MIXED MEDIUM: JESSE DRAXLER

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Minneapolis-based visual artist Jesse Draxler is the latest feature in our Mixed Medium series. His visceral work transcends genre and medium and has been featured in Elle, Creem, and The New York Times. In his own words, “Jesse Draxler is an artist who is living and working. He was born somewhere and will die somewhere else. A list of my art happenings n’ shit over the years can be found here.” Check out our interview with Jesse, and some of our favorite works of his, which include photo collages, texts, and a .GIF self-portrait (seen above).

OAK: A lot of your work distorts or transforms an original image to create something new. When working on something like KRIZ10 or your editorial for Creem, where is your jumping off point?
JESSE DRAXLER: Creating a mood. Other than that my process is reactionary. I listen to the images. They tell me what to do.

OAK: When working with layers and cut-outs, at what point do feel like a work or a series is complete?
JD: It’s a gut feeling. It’s obvious when a piece is complete.

OAK: When looking through your work, something that really stood out for me was the text-driven Samo, 30 pieces from the last 30 minutes of Radiant Child, the Jean Michel Basquiat biopic. Can you talk a bit about this series and Basquiat’s influence on your work?
JD: There was a period of time in which I watched Radiant Child on nearly a daily basis. That series was created one evening while sitting on my couch and in the last 30 minutes of the movie I grabbed a stack of paper and a paint marker and jotted down quotes from the movie. I didn’t think about it. It wasn’t until some time later that I revisited the stack and saw it as a legit series of work.

I’m sure Basquiat’s aesthetic bears some influence on my studio practice, but what I am most drawn to was his attitude, him as a person/artist. He’s one of those artists who’s greatest work of art was his life and how he lived it.

OAK: Who or what else influences you? Is there anything on the current art or pop culture landscape that you’ve been particularly drawn to these days?
JD: The cosmos. The supernatural. Multidimensional theories. Sex. Beauty. Dark matter & dark energy. The unknown.

OAK: How does music influence you? What are you currently listening to?
JD: Music bears a lot of weight on my studio practice. I listen to music that suits the mood I am trying to achieve. Sometimes music dictates that mood. I may react to an album I feel particularly akin to, trying to create a visual equivalent. It’s hard to name just a few things I am listening to, I listen to so much and a broad range of genres but a few key artists recently would be: Forest Swords, Nicolas Jaar, Holy Other, Weekend, Yung Lean, I’m beginning to get into the new Pusha T and Danny Brown albums, at this very moment I’m listening to Gauntlet Hair’s most recent and its sounding pretty good, and I gotta give a shout out to all the amazing local homies I am privileged enough to work with – Bollywood, Umami, Fort Wilson Riot, Forsthays, Nyteowl, etc.

OAK: What about being based in Minneapolis helps your work? What about your environment influences you?
JD: My environment doesn’t influence my work. Minneapolis is comfortable for the time being. Comfort can be both a good and bad thing to an artist, but at this stage in my career comfort is necessity. I have my eye on some other locations that could become potential homes in the future but for the time being MPLS is treating me well.

OAK: What, if anything, holds you back?
JD: Gravity and self doubt.

OAK: You’ve explored a lot of different mediums in your work, often combining more than one in a series. Is there a particular medium you prefer over the others? Or rather, do you have a favorite type of project to work on?
JD: I have to keep switching back and forth between mediums. If I get stuck working solely on collage for a while I get burnt out to a point I no longer see any good in what I am doing, those are the times I break out the inks, the paints, etc, and vice versa. I really enjoy using black gesso to paint panels. I don’t have a favorite type of project. Anything that is inspiring, fresh, invigorating.

OAK: You recently collaborated with artist Anthony Zinonos by sending him an envelope of your scraps for him to create something out of. How do you feel about collaborative art as a whole? Is this a process you would consider being on the other end of?
JD: Zin and I have been collaborating for many years now. We both belong to a group of artists called WAFA (We Are Fucking Awesome) – right now not much is happening on the WAFA front, but we’ve all been collaborating in a multitude of ways for years. Collaborating with another artist makes you step outside your boundaries, it’s almost like problem solving. In that way it is good. I used to do a lot of collaborative work but over the years have changed how and with who I collaborate. I collaborate with photographers on a regular basis now, but it’s different. I still feel in complete creative control when working with their photos. I don’t feel it’s a give and take, there’s no compromise. I’m not a fan of compromise when it comes to art.

OAK: What’s something you’ve been wanting to explore creatively that you haven’t yet?
JD: Stacks of money.

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