Home Is Where The Art Is: Jamie Bizness

We've seen this column transition from a fashion-focused piece and a discussion on what décor trends are inspired by street style, to now  develop into a look at what is driving our local art scene; the column previously known as 'street style' will now be called 'home is where the art is', or HIWTAI for short.

Each month I'll be sitting down with a local artist and delving into what drives them and inspires them, offering a peek into their work and how it is influencing design.

We're kicking off this new artist series with one of the most prominent creatives on the scene right now, Jamie Bizness: surrealist illustrator, skilled painter and one of the best tattoo artists in the biz. Not to mention, one of the most beautiful spirits {and heads of hair} that anyone can tell you, you'd be privileged to meet.

What I love about working with Jamie's art is the strong visual interest. The initial graphic appeal of his illustrations adds a gallery-chic element to any décor (I've used a large grouping all framed out in white) but it's more about the intricate details that invite, engage and intrigue you; no matter how long you look, there's always new details to find and you just can't help but want to see more.

Who is Jamie Bizness?

Jamie Bizness is art.

How did you get started as an artist?

I was first inspired by my aunt, who was also a professional artist. At a young age when I showed interest, she taught me artistic techniques (I remember when I was four or five, being fascinated with her ability to draw Ninja Turtles). I guess this is where it sort of all started. Throughout my childhood art was everything; in high school I sold my first piece, giving me a taste of what being an artist as a career was all about. From there I created a line of custom painted hats called Thinkink, and this is in some ways what brought me from Alberta to Vancouver.

I sold a lot of street art when I was first starting out here, and was introduced to Red Gate Studios, a local art society. Red Gate opened up opportunities for me to explore collaborating with other artists. Some of my favourite artistic unions have been working with Rylsee on a show in Brazil, and collaborating with Caroline Weaver.

What mediums do you work with?

Art for me has always been about drawing. I recently completed a year-long project in which I created an illustration every day; the result was a good number of notebooks filled with my illustrations that I intend to translate into a book at some point in the future. A collection of these illustrations are being shown at Red Gate studios (855 East Hastings), for a show called “Works on Paper” opening on Thursday, Feb. 5.

It was after I had established myself as an artist that I discovered and developed my parallel career as a tattoo artist. I sort of stumbled into tattooing, rather than pursuing it with the traditional paths: an artist lent me his tattoo machine and I played around with the discipline, tattooing both myself and anyone who was interested in a free tattoo for me to learn with. Tattooing takes up my main focus these days, although I make sure to create time for drawing everyday; I’m seeing more of my illustrative art influence my tattooing. I'm moving away from straight interpretations of other people’s [tattoo] ideas, more into an artistic style of my own that people seek out. I now have an independent tattoo business that I’ve been running out of the Lords of Gastown compound in Railtown for about a year; I've also worked with them designing T-shirts for their clothing brand.

If you could describe your artistic style in one word, what would it be?

Trippy.

Do you have a favourite place in the city that inspires you?

Strathcona as a whole, but specifically MacLean Park, provides a place of calmness and balance for me. I strive to achieve these things in my daily life, so spending time in this environment is super important to me. I also love hanging out at Beer Island.

What colour best describes your personality?

Black. It’s what I use primarily in both my work and in my wardrobe.

How would you describe Vancouver's artistic community?

Vancouver has a lot of artists; a lot of great artists. And a lot of potential. However, I see a lack of collectiveness between groups of artists. Vancouver could offer a stronger art scene if it were more of a full community of artists banded together; we would have more to look at and be a stronger force.

If you weren't doing this for a living, what would you be doing?

I have a strong interest in sociology, what people do and why they do it. Social change is a big focus for me and I try to incorporate that into my art, but if I had a different path it would definitely be motivated by social change. Art is about consciousness, making people aware; if I wasn’t doing this through art, I’d be doing it in some other way.

What is your goal with your art?

I think it would be for me to work with as many mediums, forms and artists as possible. To put my work everywhere on everything. Collaboration is a huge focus for me right now.

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