Posted November 21, 2015 by Cooper Point Journal in Arts & Entertainment

Jesse Wiedeman

Artist Interview

By Ruby Love

Jesse Wiedeman is an illustrator, painter, and printmaker whose incredibly emotive work focuses on the expressive energy of human faces, as it plays with light and shadow in ways reminiscent of graphic novel illustration and film noir.

Jesse is a lifelong Washington resident (spending the last 10 years in Auburn) and a sophomore at Evergreen this year. He was drawn to the art program at the college after hearing about a program focusing on graphic novels that he thought was “right up my alley.” Finding himself less than thrilled with the idea of attending other colleges, which seemed to him like “High School 2.0,” Jesse chose Evergreen.

Ironically, he says, he didn’t end up taking the graphic novel class that initially piqued his interest in the school, but he still found Evergreen to be a perfect fit. This year, Jesse is taking the program Studio Projects, which runs for the entire year, though he says he’s thinking of incorporating painting into his studies later in the year instead of taking the program’s ceramics portion.

I spoke with Jesse about his process, trying new mediums, and staying inspired as an artist.

How long have you been drawing?
All my life. For as long as I can remember, drawing has been essential, daily passion.

Do you primarily work on paper?
Yes, I do primarily work on paper. I am painting more and more and last year I worked on screenprinting as well. I’ve been [studying] a variety of mediums, from printmaking/wood carving last year to drawing/charcoal/painting this year. I’ll try expanding my skills as much as I can while improving upon pre-existing ones.

Your work has such intense angles and contrast; are you influenced by any artists in particular?
There are so many artists I admire; it’s like a never-ending lesson for me. Artists I feel the most inspired by are Dave Mckean, Stephen Gamell, H.R. Giger, Arthur Rackham and Hieronymus Bosch.

I know that a lot of your portraits are of characters from film, books, etc. Are there particular genres of media that you’re drawn to? (No pun intended!)
Since my fan art gets a predominate amount of my work’s notice, I feel like people mostly want what they’re used to. When it comes to media, I like horror films, science fiction and fantasy too. The same themes apply to literature (Stephen King is my favorite). And I do like comic books, which has made me want to get into industries that combine visual and written storytelling.

The faces in your work are particularly striking, do you study faces a lot?
Yes, I do frequently study faces, from televised strangers to people I know. I feel like it’s hard for me to look at someone without imagining how it would be to draw particular features or faces in their entirety. I think for most artists who prefer to draw people, even if accuracy eludes them, it’s the part they can’t wait to do.

You’re quite shy, is this a hindrance to studying faces?
Eye contact isn’t easy for me. Usually I’ll only look at someone for a few seconds. It might sound strange, but it’s easier for me to look at someone when they are looking away from me. I will not always observe someone this way, but it can be hard to turn off seeing everything as potential drawing material. Either way, it’s enough for me to get a general impression if I think it will help me draw people in the future.

Do you have any specific plans for a career in art or design, and what might that look like?
Ideally, I would like to illustrate for graphic novels, and write for them too. But I would also be open to other forms of illustration like, for example, concept art for video games, and for books, for children or otherwise. These sorts of professions that would continue to allow my interests in art and writing to lead the way would be ideal for me, especially since it’s what I’ve always imagined myself doing “when I grow up.”

Do you have anything else you want CPJ readers to know?
Since I’m probably in the same boat as many of the readers, I’m really in no position to be offering pointers. But I think that letting an obsession consume your time and mind is a good thing if you enjoy it, if it helps you, and if it’s leading you to the person (and place) you want to be. You just have to find a way to fit it into your future and the rest of your external life. I am glad to be in such a creative environment and hope that many other [students] are benefiting just as much or more.