Interview with Jeff Mitchell



Jeff Mitchell is an illustrator and painter from Tulsa, OK. He is part of Boxing Bear Studio, an independent art and print company specializing in pop culture and vintage Americana. Their catalog tells a distinctly American and uniquely cultured story. It is their story, put to good use. 


Hi Jeff, today you selected for MoW 5 of your artworks inspired by music. Can you tell MoW why you selected those music artists ? What was the music that inspired those artworks?  

I prefer to paint subjects that I find interesting or have a particular significance to me.  The Sun Records painting was a tribute to my family and the childhood vacations we would take to Memphis.  The Outkast painting is based on the song "Ms. Jackson" and the relationship between Andre Benjamin and Erykah Badu.  I've always admired the sociopolitical lyrics from System of a Down, plus he has an interesting look.

If you had to choose between them, which of your artwork would be your favourite ? 

I'm happiest with the Woody Guthrie print.  It was painted for an exhibition marking his 100th birthday, and I think the symbology really worked well with the art.  It feels like one of my most success marriages of concept and execution.

Is music important to you and your art? If so, Why ?

Music is really my foundation.  My introduction to the creative process was through music, and I've taken what I learned and applied it to art.  There are a lot of similarities between musicians and artists, and I think the work is more interesting when the crafts are mixed.

How long does it take you to make an artwork ? And what is the techniques you use?

It can take anywhere from a week to a few months to complete a painting.  If I have available time and the ideas fall into place, it goes quickly.  I try to complete 1-2 new works each month on average.  Once I have my idea sketched, I'll ink the drawing and begin painting panels with acrylic.  I complete paintings in sections that I combine in a digital workspace to create finished pieces.  Each work consists mostly of ink and acrylic paint.  You can't be afraid to take a painting off the table for a month or more if it's not working.

Do you listen to music when you’re working ? If so what kind of music ?

I can't paint in silence.  I have to get some noise in my space to endure hours in front of an incomplete painting.  Music helps me stay on focused.  I listen to a variety of artists while I paint.  LCD Soundsystem, Explosions in the Sky, Radiohead, Grizzly Bear and Minutemen are some I've had on this month.  I use Spotify to build playlists, so it wanders all over the place.

Do you have plans on creating new artworks insipired by music ?

I've been kicking around an idea for a Beck piece for nearly two years.  He has a new album coming out in late February, so maybe that will give me the push I need to finally do it.  I'd like to create a series based on lines from songs.  That remains on my list of projects.

What is the song you liked the most lately? What album ? What was the last gig you went to ?

I finally watched Dave Grohl's Sound City this month, and I've been hooked on "Centipede" from the soundtrack.  I've been listening to the album "Double Nickels on the Dime" by Minutemen consistently for about a year now.  I think my last concert was the solo Eddie Vedder tour.

Are you a musician yourself ? If so can you tell MoW more about your music projects ? 

I started as a musician, but I decided to focus solely on art after college.  Musicians get into too much trouble.


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