I don’t care how contentious this is to say: It’s almost guaranteed that you are in some way arrogant or stupid if you are a practicing artist who refuses to use the Internet.
These strong and opinionated words are those of Chicago based artist Jacob Van Loon, and as a successful artist with an impressive web presence, perhaps they are words best taken on board. Attributing the humbling fact that his‘work is hanging in different places all over the world, because of the presence [he’s] maintained online.’Obviously Van Loon is doing something right online that so many others are still missing out on; and with the wise and somewhat modern opinion that ‘Online platforms give you chance after chance to put your best foot forward, and it’s usually at no cost except for time’ surely all practicing (and wannabe practicing) artists should be following suit.
While Jacob Van Loon’s web presence might seem as if it takes up most of his time alone, his real passion lies in the artwork that he uses said web presence to advertise and reveal to the world. Working ‘with a willingness to strike out what might be the strongest part of a composition in order to reconsider the entire piece’ Van Loon uses sharp lines, de-saturated colour, and a spectacularly steady hand to create impressively intricate yet bold drawings and paintings. With an aesthetic ‘influenced by architecture, cartography, scientific illustration and graphic design’, Van Loon is the first to admit that his ‘approach to visual art is similar to the problem-solving aspect foundational to design’, aiming to represent this information and his influences in a fresh and unique way.
With such intricate and detail orientated work I had to know how any artist could possess such admirable motivation and determination. However, with his reply beginning with the statement, ‘I’m not convinced I know how to finish a painting’, it seems as though Van Loon may be more like other artists than I first assumed. With the widely believed opinion that artists are never truly finished with their work ringing true in my mind, Van Loon adds ‘I force myself to stop working on a piece, and sometimes it happens where I think it’s a finished piece but I look at it a few weeks later and start adding more’.
I was surprised, however, to find that colour didn’t play such an intrinsic role within the creation of Van Loon’s work as I had always assumed it did. ‘My use of colour is unassigned’, he stated, adding that he always preferred‘the less-is-more approach when using colour’. Stating that‘texture and value [had] always been more interesting to [him] than colour’. Everything makes a little more sense, as while colour does clearly play a large role in the overall aesthetics of the work, the texturing and appearance of layering is most certainly more key to each pieces individual success. This act of layering and texturizing within Van Loon’s work is even noticeable within his most recent works – works which also seem to relate more closely to his constant inspirations of design and architecture of ‘a more direct correlation’ forming ‘between design and the act of drawing’.
Having already taken part in nineteen exhibitions since 2009, and with a handful of commissioned projects under his belt, it is no surprise that Jacob Van Loon expects to have a busy few years ahead of him. When asked about his plans for the near future, Van Loon commented that ‘A lot of artists operate with hyper-specific goals, but I’ve never picked up on that mode’ - indicating that he prefers to set short term goals that can be taken on over a matter of years – or even months – rather than decades. With plans to leave his ‘day job behind to in part return to school as a Drawing student, but also to pursue a residency opportunity that may be the doorway to a full time arts career’ - here’s hoping that Van Loon’s career continues as successfully and impressively as it has started.
As an artist who is ‘not concerned’ with whether or not art has or can change the World, I will leave you with Van Loon’s simple yet wise advice for any wannabe practicing artists;
‘Don’t stop working, and don’t let your work get ugly’.