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Dynamic. That’s the word that comes up when you think of artist Jason Woodside. Born in Miami, Woodside came to New York before he had even turned 20 in the hopes of pursing a career making films. Instead, what some people might like to call fate intervened, and he returned to a passion for art. After dropping out of school, Woodside took to the streets of New York City, covering it in his signature mishmash of colors and patterns, a little piece of the Sunshine State to brighten Manhattan’s grayest days. There is an optimism in Woodside’s work, one that’s clear in the artist’s personal day-to-day ethos, and one that has attracted the attention of private collectors and corporations alike. It’s no small feat to bridge art and commerce without selling out. It takes a dynamo to walk that line and walk it well.
ISAORA was able to talk to Jason about his first crash pad in New York, the first painting he ever sold, and his favorite part of being able to live a creative life.
ISAORA: What made you come to New York?
Jason Woodside: I came to NYC to go to college. I was 18 or 19? I went to The School of Visual Arts and dropped out sophomore year. I ended up moving to LA and living in my car for awhile.
ISA: Most people have it pretty rough when they move here. Where was your first crash pad?
JW: I came to NYC in 2001 to make movies... or shoot movies. Cinematography and storytelling has always been an interest. I lived in Jersey City in a terrible dorm room with several weirdo roommates that were heavily into animation and video games.
ISA: Where do you live in the city now? Favorite thing about it?
JW: I live in the East Village now. My favorite thing is its convenience. Walking everywhere and passing people on the street is enough to change a culture. I feel it brings people together and creates community.
ISA: Can you ever imagine living anywhere else?
JW: All the time. Mostly in winter... and the summer.
ISA: What's a typical workday like for you?
JW: Work day starts by waking up at 9 or 10. I need sleep. I'll head to my coffee shop (Happy Bones NYC) for a coffee and catch up on emails. I'll then head to the studio or continue on a project. I try to work until 7 or so, then dinner and bed (at 10 or 11?). A beer somewhere in the middle.
ISA: I imagine it's hard to find the perfect space to work. How long have you had your studio?
JW: Oh, man. Finding a studio is tricky. I was in Chinatown for awhile until our lease was up. I've just moved studios to Williamsburg. Been there for a year? It's good for a release and quiet time. Most of my recent projects have been on-site so only smaller commissions have kept me busy there. It's a nice spot with good light.
ISA: Your work is pretty iconic in design with the layering of patterns and use of color-blocking. How'd you come up with that look?
JW: Thanks! Most of my work comes from a clothing or textile background. Mixing and matching different textures and contrasts to create a focus. These days I'm replacing fabrics or textures with simple patterns then layering and contrasting to explore a color balance.
ISA: Any artists you looked up to when you were just starting?
JW: My grandmother was pretty epic.
ISA: Artists you look up to now?
JW: Hmm, there's a few. I can't remember any names. Thanks, paint fumes.
ISA: What's your favorite part of a creative life?
JW: Everything. Self-gratification. Fulfillment.
ISA: What was the first piece you ever sold and when/for who?
JW: The first piece I sold was an ad or an absinthe company for Michel Roux. I just painted it and showed him. Looking back, I think he bought it because he felt bad. Whatevs.
ISA: Your dream gig:
JW: Doing it! For real.
All images courtesy of Jason Woodside.