by Violette Skye
J Slattum has been drawing since he was 3 years old. Drawing funny pictures of his teachers, he became popular in school. Some of his early influences were Mad Magazine and Farside. However, his biggest influence was movie special effects, such as Ray Harryhausen's stop-motion animation. His dreams of becoming a sculptor or claymation animator became a reality in high school via 3D computer-animation classes. A dream, that in essence, went away after high school. In 2006, J decided it would be fun to buy some paints and try painting as a form of relaxation. That worked well for three years. But he suffered a near-death experience in 2008 that changed his outlook and the role that art played in his life. He found personal enlightenment and his own path through creating his art.
J made a decision to stay away from art school to develop his own style and steer clear of rules and the boxes they are kept in.
“It's been much more liberating and rewarding schooling myself, as well. No disregard to wisdom. Yet, I do study the techniques of the old masters and often seek advice from more experienced artists.”
When we asked him who/what his influences were, he gave us an enlightening answer:
Creating art is my meditation, really. The brushstroke, my mantra...it's almost like I transfer my mind into the tip of the paint brush or pencil, a single focal point. When I sit down and stop trying to 'create art', and just PLAY, that's when I learn. That's when something presents itself to me on paper. It's often philosophical. Maybe something that can explain reality and consciousness, or the universe. I'm a huge nerd, in my off-time, I'm often drawn towards science, mythology, history, and metaphysics. I guess you could say my biggest influence is the question "Why?"
He credits his use of the Internet for the attention he has received from galleries. In September, he was part of a group show at The Hive Gallery in LA that came from his work displayed online. He recently moved to Portland, Oregon, and has found that networking, and most especially social networking, has been a key factor in getting his work out there.
Seventy-five percent of the work he sells is through Facebook — significant for a full-time artist. Many times while he posts progress photos of his paintings, collectors will snag them up.
“Social networking has allowed me to share the entire experience of concept sketch to color studies to final masterpiece, and I think everyone enjoys seeing this growth.”
He is also showing works at Launchpad Gallery and The Gallery Zero in Portland, Oregon. “I'm slowly starting to push my work into the gallery setting and off the Internet...To see my work in person is how it should be viewed...The methods I use create an inner glow in my work that can only be seen by being in front of it.”
He recently had success with a KickStarter.com campaign to fund one of his projects. He is taking that experience to help start an artist co-op in Portland. He hopes the venue will give artists access to affordable supplies and the tools they need to do what they love as full-time artists without having to worry about starvation.