J Barnett



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J Barnett has always worked in art related fields. After attending the Creative Center and receiving an Associates degree in illustration and visual arts, he worked in the graphic design field for 7 years. It was not until receiving his first tattoo by Jeremy Cruz, that he considered tattooing as a career option. After careful research J began his 2 year apprenticeship. Along with tattooing J also paints using a wide range of mediums. From large scale watercolors to motorcycle helmets. His artwork has displayed at several art openings such as the New BLK, the Sweatshop, and several First Friday art events in which he also curated.

We recently sat down with J and asked him about his art and creative process. Read his Q&A below:

Curbide: How did you first become interested in art?

J Barnett: My first real memory of wanting to be an artist was on a family vacation at the age of 8. I had an older cousin in Texas that would sit with me and sketch out comic book characters. The one that I remember most was a bic pen sketch of Wolverine. Later that same trip he took us to the comic book store and from that moment I started to copy what I saw. 

C: Where do you find inspiration and who are some of your influences?

J: I find inspiration in a lot things. From walking in Lauritzen Gardens looking at all the natural color palettes of flowers, spreading and pinning insects, or visiting the Joslyn Art Museum to look at the old renaissance paintings. When I started drawing from comics in middle school I was highly influenced by Todd McFarlane. Today, I work with 4 really talented artists every day that inspire me and feed me ideas constantly. You can see their influence in my work.

C: What is your preferred method for making art and why?

J: I prefer the using a prismacolor verithins to sketch out my ideas, and FW acrylic inks to paint. Last year i was using an iPad Pro but i became too reliant on the tool. All my movement and flow got really stiff and it showed. There is nothing like drawing on paper.

C: How has your process changed since you first began making art?

J: The main thing that has changed is my confidence on my line. Not as sketchy and each line has purpose. I definitely have a system when it comes to painting but I am always refining and learning new tricks. 

C: What are some common themes you try to use or depict in your artwork?

J: Insects, flowers, birds, and pretty much anything from nature. Organic objects are usually all I draw.

C: What do you do in your downtime when not creating?

J: Insect taxidermy is something that I do when I am not painting or working on tattoo drawings in the winter. Another thing I am going to start doing while it is cold/winter is learn to tie fly fishing lures. In the summer on my days off I try to get out on the lake and fish/camp with my daughter.  

C: What is some advice you wish you had when you were first starting out?

J: You are only going to be as good as the effort you put into it and don't give up. Everyone messes up, and hides their mistakes. Draw, draw and draw! Awards mean nothing, and stop comparing yourself to others, you will only get discouraged. Work hard and it will show.

C: In your vast catalog of art, is there any one piece that stands out to you from the rest? If so, why does it stand out?

J: The Wicked Rabbit was a painting that I struggled with measuring around  24X48". I started over a couple times and had to stop working on it for a

month! The 6 month process is what stands out on this one, it was rough. I never gave up and once it was finished, I love it.

C: Are there any ways that the current social climate has changed the way that you approach art, whether it be your own or someone else’s?

J: I just want to create something beautiful and impact you that way. My work is not trying to strike a bad cord with anyone. You can say so much without words when it comes to art and connect to your audience on an emotional level. I respect artists out there that are connecting on that level and not just doing it for a shock value.