Interview with eje 64 collage artist Jason Lewis
by Laura Pulgarin
We are extremely excited to announce our collaboration with Latinx collage artist Jason Lewis. Lewis' work is fun, extremely colorful and the perfect piece to add to your home. Below is our interview with the artist, we discuss not only the inspiration behind his work, but also where he sources his collage pieces from as well as how his work as a costume designer influences his art.
Tell us a little bit about your background, how did you get your start in the art world?
Art for me began as young as I can remember. I began with your typical preschool crafts and continued crafting from then on. Every time my parents would need a babysitter when my brother and I were younger, we would stop to let my brother rent a game and we’d stop at Michael’s to pick up some type of craft to keep me busy or I’d get stacks of magazines from my mom and cut out what I thought looked interesting and would collage and piece them together. I picked up sewing in middle school by teaching myself and by getting lessons from my neighbor and at the same time I found theatre and began that journey for myself. In high school, I dove in deep performing as well as working backstage and using my sewing and crafting skills to help put the shows together. I fell in love and went to Carnegie Mellon’s School of Drama to study costume design where I learned more drawing and painting skills that I didn’t have before, as well as a better understanding of clothing and fabrics and proportion which has definitely had a huge influence on my collages today.
What is your creative process like?
Usually, my collages will start off with finding a torso or skirt in a magazine, really any part of the figure that stands out to me, and then I begin to filter through my collection of clippings to start piecing together the outfit and rest of the body. I have, over time, collected different skirts, flowers, torsos, etc. that I like but haven’t found a use for yet and have them organized and ready to sift through when I’m putting together a collage. Generally, I tape the body together and then glue it together to then glue down to the paper. The body comes first and once that is figured out, I decide on how I want the background to be and then I attach the figure to the paper once any painting or any other medium is applied. I’m usually a night owl, so that’s when most of my collaging happens. I’ll put things together and assess in the morning when the sun is shining, and I can take a step back and see how I feel about how it is progressing.
What is inspiring you right now? What are you currently working on?
With the pandemic, it’s been a bit hard to be inspired, but I’ve been really inspired to do more portraiture type collaging, meaning making collages that evoke the person I’m making it for. It has been fun being able to go through what I have saved up in my clippings and tailoring the collages to fit the personality of my friends. I have also, since the beginning of quarantine, been experimenting and getting more into utilizing wooden canvases and a wood burning tool which I’ve been really loving!
How would you describe your work?
I would describe my collages as mixed media fashion collages. I say mixed media because more often than not, I like to add text or ink markings, stitching, watercolor or acrylic paint, inks, and more, but still making the main part of the collage out of magazine clippings.
What are your favorite sources of parts for your collages?
I usually source my clippings from Vogue magazine. I love the quality of paper they use and I love the amount of intriguing fabrics and poses throughout their publication. Some other sources I use are other fashion magazines or home and garden magazines as well as getting some donated clippings from friends. I’m always looking for more clippings to add to my collection and am hoping to expand that by finding older and vintage Vogues and other fashion magazines.
Usually how long does it take for you to complete a collage?
Oh, this is a tough one! It can take as little as one day or as long as a few months. So much of it is based on proportion and if the clippings I have all fit nicely and feel like a properly proportioned body or outfit. I really care about making the figure feel real, almost as if the outfit they are wearing could be realized. Sometimes I’ll have a collage almost finished, but I won’t have the right shoes, or it needs one more little element that I am just hunting for. I try to keep my clippings envelopes full so that I can sift through what I’m specifically looking for and hopefully find a match.
You are also a costume designer. How does this influence your collage work?
I am! Being a costume designer absolutely has a huge influence on my collage work. So much of it I think is staying in the know of different fashion designers and brands to see what they are working on and seeing their ad campaigns and seeing what will soon be in print to use, as well as seeing trends. I think also so much of my collages are creating a character and running with it, like making Brooklyn Farmers’ Market beauties, young at heart spirits, dapper men, and more, which is definitely rooted in my education of creating and understanding characters. I think the same can be said of my collages that I view as portraits; being able to understand who I am making a collage for and utilizing the research and knowledge I have of that person to be able to create a figure that fits who they are as a person while still staying true to my aesthetic as a collage artist.
What can we expect to see from you in the future?
I wish I knew! But in all seriousness, I hope that in the future I expand and experiment more with how my collages are physically made along with the thought process behind them. I’m also hoping to begin showcasing the collages who have found a home already and seeing how they have been styled in their homes. It’s always so fun to see how people choose to frame and display my work!