It’s finally Springtime and in honor of breathing new life into your lungs, were bringing you the work of Jessica Slagle of Slagletron to breathe some life into your eyes. We have featured Slagle’s work here before in our Inspiration Nation spot, but we wanted to learn more about this rising star, and we knew you would too.
Junkyard Arts: Ok, Slagle. Where are you from and where are you now?
Jessica Slagle: Originally from Mahtomedi, Minnesota (right outside of
Saint Paul)… currently living in Brooklyn, New York.
JYA: When did you first realize your love for art?
JS: I’ve always loved art. I used to find any sort of tool in the house and draw over any surface possible. Often times I would turn in homework and the only thing on the worksheet would be doodles.
JYA: Do you remember what your first successful art piece was? Why does it resonate with you?
JS: I’ve never had much support from my art teachers (I had a few good ones in college, but for the most part they we’re jerks) so I never was encouraged to submit my work to contests or anything. Finally I submitted one drawing I did of my favorite anime character at the time to Animerica Magazine – and it was featured as one of their favorite fan-art pieces. I believe I was 13 at the time. I just remember thinking that see, I can do this.
JYA: Tell me about your family – anyone else an artist?
JS: My cousin, Mike Slagle, is the only other artist in my family. He also is living in New York and has become pretty successful as well.
JYA: Did you always start with collage or have you played with other styles?
JS: I started out only drawing – but I remember when I was a freshman in high school there was a senior girl doing this HUGE self portrait of herself made entirely out of torn up, tea dyed newspaper. I thought that was the coolest idea ever, and I started using cut newspaper in everything I made – which eventually evolved into the collage style I use today.
JYA: Where did you learn to refine your art? Was it always something you did on your own or something you honed through instruction?
JS: I had a horrible experience in high school with the meanest art teacher you could ever imagine – so I transferred and finished at an art high school, except I majored in dance instead of art. I took one drawing class there and the teacher was like who are you kidding? You are an artist, you need to quit dance and get back into fine art. You really could make it.
After that I eventually found my way to art college. I experimented a lot with traditional collage there, but I feel that moving to New York has really influenced my style, and has really helped me to grow out of a student aesthetic and into a professional aesthetic.
JYA: Tell me a bit about your process. Are you constantly sourcing images from magazines/books/etc to pull from when you get the feeling, or do you have a specific image in mind when you start? I’m imagining a drawer full of paper eyeballs…
JS: I wouldn’t say I have a specific process… I’m mostly influenced by fashion & metaphysics… which is what makes my style so specific. Sometimes I create work based off a beautiful image of a dress, and then mediate on the color of that dress and find a spiritual truth within a part of myself that is associated with that color or something. It sounds really weird when I explain it out loud! But essentially my work is about how physical beauty and spiritual beauty can collide as one. I’m basically a crystal meditating hippie with a good wardrobe!
JYA: You’ve had a number of shows recently, and more lining up – how do you prepare for shows like that?
JS: There are a lot of one night only pop of shows I’ve been a part of, and those I just find something that is already completed to show. For shows that are up for a few weeks or months I’ll try and create a new body of work to show. I’ll often keep working right up to the night before the show. That way when some of the same people come they aren’t looking at the same 12 pieces over and over again. Plus it really helps keep my aesthetic evolving and growing.
JYA: So how are you going about getting noticed? You’ve been featured in a number of great magazines lately, in addition to these pop-up shows.
JS: I’ve pretty much been stalking editors and art directors and continuously sending them links to new work. I did not think I would be featured as often as I have been. It’s been very exciting!
JYA: You are an artist but you also work during the day – which is pretty much what the majority of artists do too. Tell me how you make it work – are you awful at time management and just make it all happen, or do you purposefully block off time so you can make some new works?
JS: I work as a graphics designer in the fashion industry so it’s nice to have a job that has a creative twist to it. Luckily I work very fast – no matter what the size I can usually complete one finished collage in about 6 to 12 hours. Hopefully I’ll start making more money and I can afford to get a studio… then I’ll be able to start making larger mixed media works. Those will definitely take more time.
JYA: What is your goal for your work? Short term, mid term and long term.
JS: For the short term I’m just thinking about blog and magazine features and pop up shows.
Midterm goals include finding a way to afford a studio so I can start creating larger work.
My biggest long term goal is to have gallery representation and be able to make a living off my art.
JYA: Do you only sell originals or do you make prints of your work?
JS: I sell prints of my digital collages – those are pretty affordable. The one of a kind traditional collages are only sold as originals.
JYA: What was your biggest failure and what did you learn from it?
JS: I wouldn’t call this a failure, but the the lowest point I reached as an artist was in college when my painting teacher told me he was going to try and fail me because he thought I was too pretty to be in art school.
JS: I had another teacher at that school tell me I should drop out and become a waitress but my looks wouldn’t get me good tips when I’m 30.
JYA: What a gem…
JS: The art world is pretty male dominated and I’ve always had to prove through my art that I do have talent and ambition.
JYA: Get it, girl.