Viva Bang Bang

Artist Feature [ Jess Black ]

Brittany TaylorComment
Image: Shanoa Garcia, SAGE Projects

Image: Shanoa Garcia, SAGE Projects

When I saw Jess Black's new work, my heart pitter pattered a little bit. Every piece resonated with me and I wanted to study every inch of the canvas. 

Jess Black grew up around Chicago, fled to New York at age 17 with only $400 in his pocket and signed a modeling contract a short time later. Fast forward a little bit and Black is now a well known, neo and abstract expressionist artist living in Los Angeles with an all new body of work.

Black's new work, curated by SAGE Projects and currently on display in a solo exhibition titled, "Timely Disorder", seeks to communicate and explore tendencies toward divided attention of the contemporary mind, while cultivating awareness of one's own engagement with this modern day disposition. 

See Jess Black's interview below!

White Wigs of the Court

Your work has garnered a lot of critical acclaim and attention. Some critics are even drawing comparisons between your work and that of Jean Michel Basquiat, Francis Bacon, and Wassily Kandinsky. How do such comparisons make you feel? Does it add a certain level of pressure?

I don't really think about it honestly. I don't  have a formal arts education and I certainly didn't study art history, so when the comparisons began I had to do quick google searches on my phone to decide if the comparisons were compliments.  I'm a little wiser these days about the artists who came before me.  I understand that people like to make comparisons so they can fit you neatly into categories.  For me the comparisons make me want to dig deeper and ensure that I am presenting work that is 100% me and not reflective of those from another generation. Though I have to admit that I do hope that in 50 years someone sees a young painter and says to him, "That looks a little like a Jess Black."

Timely Disorder.jpeg

I'm very interested in the pivotal moments in people's lives - usually moments that don't seem that significant until retrospect. Looking back, what would you say is the most critical moment in the earliest part of your career as an artist?  

I would have to say when I made the decision to be a full time artist and made that my path. I have done several things in the past for work. Not too terribly long ago when I made the decision to pursue art and only art, was life changing. There was no "B" plan. I had and do have tunnel vision. I think that is important.

What's next for you and your work? 

I was just discussing this with my manager.  I know I am going to be doing a show in Paris, France, probably in Spring 2015.  However, I have no idea what I will be painting or what type of collection will develop.  There have been a lot of issues I've wanted to explore in art . . . issues you wouldn't think would work with a visual medium, but I may give it a try.

On Your Every Word.jpeg

Do you have a dream collaboration?  

Hmm... I have a deep respect for writers, maybe because I feel like I have zero talent in that area. People who tell beautiful stories, paint pictures really with their words are amazing to me. I would at some point maybe like to collaborate with a writer in some form. Maybe a collection of paintings that mirror some sort of script, book or life story. Something where the words and the paintings all come together to tell the story.

It seems like you have a lot of creative talent that extends beyond painting. How do these other passions and talents influence your painting?

I think creativity takes many forms.  I sing, I even recorded an album awhile ago.  I enjoy cooking and have been told that I am pretty good at it.  I think it is all part of the creative process.  I think a lot of artists express their creativity with more than one outlet.  I view the world from a creative perspective.  As such, everything influences my paintings.

What advice do you have for anyone wanting to become a professional artist? 

It really depends on your goals as an artist.  If it is just to create, then create.  Paint or sculpt or draw as much as you can and let the creativity flow through you.  If your goal is to be an artist who earns a living from your creativity, then you have to have business savvy.  You have to learn to look at your art as not only an expression of who you are, but also as a commodity.  If you find that you are having a hard time separating your emotions from the business side, then find someone to partner with who can.

Breaking Binds.jpeg

What artists do you look to for inspiration or who are some of your favorite contemporary artists?

There is the Australian artist Brett Whitely who is no longer with us. I admire his work but I am inspired by how he navigated the art world as a working artist. He, like me had no formal training. He was extremely business savvy. But at the same time took a lot of risks creatively.

I recently came upon a photographer named Dean West who does this beautiful surrealist photography. He has a series of beach scenes that I love.


Do you collect art? If so, what was the first piece of art in your collection?

