3DValley Featured 2D Artist for April 2008 – Jay Garfinkle or for some of you better known as Ensomniac. Jay is and artist from New York City and has been working in the graphic industry on and off for more than 25 years. His career shifted from laser animation and choreography to scenic painting for the movie industry. Currently he is working as a freelance artist and is back to his roots; creating traditional art. Please read our interview with Jay below to get to know him and his art a bit better.
Christa: Can you tell us a bit about yourself: Who you are and what you do in your daily life?
Jay: I’m an artist living in NYC. I moved here after fifteen years in L.A, where my career shifted from laser animation and choreography to scenic painting for the movie industry. Then I moved into home automation graphic art and now back to my roots in traditional arts. I’m originally from Northern Nevada where I grew up having a great appreciation for nature in all its forms. I’m pretty much down here on Earth, but I spend some of my time exploring parallel universes. That is to say, I try to be well informed and somewhat unpredictable. Art is my passion and I’m passionate about sharing it.
Christa: Which software packages and/or traditional materials do you use for your digital paintings?
Jay: I’ve used many programs. Photoshop meets most of my needs. For a while all I had was PhotoDraw. As limited as that may sound, some of my favorite digital work was born using it. I’ve also used Maya, Electric Image, 3DSMax and ZBrush. I have serious appreciation for anyone who has the time and patience to master these programs. Most of what I do begins with a sketch, usually in pen or pencil. Acrylic is my paint of choice, on Masonite usually. I’ll do touch-ups with Photoshop for things I put on the web, but I prefer to leave the original alone if I can.
Christa: Where did you go to school and how did they prepare you for your career?
Jay: I haven’t had any formal training in art. I consider the hands on practical experience that I’ve been lucky enough to have, and the variety of projects and people I‘ve met along the way, a gift and in many ways a greater advantage.
Meditation – Ballpoint pen drawing
Christa: Have you always wanted to be an artist? And what do you think you would be doing now if you didn’t become an artist?
Jay: As far back as I can remember, yes. There’s a lot of talent in my family so I had a lot of support from very early on. If I couldn’t be an artist, I’d be an art teacher or maybe a gardener.
Christa: Can you tell us a bit of the way you work on your art?
Jay: Atmosphere is crucial for me. I guess there’s sort of a thrill in having people watch me work. When I am alone, relaxed, listening to my favorite music, I tend to put myself in a state of calm. I picture in my mind the finished piece. Most of the time I can produce what I set out to. Other times things become somewhat different than what I intended. Some of these pieces are my best work. If I plan to create a painting from a sketch, I’ll do a more refined version of it. Now the sketch has become a drawing. Occasionally, I’ll stop there. Usually I transfer the drawing onto the material I’ve decided to paint on. At this point, it all comes down to my mood, the atmosphere and time.
Christa: Do you have a favorite piece of your own artwork and why?
Jay: It is really hard to pick one. My last series of paintings brought me closest to feeling comfortable and content at the time. Among them are “Orbs on the Stairs”, “Island” and “Falcon”. Of my paintings, these are the most personal to me because they represent places and things that have influenced me immensely. From the Ballpoint pen series, “Meditation” and “Emotions Eleven” are my favorites.
Orbs On The Stairs – Acrylic on canvas – Original size, 30″ x 40″
Christa: Who or what would you describe as having the most influences on your work/ style?
Jay: When I was very young Albrecht Durer’s work inspired me to concentrate on fine details. Later M.C. Escher’s work taught me to appreciate complex art. When I found Dali, I related to his mysterious and provocative imagery. My uncle Kenneth Madsen was a huge inspiration. His memory still influences my need to paint and draw with clarity.
Christa: How would you describe your own style?
Jay: Mysterious and pleasing I hope. I create most of my work from a deep subconscious level. At times I don’t even feel in control of what’s happening. But I believe it’s coming from hidden places in my mind and meant to convey feelings and sometimes messages. I’m very focused right now on fine art, but I continue to do graphic art and commissions. When working for a client, I don’t let my mind wander quite as much.
Christa: Which areas of creating art do you enjoy the most?
Jay: There’s a moment when you feel you’ve clinched it. You’ve succeeded… some times even more than you expected. The moment the art takes over and lets you know it’s time to walk away.
