Saturday, February 5, 2011

Jay Jacoby interview

Hand drawn, sort of old school youth crew style is what I like the most when it comes to hardcore artwork and Jay's style is exactly like that. His amazing work for Right Idea, Alert, Outlast, Face Reality and others really stands out. Not only that he uses only pencil and paper instead of computer as his medium, but he also works mostly for free, which shows his absolute dedication to hardcore and artwork.

What have you been up to lately? Are there any interesting projects you're working on at the moment?

-I feel like I’m always up to something, even when I don’t think I’m doing anything, I’m always thinking about what’s next. Case-in-point, the elementary school that I teach at is re-doing the school colors and our mascot (Eagles) and I developed 3 different ones for the kids and staff to vote on. Not really core-related but it’s cool and different. I’ve also been working on a shirt design for a band from Wichita, No Remorse, made up of several coremin that I’ve known for years. It’s something I’m extremely excited about it, something I’ve never done, as our town hasn’t really had a straight up hardcore band in years. I’m very stoked and honored they asked me to do it. I’ve also done something that I’m very proud of for a friend of mine, ROA (old school guy from way back, sang for Justice League, Eyelid, Addiction, etc.) and that should come out sometime in the near future, the art is very jazz influenced. I’m also working on a demo cover for a band out of NY called Better Times which will probably be my last band-related work for a while. 

So, how have you started drawing hardcore stuff? Did you work as an artist before that?

- I realized a long time ago that I wanted to do art for bands and zines and labels, HC has given me so much that I wanted to contribute in some way. Several years ago, I put it out there that I wanted to do some art, a great guy from Australia, Dave Immerz, contacted me and asked me if I wanted to do a cover for his zine. That never saw print form, but it was a great experience. Life happens, other things took precedence, and that idea went on the back-burner. A few years ago, I got a fire under my ass and decided I'd try my hand at it again. I got the Right Idea demo and sent off an e-mail to Hess about offering my art services to them if they ever wanted. They didn’t need anything at the time but he and I stayed in contact (with me harassing him about procuring Right Idea stuff). And then at some point he told me about a zine he was working on and there was going to be a separate part about artists and would I like to send him some artwork to include. Of course I said “Hell yeah!” So I did, and with the combination of the “exposure” that that gave me, along with contacting a few of the bands that were new at the time, I started doing work for bands. 

 So, I suppose Right Idea is especially dear band to you?

-For sure, they’re the band that got me amped on straight edge hardcore again. I hadn’t been into much for a while. There had been bands here and there, but RXI were IT for me. Getting to see them at A Time We’ll Remember was fucking amazing for me. Love the music, love the words, and love the guys. Jeff Lasich from Bottled Up Records was cool enough to ask me, in all my uber-nerdom, if I wanted to do a cover for the Our World 7” version test press and it has been  one of the highlights for me for doing stuff for bands. 

 As I noticed, you are very open and you did artwork for bands and zines from all over the world. Why do you choose to work for free?

-Well, years ago, when I got into HC, I was always drawn to the visual part of it, as well as the aural part. Hardcore has had a huge impact and influence on me, with a lot of aspects of my life. Art’s always been a big part of my life too so it seemed a natural fit for me, and HC, at least to me, is about brotherhood (and sisterhood) and the acceptance of others and all of us being in this together. I knew all along that if I wanted to do art in HC that I wasn’t going to get paid, that’s not why I wanted to do it. I’m an old man by hardcore standards and I figured that I wanted to help out the younger people in the scene, so I do that through art. If I can help a band out by making them stoked, or anyone else for that matter, about the cover of their/a record or a shirt, that makes me extremely happy. I’ve accepted payment several times now, several bands and people have refused to take no for an answer. Therefore, I took on the idea that if you really want to pay me, you pay me what you want/can. I have no set price, because I never do anything the same for any two bands nor are any two bands the same.  

Can you name some other artwork you did for the bands or something
else which mean the most to you?

-Wow, where do I start? Let’s see, as far as art, I think the ones that stick out the most are the things that I’ve done with Alert. Keith really got the ball rolling for me, not only did I do their demo cassette cover, that led to my first shirt and then on to my 1st 7” cover too. It meant a lot to me too, for them to ask me to do that. Another one is the drawing I did for Up Front, the shirt for A Time We’ll Remember. The Spirit LP is one of my all time favorite records and they’re a band that has always had a hard link to art, either on covers or on shirts and stickers, and it was super cool for me to be a part of that history. That shirt is my homage/update to the Spirit cover by Russ Braun. And I guess the last one would probably be the things I’ve done with Justin Arnold for Injustice System. He’s allowed me to push my boundaries and what I’m used to. I’ve developed a good friendship with him as well. 

