Interview with Justin Jackley

September 10, 2015

Interview with Justin Jackley

“Tripped Out Lowbrow Surrealism”

Justin Jackley is an artist from Austin, Texas. He’s a great
friend of our magazine and also our official illustrator. He made all the
headlines and logos for us and his artwork can be seen on the cover of our
first paper issue of the magazine. 
How old are you and where are you originally from?

I am 31 years old and I was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas.
What was your home like when you were growing up? Was there a lot of art or music around your house? Were either of your parents or any of your close relatives musicians or artists? Or maybe just extremely interested/involved in the arts?

I grew up in a pretty “normal” suburban home in the 1980s and 1990s with a police officer father and a nurse for a mother. My parents didn’t seem to be too much into art or music. They mainly only listened to music when driving and it was always country pop stuff that they would listen to. I didn’t like it then and it really gave me a bad impression of country music until much later when I discovered the older stuff – the “outlaw” country musicians that actually had something to say. I remember my father having a decent collection of 8-track cassettes and records of 1970s rock bands but I rarely remember him ever playing them. Both of my Grandmothers were artistic and painted as a hobby. Mostly landscapes and still life – the usual grandma stuff. The more I think about it, my family was so not into art, music, or literature that it made me have a strong interest in those fields.

What was the local music scene like where you grew up? Do you feel like it played a
large role in shaping your musical or artistic development?

When I got older and realized there was much more music out
there other than what I had been hearing from my parents’ radio, it was
exciting and a bit of a relief. Aside
from the vast majority of people in Texas that listen to bad country and/or
tejano music, there was a strong presence of punk and metal with the younger
people. I never realized how
metal-oriented San Antonio was until I moved a couple hours north to Austin
where the music scene was much more laid back. However, San Antonio was punk and metal. I’ve always been a bit of a recluse or a loner for some reason and
didn’t make it out much. I had a few
friends that played in bands and I’d go to shows occasionally but I wasn’t
involved in the scene at all. It wasn’t
until after college and I moved to Austin that I began to get involved with the
music scene which was much more welcoming. At that point I got really into making fliers, posters, and album covers
for friend’s bands or people I’d meet around town. That led to me setting up art tables at shows
and doing live painting performances while bands would play. I love music but have no musical ability at
all. I was happy to use my art to get in
and make some sort of contribution in that way.
What do you consider to be your first exposure to music? How about art?

Like most kids growing up in the pre-internet days, we were
pretty limited to only hearing the mainstream music of the time. I wasn’t interested in my parent’s music and
there were no music stores nearby to help me out. I was limited to the one rock station in San
Antonio and, of course, the ubiquitous Mtv. So, I’d have to say it was really Mtv that first opened my eyes to the
world of music in the late 1980s and early 1990s. At that time, it was mostly alternative/grunge stuff I was into. Although, I’d say that Primus probably had
the most profound effect on me. It was
great to hear something funky and weird that didn’t sound too much like all the
other bands of the time. Primus’ Sailing
the Seas of Cheese was the first CD I ever bought (I won’t go into detail on my
cassette collection). I still have that
CD – although, it is scratched to hell. Luckily, I bought the vinyl re-release last year and it is still an
amazing album if not even better and more meaningful than it was to me back
Art is another thing I wasn’t really exposed to as a
child. We had grandma paintings on the
wall but that didn’t really do it for me. The closest thing I had to art exposure were cartoons – which I loved
and watched and drew over and over again. I think becoming a cartoonist was the first legitimate idea I had for a
future career. I still regret not being
in the animation world but it’s certainly not too late. 
What are some of the major influences?
First seeing the otherworldly paintings of Hieronymus Bosch
had a big influence on me as a teenager. His large landscapes filled with bizarre creatures and tormented figures are fascinating. It’s even more amazing that he may have
actually seen these sort of things on a daily basis due to ergot poisoning that
causes severe hallucinations (among other less desirable effects) and was
widespread in Europe during his lifetime. As I began to look deeper into art history, I found myself drawn to the
surrealists of the early 20th century – Max Ernst, Andre Masson, and Rene
Magritte to name a few.
In more recent art, I really like Frank Frazetta, RodneyMatthews, and Ralph Steadman.
What’s your opinion regarding 1960s poster making artists?
The big poster artists of the 1960s, of course, also had a
major influence on my work. I really
admire Mouse, Kelley, Wilson, and Moscoso – but in my mind, Rick Griffin will
always be the rightful king of poster art…. I admire those artists for
bridging the gap between fine art and advertisement. I realize that they were not the first
artists to do this – Toulouse-Lautrec and Alphonse Mucha being early pioneers
in the poster world, but there is something to be said about those 1960s artists
being in the right place at the right time with the perfect balance between
progress and rebellion that had a lasting effect on the world. Those artists are still massively important
today. Honestly, it’s hard for me not to
see the influence and borderline copying of Rick Griffin’s posters – especially
his iconic text style. I’m definitely
guilty myself of lifting things from the masters but I try not to take it so
far as to get lost in all the imitators and lose my own identity as an artist –
but there is nothing wrong with a nod to our predecessors.
How would you describe your style?

