By Dylan Smith
For small-town artists, practice makes perfect and consistency is key to building a brand. Jake Brown, a local artist, tries to abide by that mantra every day by perfecting his craft on paper and canvas.
Four years ago, the artist was a bored high-schooler doodling away on his school work. He would make cartoons and strange figures just to entertain himself. After receiving positive feedback on his doodles from his peers—and even a few teachers—Brown started to question his future.
“Was art really something I could pursue?” he asked himself.
Brown knew he had potential as an artist, and if art was really something he wanted to do he told himself he would commit the time and effort.
Every October, Brown participates in an Instagram challenge called “Inktober.” The challenge is to draw a quick sketch every day in pen. There is no eraser for mistakes, therefore he had to truly focus.
However, ink pen wasn’t Brown’s only medium he used to excel in art.
“I would use a tablet and pen,” Brown said. “Which was extremely alien at first, but once you got into it, it’s very akin to traditional drawing. You could even bring it with you and hook it up to a laptop. I would go to coffee shops and paint chairs and people for hours.”
Brown also paints a self-portrait every Nov. 1, displaying his yearly growth as an artist. Brown started painting everything he saw, like trees and people.
“A love of mine was brushstroke and the way paint was applied,” Brown said, “which carried over from my love of concept art and animation, from people like Dice Tsutsumi.”
Brown had to figure out what art he preferred and questioned whether he was a concept artist or a cartoonist.
“I enjoyed concept art more,” Brown said. “But I thought I was better at cartoons and storytelling.”
The artist began researching other artists and watching Youtube videos on techniques and concepts. This led to finding his major inspirations such as Basquiat, Pablo Picasso, and Francis Bacon. These artists are famous for painting abstract faces and figures. Brown began blending his cartoon drawing style with his paintings.
“I began to really develop my style and liked what I was doing until I had a crisis of who I wanted to be as an artist. I wanted to pull my philosophical feelings out and put them in my art,” Brown said.
Cartoons tell a narrative story, and Brown had already mastered that. However, he was struggling trying to convey a story of feelings and emotions onto a canvas.
Brown began to grab more from his personal life and researched other artists like Frank Auerbach to study the feelings behind their art, to help his art blossom. Brown now has found that his art is becoming better by using his feelings and making pieces that have a purpose, rather than doodling.
He has hung his paintings at Uptown Coffee Shop as well as in local art shows.
“I was able to stand in as a portrait model for one of his paintings that was shown in the Uptown gallery,” said friend Evan Abney. “I thought the strokes seemed abstract, yet precise, and depicted a unique image of myself.”
Brown’s greatest accomplishment thus far was being invited to share his art at The Edison during an event called “The Oxford Comma + Quasar.”
“I was nervous,” Brown said. “But felt relieved when I started to receive attention and positive feedback on my work.”
He sold a painting for $300, and it really boosted his confidence as an artist.
As Brown grows as an artist, he still sticks to his principle of practicing every single day through sketching and painting. Brown is still trying to get better and find a personal voice in his work.
“Implementing what happens in my day to day life, instead of painting broad, vague topics. For example, this guy at a bar was being racist and that made me mad so I bottled my hatred into a painting called ‘Racist at a Bar.’”
Brown plans to go to graduate school after graduating from the University of Mississippi. His first choice would be Yale, but would accept the best scholarship to go anywhere, he said. He plans to submit his pieces to more galleries and continue to paint and draw every day so he can accomplish his goals.