Artist Q&A is a weekly online Alive feature that spotlights the process of a Columbus artist. Know someone we should talk to? Send tips to email@example.com.
Eric Jefferson is a Toledo native and CCAD grad who calls Columbus home. He regularly organizes arts events through his brand Envision-Arts. The artist's most powerful paintings are shadowy portraits of influential African-American artists, but he paints a little bit of everything.
“Every day I walk out the door,” Jefferson said, “I'm looking for what would inspire me to create. This is usually from the world around me. I'm always attracted to images that have a strong sense of shadow as well as emotion or mood. If all those elements are in place, I can create a phenomenal work of art.”
Here are Jefferson’s thoughts on his process, what has been inspiring his work and what three artists he would take to dinner and why.
What do you paint and why?
“I love painting portraits of musicians with oil paints. There’s something special about painting a musical artist you’re listening to. You really feel like you connect to the artist and their music.”
When do you paint and why?
“I usually paint when creativity hits me or I see something that inspires me. I know I have to act upon that creative feeling ASAP before it’s gone. It’s also therapeutic and very relaxing. There’s no better feeling then putting everything on a canvas. It’s also a great way to tell a story or even capture a moment in time, just like a time capsule. All my paintings have some sort of story behind them.”
"Overjoyed," by Eric Jefferson
How often do you paint?
“I actually try and paint whenever I have free time. It can be a bit difficult when you work a regular Monday through Friday job, but if I was to average out my timeframe, I’d guess it would be a large oil painting every two months.”
Where do you paint and why?
“I was painting in part of my living room when I lived in a one-bedroom apartment. Now that I recently moved, I have a spare bedroom that I’ve made into my studio space. It looks like a mini gallery since I have paintings hanging on all of the walls. I currently have to paint at home because I don’t have a real studio space but it keeps me close to my work.”
What has been inspiring your work lately?
“Everyday people and my surroundings inspire me. It doesn’t matter if I’m at work, at church, walking the mall. I always see something that brings about inspiration. When I visited Chicago with my girlfriend the city and its people brought about a creative fire that I haven’t felt since I was attending CCAD. It was a feeling to keep pushing to reach that next level with my art.”
What do you do while you work? Do you watch TV or listen to music?
“I used to watch a lot of Cartoon Network late at night and paint when I was in college, but things started to change when I got older. I need to have some music playing and cut the TV off to focus. I started listening to the artist whose music reflects the art I’m creating. I’m usually listening to some J Dilla, Slum Village, Eric Roberson, Erykah Badu, Common, Little Brother, Renee Dion, etc.”
"J Dilla Tribute," by Eric Jefferson
Do you ever experience artists’ block? If so, what do you do to combat it?
“Oh, definitely. I think every artist does. I know for myself when I had artists’ block, I had to do things to keep myself busy. I’m a graphic designer as well, so I started freelancing to keep creativity flowing. But painting for some reason, I wasn’t inspired. That feeling lasted for a whole year. During that year, I felt empty. There was nothing that I could really do about it. I had to just wait it out. But then one day out the blue, I had the urge to paint. The creative juices started flowing again.”
Tell us three artists, living or dead, that you would invite to a dinner party.
“First I’d invite my favorite artist of all time Justin Bua. He has always been a personal favorite ever since I saw his work in the Slum Village video. He has such a unique style that is all his own and that’s how I feel about my style of painting. … The next artist I’d invite would be Jean-Michel Basquiat. To me he didn’t follow any rules with his art. He was free in the way he would think and the things he would do creatively. That’s the next step I’m going to take with my paintings. And the last artist I’d invite to dinner would actually be a music artist. I’d invite Busta Rhymes. He has always been able to paint a picture with his words and his music. Just look at any one of his music videos. He may not paint or draw on canvas but he has created wonderful works of art with his videos.”
"Jesse Boykins III Tribute," by Eric Jefferson
"Shadow of African Beauty," by Eric Jefferson
"Teddy Pendergrass Tribute," by Eric Jefferson
"Snoop Dog Tribute," by Eric Jefferson
Landscape by Eric Jefferson