I would have to pick either E. O. Wilson (the american biologist, researcher, theorist, naturalist and author) because he is absolutely fascinating and makes me wish I was a feisty elderly man, or J. C. Leyendecker who is my favorite painter of all time.
OA: What type of music do you enjoy and who are a few of your favorites?
JC: I enjoy all kinds of music and I go through strong phases. Right now I'm obsessed with the main theme from the Pan's Labyrinth soundtrack... it's creepy and beautiful. I tend to like artists that tell good stories like Andrew Bird, Leonard Cohen, and Jurassic 5.