Artist Series:

Punk rock girls with cat-eye glasses and scrawny indie boys wearing glasses mixing it up with down-on-out robots and alien creatures dominate the thoughts of artist James "Jimbot" Demski Jr.

I first stumbled upon his work as I was looking for new and upcoming artists to interview in this series from LiveJournal. And since I'm a sucker for art about robots, I fell right into Jimbot's world.

When did you realize you wanted to be an artist? Why did you want to be an artist? What is your artistic background?
I've been making art since I've been in diapers. (My mom actually has a photo of that.) It wasn't til high school though that I finally decided to pursue an actual "art career." At that time, it was either going to follow an art career, or follow a career in computer programing (I'm a TOTAL computer nerd). Needless to say I'm glad I choose the more artistic path. My background is full of lots of drawing, a lifetime of watching cartoons and reading comics, an overly expensive school (I sometimes wonder how much that helped), and a robot which I captured that resides in my basement.

What types of characters and themes do you like to paint the most? You seem to have a fond appreciation for zombies and robots!
Well, mostly I just like to paint the creatures that live up in my noggin. They reveal themselves one or two at a time, but the weird thing is, they are always recognizable -- meaning I've seen them all before, and I've known them all this time. I will admit though that a lot of what pops out are the robots. I've been fascinated with them for a long time, as long as I can remember actually. There are so many different ways to portray them, and somany things you can do with them. Also, the idea of artifical life intrigues and inspires me. Mixing warm, human, emotion with something as cold and lifeless as a machine is astounding. I especially like the idea of robots discovering something for the first time. They can have this child-like innocence even though they are these machines (which are supposed to be perfect) with adult communication skills. It's a lot of fun to think about.

I do like tackling other themes in my paintings. Emotions tend to show up a lot of the times, and when I was younger (especially in high school). I used my paintings as an outlet to get all my different emotions out. I like to handle them as cryptic as possible, so that people have to search and think to get the full meaning out of my work. I guess it's a way of communication for me really. Happiness, sadness, anger, love, etc all show up at one ponit or another -- and sometimes it's not easily seen. Like I said, I like making people search and think when the look at my work.

What was the first thing you ever painted? What was the first art piece you ever sold?
Well, there is a photo in my parents house (which my mom framed), of me in my diapers, proudly holding up a watercolor mess that I made. I dunno if this was the first thing I painted, but it is pretty funny. The first piece I ever sold was in high school, my senior year. The school bought two paintings from the students every year, and one of mine was picked that year. They gave me $50 and sent me on my way. I think it's still hanging there in the school library.... that was 10 years ago now. Wowzers, time flies when you're having fun!

Anyway, I have done some illustration work, and my first batch was for some big newspapers. My first big freelance job was for The Chicago Tribune. I did a piece for their money section. I got the job through an artist rep that I had (which I would not recommend getting an artist rep). It was a lot of fun, and the woman I was working with at the Tribune was really good. I think she could tell I was a little new at this, and she was very patient with me. Currently, I am working with a publisher doing children's books. That's what I've been wanting to since I graduated college, so it's nice to finally be moving in that direction, and I'm having tons-o-fun doin it! I think you can find the books for sale at (Just look up James Demski). I'm also working on some commission pieces now, and thatÍs turning out to be quite fun as well. I'm just honored and excited that people want to hire me just to do my paintings.

What inspires you to create?
I like the quirky, unusual, thought-provoking stuff that people don't usually consider or even think about. I take inspiration from the world around me. What does that mean? Well, one thing it means is that I am constantly inspired by the people around me. My fiance, my family, my friends, and even my dog all play a part in keeping me going. I see how they handle what life throws at them, and turn it into my own energy. I'm also inspired by other art. I look all around at other artists and the art they put out -- that alone could spark a new idea.

Something my teacher said to me in college still sticks with me, "We, as artists, are NOT an island. We are inspired by the world around us." I've taken that statement to heart, and I keep myself open -- even the smallest event or object can spark a new idea!

