Jo Minor is an illustrator of very beautiful, intricate, puzzling works. He's created art for some big guns like Playboy, and has made some awesome promotional posters for DIY performances, concerts and comedy shows. Jo uses shade and gradient in a masterful manner, to create an eerie portrayal of time and space. His art feels contemplative and metaphysical, whilst remaining humble and understated. Jo took the time to tell us about his introduction to the art world, love of horror films and artistic process.
What is the path in your life that lead you do becoming an artist?
There are a lot of artists in my family both within and out of my lifetime. I grew up seeing a lot of my uncle's art as well as my great grandmothers. My mom, in addition to being a musician, also is a massive Georgia O'Keeffe fan and that body of work so I was surrounded by that stuff and still find a lot of inspiration in her work today.
In high school I got turned onto Will Schofield's website/curatorial project 50 Watts. All of that stuff got me excited about visual art in a way I hadn't been previously. Rokuro Taniuchi's work really got to me at that time as well as all the airbrush stuff on there from folks like Pater Sato and Kazuho Ito.
Fast forward a decade, after getting into alt comics and beginning to draw more, I moved to Berlin and took a risograph workshop with the publisher Johanna Maierski. That was when I first dabbled in Photoshop which came really naturally to me and took away a lot of the technical and financial barriers in producing the kinds of images that excited me. I also was encouraged by Johanna who liked the comic I made for her workshop which was really huge as she's someone who's taste and curatorial sense I really trusted and looked up to (and still do). From there, it's just been a long experiment in trying new things in Photoshop.
Your work is often very surreal, bordering on uncanny or creepy. What have been the influences of your visual language?
In college I started frequenting Floating World Comics in Portland, OR. A lot of the art I discovered during that time has made its way pretty noticeably into my visual language. Tiger Tateishi, Robert Beatty, Richard Corben, Alexis Beauclair, and even in some ways Junji Ito all have had a huge impact on me. Something about the colours, shading, grotesqueness, abstract sequential art, and the alien physicality in all of their stuff are things that still inspire me today.
I'm also a big horror movie fan, so it makes sense that a lot of my work is creepy, although I definitely don't set out to create creepy art.
Tell me about your working process, from ideas generation to final product.
It for sure differs between commercial and personal projects. Personal work is pretty intuitive - creating shapes and shading and editing until something compels me then re-interpreting and developing from there. If it's a comic or sequential piece, I'll write out and/or sketch most of it first.
With commercial work, I'll free-associate concepts based on the subject matter. From there I'll often make really rough thumbnail sketches. Then I'll create more refined ones in Photoshop or on paper. Once the AD picks a direction, I'll map all the shapes out in Illustrator which I then bring over to Photoshop, mask off, and shade/colour. There's a lot of "mastering" involved too, using paper scans and various adjustments.
What project of yours did you enjoy the most and why?
Over a year ago I made a comic for "Can Can Friends 3," a comic anthology published by Can Can Press in Mexico City. The whole thing just came together really fast and naturally and also let me experiment more with flat colours. It was just a really refreshing, intuitive experience and I was really excited with the result.
What are your long term goals as a creative?
I still don't make enough to have any real kind of savings, so that's a big goal. Beyond that, I really want to do more personal work as well as collaborate more with other kinds of artists. My comedian friend Danny Catlow and I just started making shirts together and that has been super fun and a great excuse to explore other visual modes. In general, I hope to make more printed matter and physical work as time goes.