So Jason Paints.
Because Jason Cortez is lit.
He is self-authorized to break the rules.
Ask him why he is up so late and he’ll keep it a thou easy. “I’m just a strugglin’ artist and it hit me so much I don’t sleep. I won’t ’til I feel accomplished.” A sense of accomplishment for artists is subjective. Success to one artist may seem like failure to another. Some emcees like Aphropik who says she only want to be ‘as famous as Bahamadia’ are content with Underground prominence. The abstract nature of success begs the question, if artists do art then why not just rock? That’s exactly what Jason does because it is life and breathe at this point.
He recently got up with The Black Freqs Sheets to talk about what it is he does, what he wants to do, and some colors in between. If art feeds life than what feeds Jason? How come ‘They’ don’t want to support Jason? Well, Jason paints anyways. Excuse this poem:
They don’t want Jason to paint so he does
On cement ceilings, brick walls,and metal doors
Color creep with Liquitex seeping out the pours
Jason paints planets on paper with purple peaks
Turquoise pyramids in a hoodie with green leaf
His brush skates over Tupacalyspes
Squirrels chase the ankhs for wisdom
Mother masters the art of giving
Jason masters the art in living
Brains and bots fuse a lot
Monster slop fume too hot
Algae feed toxic squid-
Ink sea like Jason did.
Anyway, Nashville School of Arts didn’t leave the brother much choice but to be an artist. That school, like most art schools, is weird af and the students are no exception. On a Tuesday you can see a freshman in uniquely designed Air Forces and matching jean suit with patches. Look closer, the patches are Cheetos brand. Look even closer, they are actual Cheetos bags with Chester intricately displayed. How did this kid sew Cheetos bags into their Ones and jeans?
The answer is, artists do art. No one paid the kid to express his personal style and Jason didn’t get a stipend for visiting elementary school classrooms to draw cartoons of which the students would make paper action figures. This was just a thing the 28 year old, West Nashville, Tennessee native did to hone his skills while giving back. No wonder the artist etches Xmen (the old one, not the new one), Power Rangers, and Ninja Turtles with lightning speed and slick embellishments.
Jason started painted at NSA or ‘the wonderland of dopeness’ as he calls it, where he attended over a decade ago. Largely influenced by Mass Media and Productions teacher, Mr. Newsom, he completed his first painting, ‘McBride’ to enter an art competition sponsored by the NAACP.
Since artists do art, painting on different canvases is a must and with creativity to burn, the more eclectic the surface, the better. The medium is also important. Brush, Airbrush, fingers, fist, a shoe? YES! Jason enjoys experimenting with tools and surfaces, a trait probably shared by most visual artists but particularly abused by Jason. He recently told Black Freq Sheets, “Brandon Donniehue taught me how to airbrush my freshman year in TSU. My last mural was the Young Buck mural which was my 1st ceiling piece.”
The ‘ceiling piece’ is the latest installation in G-Unit rapper, Young Buck’s, recording studio in Nashville. “It was a cover of a classic Michelangelo piece,” said the artist. “My 1st mural was a collaboration with a famous Nashville artist and friend, Jon Buko and I’m ready to paint more,” he exclaimed.
So he does. Jason paints and paints and tags and sprays. Fine artist, Lori McNee shares through her blog how there are 5 core attributes of a successful artist. The first of which is that art is the “core of their lives.” No problem there. He eats and paints in lieu of sleep, citing his main co-workers as Earth, Wind, and Fire, Curtis Mayfield, Bootsy Collins, and of course, Tupac.
McNee goes on to list the subsequent characteristic as understanding “how business works in the art world.” Well, artists like Jason can attest to a lack of understanding on how to monetize their art. Historically, painters have wealthy patrons that fund their creative efforts and livelihood.
Public programs like the Work Of Art series offered through the Hennepin County Public Library in Minneapolis, Minnesota, support financial literacy and business education for artists and would definitely be more mainstream if people didn’t think artists like Jason could pull these lavishly constructed paintings out of their passion. Get it? Access to art commissioners is necessary and until more brokering entities exists, visual artists will stay on the endangered artists list.
Jason agreed, “I’ve been ready! I’m looking for more gainful opportunities. I have a lot to prove to myself and people who love my work.” Futuristic soldiers of both sexes and possibly a third, deathly faced monsters oozing gases and foams, and sleek, soulful graph writing comes from the same place. How? Only Jason and maybe Stanley Kubrick knows. “Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez are two of my favorite directors. I just love that Grindhouse drive-in movie style. I’m a zombie and horror lover,” Jason chuckled to Black Freq.
The third attribute of a successful artist, McNee writes, is having “a strong work ethic.” Check and check! Jason definitely has a stomach for the obscene butteratuh… art imitates life and no one can argue the obscene has definitely been seen in 2016! His collection of credits are too long to lists (or better yet this writer is lazy af), but know that the work ethic is to work hectic as Jason works on several pieces at once for his audience.
“I just found out I actually have a fan base. It touched me so I want to keep giving my imagination to feed those minds to keep looking out for my work and love it.”
Resiliency is the fourth element of artistic success according to McNee. What is Jason’s bounce back game like? Next year, he’ll complete his Art degree at Tennessee State University after much travail at 29 years old. The goal is to be a self-sustained artist in the traditions of his idols Ernie Barnes, James Thrillkill, Skantonio, Mobe One, and Folek.
Lastly, the successful artist, McNee writes, should spend time with people and “only with people who are 100% supportive of their art career.” In other words, let the hate come from afar, do not entertain them in the inner circle. Fun fact: One of Jason’s favorite artist is Michael Ol’ Skool Rucker who designed the Say My Name album cover for the Alley Angel back in the day. They are good friends and Ol’ Skool is soon to be featured in The Black Freq Sheets. Until then check out more of Jason’s work. Share. Buy. Love.
Source: Lori McNee, July 19, 2010, How Do You Define Success As An Artist
All graphics are the original artwork of Jason Cortez. For permissions contact Jason Cortez at firstname.lastname@example.org