Interview with Artist Jeff Wack.

By Penelope Brooke Hamilton.

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Penelope: Where were you born and raised?
Jeff: Southern California. I’ve lived in Studio City, California , part of the Hollywood Hills area, for 30 yrs.

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P:What do you love most about where you live?

J: it’s a quiet peaceful hillside neighborhood with easy access to all that the city of Los Angeles has to offer. Museums, galleries, theaters, etc. It’s a big city and there’s always something happening out there every week.

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P: Where did you train/ study?

J: I attended Art Center College of Design in Pasadena Calif.

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P: When did you first discover you liked illustrating? Were you interested in any other mediums before you started to focus on illustrating?

J: I was always drawing and painting but became very interested in Illustration right after High School. I had a job with the City of Simi Valley in the Art Dept (myself and another woman at the time) and she introduced me to Communication Arts Magazine. That is where i became familiar with the many talents of the day in Illustration, Photography and Graphic Design. This was further enforced by a teacher at the local junior college who encouraged me to look into Art Center where he had attended and many of the best talent in those fields had come from as well.

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P: Before the Myth and Muses collection, you had worked on advertisements, movie posters, packaging and publishing. How are these four genres/ industries different from each other? And what are the pros and cons?

J: These all fall under the category of commercial assignments. However, each one has a distinction for it’s particular audience and primarily has different flavors of style and imagery for the purpose involved. I enjoy working within each type depending on any particular assignment. Some have great latitude for concept but most advertising work I am commissioned for has already gone through a process within an advertising agency with many layers of review. Usually with the Art Director, Marketing Dept, Account Executive, Etc. So,by the time I’m involved i am primarily doing an execution of their ideas. Whereas editorial work usually has a much more lenient direction that allows for more artist input from the start.

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P: When did you decide to start painting your own collection? What inspires your pieces of work?

J: I had been contemplating doing some personal works for several years prior to starting the series. When I finally made up my mind to do it I made a personal commitment to
taking the time between my commercial assignments and dedicate it to this end. When it started taking shape I was enthusiastic and that kept propelling me to do more and more and hopefully expand conceptually and improve my skills as I went along.
I draw my source of inspiration from many areas. some old masters works, some contemporary but firmly grounded in an intrinsic appreciation of the female figurative representation. A visual source of beauty, strength, sexual energy and life giving force.


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P: Where do you find your female muses? And what makes them good muses?

J: Initially I had enlisted the help of a friends girlfriend for my first 4 works. After the first ones were done I was able to share the vision with other professional art models who could see the sensibilities in the work and wanted to be a part of it. Good models have the ability to inspire through sharing a common vision, being at ease with the nudity along with an innate sense of their body in space. There is a distinct difference in someone who may feel they are projecting a feeling through movement and those that are capable of a masterful pose at will. Carlotta, one great model I’ve worked with, has the ability to go instantaneously from a serious look to a smile that automatically makes me grin uncontrollably because it is so utterly convincing and genuine.

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P: What do you enjoy the most about digital airbrushing and digital photography? And what would you improve or change if you could?

J: Working with the images digitally allows me to slice and dice at will. I am not a photography purest ( although i have an immense respect for those that are), mine is simply a means to an end. I may end up
“frankensteining” several body parts for one figure. Typically anywhere from 3-10 shots to compose one figure. i an quite aware that I am presenting a stylized work with the figure and take liberty with proportions and the final look.
Each work has more airbrushing and digital paint on it than photography by the end of the process. The digital paint allows for endless reworks but also forces one to commit at a certain point.

I individually hand create unique works on canvas when I show in a gallery setting. Each one is printed by me and hand-embellished with a series of mediums and varnishes. It forces me to reconsider each piece again as recreate the flow and movement though the textures. I also feel it gives anyone who may be interested another layer into the insight of my thinking and a connection with my hand work. The sizes range from 16X28″ up to 40X56″

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P: One of your paintings James Franco signed. When and how did you first meet James Franco? What made you decide to work with actors? And what is it like working with actors and celebrities?

J: We have been friends for several years. He commissioned a series of goddesses for a particular show. Afterwards I did a series of 5 pieces of Mr Franco with some of the art works. Those portraits were inspired and are a homage of sorts to one of my favorite photographers, Edward Stiechen. James is a thoroughly consummate pro and very easy to pose.

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P: Do you have any news or future projects in the pipe-line?

J: I have a new series of several works not yet up on my website but hope to finish-up in the next few months. Additionally there are currently some works on display in Orlando, Florida this month, and talks on some solo shows in other cities next year.

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Post by Penelope Brooke Hamilton.


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