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In the Studio With Jan Gatewood

Jan Gatewood, is a shining example of why the LA art scene has been thriving the past couple of years. Since moving West in the early 2010s, the young artist has been involved in several creative subcultures including skating, fine art, fashion, and modeling.

In his South Central studio, Gatewood is constantly painting and producing. We chatted in a section of the loft he refers to as the “library” – art books, cd’s, vinyl, cassettes, and various instruments surrounded us. We sat down in the middle of it all, to speak about his process, the pros and cons of being in LA’s growing scene, and his day-to-day endeavors off the canvas.  

Let’s start with a cliche jawn – where are you originally from?

Haha, I’m originally Aurora, Colorado.  I’ve been here in Los Angeles since 2013, almost six years now.

How did art find you? (Or did you find it through modeling, skating, etc.?)

I guess I have always been surrounded by art, skating would be a good entryway or catalyst into finding out about a lot of things.  I guess it kind of found me, more or less, two years ago. I was in New York and ended up meeting some friends at this gallery and being around certain artists, seeing the way certain things can work in the art world got me really excited.  In 2017, I really decided to dive deep into cultivating an art practice.

How would you describe your painting style and are there any past or present influences in mind currently?

For my artistic style, it’s tough to nail down, because I operate in a few different categories.  The simplest way to express my practice is finding and working within the inner sections of painting, drawing, and collage.  There are so many influences, but lately, it’s been artists like Huma Bhabha and Brian Belott… Wait! Howardena Pindell.  Those would be the three most prevalent influences currently that come to mind.

What is it like to be in LA’s upcoming art scene? What are the pros and cons?

I’m super blessed to be working here right now during this greater concentration of artistic energy here.  It’s great for me because that means I get more opportunities to showcase my art in this city, hopefully. Yeah, I mean for the pros: more spaces to show work, more conversations, more energy towards the arts.  Cons: I mean there are a lot of cons; you have to navigate and deal with if you want to participate in a side of contemporary art, due to the fact that it’s a really unregulated world. More or less the art world overall is unregulated.  

Which smaller galleries are you interested in showing in? Are there any community-based galleries you are a fan of or would like to mention?

Definitely — we were talking about Commonwealth and Council, the gallery in Koreatown earlier.  I really like what they are doing down there. ltd….I could see my work perhaps fitting in at their space.

We met at the Underground Museum – what are your thoughts on that spot?

It’s fantastic.  It’s one of the most amazing spaces in LA no question, it’s beautiful…

….The backyard patio & garden is just another world.

Beautiful garden.

Moving away from art, you seem to have an easy going but well-executed self-style when it comes to clothing.  Where do you draw inspiration?

It’s immediate. I feel like there’s not a lot that I like when I see clothing and fashion, so when I see an article of clothing that I do really like immediately, I’m really into wearing that specific piece or pieces.  

Kind of like a uniform in a sense…?

Yeah, kind of like a personal uniform that is very cozy but at the same time kind of formal.  For example, I like to mix crocs with proper trousers.

You started working at Bianca Chandon, as well their sister skate company, Call Me 917, (founded by professional skateboarder Alex Olson.)  What has it been like working for them and how did that come to be? What have you learned from working with these growing brands?

Working there has definitely been a blessing.  It allows me to support my studio practice, which is all I want until I can exist solely off my artwork.  

Learned anything?

 Hmm, it’s kinda tough to speak about what I’ve learned from the job I guess because I’ve worked for so many younger brands, like 424 and know Wave in the past.  I’ve just been around a lot of that. It’s hard to speak on that because I don’t necessarily want to be in clothing. If anything I have learned the way you can operate a brand.  I’ve met some great people, that’s probably one of the best parts from my journey around fashion and brands.  

Bringing these subjects full circle, where is the connection when it comes to your art, style, skating with friends, listening to music, and modeling?

I feel like all those things are separate or compartmentalized in my life.  I definitely dress differently from skating to going out; those two are very different.  Then when I’m in the studio, I got my studio uniform of course when I’m painting, so that’s again different.  Music I guess would be one that coexists with all of those different interests and really helps in the studio. 

I make these playlists of all the songs I’ve had on repeat in the studio when I’m painting.  I’ve been making these for a couple of years now, so it’s just huge lists of all these songs that definitely help out my process.  All the fields I dabble in don’t really coexist too much.

For those at home, “Sweet Love” by Anita Baker is playing off of Jan’s phone right now.  Closing this interview, where can we view Jan Gatewood’s art this summer?

Right now you can view my art at Insect Gallery in Silverlake.  That’s the only place I have work up right now in Los Angeles, but up north I have some stuff up in Oakland at Part 2 gallery, in their viewing room.  My art was shown and had it’s opening reception there back in January.  

Stay tuned to Milk for more studio visits.

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