I actually don't collect 2D art.  So many of my own works are on my walls and then they sell and new works go up.  What does seem to inspire me are fabrics.  I love patterns and color combinations.  I might have a bowl I bought at a thrift store, but my pillows are custom made from imported fabrics.  :)

What's the best thing about being an artist in LA?

After being an artist in NYC I would have to say the weather.  The sun is amazing here.  The light is amazing.  I can create all year round without the feeling that I need to hibernate between October and April.

If someone is visiting LA for 24 hours, what are the things they must do while they're there?

The beach. Sand and sun. After living in NYC for a very long time when I walk on the beach here I always think to myself "I'm living the California dream"!

Jess Black's show will be on view at the Gateway Gallery @ Cooper Design Space in downtown Los Angeles until August 14, 2014. 

Press or Purchasing Inquiries: info@sage-projects or visit Sage Projects online

Artist Feature [ Jennifer Davis ]

Brittany TaylorComment

I first discovered Jennifer Davis' work on Pinterest and was immediately drawn to the colorful, exotic imagery. This led me to her personal site and Etsy shop, where I fell in love with her work even more. Jennifer is a fine artist based in Minneapolis and was gracious enough to share her story and work with us today.

Tell us a little about you background and what led you to become an artist.

After finishing all of my general requirements at the University of MN I was still having trouble figuring out what I wanted to DO. I took a drawing class with my roommate and fell deeply in love with making art. I ended up staying on for several more years (taking just about every art class offered) and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine arts degree in painting and drawing - with a minor in Art History- in 1998. So- it was not until college that I discovered my passion for art. I started doing art full time when I was laid off from my day job at an advertising agency in 2003. That is when I made art the focal point of my life.

Tell us a little about your process (research, tools used, etc.)

I've always thought of my process as a sort of Free Association method. I don't plan out any of my paintings, rather I just sit down and start doing- building off of whatever bubbles up. In order to make sure I don't run out of ideas I always try to keep my eyes peeled for interesting visual cues or ideas. My paintings are mostly acrylic/graphite on mounted wood panels, sometimes paper. I also like to paint on found thrift store junk objects.

Your paintings are so colorful and exotic feeling. What sort of things do you look to for inspiration? 

Are there any particular artists, books or songs that really get your imagination going? I collect found images and constantly troll the internet looking for art to inspire. Flickr Commons (vintage Creative Commons photos) is another rich source of inspiration for me. I'm inspired by animals, carnival stuff and all things vintage, especially toys. I love playing around with color combinations. I love looking at other people's art too. Right now I am swooning over:

Marco Wagner 
Aris Moore
Jennifer Sanchez  
I post art I like on Pinterest here: and I am particularly fond of my fellow MN artists- I post about them here:

Outside of painting, what other sort of creative pursuits do you have?

None that I can think of...Ha! I spend time working every single day in my studio.

I also like to ride my bike everywhere and I am a big film fanatic.

What's next for you and your work?

I'm creating a series of hand-pulled prints for Springboard for the Arts CSA: Community Supported Arts Project, and a temporary (cat) tattoo for the Walker Art Center's 2014 Internet Cat Video Festival and some other fun projects. My next solo exhibition is at Low Gallery in San Diego, CA in Sept.

What's the best part about being an artist in Minneapolis?

I've been working as an artist here since the late 90s so it feels like a really small community to me. My community of artists is tight-knit, supportive and inspiring. There is also a lot of funding support and many inclusive opportunities/galleries. I think this is a great place to be a working artists.


What's the perfect way to spend the day in Minneapolis?

My favorite way to spend the day is on a Cycle N Sip (as my pal Betsy named it)...riding all over town on my bike with my BF, Brad making stops whenever we are tired for food/beer/art/music.

We have recently visited many favorites including Sea Salt Eatery (a fish restaurant in a park overlooking Minnehaha Falls), Soo Visual Arts CenterPublic FunctionaryRosalux GalleryIzzy's Ice Cream, several new taproom/breweries and my favorite dive bar Dusty's.

What advice do you have for aspiring creatives who want to earn a living creating art? 

There are a lot of daily tasks involved in making a living as an artist that have nothing to do with actually making art. It is basically like running a small business- bleh. It is easy to get distracted by all of that stuff but the most important thing is to make art. A lot of it and all of the the time.