What other artists get you excited and why?
It's hard to say what other artists get me inspired. I really love looking around and finding NEW artists. Some kid fresh outta college with their own website can inspire me just as much as Michaelangelo or Mark Ryden. If I had to pin some artists down, I guess I would say I've been more attracted by current artists -- Barry McGee, Margaret Kilgallen, Dave Cooper, and Dave Kinsey to name a few. I guess I gravitate towards these artists because of their use of space, color palettes, the way they portray feeling, and just simply because of the overall feel of their work.

I also find myself inspired by animation artists. Classic artists like Chuck Jones and Tex Avery are so inspirational, but also current artists like Joe Murray and Genndy Tartakovsky have just as much influence, and inspiration for me. I would like to get into animation eventually, but we'll see where I go with that. Other art and artists inspire me as well... grafitti art, comic art....I could go on and on!

What artistic medium do you prefer to work with and why?
I prefer to use jar acrylics on masonite. I love the control that the paint gives me, as well as the immediacy of it. For the masonite, I prefer working on a smooth surface, and masonite really accepts paint so well. I also like using the color of the masonite in my work. I never prime my surface, so I can get those brown tones to come out and make a nice impact on the piece. I've tried working on canvas, but to me, the texture that canvas can add to a piece really changes the feeling I am going for. I guess I'm kind of a control freak when it comes to my work.

Recently though, I've been adding other elements to my paintings. I've been working on other surfaces (like newspaper or wallpaper mounted on masonite), or doing things like screenprinting over my paintings. I'm especially excited about the screenprinting bit. I am still learning about it from a good friend of mine, but I think it adds a whole new dimention to my work that (I think anyway) works really well with it.

What are some of the challenges you face as an artist?
One of the biggest challenges I have to face (and this is gonna sound a little cheesy) is myself. Finding the confidence to get out there and show your own work can be a daunting thing. Besides that, I find that I'm never completely happy with the work I've done. I'm sure it's the perfectionist in me, but I always seem to focus on some tiny detail that I am unhappy with, when in reality no one even notices it! Sometimes I even have to hide a piece I am working on for a while just so I can get that little bit I am hung up on out of my head.

I used to have another challenge as well. Finding an "audience" for my work may not have been as easy, especially since I live in the Midwest. However with the help of my friend the Internet, I have been able to contact people that I might not be able to talk to otherwise.

What are your goals as an artist?
My biggest goal as an artist is to become completely self-reliant, and self-employed so I can be free to work on my art and explore every single avenue that I want to explore. I really enjoy the idea of working in my studio, day after day, producing the best artwork I can produce. I'm really working on getting rid of all the unwanted distractions of my life that are holding me back.

I do have another goal, though, that's just as important. I always want to keep growing in my craft. I think experimentation and stepping outside of you own comfort zone is the best thing an artist can do! Too many times, artists get stuck in their own style, and end up doing what people expect of them, which really gets in the way of growth, and could even stop it!

What do you hope people see when they look at your art?
I really want people to make their own conclusions about what is going on, and finish the story of the painting for themselves. I want to inspire people to think creatively about what might be going on -- maybe even identify with one or more of the characters! Every painting is just one moment in that particular story. What the rest of the story is, is up to the viewer. I hope that they see what I am trying to get across, but I get just as much joy out of seeing someone really pick things apart when they look at my work.

What are you working on now?
Besides working on conquering the world with my robot army, right now I'm working on a children's Book. Artwork for children's books is something that I focused on while I was in college, and now I finally have that opportunity. It's a LOT of hard work, especially since I am holding down a day job, but it is totally worth it. I am also working on some comission work, and having a lot of fun with that as well.

In the VERY near future, I am going to be submitting some of my work to galleries. I'd really like to start pursuing that part of my career, and even focus on it!

You can see some of Jimbot's work here:

And don't forget to read his regular blog on Livejournal here: Jimbot's Lab: The Robot Chop Shop

All art copyright © Jimbot

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