I was really excited to interview Jonas for Society 805 after his name kept coming up when I began asking about artists in the 805 who were good but never seemed to get the right exposure. Something I noticed was that the same group of people were always getting the exposure around town and it was becoming quite boring. Fast forward, I hear about the HUD Ventura, a new artist hub, with a cool hip vibe where they feature artists from all over on a monthly basis, and even better, they also have resident artist studios for LOCAL artists like Jonas Lara.
Jonas was the first artist that I wanted to interview, but due to some unforeseen situations it did not happen. Eva Ryan, the person who I was meant to interview first on this series, did happen. (I am a big believer that everything happens for a reason) Her honesty in her interview was well received and it did exceptionally well.
Please enjoy this amazing interview from a phenomenally talented young man.
Did you choose, or were you chosen to create art work?
I started making art as a way to cope with some personal issues I was going through after becoming injured and dealing with depression post military service. It started as a way to “heal” myself. Or at least provide me a suitable distraction from what I was going through at the time. Although I always felt like I had a creative instinct in me, it wasn’t until I got older that I realized I could put all my energy and focus on that.
What are your methods of visualization? How does the process of creating an art object begin?
A lot of my work, regardless of medium starts with some sort of photographic image in one way or another. Either I am drawing from an image and at some point abandon the original image and treat it as a starting point to make marks on a surface or I choose to let the photographic element peer through and have it be a focal point. My background in photography plays a big role in the way I create works.
How does the city you live in influence your creativity?
For the past several years my work has always been about the city I lived in before, a sort of nostalgia about how the last place had a magic that the new place doesn’t. When I was living in New York, I was making work about Los Angeles and when I moved back to So Cal my first pieces were about New York and the vibrancy I remember experiencing there. It wasn’t until I wrote a proposal to the City of Oxnard Cultural Arts about doing a series that was about Ventura County and having it approved that I made a series specifically about the area I was living in.
In your words, what does it mean to be a “creative”?
Being creative, that could mean anything. For me, I feel just as fulfilled creatively creating a new salsa as I do a painting. It could mean doing something that fulfills an inner need to experiment with any task not just art, design, music. It's being able to approach something with an open mind and trusting your instinct.
Why do you make art? And whom do you make it for?
As I stated before, when I first decided to pursue this thing called art it was a form of therapy, it still is but it's gone much further than that. I feel like I know have an obligation, to make art. I have a certain set of skills that I’ve picked up over the years from school, peers etc and I have to put them to use. They are gifts given to me and I don’t want to waste them. I feel guilty when I’m not creating, like I’m not being appreciative of the opportunities that have been given to me. It took me having to reach a place in my life that was pretty rock bottom, I still go there sometimes and that’s where my best work comes from unfortunately. It sounds cliché but when I’m “happy” or at least not depressed in some way, it’s hard for me to produce work because I feel like I’d be faking. So in those moments I take care of other areas in my life, family, health etc because while I’m in my full blown creative mode I tend to neglect those sort of things.
What is your biggest challenge personally as it pertains to making your work?
I get bored very easily so I’m constantly looking for new ways to stimulate my mind, challenge myself with new things. For example, I might take a class in something I’m unfamiliar or always wanted to learn to try and mix it up. I feel like once I get really good at something it becomes boring at times so I like to introduce things where I’m a beginner again, it's exciting to me.
How do you deal with critics?
It’s hard to separate myself from my work because it's so personal to me, but I try my best to take all critique as objectively as possible. I’ve gotten pretty good at it, most of my biggest breakthroughs have been through critics and mentors suggestions that show up in my practice years down the line.
Do you find yourself more attracted to work that is not like your own, or work that has similarities to yours?
For the most part I tend to like work that is similar to mine. When I see work that looks like something I might make in the future it excites me. I love seeing work of an artist speaking the same language and dealing with the same things I do in my studio but much further in their practice. At times its depressing to the point that I say to myself, “I can never do that so I should just quit” haha but then I regroup my thoughts and tuck it away in my memory bank.
When you are bored with yourself and your work in the studio, what do you do to get out of it art wise?
This happened to me this past year, I had my first solo show and I had put an incredible amount of time and energy into leading up to the exhibition and I burned myself out. I gave myself a month off but that month turned into 5-6 months of not producing. I started fishing during those months, and for awhile I preferred going out to the ocean and having the sun on my face than being in the studio and it gave me the space I needed to miss it and come back to it.
Who are you most inspired by; another artist, relative, pet?
The person who had the biggest influence on me is a colleague I met during undergrad named Ryan Graeff aka Mullet of Restitution Press. I was in the photo program at Art Center College of Design and he was an illustration major and street artist. I started documenting his process of creating and wheat pasting posters around Los Angeles and just being around him and seeing his dedication and the way he pushed the boundaries of what illustration could be inspired me to push my photographic work further eventually abandoning straight photography and moving towards mixed media.
Is there something happening in your career that you are looking forward to? Any exciting projects on the horizon?
Right now I’m taking a drawing and painting class at Ventura College. I wanted to learn how to draw “the right way” as I never took a drawing class in undergrad or grad school. In undergrad I was a photo major so there wasn’t much room for a technical drawing class although I did take some experimental drawing and painting courses. I have never worked with traditional tools like charcoal, pen and ink and such so I’m excited to see where it takes me and look forward to incorporating some of these elements in my future works.
Describe yourself in 5 words.
5.1 words :)
JONAS LARA STUDIO
1793 E. Main Street Ventura, California 93001