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ARTIST JEFF SOTO talks about his favorite books – Page 3

The Making of Gumivore Love...

READERSVOICE.COM: What sorts of things trigger a painting for you?
JEFF SOTO: I don’t know, I guess that’s the hardest part. I’ll see something new or have the rare original idea and pull something from it. When I had more time to read and explore it was easier to come up with ideas.
Sometimes I don’t have any ideas so I’ll just start working. I’ll start with an abstract style of painting which sometimes leads me to ideas about what to do next.
RV: Your paintings have many details and lots of almost mini-pictures within them sometimes. I was wondering what sort of scrapbooks you might have and where you might collect ideas from, and what notes you might write in scrapbooks?
JS: My sketchbooks are very loose and undefined. I jot down notes and do quick sketches for possible paintings- everything is very unfinished at this point. It’s also filled with artists names and phone numbers, maps, and to-do lists.
I think the sketchbooks are more important than the paintings because they show how I arrive at a finished piece. I have about 20 sketchbooks from the last ten years and I keep them in a milk crate for easy access if we’re ever evacuated (I live in the land of earthquakes and brush fires).

RV: This is a big question, but I was wondering if you could give a layman’s description of the steps involved in creating a painting like Gumivore Love. (one of the paintings featured in the Crown Dozen interview which can be found on Jeff Soto’s website under “art”) http://www.jeffsoto.com
JS: The Gumivore Love painting took a while to complete. It’s four feet by two, one of the largest paintings I’ve worked on in the last few years.
I had an initial sketch for the piece, inspired by both environmentalist ideas and science fiction. Once the wood was cut out, I began by laying down a base coat. Sometimes this is house paint of various colors, but I think this time I used a bright red acrylic paint. Then I started blocking in areas of color, letting subtle areas of the red come through.
From then on I loosely followed the drawing, leaving things out and adding elements as I went. When it was done it didn’t resemble the original drawing too much but that’s how I work. I painted a few hours every day for a couple of weeks- the longest I’ve worked on one piece. When it was finished I felt it was my masterpiece, and I was happy that it was featured recently on the cover of Juxtapoz.

RV: Does your interest in model making, like the gunship from Nausicaa, and the Trade Federation tank from Star Wars, spill over into your painting? Are those figures you paint like toys or models you are assembling?
JS: I used to be into model making as a kid, though I never finished one in its entirety. It’s something I rediscovered recently and is pretty much unrelated to my art. It’s just a fun hobby that relaxes me when I get a chance to do it.
RV: What sort of illustration work did you do for magazines like Esquire, Entertainment Weekly, Field and Stream? How did you go about getting work from them?
JS: I’ve done all kinds of illustration work in the last two years. Editorial pieces for all kinds of magazines, advertising work, maps, posters, CD covers and book covers. That’s one of the things I love about illustration, it’s always a new challenge and there’s always a new subject to learn about.
The illustration work is different from my fine art work because there’s usually an art director and an editor who have a say in the final piece. I try to keep things in my style, and the best art directors will just let me do my thing.
To get the jobs a newbie illustrator must send out promos and make the rounds in New York. It’s a long term project, you must always look for ways to promote yourself. For me it was a combination of hard work and getting references to certain art directors. To an extent it’s all about who you know, but I also like to think my work has something to do with it and maybe that’s led to some jobs!