Following his sister up the building’s exterior stairs I can see that Jack’s work is already spilling out into the world. The brick façade holds a gentle monochrome face, her eyes closed, surrounded by a noisy mess of swirling colour. Nearing the top of the stairs a thumping vibration builds through the railing. My friend turns to me, a finger held to her lips as she turns the handle.
As the door opens, the vibrations morph into full blown sound. Walking through the door I see a figure standing at a desk framed by a picture window. They’re only small movements, his head and hips moving with the music, but Jack seems completely entranced as he stands in front of a canvas in its outlining stage.
As an artist, Jack says, “The hardest thing for me is sitting or standing still. Music, loud music, is my saving grace”. He explains how music not only keeps his body distracted but it helps him clear his mind. He finds he paints better when he isn’t thinking. By surrounding himself in sound and focusing on the beats, the rhythm of the lyrics, he can let go of the need to get it perfect.
Jack surrounds himself with music in more than just his creativity. Like many emerging artists, Jack has a day job. He has worked as a barista since he left school, more than happy to have a coffee machine to hide behind as he shuffles to the melody. He says his co-workers have gotten used to him hi-jacking the speakers, “Most of the time they like what I play. I did get a few looks when I put on a blues playlist the other day though. A little too old school.”
Like Jack’s wide range in music genres, he also uses more than paint and pencil. Jack shifts in his seat and laughs nervously as he tells how he has gotten into street photography, “It’s the scariest thing I’ve ever done.” Starting a new endeavour took Jack out of his comfort zone, from working alone in his studio, and out into the busy city streets. “I’m not good in noisy crowds. Having earbuds in with a song I can nod along to makes me a little less self-conscious.”
Although trying new things is part of Jack’s personality, coming back to the comfort of his studio of two years is where he likes to do most of his work. The canvases leaning against the wall are bursting with character. “I like working with bright, in-your-face colour.” Also like his taste in music, the subjects of his paintings vary widely, but they all hold a distinctive combination of colour.
Jack’s unique mix of music, paint and personality creates an energy around him. You can feel his appreciation and motivation, a vibrant love for what he does. Like every song, every piece of work tells a story and every story is Jack’s way of sharing his energy.