“Hi! My name is Jeff Roland, I’m an international french artist and I paint.”
“Hi, Jeff. It’s nice to finally be able to do this! Can you tell me a little more about your painting technique, how you started painting, what inspired you to start painting, and maybe one of your biggest accomplishments?”
“I started painting as a kid because I wanted to draw comics. I was selected to be on French TV when I was 7 years old. From then I never stopped trying to get better. At the time what I was drawing is equivalent to comics. As a teenager, I was really fascinated by Italian painters and renaissance paintings, and especially Netherland paintings. Jerome Bosch was a huge inspiration, who draws very whimsical creatures and is fantastic. I started painting in oil with crazy characters but in a very classic oil technique. After that, I started to do some performance painting with more experiments on the canvas. Then I started to realize I liked painting on wood and I introduced more and more elements like acrylics and inks. I put some textiles (clothes, glitter…), and then I gradually introduced collaging and now my technique is what could be called purely mixed media to the extremes. I will use absolutely anything that I can find really, but I still prefer to paint on wood. This is what remains from my inspiration from Renaissance painters.
My greatest accomplishment is difficult to say because some of my pieces are in museums, like the Museum of Everything in London, the Davis Museum in Barcelona, a museum in Macedonia, in Australia… But seeing my paintings being bought, and liked by so many different people around the world, really makes my day. I think that in my style, that is very special in terms of original, crazy characters, I didn’t feel quite confident until I was admired by painters that I personally admired, Russian painters…, that were really big professionals painting in a style, that to me was the most admirable thing. To see that these people were admiring what I was doing, and painting in the studio with me, is something that really gave me confidence and was a great accomplishment for me. For most artists, I think this is one of the most important things. Being recognized by someone you admire in your field is very important. If you make movies and your favorite director loves your movies, you’re happy. The same goes for writers… those people whose opinions really count more than others. It’s extraordinary to see that people love my paintings all over the world though, I appreciate that. I wasn’t really ready for this, like my success on Instagram was a complete surprise. Because when I started, I started in France, and not so many people were interested in what I was doing. That’s why I decided to go international. I went to the countries where I felt that people were interested in what I was doing, rather than changing who I was. I went to where I was accepted.”
“Wow! It seems your art has really had quite an impact. Just out of curiosity, how long does it take you to complete a piece?”
Well, I work every day, no matter where I am. It’s quite difficult to say because I have some pieces that have taken me years. They just hang there and I keep adding things. But most of the time I finish a painting in a day. I work on very small canvases (20×20 on average). Bigger pieces don’t necessarily take too much time. It’s very difficult to say. Let’s say that I give it the time it needs to be complete. How do I know it’s complete? This is a mystery. I have a piece right in front of me now, that has been bugging me for over a month, and I feel like something is missing. Sometimes I go through a crisis and just take a big bucket of white paint and start all over again. But most of the time, it takes me a day to finish a painting.
“This is all so amazing! Is there a specific piece you’ve ever done for a cause?”
“I don’t usually do pieces for a cause, but I do contribute indirectly by giving away pieces. Like recently I was contacted by an association fighting HIV, and they are going to put one of my pieces up for auction at the MOMA in Mexico City. All the money raised will go directly to HIV victims.
I think that working on a specific theme is something that blocks creativity, in a way. I’m all for causes but I think that art should express itself and then serve the cause because most of the time people will link their interpretation to the theme in question. Galleries ask me for a piece that follows a specific theme, but it just brings confusion.
I would like to add that what I do as a human being to help others is more direct. I like to go on the spot and do something to help like build buildings, teach, or something like that. When I was younger I worked a lot for Burkina Faso. But I don’t think art should be used in that way. Maybe it can bring people to advance together and work on a cause, but I prefer to work with people that need help directly.”
“So you said that you give pieces, maybe I misunderstood this, but are you mostly doing auctions or giving art to minorities so that they can have access to art?”
“Art is fundamental and then going to museums for everyone is important. And as an artist, I organize lotteries on Instagram and Facebook that allow people with very low-budgets to buy art that would traditionally be out of their price range. I am aware that art is not the first thing that you have on your budget, especially minorities, and I think all humans should be included without any distinctions of religion or color. So yes, I organize these lotteries and pay for shipping all around the world. And also, I love to help emerging artists. I try to give them advice, take them to big exhibits, give them insight, and how not to be scammed by big galleries.”
“Thank you again for doing this Jeff, I hope you have a great evening and happy Sunday!”
“You are very welcome. I’m glad we did this. Have a very happy evening!”
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