Artist of the Week: Jason Pickleman

Jason Pickleman is a visual artist, graphic designer and poet.  He lives and works in Chicago, IL.


What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like? Language and letterforms. But as I have been finding it hard to write as of late, oil paint and wax.

What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? Weddings, at which I always cry; also the poetry of Samuel Menashe, a sample of which reads as follows:
Pity us
by the sea
on the sands
so briefly

What do you want a viewer to walk away with from your work?  1) That the line between the decorative arts, the commercial arts and the fine arts is thin to the point of transparency. 2) That our time here is very, very brief.

What artists are you interested in right now?Paul Thek and the cave paintings at Lascaux.

What was the last exhibition you saw that stuck out to you? The Chicago Cultural Center continues to do great shows, both large and small. The recent exhibition by Kiff Slemmons and another by Diane Simpson were revelatory and, in Diane’s case, long, long over-due.

What is one the bigger challenges you and/or other artist are struggling with these days, and how do you see it developing?  The work I most admire is that which aspires towards a heightened sense of presence, purpose and/or exuberance. Unfortunately, when I am making art, I am not always thinking about these things, but I should, and I promise to try harder and more diligently to do so.

If you had one wish what would it be? To be financially secure enough to walk in the mountains of New Mexico without looking back at my appointment book.

Favorite music? Anything by Morton Feldman, but especially his works for solo piano.

What do you do when you’re not working on art? Along with my wife Leslie, I run a studio called the JNL graphic design. We make graphic ephemera of unique cultural significance for clients like The Renaissance Society, The Poetry Foundation, The Museum of Contemporary Photography, The Wit Hotel and restaurants such as Blackbird and The Publican.

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What were you like in high school? I was a theater geek, and often spit upon by the jocks.

What are your plans for the next year? I was recently kicked out of my old studio while the landlord renovates. I hope to move back in (before?) 2011.

Any current or upcoming shows we should know about?  I will be in a show at the Cultural Center this January whose theme is lettering and typography. It is being curated by Nathan Mason.