Interview with Jackie Farkas
Just in time for the peak of summer, we have one of our last remaining interviews: Jackie Farkas. Clearly inspired by surrealism and whimsy, Jackie’s work is hardly something you would see in your day-to-day life. This rarity is created by a wonderful hybrid of contemporary illustration, with the fine art spirit of Dali, Ernst, and Magritte. Read on to learn more about her inspirations and plans for the future!
Q: Some of the most interesting and unusual things about your portfolio are your hybrid concepts, a couple of the most noteworthy being the fish bird in “Hooked,” and walnut octopus in “Escape.” I’m dying to know how you come up with these ideas!
A: Ha, you know it is less complicated than it probably should be. I usually start with a broad idea, for example in “Hooked” I wanted to express my love for travel (as I had been doing quite a bit of it at the time). This led me to the idea of being “hooked on” adventure. In my opinion a captured fish portrays this idea perfectly. I am also fascinated with aviation and human flight, so I used another animal (a mallard duck in this instance) to incorporate this idea. I felt the ocean/air juxtaposition worked really well together luckily. As for some of the other hybrids I come up with: a lot tend to be things I find amusing to bring together, something you would never see in the natural world. To me that is the job of art, to depict something we wouldn’t see in our real world lives; something similar to a visual representation of a dream. Anyone can find a picture of an octopus, but it’s nearly impossible to find one with a walnut on its head.
Q: How has your visual style grown over the years?
A: My style has definitely been most influenced by my experimentation with new media. For a long time there I had no loyalty to any one media or medium. I just kind of created on and with anything I felt compelled to at the time. This made each piece a bit disjointed from the last (in a good and bad way). It really showed my evolution and growth process, which I like. Now I’ve somewhat settled with this line work/valued process that give me a bit of a whimsical/melancholy/dreamy? vibe that I’m really enjoying.
Q: What is your favorite subject to illustrate?
A: As the first question mentions I really enjoy illustrating surreal hybrids. Most are animal hybrids. Natural and organic elements are wonderfully interesting to illustrate. I also like incorporating geometric designs/patterns. Most recently I have gotten into portraits and likenesses. I love really capturing a person’s spirit through art.
Q: Explain your process, from start to finish.
A: I usually begin with my concept, and sketch out some rough thumbnails and compositions. I also do some little practice sketches of different parts of the piece till I feel comfortable with how I’ll be illustrating the subject matter. I then bring it all together in a final sketch, which I transfer over to my good paper (I’ve been using Stonehenge recently). This is when I do my charcoal and/or watercolor base, which is the values and colors in the final. Next I do all the pen and ink line work and tighten up the details in the values. I then usually scan it and tweak any last little things digitally.
Q: Who or what inspires you most?
A: Is it too generic to say life? I spend all day trying to catalog all of life’s little instances that make it beautiful and so intriguing. Also, traveling. Every culture and region is so unique and different from the next. It makes each one worth seeing. I also really like the idea of being on the road to a destination; it’s a type of incompleteness and expectation that is hard to get any other way. And while I don’t always agree with organized religion, religious and tribal art are some of the best creations around. Native American works, Buddhist art, the stained glass windows and sculptures of the Roman Catholic church, just to name a few.
As for creative individuals.. I’ve always liked artists with a bit of a dark or oddness to their work. Surrealists (Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, Magritte). The man who is probably one of the first surreal painters: Hieronymus Bosch. Egon Schiele has such a way of showing form through line it’s unbelievable. Illustrators like Ralph Steadman for his spectacular and guttural line work, Maurice Sendak, Sam Webber, David Foldvari. Michael Hussar. I could go on but you get the idea.
Q: What field within illustration are you most interested in pursing?
A: Probably work for the music industry (posters, album covers, promotional images..) or editorial work.
Q: Tell us about your hobbies/interests outside of illustration.
A: I really love cooking (and eating!) and traveling. Anthony Bourdain probably has my dream (non-art-related) job.
Q: If you had to live in an era past, which would you see yourself fitting best?
A: 1920s: surrealism, speakeasies, fashion, the writers and poets and artists, and a booming economy. Sign me up.
Q: Do you have any unusual quirks while working on a piece?
A: Quirks, hm, a few things I do while working on an illustration I might classify as quirks. I usually can never work on only one piece at a time; I tend to flip between two or three pieces. When I feel uninspired or stuck on one I toss it aside and fiddle with the other one. I also sometimes do two or more versions of each piece, letting the image sort of guide my way.
Q: What should we expect to see from Jackie in the future?
A: Continued evolution of my work. I’d also love to delve more into typography and include that into my work. I’ve been fascinated with poster design for a long time now and I want to work more on that genre of illustration.
Q: Anything else you would like the readers to know?
A: Inspiration can be found at the most un-obvious of times. There is a great 30 Rock episode about this called “The Shower Principle”. Essentially it’s the idea that when you are distracted is when you’re the most likely to have that great moment of brilliance.
Can’t get enough? Check out Jackie’s site at www.farkasillustration.com!