In this month’s Visual Arts profile, poet naturalist and surrealist illustrator Christina Mrozik discusses how she has drawn inspiration from nature, travel and humility.
ELEVEN: What is your medium?
Jae Burlingame: I’m a painter. I work with acrylic on canvas, and tend to stay in a uniform size: 18×24. I do that so that if someone likes a few different pieces, they can get them and tile them together to get a pretty cool Andy Warhol comic book kind of effect. They can stand alone too, I dunno, I just think it’s kind of a neat option.
11: How did you come to this style and what defining traits do you think make your art different?
JB: It was a complete accident actually. I had just started painting for the first time ever in my life and had no idea what I was doing. I decided that I wanted to paint a stormtrooper from Star Wars because I’m a nerd. Paint what you know. When I was painting, the background color bled into the character of the painting, and I thought it looked cool so I just expanded from there. I think what makes it different is its simplicity. Bold lines and bold colors. Then there is that tiling effect as well. I personally think the more work I have in one spot the cooler it seems to look. It doesn’t even matter what character is next to what, all random looks just as cool I think.
11: Who are your favorite pop icons?
JB: The Flash, Robin Williams, Eddie Izzard—even if no one knows who that last one is. It’s really hard to say because I’ve painted so many really popular characters, by request or just for fun. My next favorite pop icon might be different next week depending on what I’m working on. That might just be me being fickle or my ADD acting up.
11: Who are the most requested commissions you get asked to paint?
JB: Batman. Hands down. I have done three different Batman paintings already, and when I was making a Superman painting people kept saying “Oh man I wish that was Batman.” I knew he was popular but I never realized just how much until I started doing this. A close second is Captain America, which I’ve only done one of so far but have had several requests to do more. I guess people don’t want so stray from the classics, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
11: What projects are you currently working on?
JB: Right now I’ve been commissioned to do a series of paintings of Street Fighter characters so that [the person buying them] can arrange them on his wall like the character select screen in the original game. Then when that’s done we’ve talked about maybe doing more so that he can expand his living room wall to the Street Fighter 2 character select screen. We’ll see about that when I get the first part done. It’s a really fun and creative idea and I’m looking forward to finishing it.
11: What projects would you like to be working on?
JB: I really want to start working on some propaganda mixed with geek culture pieces. I know this has been done before and isn’t much of an original idea, but I have some ideas for some works that I think would be really fun to make. If you’re not having fun with it then what’s the point?
11: If you had access to all the supplies and everything was set up to paint a 20 story mural, what would you paint?
JB: I’d say screw that, I’m afraid of heights. If I was going to do an enormous mural like that I would probably end up doing something to scale. Like a full size Gundam or a Titan from Attack on Titan just to mess with people.
11: Who are your favorite artists? Who inspires you?
JB: I named my dog Warhol, so that should tell you something. I like Andy Warhol not for the content of what he made, which he admitted was supposed to be meaningless, but more for the color palette in his work. I’m a big fan of big bold bright colors. I also really like the repetition and uniformity which I try to incorporate in my stuff. For example the large stormtrooper paintings I’ve done—if you look at the whole thing from afar they look identical, but if you move up close you can notice they are all hand painted, and no two are exactly the same.
11: What’s your experience being an artist in Portland?
JB: I’ve only ever done art in Portland. There doesn’t seem to be a shortage of places to hang your stuff, coffee shops and bars all over the city are constantly rotating in local art. Last Thursdays on Alberta is also an a awesome venue to show work as well, and is actually where I met the owners of those bars and coffee shops I’ve done shows at.
11: Who do you see really making waves in the art scene here right now? Is there anybody you would like to give a shout-out to?
JB: Ben Perkins is an awesome painter and comic artist. Matt Grigsby is another amazing comic artist. Really talented guys. Ben Canales is a phenomenal photographer and is the one who has been helping me make time lapse videos of my paintings. »
– Veronica Greene