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Interview

Jeff Soto

 



Selfportrait

Jeff Soto


Jeff Soto was born in 1975. He got interested in the visual arts at a young age - fascinated by Star Wars and Robotech, which are still his major inspirations.

He graduated in 2002 with distinction at Art Center College of Design (Pasedana, California). He is currently working as a gallery artist and illustrator.

Soto's works are a fusion of his diverse interests such as plants, cacti, (retro) science fiction and graffiti...




© Jeff Soto
 

Interview With Jeff Soto


By Dorian Denes & Agata Janus

From graffiti walls to gallery spaces - tell us more about this development.

I started doing graffiti the same time as I got interested in painting on canvas (sophmore year of high school). The two always went hand in hand for me, I wanted to show in galleries and at the same time rock walls. After I got out of high school I had more 'success' in the world of graffiti, but as I got older my emphasis started turning to expressing myself through painting and drawing. There were limitations to what I felt I could do with spraypaint, for example there were only certain colors available back then. Graffiti was a big part of my development as an artist but I don't consider myself a 'street' or 'urban' artist.

What about the American "underground" scene? Are you a part of that?

I don't know. I'm not trying to fit into any scene, I'm just trying to create work that I'm proud of. My work gets grouped in with the underground artists- graffiti, illustration, hot rod, skate, comics, etc. and I know many of these people so maybe I am part of the movement. I'll let someone else decide.

Do you like Art critics?

I'm cool with the critics, but haven't had too many reviews. In a way I think it's unfair for one person to make a decision on someone's work without meeting the artist or seeing them work and create in person.

Your images have a great amount of detail. How detailed do you do your sketches?

The sketches are pretty basic, just enough detail to get me started with an idea. The paintings usually turn out pretty different. I like working that way because it gives me freedom and lets things happen accidentally which sometimes end up nice.

Any interesting "rituals" before you start creating?

I used to go on walks and look at plants and nature to clear my mind. I also used to paint from my dreams. But these days I'm too busy so I just paint everyday and build off of past projects.

Do you have prefered working hours? Do you pay attention to the time of the day or maybe specific lighting?

Late at night, my best work comes during the hours of 11pm-5am. No one calling on the phone or asking me for help. Just me and my music and my mind. I love it.

You also seem to paint on "recycled materials" - do you consider it to be a concept? How important is it?

It's not that important, I just like the way it looks. But sometimes a nice old plank of wood will inspire me to paint something particular on it.

Who buys your paintings? To be able to successfully sell your art must be very rewarding.

I love the fact that I'm living off my art! It's been my dream for so long and I'm grateful to everyone who's bought pieces in the last couple years. All kinds of people have purchased pieces- from the rich to the practically poor. Designers, art collectors, other artists, professionals, students, all kinds of people from several countries. I love them all!

You mention that you have many influences, but is there one artist in or one particular art work that leaves you speechless?

There's been several but the one that stands out was a Van Gogh. It was one of his many olive tree grove paintings. There was nothing really special about it, not one of his famous paintings or anything, but, I felt his presence, I could read his brush strokes, I could see his hand. It really affected me, and Van Gogh remains one of my favorites to this day.

Have you met an Alien yet? Your favourite robot?

I've met illegal aliens. Does that count? Nope, never seen any aliens, but I do think they must exist somewhere out there. It'd be sad if our planet was the only life supporting place in the universe. My favorite robot? Probably the transforming Valkyries from Macross. Or maybe Darth Vader.

How is your cacti collection?

My plants have been doing alright lately but I lost several of them last summer when I forgot to water them. Most people think cacti don't need too much water, but they do when the temp. is above 100. What sucks is that sometimes you can't tell if they're dead for months.

Are you planning another chapter to the Robots Have Feelings Too collective? Can you reveal any other future plans?

That group show was fun and a lot of work. I'd like to curate another group show sometime maybe in 2005 but with only 8-10 artists that follow a theme in their personal work. I have some ideas but nothing set in stone yet.

Jeff Soto
Interviewed by Dorian Denes & Agata Janus

 

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Jeff Soto

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