What's your dream collaboration?

I did a grant project last year involving vintage carousels. I'd love to paint a carousel animal- or a whole merry-go-round full of them...=0)


What does a typical day look like for you? 

Ideally- in the studio all day, outside playing all eve.


What books/articles do you think are must reads for creatives?

I don't know. I wish someone would tell me. I read mostly contemporary fiction as an escape. However, I will shamelessly plug this new book by Daniel Krysa because it is really great: 

Creative Block: Get Unstuck, Discover New Ideas. Advice & Projects from 50 Successful Artists

Check out more of Jennifer's work on her website and in her Etsy shop!

Art Roundup [ Bright Paintings ]

Brittany TaylorComment
Bright, Colorful Paintings

I'm taking a much needed break from covering everything I own in plastic wrap (for the move) so that I can share with you a few of my new favorite paintings. Whether you're looking for inspiration for your own work or you're wanting to expand your personal art collection, I'm pretty sure these colorful works will be just what you're looking for. Or not. And that's fine too. 

1. Jim Harris, "Untitled" 

About the artist via his Saatchi Art profile - "American Artist living and working in Japan. I listen to mostly jazz when painting. Currently I'm mainly influenced by Japanese architecture, both contemporary and ancient." 

2, Signe & Genna, "Townies"

About the artists via their website - "Partners in both life and art, Signe & Genna have been collaborating for nearly ten years. Genna begins their process by applying rich layers of pattern and tone to gessoed masonite or linen supports. Signe then selects an inspiration image from their extensive collection of vintage found photos, draws with oil pastel atop the abstract underlayer using the photo for reference, and completes the image with blocky 'panes' of oil color." 

Their work can currently be seen at the local Leiper’s Creek Gallery in Leiper's Fork, Tennessee (one of my favorite galleries).

3. Leslie Shiels, "Crossing Hounds"

This artist's work can also currently be seen at the local Leiper’s Creek Gallery in Leiper's Fork, Tennessee.

4. Lulie Wallace, "Flowers for Avril"

Currently based in Charleston, South Carolina, this artist says that her "hope is that [her] paintings simply bring a piece of joy to the homes they inhabit." 

5.  Hester Van Dapperen, "Los ángeles"

About the artist via her Saatchi Art profile - "Contemporary visual artist Hester van Dapperen is based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The artist about her work: In my visual work, I am fascinated by the human in motion - my reflection of contemporary reality."

I hope you enjoy these bright paintings and have a bright summery week!

Viva Bang Bang Online Shop Now Open!

Brittany TaylorComment
Map of Nashville
Embroidered Piece

I know the shop was scheduled to open June 1st, but I wanted to launch a little early! I've decided to only use the Etsy platform to sell my art right now and am very excited to have finally opened the shop that I created months ago.

I have plans to add more pieces in the upcoming months, but hope you enjoy what I've listed in the meantime! I've also decided to run this as a 6 month project for now. In 6 months, if I'm still enjoying the shop, I'll keep going, but if I feel the project's run it's course, I'll shut the doors indefinitely. 

I'm excited to see how this project goes and thank you to everyone who's supported me in going for it!

Visit the shop here

UI Composition

Local Lovely [ Kitty Cat Stevens ]

Brittany TaylorComment
Dinosaur Book

Jenna and I met in an Advanced Bookmaking class in college. I don't make a lot of books these days. Jenna makes awesome books all the time. 

Jenna runs the blog Kitty Cat Stevens where she posts about handmade books, sewing projects, embroidery, & calligraphy. She is starting her own business and let me (and my friend Allison) come over to take photos of her studio the other week – it's taken me forever to get this post up! While I'm kicking myself for not getting better lighting on these (my photography skills are still in the works), I think they manage to show a hint of how wonderful her studio was. 

It was filled with vintage books and baubles and dresses and was just wonderful. 

Kitty Cat Stevens' Studio
Kitty Cat Stevens
Kitty Cat Stevens
Kitty Cat Stevens
Kitty Cat Stevens
Kitty Cat Stevens
Kitty Cat Stevens

You can follow Jenna on Twitter, Instagram, and Bloglovin' and sign up for updates on the Kitty Cat Stevens Bookcraft & Stitchery shop here.