Jon emailed late one night while I was at work arranging my Sharpies to spell out H O M E (the letter O was a square O, fyi). On a whim I decided to call him on the spot. I was alone. It was dark (except for the ba-jillion fluorescent lights overhead, but in this story it was dark). Jon was all jacked up about the possibility of being featured on the Sharpie Blog. By the time were done talking, I didn’t care what his art looked like; he had a passion that needed to be exposed and I was just the one to do it!
So, without further ado, I introduce Jon E. Nimetz: (be sure to read through for the big pay-out video at the end)…
I began making art at a very young age with my mother who was an art instructor and my grandmother who was a sculptor. My first real projects were Paint by Numbers pictures. By the time I was 8 years old I was randomly drawing the numbers assigned to the colors and rearranging the color scheme based on random selection. As I got older I continuously found the need to draw and write on anything and everything around me.
Tell us a little bit about your genre. Are there lots of artists who do what you do? What makes you stand out from the rest?
My genre is considered mixed-medium paintings on canvas. By mixed-medium the notion is that the artist uses a variety of different mediums in a consortium style. They are recognized as paintings on the surface only. While I occasionally use acrylic or spray paint during my process, I primarily work with Sharpie paint markers, White Out, and White Out pens. As of now, I have not come across a single other artist who uses the paint the same way I do. What make mine so different is the impressionistic and expressionistic mark-making techniques I implore in my work. My line quality is fast, hard, and heavy. I often pound the canvas in a percussionist manner, and require durable and maneuverable products that allow for fluid gesticulation to succeed at this. The energy in the line transcends the surface of the canvas.
How would you describe your style?
My style is mine. It is more than likely, from a learned sensibility, related intrinsically to the painting processes of my favorite predecessors, which include Picasso, Dali, Pollock, Monet, and Van Gogh.
How did you come to use Sharpie markers in your work? Is it the variety of tip sizes, colors, other? Please describe how you use your Sharpie as an art tool.
I am always trying out new products sold at the local art mart and immediately fell in love with these. I had been cutting off the tips of cheap paint brushes for two years before I found these pens. At first I was primarily attracted to the medium point products, but soon discovered the wide tip pens with the durable corners and they have become my new favorites. My only wish would be that the thick pens came in a broader range of colors. But the mediums do come in a larger variety (editor’s note: 39 colors). Presently I believe there are only 6 colors in the wide tip range (the Sharpie MAGNUM is available in 3 colors).
As I mentioned previously my five faves are Pablo Picasso and Cubism, Salvador Dali and Surrealism, Jackson Pollock and Abstract Expressionism, Claude Monet and Impressionism, and Robert Rauschenberg and his Combines which bridged the transition from Abstract Expressionism to Pop Art. I have gone through four or perhaps now even five very different transitional stylistic periods over the last 15 years and not surprisingly each person is drawn to a particular style. I am always most drawn to the new the work I make. I tend to always believe that the works keeps progressively getting better and better. For commercial purposes I’d say the new cubist expressionist pieces I have been making are being widely accepted as they are selling better than the political pop pieces which had been doing well for awhile. People are tired of the political process right now, as am I. I think people are drawn to my work because it is honest and because they can feel my passion via the energies exerted to bring the piece together.
Can you describe the process you go through to make your work? How many hours does it take? Is it a free-hand approach or do you create a template in advance?
My process involves the filtered, cathartic release of my life’s linear existence. We are all the epicenter of our own space/time continuum. That being said, we are all generally living in the same awareness, in our immediate community anyways. The process begins as a search for meaning in the world. I write a lot of journal entries and poetry, often engaging in plays on words or phrases which have dualistic definitions. These, more often than not, end up being the ideas behind the images and sometimes even end up written on them. As I begin to apply color to canvas, I often start by covering the entire canvas with one flat tone of acrylic paint. From there I basically begin haphazardly marking up the surface without a real notion of what is going to come next. After occasionally moving backwards and forwards to see what I have from multiple perspectives, I begin editing the picture based on what I see in the abstraction. I suppose it’s similar to finding forms in the clouds, except I edit them to make them an even more concentrated image. The image changes as the piece gets worked more and I have no qualms about destroying a piece if it isn’t working or feels contrived. A painting is finished when I know that if I edit it any more I will begin to thwart the gesticulative energy that went into making it feel vibrant. It really can become ‘over-worked’ at which point I have basically failed. Each piece takes anywhere from six hours to six weeks, depending on the piece. Unless I am doing a prescribed commission or commercial image I do not use a template.
What are your inspirations?
I am most inspired by nature. Whether it is watching a pelican dive from 40 feet into the ocean while hunting for fish, or feeling the flap of a butterfly’s wings across my hand, or watching the wind rip through and caress the trees, or seeing the ever-changing flicker of fire, its nature. Secondarily, I would say it’s the sociopolitical nature of people and our governing bodies.
What statement are you trying to make, if any? What do you want people to take from your art?
Every piece has its own statement, I suppose. I would really hope that people who directly confront the work and investigate its clues leave with a greater knowledge and understanding of themselves and how they relate to the image and me. I don’t want to press my belief systems onto the audience, which is certainly not my goal.
Sharpie’s tagline is “Write Out Loud!” Does this apply to your work and if so, how?
Everything I do in life is ‘LOUD”, Sharpie paint pens make it that much easier to be that way. With their fluid release of paint, they’re durable tips, and their ease of handling, whenever I am writing messages on my work, I am “Writing Out Loud!” All my work is so sharply contrasting thanks to the Sharpie line of products. Without them I would not be able to generate the same paintings. Thanks Sharpie!
Don’t let the heavy breathing or striking resemblance to Bill Murray in Caddy Shack distract you in the video below. This is an artist’s haven and you are about to be treated: