Interview with JAY JERMYN (VEOPLE)
By Aaron Chapman.
He’s just one of those good at everything guys. Annoyingly so. He paints those dreams you have after eating a platter board of cheese. He creates similar landscapes on whatever instrument he’s playing. He’s even pretty handy on a twin-fin. Jay Jermyn is creative guy. After ‘Repetition Randomness’, his recent solo exhibition at Maverick Hair & Art Space, I caught up with the Coolangatta local to talk paintbrushes, leg tattoos and direction.
Mate, what is this? Like, how are you doing this?
Layers man. Spray paint. Tape. Paint. More tape. More spray paint. The fluid paint figures are a technique I kind of made up by laying paint on a board and marbling and mixing it in a way that it doesn’t blend too much. I then pick it up using a thin sheet of aluminum or a large spatula and then lay it back out on the canvas with a fast fluid motion, angling my wrist as a control method. That’s it really.
And what does it mean?
The best thing about abstract work is that it means whatever you want it to mean, and that differs person to person. To me it means expression, in all its forms, but this particular show, in conjunction with the music performance and the video projection, is about how the repetition of an internal thought can result in external randomness—a breakdown in its simplest form. This is a reflection of a personal breakdown I had not so long ago.
When did you realise that you could paint? And how did this style start? You were shortlisted for the Border Art Prize a couple years back? But I remember you weren’t too keen on having that mentioned when I interviewed you a couple years ago. Why? Pretty epic feat isn’t it? Do you prefer to place yourself on the grunge spectrum of art—pasting streets with your soft, vicious expressions?
I still don’t think I can paint all that well haha. But I do know that I have always needed an outlet of some kind. Just so happens painting is one of the current outlets. This particular style started about 6 months ago when I got back from a 6 month trip in Europe and didn’t have a job or any money.The Border isn’t something I align myself with because what I entered, I feel doesn’t align with who I was, or am now. It’s not the way I feel about my work no, I’m aligned and it’s taken years to get to this stage so I want to focus on it.
Give us a rundown of who your influences are. I mean all of them. We’ve spoken at length about the likes of Dan Flavin, Shida and Duchamp. You’ve even got a couple illustrations tattooed on you?
I remember being really moved by a painting by Edvard Munch at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam called ‘Death in the Sickroom’. I fully just stood there for 20 minutes staring at it while my girl at the time had done the whole floor haha. I’m influenced by anything that stops me, but I’m also really into smaller artists actually. Like, I’ve got a Cleon Peterson tattoo on my leg, a Sean Morris on my arm and a few others.
As for your design stuff, you love furniture design and concepts, I even remember you lecturing me once about the ghost chair—a revelation in furniture design now belittled at Kmart for $15 a pop. How’d you get into design?
Haha, yeah bringing the ghost chair to the masses I guess, I’d probably buy one. Design for me is again just another extension of expressing myself but I suppose it fulfills the tradesman in me a little with the problem solving side of things. I got into design because of my mate CJ at uni when I was majoring in visual design. He was doing 3D design. I always ended up in his classes and so by the end of the year I’d changed my major haha.
Talk to me about creation. Being creative is obviously your bread and butter? Do you create because you’re creative, or is it more cathartic than that?
Everyone is creative. Creativity isn’t something that just happens, you have to do. I create because I want to, because I enjoy it, because it is cathartic. It helps me deal with myself. Haha, I sound like a sad prick. I’m not.
You are gifted in several areas, but what does that mean for your future. Which road are you going to take or pursue? Playing in bands? Hanging out at future exhibition openings? Nine to five at a design studio?
I’m going to do it all except for maybe the nine to five part. I’m done with that.
Do you think the Goldie has shaped your upbringing and work as an artist / musician?
The Goldie I think has formed my ‘we’ll make it work attitude’ to everything. But I think the people around me on the Gold Coast have helped form my work.
There are a lot of naysayers out there about the Goldie creative scene? What are your thoughts?
The naysayers are just going to go somewhere else and say they wish they were somewhere else while the rest of us just get on with the job of creating it. The Goldie has a really supportive scene with a lot of excitement in the air at the moment. Something is brewing.
You recently had your first solo exhibition at Maverick in Coolie. How did it go? And what was it like combining both your music, art (and even your electrical trade) into one evening? Sounds like a logistical nightmare.
It was everything I wanted it to be. The music was written to reflect the paintings, the projection was to reflect the music, the paintings were painted to reflect the feelings visualised. And it was all a reflection of me. I couldn’t see it any other way than combining it all. I wanted to give my all for all my people. It was a lot of work putting it all together. Couldn’t have done it without the help of my friends and especially Byron, the curator/owner of the gallery.
As a young artist, what does exhibiting and sharing your work mean to you and why is it important?
It means the world to me. It’s something I feel strongly about and I love to share it with people. It’s important because it keeps you excited and pumped as hell to do more, create more. You would know. We bounce ideas off each other weekly haha. It keeps us all going.
Any projects in the pipeline?
Veople is taking a new direction in music that I’m excited about. I’m writing more and it’s more collaborative. Also have a conceptual album under wraps for an exciting project happening but it’s too early to say anything.
Words by Aaron Chapman, Images by Byron Coathup, Video by 98 Collections