We had the good fortune of connecting with JTA and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi JTA, what is the most important factor behind your success?
I feel like the most important factor to my success has been to always seek growth and to continuously push myself on my work. I’ve been a professional freelancer for about a decade now, and with every new clientele project I’ve taken on I can say I’ve learned some new lesson or some new artistic technique that I can then apply to projects going forward. Along with this, for my branding I make sure I follow my number one rule: to have fun. If I’m not having fun with something I’m creating, then I need to refigure it out and try something else entirely – otherwise, I’ll be slow and grumpy about it and it’ll show in the product. People notice when you put all your love into something- its almost an intangible tangible, like a sixth sense people don’t realize they have. Learning, adapting and having a love for what you do.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Living through it, life never feels as long until you look back, eh? Same goes for your career, seemingly- even though I still have a very, very long way ahead of me. Especially starting out as a young creative, no one can really prepare you like “the real world” prepares you. There is no formulaic way around it – but if you can keep steady and stick through it – its everything. At one of the worst periods of my life, art saved me. I had a friend once tell me, “the walls are crumbling and falling apart all around you – and you’re just still there, drawing.”. And I think thats what I’m most proud about – is my ability to continuously push forward- to make something productive, creative, out of the darkness. I’ve failed so many times at such a variety of artistic endeavors- but I’ve had so much fun with every one of them and have gained so many life lessons. My focus in art at this point splits basically into: caricatures and horror illustration. In caricature work, the goal of getting across the idea that the exploration of exaggeration goes beyond what most people consider a caricature to be: a big nose or some other singular isolated facial feature. Through my caricature work, I want to explore tone and aesthetic and contribute to the “fine art” of caricature illustration. Not just drawing celebrities, but drawing the people around you. Not just drawing people- but drawing caricatured animals, places, things. The philosophy of caricature goes beyond that of what people see at one level in an amusement park, and I want to help educate through my work in this field. My horror work is currently all over the place as I refine and work on my new horror brand, Killer Grito. I am a huge fan of creature features and my work celebrates monster design and illustration style. Ideally, when people look at any of my work- I want them to hear a concert- through the choice of color and mostly kinetic line- I want a symphony for their eyes. Thats my ultimate goal.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
When friends visit, we eat a lot, do a lot of window shopping and drink. One of my best friends came to visit me in Austin last year and thats all we did- explored the shops on South Congress, had ice cream at Big Top – and drank at the South Congress Hotel. That was one day. The other days were a combo of bbq and burgers- and it was the best thing. – Top favorite places to take friends to are Austin Books & Comics, Guzu Gallery and at night : The Elephant Room, my favorite jazz club.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I feel I really owe a lot of my success to my immediate Artist peers that live in the little big city of Austin with me. First and foremost always, to my wonderful friend Carlos and his uncle Alfredo, who housed me when I moved here – rent free, while I looked for a job and an apartment. I would never have been able to move without their help, which was the catalyst of what motivated me to really invest into myself and my art. I moved to Austin at the age of 23 from a lovely town in South Texas by the name of Kingsville. I knew nothing of the professional artist world and I was adopted by a few older artists in the creative community that helped mentor me. Without them knowing it, they became my artist brothers : Shane, Paulo, Bonn (RIP), Devin, J & Dan. There have been more since, but those guys particularly helped me a lot. We did comic conventions together, drank and celebrated together – these guys still mean the world to me. I honestly don’t know where I’d be in life without them.