Our Artist - Marty Jones

1 February 2019

An interview with Marty Jones from Portland, Oregon.

Here he talks to Artists Info about his work.

Please describe your artwork style

My 'body of work' is fairly eclectic in its nature and isn't specifically geared toward one type of illustration; however, all of my illustrations are realistically-styled. My preferred media is digitally-coloured graphite.

What’s your background?

I don't remember a time that I didn't draw; I began drawing "seriously" in High School and intended to become a Technical Illustrator. Lack of planning and foresight led me to a degree in Architecture, instead of an education in Art. Further distractions, such as "lack of work" led me to two construction-related careers. Nonetheless, I've worked as a freelance commercial artist and designer for over 40 years, finding little time for "serious" illustration until 1988, when a ruptured appendix and a brush with death caused me to re-evaluate my goals and priorities. I realized that my future wasn't predictable; and that the Eternal has given me a talent intended to be used for the benefit of others. I then decided it was time to get "serious" about my career as an illustrator.

How long have you been an artist?

Almost 60 years

Who or what are your biggest influences?

Norman Rockwell, N.C. Wyeth, Maxfield Parrish, Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Richard Jesse Watson, Boris Vallejo…

How have you developed your career?

I’ve been self-employed as a Building Code Consultant, and as a freelance illustrator, for over 18 years. Much of my work has been with architectural clients, primarily showing them how they can better work with governmental authorities, in terms of Building Code Compliance. Nearly all of my consulting work relies on the creation of technical illustrations.

My aspirations are to continue to produce the best work that I can and continue to meet my client’s needs. I’m at a place in my career where I don’t need to be the most innovative supplier in the marketplace; that is the work of younger people who have ‘larger’ aspirations than doing work well.

I am doing the work I aspired to do; but it does look different than what I expected. I have made new decisions about the quality of life I want to live.

Where do you create your work?

I mostly work within my home; either in my office or in some other part of the house.

What do you feel is the role of the artist in society? 

"May I impress upon every reader that illustration is life as you perceive and interpret it. That is your heritage as an artist and is the quality that will be most sought for in your work. Try never to lose it, or subordinate it to the personality of another. As far as you and your work are concerned, life is line, tone color and design--plus your feelings about it."

Andrew Loomis, Creative Illustration

What techniques / mediums do you use? 

My preferred media is digitally-coloured graphite.

Which is more important to you, the subject of your painting, or the way it is executed? 

I used to paint. I enjoyed painting. I took one of my paintings to an SCBWI Convention in LA and showed it to the notable Uri Shulevitz. His response was, ‘why do you paint so big? You’ll never meet deadlines’. He was correct. My book contracts have all had deadlines that were too close to the time of contract-signing to even think about paint.

I began digitally-coloring scans of my graphite drawings; in time, I added digital ‘airbrushing’ [it’s all ones and zeroes]. Now, several years and a neurological condition later, painting for me would only be an option for ‘modern art’—I can’t paint a straight line, and my ovals look like pineapples. I can hold a mouse, and I have come to feel as good about the images made from ones and zeroes as the painted ones. There is still a sense of longing, however…

What project are you working on now?

I’m currently working on some illustrations for a Jules Verne exhibition in London. I’m also working on a re-issue of A Scandal in Bohemia, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I illustrated a Korean-Language version earlier this century, and am now working on the book I would have like to have published.

Any current or up-coming exhibitions?

Amazing Adventures: An Exhibition of Art Inspired by the Works of Jules Verne.

London, April 2019

Where do you find your ideas for your work?

For client-work, they provide the ideas and I interpret their ideas with my own imagination.

For ‘personal’ work, these days in the US, I’ve been creating politically-centered, ‘protest’ images more than in the past. These images often show up in my Chronicles in Ordinary Time blog [ https://mjarts.blog ]

Is there an artwork you are most proud of? Why? 

All of the images on my portfolio page: https://mjarts.com/

I’ve come to a place in my life where I mostly want to work on projects that have meaning for me, and that are well-executed.

How do you know when a work is finished?

When I’ve stopped revising it.

What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?

My computers.

Is there an element of art you enjoy working with most? Why?

See my answer to [2] above.

See more of Marty's work here: http://www.mjarts.com/

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