Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Gutter Park: Jason Byron Nelson

Virus Girl
The artwork of Jason Byron Nelson including T-shirts, prints and paintings are available at

I live and work in Monroe. I’ve been trying to escape for a while… though now it seems the creative community here is blossoming so maybe I’ll stick around.

I work digitally at first. Then if I think the work could translate beyond pixels to paint, I’ll put it on canvas, paper, wood, etc. For these pieces, I generally use acrylics and spray paint, but I love to experiment. I’ll throw in glitter, fabric, plastic, metallic leaf, etc.

Gotten any press?
Depends on you definition of coverage. I’ve been written up several times in the local rags, and i’ve designed some shirts that have garnered global attention, but that’s about it.


What subject matter are you drawn to and why?
I like the combination (or juxtaposition) of innocence and darkness. Or maybe it’s innocence filtered through a darker gaze; I don’t know. I always say that my goal is to simply make the viewer think. If someone walks away from one of my pieces outraged, that’s OK, but if someone walks away indifferent then I’ve failed miserably.

Do you create to convey a message?
No. I design knowing that the message is in the eye of the beholder. I may try to provoke discussion but never to influence.

What inspires your art?
Practically everything. Other artists and music mostly. Particularly those rare, creative souls who are trying to do something original and unique.


Where have you exhibited recently? Also, list current or future exhibits.
I have a show at the Arender Gallery in Monroe that’s just about to go down. I have no plans to show again any time soon. I’m sort of schizophrenic with my creativity and right now I’m focusing on a children’s book that I have written and illustrated.

Name one thing you like about the art scene in north Louisiana.
For a long time, it would have been difficult for me to answer that one. There’s always been a creative scene here but it’s always been so disjointed that any momentum would always die out. But for the first time in a long time, many of the creative brains in the area, whether they be the musicians or the writers or the visual artists -- they are coming together -- galleries are cooperating and there’s people like you and your blog. It’s a good time to be into the arts in northeast Louisiana right now. We’ll see if it sticks.


Name one thing you would change about the art scene in north Louisiana.

The ambition in the area has always been greater than the money that supports it. If I could change one thing it would be people’s perception on the necessity of art. Sometimes art in our area is seen as decoration-- something the tourist committee can use in an ad to promote local culture. We’re more than that. What we provide is incalculable.

Tell me about your writing: Is it a hobby? How does the writing influence your art or vice versa?
Like most aspects of my creativity, it comes in waves. Writing is something I did every day for about seven years -- poems, short stories, plays, you name it … and then I stopped. I put it aside to focus on my artwork. But I knew that eventually the two outlets would meld -– subconsciously, it was probably always the plan. I’ve always loved the combination of art and literature. (I have a collection of graphic novels I’m quite proud of). So far, I’ve illustrated four of my stories. As I mentioned before, I’ve made one into a complete book that I’m currently shopping to publishers.


randi said...

What a talented, interesting artist...and well-written, too. The artwork's so poignant not despite, but beacuse of the subject matter which is often unapologetically disturbing, yet intriguing, engaging, and terribly amusing all at the same time. Amazing website, too, btw. I look forward to exploring it further.