DH: Your murals can be found all over Arkansas. From robots to tentacles they seem to bring out the child in all who see them. What influenced your style and what does it mean to have so much of your art on display in the State?
JJ: Making art is very therapeutic, and I think my artistic style is a result of that therapy. At different times in my life, I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression. I realized early on that focusing on humor and fun is good for my mental health. It’s my way of not taking things so seriously, and as a result, my artistic style is whimsical and sometimes a bit silly. Having art all over Arkansas is also therapeutic for me. I’ve recently been learning about being neurodivergent. I’ve always felt different and struggled with being socially awkward. Painting murals all over the state has been my way of communicating and connecting with people. It allows me to feel like I have value and that I’m a part of my community.
DH: It’s not just murals. You alter vintage prints and artwork found in thrift shops and antique malls, adding your original art over the old-school images. When did you first start doing this and how did you come up with this style of art?
JJ: The first altered art piece that I did was around 2011. Originally, I was buying artwork at thrift stores just for the frames. I had one in the studio that was a print of an old Western scene. It had a big tear in it. One day I randomly decided to paint a robot over the tear. After that, I was hooked. I soon learned about some other artists that were doing the same thing. Wayne White and Banksy had been doing it for a while. I just loved it and realized that’s the direction I want to go.
DH: It’s 1990 and you can pick one movie and one Nintendo game for the weekend. What are you getting?
JJ: Hands down, it would be Princess Bride. I saw The Princess Bride in the theater when I was a kid. My sister took me to see it, and just like Fred Savage’s character in the movie, I was not interested at first. But, by the end of the film, it was my new all-time favorite. Goes to show that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, or a movie poster by the actual film. As for the video game, it would be Zelda. I enjoy role-playing fantasy video games.
DH: You recently had a scare that one of your murals burnt down. Can you speak to the nature of public art and the uncertainty of its longevity?
JJ: So, I was recently tagged in a video of a huge fire, and the person posting the video said it was the barn where I painted a big horse with roller skates. I was bummed, but everything is temporary. That night someone texted me a picture of the mural. It was still there. It turns out that it was the house next door that burned down. Over the years, I’ve lost several murals. It doesn’t bother me too much. I’m usually focused on current and future projects.
DH: Speaking of the uncertain life expectancy of public art, what are the top three murals you’ve painted you’d like to see stay around the longest?
JJ: I’m probably more attached to the experience and memory of painting a mural than the actual mural. I really enjoyed painting the Fresh Air mural with the jackrabbit and gas mask that’s located in downtown Fayetteville. That was the first time I was part of a festival, and it was exciting to paint alongside international artists. I also have a great memory of painting the mural that’s inside Maxine’s tap room. Most of the time I had the whole bar to myself. They let me plug my music into their sound system and gave me a delicious drink or two. I was in my happy place. Another great memory is painting the Horse Barn mural. That one was a collaboration with my friend Matt Miller. Usually, I’m painting in a hot noisy parking lot by myself. Working on that barn was super chill. Hanging with a friend while painting in the shade of a big walnut tree was nice. It felt more like play than work.
DH: Are there any street artists you look up to or that inspire you to stay active?
JJ: This is tough because I like so many artists. If I must pick, I would say I really admire the work of an artist named Onur. His painting skills are amazing. I’m also a fan of Banksy. His work is so clever, and I love his use of humor. I also like Wayne White’s work. It just makes me smile.
DH: I shot a few pics of you while you were painting your newest mural in Fort Smith, Arkansas and noticed you had some Apple Air Pods in. Do you have a playlist you listen to while painting? If so can you share some tracks that are on rotation?
JJ: I’m all over the place when it comes to music. Lately, I’ve been listening to the Arcs, the Wood Brothers, Tom Waits, Johnny Cash, and Nathaniel Rateliff, just to name a few. I’m also a podcast and audiobook junky. My favorite podcast is Radiolab, and my favorite audiobooks that I’ve listened to more than once are Yuval Noah Harari’s books about the past, present, and future of the human species.
DH: Your art captures the imagination of children. Do you have any advice for kids who see your art and want to create public works themselves?
JJ: I learned early on that it’s impossible to please all the adults, so I focus on making art for kids. I love it when a child sees my work and they light up with excitement. I hope my art inspires them. My advice to kids would be to just do it and stick with it. It can be challenging in the beginning when you’re still learning. Always remember that you learn more from failures than you do from successes, and the process is more important than the product. If you love the process and you’re having fun with it, you’re more likely to stick with it and be successful.
DH: If you could paint a mural anywhere in the world, what would it be and where would you paint it?
JJ: My hometown Fayetteville is my favorite place to paint. Being neurodivergent, I easily get overwhelmed when traveling, so I would always choose the comforts of home over anywhere else in the world. There are a few walls that I have been eyeing for a while. There are a couple of nice big walls just downtown that could use some color. As far as subject matter, I would want it to be whimsical and fun, while having a focus on nature and an underlying message about sustainability. The characteristics of the wall would probably determine the details.
DH: What’s next for Jason Jones?
JJ: I want to build a sculpture in the woods. Maybe on one of the mountain bike trails, and one would have to hike or walk a mile or two to find it. I already have a whole concept in my head. I just need to find time to start building it.
DH: Thanks for your time, is there anything else you’d like to add?
JJ: I just want to let people know that I’m grateful for the opportunity to do something that I love so much. Making art is a privilege, and I’m so thankful for the support!
Check out Jason Jones website HERE.
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See Jason Jones Fort Smith Mural HERE.