Monday, 25 June 2012

Artist of the Week - Jazmin Velasco

Jazmin Velasco is an illustrator, printmaker and ceramicist. She will be exhibting her work alongside Colin Moore at the Brighton Art Fair.

Where did you train? What did training teach you and what do you wish it had taught you?
My life has been a path of constant learning. While studying graphic design I was already drawing comic strips and cartoons for magazines and newspapers. Then, when I moved to Mexico City while illustrating children books, I started learning painting and printmaking. Afterwards when I moved to London I was still a full time illustrator and studying multimedia. Then I saw an ad in a gallery looking for artists for an exhibition so I quickly made some prints dusting from memory the rudiments of relief printmaking and from then on I became a full time printmaker. In this section of my life I have been learning several printmaking techniques, mostly relief, like lino, woodcut and engraving.

Is being an artist your only job, or do you have other employment?
Being an artist is enough to keep me busy because I want to do as much as I can. I may do too much, actually. I try to concentrate most of the time in my printmaking work, but I also knit a lot, do ceramics, embroider, paint a bit and lately I am also trying to sew my own dresses. While I don't do any of that I dedicate the rest of my time to martial arts. I am a teacher of t'ai chi chuan. I find that both things complement each other. 

One favourite living artist?
It updates and changes a lot,  (as I discover different artists or depending on what I am doing at the moment) right now I see Grayson Perry as a great, great artist, I like his work a lot and the way he thinks.

 One favourite historical artist?
That doesn't change much. I have a long lists of favourite artists, but the king of them all, for me, it's Saul Steinberg.

What is the most interesting / fun job you have had?
I don't think if it was fun at the time, but now it is when I recall it. I had a real poor time several years ago and had to do loads of different jobs, like modelling for artists or sellling sandwiches on a bike. The bike was stolen on my second day and it was very embarrasing to drag the trolley back to the shop.

If you could collaborate with anyone living or dead, who would it be and what would you do?
Oooh, with Saul Steinberg, of course. I would even just make him coffee or whatever to see him working, observe his creative process etc. Another one would be David Bowie, I kind of did that once, making a comic of a story he wrote for his album Outside. Someone called us from his record company asking for my drawing of the cover as David Bowie wanted it. I sent it of course, but I still wonder if that was true...

At age 16 who most influenced your style?
When I was sixteen I was starting to make and publish cartoons and comic strips. Back then I was heavily influenced by Mexican cartoonists like Abel Quezada. 

Last book / film that blew your mind?
I am right now finishing the 20th and last book of the Master & Commander saga. It took me a while to get into them, specially with my problems with the nautical language, but as I knew that Patrick O'Brian was a keen admirer of Jane Austen prose and use her books -which had previously blowed my mind- as models to make his characters speak, I then oblige myself to read them all. 
And I don't see as much cinema as I used to. So when I see a good film I then buy it and watch it again and again. The last one was a nice little film called Beginners, with Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer in it. 

What music are you currently listening to?
Right now I am listening to glorious silence. It is more and more difficult to get hold of some silence, specially living in a big city like London, so whenever I find myself on my own I try to enjoy it. When my husband is at home and we are together in the studio we listen to Baroque music most of the time. Bach being our main printing soundtrack guest.

How many hours do you waste on the internet each day?
Oooh, I hate this question. Unfortunately I am a victim of internet procrastination... 

If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why?
I moved to this country because of London. I came with my backpack in the nineties and I knew this was the city I wanted to live in. So it took me a few years but here I am, and it's been 12 years living here now. If I HAD to choose any other place, it may probably be Cornwall.

Where and what is your studio?
Tile Kiln Studio is in the North of London, in Highgate and we are a team of two members, plus a cat. At the beginning Colin had a big press that we used for the big relief prints we do in lino. But I've been accumulating small little presses, including a very heavy proofing press I brought from Mexico.

Do you have a good work/life balance?
I do indeed, I feel happy, content and grateful. I am married to a lovely grumpy Scotsman, we have the nicest, affectionate and handsome of cats. I have health and good friends and live in a great city. And I live in the place I work, I like that. The most important thing is that I really like my two jobs artist/teacher and I don't get to see that as work either. 

What would your dream commission be?
Oh my God, so many. Last week I was dreaming that some nice restaurant or cafe or the Savoy or something of the sort would commission me to design and make the whole tableware, I even started to draw some of the pieces. Dreams dreams.

If you could exhibit in any gallery in the world which would it be?
In the Victoria & Albert because it's one of my favourite places in London. I try to go there at least once every other week.

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