CH.89: If you were to categorize or describe the style of your artwork, what would it be and why?

JF: My illustrations are lighthearted and bright, they express a love for nature and character. My illustrations are primarily for editorial clients, so they usually are conceptually-minded and relate to current events.

JF: Formally, my work combines a cartoon/comic-like sensibility with some painterly textural qualities. I love to explore the tension between clean, strong lines and unpredictable textures.

CH.89: Where do you draw your inspiration from?

JF: For the past couple of years, I have primarily drawn inspiration from anime and video games, which were my obsession as a kid. But I also find inspiration from a wide variety of sources: such as alternative comics, diagrams, nature and digital iconography.

CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about what your creative thought process is like when starting a new project/ piece of artwork?

JF: It depends! If it’s an editorial illustration, I read the article or prompt and make a note of passages and ideas that stand out to me. Once I have a sense of the concepts that I want to riff on, I make several sketches digitally. I find that drawing itself is a form of thinking, so it becomes clear from the actual drawing process which sketches would be the most conceptually interesting and (more importantly) the most enjoyable to bring to final. I always try to make sure that I only send out ideas to clients that I know I would have a ton of fun drawing. I’m emphasizing fun here because I think my level of personal excitement has a direct relationship to the quality of the final illustration.

JF: By contrast, If I’m working on a personal project or from a relatively open-ended prompt, I find it much more difficult to come up with an idea, because constraints ironically give me more ease and freedom to create. When faced with open-ended prompts, usually I either refer to some inspiring art or imagery and do several rounds of sketching before I find something I want to make.

CH.89: Is there anything in particular that you would want people to take from your artwork?

JF: I want people to be inspired to do the work or the activities, that they find enjoyable and that gives them happiness and fulfillment. By way of example, my favorite creators have permitted me to make the kind of art that I want to make, and it would be awesome to have that same impact on others.

CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about your lifestyle as an artist and what that is like?

JF: Haha, I’d say It’s all over the place. As a freelancer, I have the luxury of taking on all kinds of work, but consequently, I struggle with having a regular schedule. This year especially, I find myself adopting a new daily routine every couple of weeks.

JF: However, I am fortunate to have an incredible community of friends and artists where I live in Brooklyn. These awesome folks give me levity, guidance, stability, and sanity amidst what can sometimes be a hectic and stressful lifestyle.

CH.89: When starting out an artistic task, do you think it is better to have a particular direction/set plan guiding your way? Or, is it better to act on impulse and go from there?

JF: I’ve found it more useful to act on impulse. I have a strong tendency to overthink everything, so when I was in school, and making illustrations for the first time, I tried to analyze every aspect of a potential illustration beforehand, which ultimately paralyzed me and resulted in more than one failed assignment. Eventually, I realized that just starting the drawing process before I had any idea what I wanted to make, and feeling out the correct direction from there was the best method for me.

CH.89: What is one major lesson you’ve learned as an artist thus far?

JF: Draw what makes you happy 🙂

CH.89: Do you regard personal style & taste to be of highest importance?

JF: I don’t think personal style is very important–I know plenty of incredible artists that dress blandly–but taste for an artist does matter a whole lot. Ira Glass said it best, but a creative person’s taste is usually more advanced than their current abilities, so your taste is hugely important for dictating your work’s future and what you value aesthetically and conceptually.

CH.89: What do you consider to be the hardest thing about being an artist?

JF: Stability and balance. Because making art can be incredibly personally taxing and not typically high-paying, finding ways to simultaneously make a living, creating personally fulfilling work, staying physically and mentally healthy, as well as continuing to learn and enjoy life can be especially challenging

CH.89: What is one thing you love about being an artist?

JF: It still blows my mind that I get paid to draw really silly stuff every day.

CH.89: Is there anyone in particular, any artist’s that inspire you in any way?

JF: Yes! Too many to count, but here’s a short list in no particular order:

  1. Moebius
  2. Osamu Tezuka
  3. Ivan Bilibin
  4. JC Leyendecker
  5. Sophia Foster Dimino

JF: And more!

CH.89: What do you think of technology in terms of being a useful tool for artists today?

JF: As a young adult, this question is tough to answer because I don’t have a frame of reference for being a working artist without digital technology’s presence. Although it has the potential to be a distracting, toxic force, I feel that technology and the internet have opened up plenty of new mediums, communities, educational and career opportunities for artists. Plus, you get to see how good everyone else is which inspires you to improve.

CH.89: Do you think being an artist allows you to view the world differently from those who don’t follow creative paths?

JF: I think so. Art necessarily requires you to portray a subject in a new and different way, something that hasn’t been seen before. The process of making things forces you to unpack assumptions or traditional representations of everyday phenomena.

CH.89: Do you enjoy traveling? If so, do you have a favorite city?

JF: Lately, not particularly. I’m lucky to live in New York City, my favorite metropolis, but there are plenty more I want to visit in the future.

CH.89: Do you have a favorite author or book?

JF: Impossible to say a favorite but The Neapolitan quartet by Elena Ferrante is pretty great!

CH.89: Any future goals or plans for your artwork?

JF: Yes, lots! For one, I want to start making more comics, and work that incorporates text. I finally feel confident enough in my voice to express my feelings, and stories I want to tell. And, of course, I want to continue to improve as a draughtsman.

CH.89: What does being an artist mean to you?

JF: Everything! Since I was a small child I had a strong sense of purpose and destiny that I was meant to be an artist, so for me, it’s the common thread that binds my childhood self to my present self. It’s directed every significant life choice and has kept me disciplined, focused and healthy throughout my life.

CH.89: What’s the last song you listened to?

JF: You and Me by Penny and the Quarters


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