In our latest interview, we caught up with Jeff Pak to talk about his inspiration from comic books, his recent learnings from creating digital work, his attention to detail, and much more. Indulge below and make sure to follow Jeff on social
My name is Jeff Pak. I’m 30 years old and I am a multi-disciplinary artist.
Let’s take it back to the beginning, you began art because of your comic book obsession as a kid. How would you say comic books still inspire you today?
You are only exposed to what you can get your hands on. As a kid, I would take my last $2 and run to the comic book store. Comic books still inspire me, mainly because I read them due to my nerdiness. Comic book culture is something I have always been a part of and have found really cool. The artwork has always been clean and precise and something you would only ever see on the page of a comic book. I like to take that style beyond a piece of paper.
For a while, you tried to avoid drawing digitally until you realized you had to adapt. What made you realize that and how have you grown as an artist since drawing digitally?
To be honest there were a lot of gigs I was missing out on. People were asking for digitized artwork and my answer was always that I simply don’t do that. As I continued to grow I realized that I have the ability to do something better than I’m currently doing. I had to just commit and accept this is what is best for me and my art. It was really easy to learn. However, I will admit since switching to digital art there are times where I’m drawing on a piece of paper and I will try to zoom in on what I’m drawing because I am so accustomed to drawing on my tablet now.
Color is the biggest aspect of it. Digital is way easier to edit and you can be a lot more specific and particular in your color choices. That being said, I am a very big mood person. I don’t tend to plan things out and I really make art based off of my mood, which ultimately determines whether my art will be in color and digitized or remain black and white.
You emphasize your love for clean lines. Do you think that attention to detail is part of your signature style and helps stand out from other artists? Why?
That is definitely part of my signature style, but I also like to throw in very minute details that most won’t notice or if they do, they won’t fully understand. They always make sense to me because the detail usually stems from an inside joke I have with myself.
For example, when I draw faces I will put an “X” on people’s forwards. Now the reason I do that is because when I was a kid me and my friends were playing with Nerf Guns. When I shot one of them it hit them so hard that the suction cup from the nerf bullet left an “X” imprint on their forehead.
All the little details stem from things I think are funny and comical. I have a pretty good memory so little stories like that will pop in my head and I’ll find a way to showcase it within my art.
You’ve mentioned before that you took a year off and went to Japan which changed your perception on a lot of things that helped solidify your art style today. What was it about Japan specifically that helped you define yourself as an artist?
The biggest thing I noticed out there is how much they fit into a certain space. The housing there and even the way they display things at toy shops, they are able to take so much and make it fit perfectly in the area given.
I suffer from OCD and it is much more apparent when I draw. If something gets misplaced I will just stop right there and never return to that piece. I pay a lot of attention to my spacing now and realizing how much I can jam pack into one space without overdoing it all while retaining clean lines.
Some of your drawings are black and white and you have encouraged people from the public to color them in. Knowing how much you desire a clean line, how does it feel as an artist to see other people color one of your pieces of work in?
I know what I am doing and I know why I’m doing it. I want people to come and color it. In fact, I request that people come and color it. The whole idea behind my coloring pieces is bringing the public together to create a bigger piece of art than me just doing something.
At those shows sometimes, people will draw something completely new on the art and not just color something in and that doesn’t bother me either. It is meant for you to do whatever you want. It is not just me, it is a collaborative piece.
I had this idea a long time ago and I approached a few galleries and presented my idea to them, but they were so lost in the idea. They couldn’t fully grasp what I was trying to do with my art. For a year, I was going around with this idea until I ran into the Hermosa Walls. They totally got it and since then I have run with it. I was even able to bring it to Milwaukee and Pilsen.
You recently did a collab with bucketfeet. How did it feel to see your art on a clothing item?
A bunch of my friends purchased them so when I saw them in the flesh it was really cool. Shoutout to Bucketfeet because the design was super fresh and clean.
I never thought I would see my art on shoes. As I was looking through their website, I noticed that they have shoes with the same print on both feet. If you take a closer look at my design you will realize that it is two completely different drawings on the left and right shoe. It was something I’ve always wanted to do, so it was pretty neat that I finally got to execute my vision.
Fashion is something I would love to get involved in more and get my art on fabric and clothing items, but I know that is something I would want to be super hands-on with and I just don’t have the time right now for that kind of commitment.
You are also known for your anime characters. How did you get into drawing those and is drawing for a TV series something you have ever considered?
I have written comics in the past but the problem I have come into with that is I have stories and mad ideas, but I’m not sure I have nailed down exactly how I want to present them. I haven’t had the discipline to sit down and write the stories yet. Hopefully someday!
From murals to art galleries, where was your favorite place to ever see your art displayed?
Murals are my favorite because someone gave me the opportunity to draw on something they own for it to be on display for the whole city.
When there is an empty space I love to take advantage of that. Also, when I’m painting murals, most people give me total creative control and I just get to go wild with my ideas and concepts for the wall.
A lot of artists base their art off of their views on certain aspects of life, but you try to avoid that. What is the main inspiration behind your art and how do you keep your personal viewpoints out of them?
Everything is usually inspired by the things I am into and take an interest in. Most of the things I do are based on humor and funny memories. I keep my opinion out of things and won’t make political art. I have in the past and will make art that encourages voting, or rights that I think needs to be addressed. When it comes down to political party or politicians I stay out of it. I personally hate PC culture because I say something and someone automatically gets offended by it. No matter what I tell you and my opinions on something someone will get butthurt. I don’t need or want that kind of negative feedback in my life. I am more than open to a debate or have a conversation about something, but I don’t need my art to be the thing that starts it.
Written by: Colleen Kennedy