Born in upstate New York, artist Justin Michael Jenkins has been creating since he was 5 years old. Drawing portraits of historical figures started him on his journey into more creative endeavors and at the age of 18, he was accepted on scholarship to the West Virginia University College of Creative Arts. There the young student began thriving on research and experimentation with various styles and color.
The influences of Bosch, Escher, Dali, and Picasso steered the student into new realms of thought and creativity. Soon a unique approach and style manifested that set him apart from his peers. After graduating, the artist set his sights on New York City and showed at various exhibitions in the SOHO area of the city. The artist currently promotes his Drawing collection, Genesis”, featuring 144 works of art in 12 collections based around life. His brand and studio, Imaginative Pencil, packages and sells these works as prints as well as shirts.
Wow! Your work is truly unique…Yet I am always curious about artistic influences. I might see some Alex Grey and maybe Dalí? Who and what would you say influences your artistic style?
Well, when I got the scholarship for art to West Virginia University and finally settled in to the college atmosphere that is where things really started to blossom for me in terms of research and having my Professors introduce me to some artists who helped mold my style a bit further. Fernand Leger was one artist that stood out to me who made me think of compositional structure and balance. For me, composition is the most important aspect of my work. The breakdown of shape, forms, line, and the balance and harmony of color into one fused and synchronized dance. Dali, Picasso, Bosch, and Escher have subconsciously instilled their vision in me, but I would say my style is more my own and not pinned down to certain artist.
I think a lot of times, artists can get lost in another influence and forget that you need to use other artists as a way of finding your own unique voice through what you learn from them. You don’t want to lose yourself in someone else and piggy back their approach. You want to explore new ways of doing art for the future and advancing the past.
How has your spirituality influenced your art making? Do you see art as an expression of the spiritual?
I’m a man of God. His power and love works through me during my creative process and is critical to the overall approach. The challenge of harmonizing so many components in my work without ever sketching (I have never sketched nor owned a sketchbook) becomes the ultimate reward and his power and guidance through my process enables me to create these visions directly from my mind onto the surface. My natural use of color also is a direct result of my link to the spirit work and the spirit, for me, is a colorful spectrum of passion, love, and beauty. I have a passion for life and this spirit within me influences my art on a very high level.
Describe your process. How do you prefer to work?
I work in a series. Each theme that makes up the “Genesis Collection” is researched, studied, and after that process, my mind and spirit absorb what I’ve learned and then it is converted to visual form using my unique approach that is colorful and surreal. I’m dabbling into abstraction more and a scientific approach that showcases energy and motion. Although i’m an artist, poet, and writer, I have an affinity for science and love to extract the truth about life and try to represent the grand beauty and complexity that makes up our world. My process for each drawing is the same, yet the overall subject within each work and end results can be much different. I also spend a considerable amount of time finding a title that is as creative and unique as the work itself. This is the final stage of the process.
Can you tell me a little about your Genesis collection? I’m intrigued…
It all started from the drawings that were inspired from my working on a book about chess. The book is a huge compilation of ideas, etc., and as a person who values the benefits of chess and has been playing since I was 6 years old, I was inspired to write a book. One day, I began working on a drawing “The Birth of a Strategy”, and from there the whole idea of a 12 drawing collection that could enable me to dive further into a subject visually resulted in my brand, Imaginative Pencil, and the idea of 144 works in 12 themes. 12 works per theme, 12 themes, 144 total drawing. That’s Genesis. The name derives from the Bible and once the collection is entirely finished, a code is in the whole works that unlock universal secrets. I will leave that for future generations to figure out once I move on from earth. I love putting symbolisms and hidden meanings in my work!
Anything else you’d like to share?
Yes. Art is something that is fundamental to us all and I think children need to be subjected to the arts at a young age. Creativity can harness the spirit within and open the doors to a healthy mind and emotions. While subjective, art is a reflection of our experiences and world, and we all our connected through it. I leave you with a couple of my poetic quotes that I share daily on my twitter feed (twitter.com/artistjenkins) :
“We begin as an innocent sketch and as the painting of our life progresses, we color inside these lines with the brushstrokes of memories.” ~ Justin Jenkins
“Take flight in the skies of hope. Spread your courageous wings into the clouds of fear and let the light of faith pierce through the shadows.” ~ Justin Jenkins
The journey for creative spirits is one filled with many rewards. Nothing is more fulfilling to me than to sit down and create another vision filled with color and my unique spin on life. I enjoy thinking outside the box and the challenge of new ideas manifesting into visual forms. I have naturally gravitated towards a surreal outlook on life and try to envision worlds where we look at things inside out and upside down in order to extract the heart of truth. My passion for creating lies in the nucleus of this idea and is what drives me to further my creative aspirations.
The further I dive into the unknown and let my curiosity lead the way, the more I want to learn and grow as an artist. There is something transcendent about the process of creating that enables me to reach further into life and take visual risks while at the same time challenging me to come up with new visions and exciting new frontiers. This exploration has become my parachute into new worlds where color surrounds me and forms become part of me. The whole process is a cathartic revelation that enables me to connect to a higher energy or power like a lightning rod and harness the creative potentials within me. Channeling these forces inspires me to new creative horizons.
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