MIXED MEDIUM: JOHN P. DESSEREAU

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One stormy afternoon in March we were welcomed into the Williamsburg studio of native New York artist and illustrator John P. Dessereau. He dropped some serious wisdom and shed light on his state of mind while completing his latest work “Attack!”. “Attack!” has been an ambitious project, spanning over 4 months and serving to be a prime example of the emphasis Dessereau places on the word effort. Not only a painter, but profound story teller, thinker and DJ, Dessereau’s art explores his deep concern for western society, global affairs and the modern human condition. — Justin Fulton

OAK: You’re often asked about your inspiration, but what things do you reject?
JOHN P. DESSEREAU: I reject insincerity, complacency and laziness. I gravitate towards effortful and meaningful things. If it be art, music, people and places I need the real sensation. I reject prepackaged entertainment and housing developments that look like giant microwaves.

OAK: The symbolism found in a lot of your work lends itself to power struggle. How does this motif tie into your perceptions of the world-at-large?
JPD: There are many levels of being disenfranchised. People feel like they cannot get a fair deal. That spectrum is huge. On one end you have some who cannot access clean water on the other end, people who are locked into bad mortgages on lavish homes. That sense of struggle is a unifying sensation can bring people around the world power, I believe.

OAK: What about the human mind interests you the most?
JPD: I am always curious to know what motivates people. Why some are motivated and others are not. What excites, encourages, and drives people. I like to look for patterns in people and individuals. I believe that pattern recognition, leads to seeing into the future.

OAK: What is the message behind your latest work, ATTACK!?
JPD: “Attack!” was inspired by this really talented music producer I had met that used the word to inspire his team. I thought it was really interesting that such a militant term can be used for productivity. The hundreds of flowers came from a deep frustration. I felt and still do feel that many people see my work and think “it is good, but…” I tried to silence that hesitation with great effort. Over the corse of 4 months I painted flowers in detail everyday.

OAK: How would you describe your illustrative style? How has it developed over the years?
JPD: My style is a melting pot of my art heroes. I stay on top of my style and I am always trying to expand of my skill set. I never want to be the guy who paints with the same signature, but rather with the same hand. I have been working with oil and acrylic together as of recent.

OAK: Describe the last time you laughed?
JPD: I like to laugh. Music can make me laugh or smile at least. That is probably the last time.

OAK: What led to you becoming a DJ? 
JPD: I used to work in bars when I first moved to Williamsburg about 10 years ago. I remember washing glasses behind the bar and looking up at the DJ. I thought to myself, why not me?

OAK: Do you have any guilty music pleasures?
JPD: I love 90’s R&B. I have no shame in liking it. Singing it in my studio is a whole other story.

OAK: Who’s the greatest rapper of all time?
JPD: Tough one, this is history vs. taste. So historically Slick Rick maybe Jay Z. Taste wise I am more contemporary, I have soft spot for Jay Electronica, but that Kendrick Lemar record is really profound and will be loved by many for a long time to come.

OAK: What is your philosophy for living?
JPD: My mom told me that whenever you meet someone, if it be a romance, a business relationship or a friendship it is like getting in a vehicle together. When that vehicle takes off and you and that other person go on a journey the only and best thing you can hope for is when the ride ends, that both parties are left off in a better place than they started. My Brother told me, that anything you do everyday is your religion and your god. So my philosophy is rooted in enjoying the ride, trying to be responsible to others and painting as my religion.

For more check out johnpdessereau.com + instagram @johnsville

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