I would describe my
style as “tripped out lowbrow surrealism.”

Are you a self-taught artist or do you have formal
background/education in art?
I’ve always taken art classes throughout my public education
and later on studied art in college. I
have a BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) in painting from Texas State University in
San Marcos, Texas. I really miss college
classes sometimes and wish I had the time and money to go back to school. Not so much for the degree but to continue
pushing myself and growing as an artist.
What’s the typical creation process like? Do you
work on various of stuff or do you focus on just one particular project?
It depends on whether I am working on personal artwork or a
project for a customer. In my personal
artwork, I usually begin by just scribbling nonsense until it begins to look
like something cool. If it still looks
cool the next day, i may enlarge the whole thing or a section of it onto a
canvas and go full color and more detailed. Although, sometimes I just go straight for the canvas. If it’s awful – I can always just paint over
it again. Working for a customer takes
much more prep work. When trying to
satisfy a paying customer, that usually takes more research, reference images,
and preliminary drawings. 

I tend to take on more projects than I probably should all
at once. At any given time I am usually
working on a few album covers and/or posters as well as some personal projects
and whatever else may pop up. I have a
hard time telling people “no” and sometimes really stress myself out
with too much to do. But I’d rather have
too many things to do than sit here with nothing to do.
Do you have any preferred mediums?
My favorite medium is probably ink and watercolor. I love the looseness and unpredictability of
the watercolor and the permanence of the ink. I do like the way charcoal drawings look but I hate the way they are so
fragile and want to smudge. With
charcoal or pencil drawings I might as well take a photo and trash the original
– it will last longer.

Do you accept commission work? If you do, what’s the best way for interested
parties to get a hold of you?
I certainly do accept commissions and welcome them! I would love to continue working with
musicians and creating album covers and posters for them. I am a big fan of music of various genres but
have zero musical talent myself. I enjoy
being a part of the music scene through my art. As an artist, I am really glad that we are having this vinyl renaissance
going on and that I occasionally get the opportunity to design record
sleeves. That is the way album covers
were meant to be seen – large! Not a
tiny square on an ipod. Any bands or
otherwise that think my style may work for their particular project can email
me at CROM1513@hotmail.com or find me through facebook if you must…
What are some projects you’re most proud of?
One of my favorite posters was in fact rejected and never
used! A few months back, I was asked to
make a poster for some friends in Scotland in a band called the Mushroom
Club. I had worked with them for quite a
while already doing album covers, posters, and t-shirt designs. They had a show coming up opening for Dead
Meadow (interview here and here) and the Cosmic Dead (interview/review).

I was really excited
because I love all those bands and worked really hard to make what I thought
(and still think) was an excellent poster. I even made amendments adding and changing the information per the
venue’s request. Then, at the last
minute, the venue says “No, we are not going to use your
poster.” I wouldn’t have minded at
all if the poster they had used was super bad ass and just blatantly better
than mine. But the poster they used was
a generic “psychedelic mirrored pattern” that someone got off of
google images (I know this because I have the same image in my reference files)
and added the information below it in very plain text. I’m talking Times New Roman or some other
default font. I contacted all of the
bands and they seemed to all really like my poster but it wasn’t their
call. The venue chose that poster that
someone made in 10 minutes for whatever political reasons that were out of my
control. It still kind of burns my ass
how much time and effort i put into that poster and it never made it beyond
facebook. But that’s alright –
hopefully, I can work with those bands again and make something bigger and
I am currently anticipating the release of an album by a
psychedelic band called the Strawberry Jam from London. That will be coming out in October and be
released on vinyl – which is always an honor for me to see my artwork on nice
big record sleeves.
And, of course, I am very proud of my artwork for It’s Psychedelic Baby! Especially the cover
of the first issue which focuses on 60’s psychedelic bands from Austin where I
currently reside. (http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.si/p/store.html)

Last word is yours.

I’d like to thank the fans of It’s Psychedelic Baby for
supporting this project and reading all the excellent articles. Thank you to all the writers, bands,
musicians, and artists that make it all possible and keep their positive
creativity going and sharing it with the world.

– Klemen Breznikar
©Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2015
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