 Do you still do most of your artwork on paper instead of computer?

-But of course, HAHA, I’m old school, and a dinosaur. I like to think that I handle my own with technology, except for art. I’ve never gotten into anything digital. It doesn’t scare me at all, but I feel like, with the look that I have developed, and what I like, it’s what looks and “feels” right. I have a bit of control freak in me and, at least in this stage of my artistic development (if that’s what you want to call it) it ain’t broke so I ain’t fixin’ it. I hope to learn all that cool stuff in the years to come, Photoshop, use a tablet, etc. I have a lot of respect and admiration for those guys out there that start with paper and finish digitally.

What's your usual soundtrack when you are working? 

-Honestly, depends on what I’m drawing, if it’s something I’m struggling with, I don’t listen to anything. Sometimes I find myself gravitating towards the band I’m doing work for and sometimes I find the exact opposite of what I’m drawing for. I’ll throw on some Charles Mingus or Miles Davis, maybe some early to mid-90’s “alternative” and occasionally, it’s just on shuffle.

I won't ask you about your artistic influences, but are there any
currently working artists we should check out?

-Uh, where do I start? There’s so many good peeps doing stuff today, I’ll just name a couple of my absolute favorites. Anyone who knows me knows I dig all things by Linas Garsys, he’s been a big influence; Mike Bukowski, is another, that guy’s style is amazing. I was just able to get ahold of a deck he did for Deathwish and I am extremely happy. I wish Evan Wivell from Mindset would do more stuff, his stuff is just fun to look at, plus his design skills and his eye is uncanny. Ryan Eyestone is someone that I somehow missed the boat on early on but have become a huge fan of. And of course, my man Slaba for sure, can’t say enough about him. I don’t know much about the rest of the world, but Michiel Walrave is a great dude and an extremely talented artist.  I still want one of his skateboard decks. 

I know that you really love many React! bands, so have you ever designed something for some of them?

-Nope, not yet, hopefully in the future though, I’d love to do something for Aram and the React! Crew. I’ve got something in mind for down the road, we’ll see what happens. I fully support everything they’ve done and think that it’s amazing what they and the bands on the label are doing for the scene. Being a part of the positive hardcore scene right here, right now is truly amazing to me. 

You always mention xSlabax in interviews. Is there anything you
guys have collaborated on? 
-Unfortunately no…not yet. Slaba is my boy, it started out as a mutual appreciation club and has become a full on friendship. We not only bounce ideas off of each other and critique one another’s work, but we vent to one another and are always stoked to hear from the other one. I have a ton of respect for the guy and his work; he’s extremely talented and all around great dude. I just found out he gave me a little shout out by including me in a drawing he did for I Drink Milk, I was beyond stoked.


 I have to ask this. What's the story of MAXI X-rated watch you

-HAHAHA I’ve always been a fan of the X Swatch, but I’m a big dude and little watches just don’t look right on me (plus, I cannot bring myself to pay that much for one). One of the guys on the Livewire Board posted about how he had converted a Maxi into an X-Rated. I contacted him and he helped me out. I made several of them and sold them (they’re in various parts of the world) because I got so much interest in them. I’ve also helped several people make them as well (please don’t contact me about making one, I’m outta business). I plan on making one more one of these days just for me to keep, I miss mine. 


  What was the hardcore punk scene in Wichita before and what is it like now? 

-Wichita has had a very on again, off again hardcore scene. In the late 80’s Lawrence was the place to be (I was too young for it then), a lot of the bigger HC bands came through there and then it died off. In the early 90’s, we had a good thing going here, several bands (made up of the same members basically) formed, Vent and Boxer Rebellion (who actually put out a record on Hydra Head) and then it died off again. By the late 90’s I was going up to Lawrence for shows that were happening with the “rebirth of HC”, Floorpunch, Ten Yard Fight, Bane, Trial, etc., all played up there, it was amazing. The last few years have been slow (I’m sure the younger kids will be upset with me for saying it and some of it comes from not being into a lot of the more popular bands and not being able to travel for shows too), but like I said earlier, there’s a group of guys that are into traditional hardcore and I think that they’re trying to get the ball rolling here. I plan on supporting them however I can.

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