New York City is home to some of the best artists and creative individuals an urban stomping ground can provide. Every now and then, we artists get in touch with one another and have a chance to learn more about each other’s craft. However, it is a real treat when we actually get along and like each other! This is the case for a friend of mine Ms. Jean Goode. Not only is this woman a talented digital designer, her passion and exploration in music adds onto it all. I managed to convince her to share a little bit about her work and her future plans. This is one artist you all need to know.
As always, I was curious to know how Ms. Goode got into this aesthetic world. “Funnily enough, it was the lack of being able to express myself through visual art that was the main motivating force for me to do so. I can’t speak for every artist out there, but I feel like a lot of us, if not most of us, have pursued artistic endeavors or have been in some way involved in art since we realized we could. For me, it was automatic. I can’t even pinpoint the moment when I decided, ‘hey, you know what? I think I’m going to do this art thing.’ As cliché as it sounds, it’s just a fundamental part of who I am. It led me to a career in graphic design. It took me a few years working in graphic design to learn that when you’re constantly designing things for other people, it has a way of programming you to limit your self-expression through visual art, because you’re always striving to please a client who ultimately has the authority on how something is going to turn out. You end up making a lot of sacrifices. It builds this mental wall when you attempt to create something for yourself. I started to think, ‘I’m not going receive any instruction or feedback on this,’ as if it were a bad thing. It was a bit paralyzing when I noticed myself having this thought process. I recognized the problem, so I sought to fix it. Songwriting, singing, and even doing a little music production was my usual go-to for self expression, because my artistic skills were always being utilized for graphic design jobs. In an attempt to regain control, I went ahead and started to approach art with the same mentality and freedom I would a song. I’m happy to say it worked.”
My favorite pieces of hers are easy to spot. She elaborated more on those in particular. “The portrait illustrations I’ve featured on my website are all my favorites, because they show me how I’m evolving stylistically. They show me how I’m improving too, and I like that I’m able to measure that through them. Every time I work on one, I somehow manage to make it a little more detailed than the last. It’s not even intentional. It’s just the style evolving on its own. I’ve been enjoying seeing those changes from portrait to portrait. I’m excited to see where it’s going to go. Maybe in five years I’ll be illustrating some hyper-realistic portraits, maybe. I have a love for flat color and simple gradients, but I can definitely see it getting much more detailed in the future. If I were to choose my most favorites, it would be the Julian Casablancas portrait with the red background. I should also mention that I love illustrating portraits in general, so it’s quite predictable of me to choose those as my favorites. I love faces! The more interesting the face, the more I want to draw or even photograph it. To anyone who has ever heard me say, ‘you have a great face,’ take that as a huge compliment, because it’s probably the best one you could get from me based on your physical appearance, hehehe.” So, interesting looking people, keep an eye out.
Luckily, this woman remains ambitious and had a lot to say about her newest exploration. “I am working on something, a new style of sorts. I’m not even sure if people are going to, ‘get it,’ but I’m not really concerned about that. I just want to do it, because I’ve found it to be an effective way to visually express my emotions. The style is a weird mix of abstract expressionism, minimalism, and graffiti presented as digital art. I’m big on expressing myself with words and writing, which makes this new style I’m developing really satisfying. I call it ‘sentient goo’ or ‘sentient fluid,’ for lack of a better description. So far I’ve completed one and started another that follows the same theme. I’d love to make a huge word-filled one, something that can fill a wall. That’s definitely coming, but right now I’m just warming up. In the future, I’ll be combining my ‘sentient goo’ style with the portrait illustrations. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while now. I’m not sure where that idea will take me or exactly how I’d approach it. All I’m sure of is that I’m probably not going to stray from creating art on a computer for a long while. I’ve tried ink and acrylic paint on different papers, but I haven’t been able to achieve the clean lines I’m looking for yet. In the meantime, using the computer feels good, so there’s no point in fighting it. I do, however, intend to learn screen-printing. That I could use.”
Her new style has also unleashed her most challenging piece to date. “The most difficult piece I’ve worked on is one I’ve recently completed that uses that ‘sentient fluid’ style I’m developing. The piece is called Those Who Don’t See Get Eaten. I can get really caught up with making everything perfect, which is funny, because the style itself is meant to give off a feeling dissonance. There are deliberate imperfections in it and were all really thought out. I kept going in and making changes, so it took me a while to be satisfied with the finished piece. [It took] about three months. It seems kind of ridiculous when I think about it, but I’m glad I took my time with it.”
As a participant in the crowded art space, I always love hear the perspective of fellow contemporaries. Jean gave me her take on it all. “The other day I was browsing through Instagram going down a follow-this-artist spiral. It went on for more than a few minutes. While looking at some work done by very creative people, I realized how incredibly lucky we are that we have access to so much art. This kind of thing wasn’t possible back in the day. If you wanted to see some new or old art, most of the time you had to go to a museum, gallery or get a hold of a book. This is, of course, excluding any really nice-looking graffiti you may have stumbled upon every once in a while. Now, you just have to follow someone whose work you like, and you get to see new stuff all the time. Not to mention the many great websites dedicated to featuring new art and artists. It’s pretty amazing! While going to museums and galleries has its advantages and is still fun to do, it’s nice that we don’t necessarily need to do that anymore to be able to see all the beautiful things. It’s also nice that artists get to have their work seen by lots of people without having to go through the challenges of getting their art in galleries. When it comes to art world politics, I can’t say I know that much to have a solid opinion on it. I’m just happy people are creating, and that we have easy access to see those creations.”
Music is another medium Jean takes part in. “I’m really interested in music production. I’ve got a lot of ideas and know what I want to hear. I’ve worked on some stuff before, but mostly in collaborations with talented people who knew what they were doing. Those collaborations were super fun! I learned a lot from them and will surely continue to collaborate with music producers and musicians. It’d just be good to be able to choose when I want to have more control of the music I make. At the very least, I would to be able to contribute more on my end in the collaborations.”
Ms. Goode has some great inspiration choices that help to keep her moving. “Warren Fu’s work inspires me. He has a way of imprinting anything he works on with a nostalgic vibe. It’s an edgy nostalgia, if I can call it that. There’s something to that shade of red he tends to use. Have you seen his Phrazes for the Young logo? Perfection. One of my favorite music videos, You Only Live Once by The Strokes, was directed by him. It’s really beautifully put together. Shout outs to the visual effects team who worked on that video too! I didn’t learn this until years later, but he was responsible for that animated Aaliyah TV Spot that used to air on MTV and BET in 2001 to promote her last studio album. I remember thinking how cool it was. I wished I were able to create something like it. It was different from anything I’d seen at the time. It’s still cool! As someone who designs logos for a living, I appreciate the elegance and simplicity he brings to all of his projects. It helps motivate me to be better.”
To end, Jean gave a glimpse of her day plans and her next ambitious project. “I’m going to drink some tea, and illustrate FKA twigs’ eyelashes. My next big project is a collaboration with photographer and artist J.Shotti.” Now, that is sure to be the collaboration worth seeing. I, for one, am really excited to see what comes of it. So, there you have her, Jean Goode in all of her aesthetic glory. She is one of those hidden stars in the space that makes everything light up in the end. Explore her work and better yet, get a portrait done!