Jacob van Loon is a Chicago-based painter and designer. His work introduces organic, linear elements to geometric forms, with an aesthetic influenced by architecture, cartography, scientific illustration and graphic design. In addition to painting, Jacob also involves himself in the curation and has actively contributed to Artchipel’s content as Curator and Art Writer. Jacob’s personal work was featured on Artchipel over a year ago, we are glad to have him to speak about both his story and personal creative process.
Artchipel: You’ve been using Tumblr for almost three years now. Who is Jacob van Loon? Tell us a bit about your educational background and your creative style.
Jacob van Loon: I’m the kind of person who is at home anywhere, but also the kind of person who spends the majority of his time at a studio desk. I started off as a Graphic Design student at Associates colleges between Wisconsin and Illinois for about three years. I began studying photography with what turned out to be one of the best Professors I’ve ever had, and eventually plugged back in to drawing and painting through the Illustration program at Northern Illinois University, where I graduated in 2011. I never scrapped any one part of what I learned in school. My work realizes facets of my entire education, on a sliding scale.
A: How does your design and illustration background feed into your visual artwork and vice versa?
JVL: I think most responsible Illustration curriculum realizes the importance of design more than other studio concentrations do. They are far from the same thing, but often used in conjunction professionally which is why (at the very least) my own exposure to learning illustration emphasized parts of design education as well. My painted work, as well as my unassigned work, channels specific aesthetics that come from design history. Some of my favorite artists are designers.
A: The aesthetic of your work always alludes to there being a lot of information rattling around in your head. Works in the Schaeffer series combine collage, painting and digital method and represent iterations of sound, influenced by the compositions of Musique Concrète composer Pierre Schaeffer. From the first series to Ostinato and Crossfaders, how do you feel about the way your painted work has progressed so far?
JVL: Everything seems to be heading to a central point. Working within Schaeffer is allowing me to confront a reservation I have about the human figure in art. My painted work is more modular and structural, and the Crossfaders began to address space and line in a similar way this fall. I’m not sure if I will ever pursue a single series of work, being trained in different ways over the years allows me to explore media that best suits the concept. I never feel like I’m bending a concept to the limitations of certain media.
A: In addition to visual arts, we seem to have one more thing in common – an interest in music. What is the ideal music that you listen to while working?
JVL: I often tell people that the two artists I listen to most in the studio are Tim Hecker and William Basinski, and I think part of their aesthetic is transferred into my work, latently. Recently at an exhibit I had in Chicago, a woman was looking at my First Flower drawings and she said outright she was reminded of Frederic Chopin – which was both flattering and startling since I listened to his nocturnes semi-frequently while working on the set. My music library is kind of schizophrenic, I grew up on punk and hardcore so I tend not to use shuffle while I’m in the studio and gravitate towards full, long-playing albums.
A: The value of your curatorial work clearly accrues to you: you have graciously contributed to Artchipel’s content and started your curatorial blog Obscurantisme. How do you use social medias such as Tumblr to invent or reinvent yourself as Artist, Curator and/or Art Writer?
JVL: Artchipel offers me a great opportunity to discover art, and discover new things about art I admire. Obscurantisme is less about operating as a curator and more about addressing my dis/enchantment with the human figure in art. I can’t think of another subject I’m more critical of, so it’s interesting for me to now see what type of figurative work influences my own method.
A: Could you name 3 young artists to keep an eye on?
JVL: Totally unfair to pick just three, but Michael Chase, Theresa Taehee Whang, and T. Dylan Moore. I’d also like to mention I’ve enjoyed seeing Tony Huynh career ascension in the last year. Remarkable conceptual talent without the overbearing aesthetic perpetuated by young illustrators in editorial and advertising today.
A: What is your project for the coming year?
JVL: I have a few opportunities for exhibits in Chicago this fall, and plan to have my first solo exhibition in January next year. I will be re-joining Anobium Books to design a few digital publications to be released this fall/winter, and hope to be able to invest more time in my work and gain employment in the creative industry.