Scanner – mixed media
Tarot III fantasy – mixed media
Christa: I really love your Symmetria ballpoint drawings. Can you tell us some more about how you start such an image and how long it takes to create one?
Jay: Thank you Christa. I guess I started this series to pull everything together; my art, my style and my life. I’ve worked in many art arenas. For a while I felt I lost something I once had. A pure vision, uncontaminated by other styles or ideas. Most of the symmetry series began as ballpoint pen drawings. The drawings were done when many aspects of my life were in turmoil. They became my release or escape. Most of them took about six to eight hours to finish. They usually began as a line or two, a dance if you will. Each new stroke needed to compliment the last one. By compliment I mean it needed to continue the feeling exhibited by the first one. If I were really having a difficult day, some of my most serene, peaceful and positive drawings emerged. “Emotions Eleven”, for example. Other times, when feeling more confident or safe perhaps, I would delve into more mysterious pictures. I like challenges so being successful with a simple ballpoint pen is very rewarding.
Christa: You work with various kinds of mediums (traditional, digital) to create your artwork with. What advantage does one has over the other for you?
Jay: My favorite is pencil; it’s where I started. The computer offers so many ways to correct mistakes and enhance your work, so there are advantages with digital. There’s a reality and humbleness though, in traditional work.
Christa: How many years do you work in the industry?
Jay: Off and on for at least 25 years. Whenever my work was outside the industry though, who I am has never changed. I’m an artist and that comes out in everything I do.
Emotions eleven – Ballpoint pen drawing
Christa: You work for many large companies like Universal Studios, Disney, Creative visions, Stargate Films, and BSUN Media. What was your first break in the business?
Jay: My first position as an illustrator was with Creative Visions, an Ad Agency in LA. My experience with high profile work began with lasers: laser light show animation and choreography. At that time I was working for Starlasers. also in LA. I was part of a team that tackled some of the most cutting edge effects shows in the country. Effects used by some of the studios you mentioned. I’d been in and around the entertainment industry and was introduced to many creative people. I began networking and eventually ended up behind the scenes doing visual effects for TV and Film.
Christa: You worked on many projects. Do you have a favorite projects you have worked on and if so why?
Jay: The most rewarding job I ever had was as an art teacher for grades 2 through 5. Teaching children was not only challenging, it forced me to change some things about the way I approach my work. There’s a moment when a child starts the creative process which is undeniably pure art, as it should be, impulsive and honest.
Christa: You are working freelance. What do you feel are the advantages and disadvantages of working from home?
Jay: The advantages are having the freedom to create your own schedule. The hardest thing to do is to stick to that schedule and remember you are the business.
Christa: Do you have tips for beginning artist out there?
Jay: Be yourself. Don’t take your talent for granted and use it wisely. Network, network, network.
Trickster – Mixed media
The fix – Mixed media
Christa: Are you currently working on something that you can share with us?
Jay: I have a few projects in progress right now. A new series of paintings for a show here in New York later this year, some illustrations for a book and I continue to press on with my never-ending adventures in computer art.
Christa: Besides 3Dvalley.com, which other graphic sites do you visit regularly?
Jay: One of my favorite sites for artist is Renderosity. I have to say that because I started my first online gallery there, met some great people and made some very good contacts. DeviantART is like the Vegas of art sites but I do enjoy myself there too. Saatchi Gallery, Artmajeur, InnerTraveler, Projekt30 and MOCA: Museum of Computer Art are a few good places to find great work. I spend a lot of time looking at individual artists sites too.
Christa: Is their something you can’t work without?
Jay: Good music, coffee, and nag champa.
Christa: What do you do when you are not working or creating something?
Jay: Spending time with my fiancé, walking around New York City, exercising, eating good food, listening to music, reading, and watching films. If I have the time I like to venture to the beach or the mountains for inspiration. I spend the rest of my time visiting Internet friends. I’ve created a site for collecting some of my favorite artists images. Some of my favorites from 3DValley like Bernard Dumaine, Jim Tetlow and many others from around the web have their work on the site.
Street sweeper – Ballpoint pen drawing
Christa: Thanks for your time and the interview Jay!