"A perfect day is the sun shining through my window and the dog sitting on the couch across from my desk and we’re surrounded by calm and quiet."
Jayfleck has an innate ability to create stunningly charming situations from seemingly simple circumstances. Armed with a background in illustration and design, the Illinois native took inspiration from the birth of his children and a childhood spent exploring the natural world to build an artistic practice that highlights the surreal magic in the everyday.
We chatted with Jay about his background, his work habits, and his appreciation for animals in our latest Featured Artist interview.
The animals in your work are always on the go, whether they’re floating, flying, or falling. Can you talk about your relationship with motion?
I like to set images against blue skies, the clouds, the sun. I think if that’s your backdrop then it works best if there’s something happening — some movement or action in the foreground to draw your eye. And I like images showing characters having fun, going on adventures, having a tea party, floating from balloons, flying, etc. And movement is just a part of that.
Let’s start backwards – what do you wish you had known at the beginning of your artistic career or practice?
I wasn’t patient. I would start on something with the intention of getting the entire work done in a few hours at most. If the work wasn’t coming together quite how I wanted, I would get frustrated and just abandon it. I’m much better now at working on something little by little, putting it aside if I’m stuck and getting back to it later with a fresher mind and new perspective.
Where do you primarily draw inspiration from?
I draw inspiration from everywhere. I take pictures of things that I see when I’m out and about, I spend an hour or so a day looking at images. I read to my children. And I run. Running is a great break to my day and I can clear my mind and just think without distraction.
What is a perfect day in the studio like for you? Do you have a ritual or routine for making artwork?
A perfect day is the sun shining through my window and the dog sitting on the couch across from my desk and we’re surrounded by calm and quiet. I work from home and am lucky that I can spend so much time with my children but also like it when they keep interruption to a minimum.
Are you hopeful about the future for illustration and design? And for your own artistic practice?
Yes, definitely! Illustration and design is stronger than than ever. Millions and millions of searchable images are available and accessible with just a phone. Great art from hundreds of years in the past or digital work someome created just hours ago. It’s all right there. If I feel like I’m in a rut, or don’t know what to work on next, I just hit up Google or Pinterest and get the juices flowin’.
"My kids are also great for feedback. I'll show them something I'm working on and if they say 'aww, that's cute' or 'ha, that's so funny!' then I know something works. If they ask 'what is that?' or 'is that supposed to be a wiener dog or a stick?' then I know it's not quite there."
I love the whimsy in your work “Onward,” have you always had a very whimsical imagination?
I think so, yes. I grew up when there were no flatscreens in cars and an iPad wasn’t shoved into my lap whenever I was restless. I had to stare out the car window during long trips, invent my own games, use my imagination. I think that has always helped me creatively. I had to use my mind rather than passively stare at a screen.
How has being a parent changed your relationship to art making?
I have two young children and therefore read a lot of picture books. I think my work has become more character-driven and hopefully cute and charming as a result. My kids are also great for feedback. I’ll show them something I’m working on and if they say “aww, that’s cute” or “ha, that’s so funny!” then I know something works. If they ask “what is that?” or “is that supposed to be a wiener dog or a stick?” then I know it’s not quite there.
Could you talk to us about your childhood, and how that influenced you to become an artist?
I liked being outside, climbing trees, and roaming through fields. I was allowed a considerable amount of freedom. My parents weren’t always hovering overhead. I was allowed to think for myself and make my own choices, to an extent. That freedom begets individually and creativity.
What are you looking forward to creating next?
I’m working on four children’s books. Those will occupy most of my time for the next few months. Hopefully I’ll find some time here and there to work on more random fun stuff that will show up here on Redbubble.