For our “X Questions With” series, we’re speaking with talented individuals from around the world who have inspired us with their creativity and passion. If you have a story to tell or someone you’d like to see profiled, let us know in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter!
For this edition of “X Questions With” we were fortuitously linked up with American artist Hieronymus Schofferman. He had a great idea for a project that combined our Paperblanks covers with his original artwork, and we jumped at the chance to send a few journals his way. The results (below) excelled beyond anything that we could have expected. For all those who fear Paperblanks covers are too precious to risk marring, we hope that this inspires you to fearlessly express yourself in any journal!
1) Please tell us a little about yourself.
Name: Hieronymus Schofferman
City/Town: I live in Los Angeles, grew up in the Bay Area and my roots are in North Carolina
Places: The travelling list is too long to go into but I’ve lived in North Carolina, San Francisco, Oakland, Paris and Los Angeles
Education: BFA from CCA (Oakland ’99); student of photography, sculpture and figure drawing at École des Beaux-Arts Paris ’98
Occupation: Professional artist
2) Daniel Rolnik recommended we check out your art. How do the two of you know each other?
Daniel saw my art work somewhere in LA and asked me to be in a show he was going to curate. This was a few years ago. Since then I’ve been involved in some of his art endeavours, such as his new gallery in Santa Monica, and we continue to be friends.
3) Looking at your online profile, you seem to draw on a number of influences. Would you say that there are any overarching themes or inspirations that form a common thread through your work?
I try to steer clear from repetitive themes or imagery. Nonetheless, I am naturally drawn towards certain images, aesthetics and concepts. I like for the work to speak for itself in this regard. I will say that I’m not one for making art for art’s sake really. The work needs to have a larger spectrum of meaning and content. It’s debatable if I get to that level always, but I strive. I’m not a fan of being a stay-at-home studio easel kind of painter, who is greatly engrossed in some eccentric aesthetic.
I most enjoy projects that have potential to reach the public in ways beyond the gallery bubble, beyond the frame of an art work and/or bring challenge to the confines of a gallery space. This can be anything from installation to site-specific work and murals, for example. My concentration is generally rooted in the immediacy and command of line work, or mark making. And the process is generally improvised rather than pre-designed or illustrated.
4) With so many influences present in your work, how is it that you are able to keep your style recognisably yours?
I definitely take that as a compliment, so thank you. However, I think I’ll have to keep driving at the recognizable part. It’s pretty rare to have a uniquely recognizable style, particularly now as the world is bridging together through technology and the playing field is ever growing and exposed with such immediacy. I think style is something innate, part of the individual genetic code. One shouldn’t have to work too hard at getting at it. One should only work at recognizing it within oneself.
*I’d like to make a point too that style can be a distraction. Style shouldn’t be the subject matter, or the focus of the work. Style is a vehicle or tool to express the work. But it is not enough in and of itself to be all-encompassing and fully engrossing. There are no rules to this art-making process, but the best art always has more depth to it.
5) How did you develop this unique style?
Oh, I’d say I’m still working on it. But if I’ve reached it, it’s something that came through constant work. And by work I mean being fully engrossed in making, thinking, arguing, critiquing, analyzing, obsessing and participating in all things art-related. Having said that, I’m wondering what isn’t art-related?
6) You also seem to be quite comfortable working with a variety of mediums. Any favourites to work with?
I enjoy the challenge of large-scale mural work. As such I have traditionally used latex house paint (anything water-based) with spray paint and a variety of markers and brushes. Ultimately, the pen and paper is my medium of choice because I enjoy the simplicity and directness of ink.
I do however enjoy mixing mediums and experimenting with many materials: from oil paint, india ink, paint sticks, chalk, watercolor, gouache, collage to even photographic transfers. I’m open to most any tool. A few years back I created a couple paintings with a fire extinguisher. Talk about immediacy. One can do a lot of painting in a manner of seconds. It was amazingly fun. If given the opportunity of time, space and exhibition I would push a medium like that even further.
7) When we first spoke you seemed immediately drawn to the idea of working with the covers of our journals. Have you ever done a project like this before?
I’ve done some graphic design/illustration layouts for magazines and album covers so I suppose challenging what a cover can be isn’t new territory for me. I’ve always had a sketchbook on hand and with that usually comes a total takeover of the book, cover to cover. Paperblanks covers and overall designs are so nice that the idea of working my art into them seemed a natural direction. Perhaps it’s the graffitist in me that wanted to alter the existing designs.
I lean towards geometry, pattern, straight lines and elements that play with perspective and/or light. Those do it nicely. Actually, of all the covers, I first painted on the inside cover of the Kirikane, and it turned out well enough as a piece that I left the cover alone.
9) Other than creating art, what are your life’s passions?
I know it’s common to think art = passion, but art is more like breathing or eating for me. Creativity is an ancient tribal instinct that I feel compelled to give most of my attention towards. From the age of 7 to about 30, skateboarding was a part of my life. But in skateboarding as in my art, I never reflected on having passion for it. I just enjoyed it tremendously and dedicated myself. Certainly passion is part of it but I don’t give that much thought.
10) Any words of wisdom you’d like to share with aspiring artists?
Yesh, I’ve got much to learn myself.
I suggest if you’re someone who’s just discovering that you may be an artist and are thinking of pursuing it, take a serious look at yourself and ask, Do I truthfully believe in my talents? Corny as it is, if the answer is unquestionably yes, then aspiring artists need not apply. Just be the artist and go for it. My point of view is that aspirations should be put towards making truly great work and getting it to the world, or at least to your surrounding community for a start. Not so easy. It’s an eternal and evolving challenge, but on a lighter note it’s what keeps it seriously interesting and fun. So have it! The world needs more challenging creatives.