This Job Rocks: Artist, Jeremy Henrickson

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From the mysterious to the masters of their craft, “This Job Rocks” is where I’ll walk in someone else’s work shoes. On Twitter and Instagram #ThisJobRocksYVR.

jeremy-henrickson-3With some pencil crayons in tow, I ride to meet Jeremy Henrickson, multi-media artist, graphic designer and also, my little bro, at English Bay. Of all the people in this world, his art career has been a long standing mystery to me. As kids, he’d devour reams of paper, first tracing his favourite cartoon characters like Bart Simpson, Ghostbusters and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, then graduating to drawing them freestyle. Page upon page, he painstakingly worked to get the proportions perfect, the shading just right, and as he advanced, he gave life and soul to the once vacant eyes of his subject.

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He’s asked me to meet him at The Inukshuk, one of his most-loved painting places. When I arrive he is just about to spread out a paint spotted yellow blanket to use as a dropcloth. Next, he erects a portable easel. And then, wrestling with a blank canvas, he jockeys for position with the sun and wind as adversaries; too bright and the blank slate will be transparent, a gust of wind and his canvas could sail away.

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As he works, I start in on my barrage of questions…

Do you think there’s a lifelong pattern to your work?
I don’t know about lifelong pattern, for me the thread is simply always trying to improve and carve out the style you are trying to attain and own, which does take a lifetime. I’ve only been painting with a palette knife since 2011, and painting with traditional mediums since 2004. Before that I was more into pencil drawing, digital art, animation and video game design, yet all those things contributed to figuring out the next step. You grow and change and your aesthetic changes as well; but it forges ahead well armed by what it has learned before.

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After establishing a good angle, he clamps on a smaller canvas with the coordinates to his hashtag and Instagram, grassroots marketing at it’s finest. And lastly, a black and white tiger, his reference photo.

Why all the tigers?
More like why all the girl’s faces? That tends to be more of a staple diet for me. I try to do the kind of work that I respond the most emotionally to — subjects that I find expressive, powerful, evocative. Portraits, animals and florals emanate an energy or essence that I try to give to my works by playing up the colours, expression or vibrance. Pretty much all of my inspirations played with similar subject matter—and I’m all like, “Man, i wanna be like them!”

Also 98% of the internet is cats so the tigers do well :)

Who has inspired you?
Francoise Nielly, a famous French painter. is my number one. Her work inspired me to use a palette knife predominantly, something I had never done before. Concepts of structure, form, colour and modernity are all prevalent in her work and something I try to bring with my own spin. Others like Ben Tour, Dave Kinsey, Alex Kanevsky, Simon Birch, Alphonse Mucha and Paul Cezanne have been important to me over the years too.

Pencil poised, Jer sets to work. His eyes dart from the reference photo to the canvas and he works swiftly, carving up the white into a myriad of angles, like a chaotic piece of graphic paper.

jeremy henrickson at english bay

What is the “business” side of your work like?
Often times original works can be out of range for those that love them most, so I strive to keep my prices as affordable as possible because I want anyone to be able to afford it. I’m on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, I display my works in restaurants, cafes, salons, and do commission pieces.

What’s the difference between displaying at an art gallery and selling street side?
Cost, quality, prestige perception to name a few. Like I was saying before it can be harder to make quality original art accessible through galleries, but it depends on the artist and gallery. Generally galleries take a 40-60% cut which means the artist has to price higher to ensure both parties get paid. It can out-price certain people and my work tends to be more for a thriftier crowd I guess you might say.And so far, street side has made more sense to my career.

Is that why you like the beach?
I really like talking shop with random people about art. Doing live painting events gets people interested in my work and many seem interested to see how an artist creates imagery. Plus, it’s an enjoyable thing to paint outside in nice weather.

On beautiful days, you’re likely to see Jeremy near English Bay, Granville Island, Jericho or Kits

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A palette knife and a rainbow of colours emerge.

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Onto a well-worn palette, he squeezes acrylics— gold and copper, mustard and beige, lime and forest green, arms himself with his trusty palette knife and holsters a paint splattered spray water bottle. It’s hard for my untrained eye to describe the technique. He swipes: a hard angle into a fade, sprays water directly on the canvas and watches the paint thin and drip. It’s in the drips that he seems to find the most joy. A lack of control mixed with the precise lines of the knife.

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The finished green and bronze tiger portrait. For inquires, ask Jeremy.

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Crystal spends her days working with organizations who want to harness the power of community. She's fascinated by human networks and her curiosities lead her to write about the culture of work and community events.