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Media Connections

Connection connoisseur, James Schaffer

Fellow Sharpie employee and guest blogger, Stephanie Markadonatos, is back to chat with Sharpie artist, James Schaffer. James keeps it all connected through his art and we are excited to continue the link and share him with all of you.

As we all know, Social Media is the new driving force to keep us connected and up to date with our friends, family, and interests. With Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and all the many other social networks and blogs (even this one) floating around in cyberspace, we communicate to millions in seconds. The exposure of our thoughts, feelings, and ideas are put out there for all to see with a simple “Click”. The influence of internet media and how we connect has become a new chapter in the communication world.  What if the internet and the social media phenomenon weren’t around? Would we still be able to feel connected to people at the level we are able to now?

Today’s featured artist, James A. Schaffer, feels that we are all connected and the internet is one major media influence that can never fully be deleted. Get ready to learn how James uses both print and digital art to express our connectedness….

FEATURED SHARPIE ARTIST: JAMES A SCHAFFER

Can you give us a little background about yourself? I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA, where I currently reside and work. I am a recent graduate of Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, with a bachelor in Fine Arts with a concentration in painting. I have been interested in art since I was around 5 years old. When I was young I often got sick, so I always had a sketchbook nearby to keep me busy. My mother always took me to art classes as I grew up which kept me interested in the Arts.

What attracts to the fine arts? Other than being exposed early in life, I suppose I like the idea of creating something, and then allowing viewers to experience that thing. Instead of expressing myself in front of a live audience, I do enjoy being “behind the scenes” in a sense.

Can you tell me your thoughts on being an Artist?
I am an artist in every aspect of my life. To me, there is no separation. Therefore, this is the life that I was determined to live. I paint in order to live. It provides a relief and gives a fulfillment that nothing else can.

Where does your inspiration to create come from? A lot of my inspiration comes from abstract expressionist artists such as: Rauschenberg, De Kooning, Kline, Pollock, Motherwell, and Basquiat. My ultimate go to are two documentaries on Jean Michel Basquiat: “The Radiant Child” and “Basquiat”. Any time I see Jeans work ethic and the way he paints, it always forces me up and creating. I also like to travel and visit art museums.

How long does it take you to create your art?           
The time it takes to create a painting varies from piece to piece. I generally work on mine for over a span of several weeks, dedicating a few hours each day until I am complete. It typically takes an average of about 25 hours to fully complete a piece of art.

Tell me about your favorite museums you visited and why they stood out from others? Two that I truly enjoy are The Warhol Museum, which is in my hometown and the Whitney Museum in New York. I always had a liking for Andy Warhol and it always has interesting contemporary artists. Whitney Museum is not overwhelming like many of the other institutions in New York. I do hope to make it back to New York soon to visit the Museum of Modern Art for the De Kooning show. 

What attracted you to use Sharpie products in your works of art? There are several reasons why Sharpie markers are a favorite tool of mine. Most importantly, I feel quite comfortable and familiar with markers. Secondly, the ink and color of the ink drew me in. The colors are so bold and vivid, making it an easy choice for me as an artist.

What is your top Sharpie product?
I would say my favorite Sharpie product is the traditional blue Sharpie.

Feels good to be number 1

Can you explain how you feel everything is connected? I feel that nowadays, people’s interests and lives are multi faceted. As well as with the mega presence of things like the internet, we are more aware of what is going on with other people’s lives and other topics which before we may have not been exposed to.

What are your thoughts on communication, Internet and art – how are they linked?
We are all culturally closer than we have ever been before. Social interactions have been expanded in a way that would be impossible without the technology that we have at our fingertips. The goal of the internet is communication just like art. The two aren’t so far apart as people might think.  Both are used as tools to communicate a message.

How do you portray the media and connectedness in your art? By creating chaotic scenes. Media and our lives are all intertwined creating chaos.  Once my art is complete, I will review and decide if any marks need to be deleted or pushed back into the background. I make these decisions based on my reaction to the visual and various aesthetic qualities. The internet comes into effect again on the idea “things are always present even if you try to cover them up”. If a person posts a message, photo, or post, there’s no telling on who will see it and where it will end up. Even if we try to delete something, search engines and other tools still can dig up old information. We are connected through the media in ways in which sometimes we are not even made aware of.

Any advice you would like to pass along? I believe as it was taught to me, that each painting (or whatever art you choose) should be better than the previous one. This supports the idea of growth as an artist.

 Thank you to James A. Schaffer. For more on James and samples of his art visit his website at http://jamesaschaffer.com/ or follow him on Twitter at: twitter.com/jschaffer