Venice beach might be forgoing a huge change, but one thing that will always be is the long time local camaraderie. I want introduce you to a local artist Jess Sluder. Jess never fails to amaze me by the angles of creativity that he is always tapping into. The Utah native finds ways to make what might turn anxiety such as city congestion, or gentrification into color and art. We got the chance to snap a couple photos and ask a couple questions while he was putting the finishing touches on his piece called “Surfing In LA” on the side of Flake Venice on rose Ave.
Can you tell us a little about the piece you did on the side of Flake in Venice?
The piece is called “Surfing in LA” and puts into perspective the summer surf scene in LA.
I’ve always lived in Venice but there was a time I was commuting Downtown and battling traffic for years. It really began to frustrate me to the point of quitting. I returned to Venice, impregnated my wife and focused on surfing. It wasn't long before I was battling traffic in the water. The surf lineup was just as crowded as the Freeway. Traffic is just something you have deal with LA, and it exists in many forms.
What materials did you use?
This piece started as a pen and ink sketch in my note book. I continued to refine it until it eventually ended up on canvas where I used acrylic paint. The mural was a combination of acrylic and spray paint. The wall was stucco or as I like to call it “Sucko”. It's a very rough surface which makes drawing straight lines impossible. I prefer very clean lines in my art so it was frustrating. Eventually you relax and give up control.
Can you describe when you first started being an artist, what kind of projects you were doing early on?
I’ve been drawing since I was very young. All my art lived in sketch books for the most part. Growing up in Utah I never saw how art could be a profession and so Snowboarding was my creative outlet. When I moved to LA that all changed. Art was everywhere! Art had the ability to change things, change people, and change lives, including mine. Living in Venice and surrounded by creative people inspired me to keep drawing and sharing my work. Eventually my confidence grew, I developed my style and began having small art shows around Venice and Downtown LA.
Do you think your roots show through in your art?
I was fortunate to grow up in a diverse family.
My Mom is very care free and sarcastic and funny. My Dad was a very hard working engineer and extremely organized. I think those things come out in my art both visually and in the way I build and plan my projects.
You have been a Venice resident for quite some time so you have been through all the changes, what would you keep, and what would you take back in time?
When you live in a major city you can’t expect anything to stay the same for long.
Venice became “safe” so money and tech moved in. Dogtown became Kitty City. I miss the grit of Venice. I miss the diverse community that used to have a stronghold on the neighborhood. I try not to think about it too much. I live a simple life and I’m just happy to still be here. Give me a Hinano's Burger, the ocean, my family and friends all within biking distance and I’m a happy man.
You have a beautiful wife and a child that laughs all day long, how do you think they influence your art?
My wife is a total babe and she’s the hardest working, most supportive woman I know!
When our daughter Presley came into the world it made me see the things differently. It made me think more about the future. She's such an observant happy child and I want here to always be.
I want my daughter to know that I followed my passion. My passion is art and my family pushes me to continue to work hard at it.
If you could only see three colors for the rest of your life what would they be?
As colorful as my art is I think I could live with Black & White & Red forever.
If you were king how would you make it easier for artists?
I remember the first time an idea went from my head to my sketchbook then onto a tee shirt. It changed my life! Everyone has ideas and if I were King I’d provide easy access to tools. I’d make it easier for people to see their ideas through.