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Meet Jesse Jacobellis

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jesse Jacobellis.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I am originally from Windsor Connecticut, I have been drawing all my life. In Kindergarten my parents were called into a parent-teacher conference about a few terrifying drawings that I had done, and my mom decided to frame them and put them in the house. I remember once when I was eight I was walking through the Enfield mall and saw a calendar that had the famous Dali piece “The Temptation of Saint Anthony” on the cover. I had never really viewed artwork before, nor did I have any idea who Salvador Dali was.

However, I do remember in that moment explicitly thinking ” wow! I want to be an artist!”. Fast forward a few years. as a sophomore in high school, I began to get really serious with my artwork. I had one teacher in particular, Denise Malnati, that saw potential and had the right formula to nurture and unleash it. She gave me the tools and critical thinking required to progress in my craft. I was accepted and attended SFAI, the San Francisco Art Institute. I was 17 years old, and quickly followed my heart and chased a girl, instead of chasing a degree.

The next few years were a wash, working nine to five, various dead-end jobs, moving back to CT and losing sight of what I really wanted out of life. 2013 I had an opportunity to move back to California. My good friend Storm, who I had met in those grey years, at community college, told me he was moving out of his apartment in LongBeach And wanted to know if I wanted to take his room! In a matter of one weeks time, I packed up my life into a suitcase and a duffle bag and made my way across the country. Little money, no job, one friend. I immediately began selling artwork on the Venice Beach boardwalk. I started with a small watercolor thumb tacked to a board that I found in the alley.

Then as I sold all those, I sold small canvases, reinvested and purchased larger and larger pieces until I was hauling a 5 by 6-foot canvas, and a bunch of small canvases attached to it in a big white bed sheet. I just recently purchased a car, so back then I would carry those pieces in the sheet, onto the blue line metro, to the expo line, and then onto a bus, usually taking two to two and a half hours. I would leave my house at 4:30 am, get to Venice beach by 7 am and claim my spot to set up by 9 am. you weren’t allowed to have anything set up before 9 am.

Sometimes bus drivers would not allow me to carry my large pieces on the bus, and I would either have to wait for the next bus or just try to walk to Venice beach from the culver city station. Pack up was at sundown, 7 pm, and then I would start the journey home usually getting home 10 to 10:30 pm and then passing out to wake up at 4;30 am again and do it the next day. I did this for two years before I started to burn out and realized I was beginning to manufacture pieces to pay the bills. the experimentation in my artwork ceased as I became reliant on making the sale to pay the bills. It was because of this that I began seeking alternative methods of making money.

I worked at a bookstore and a restaurant for a while, still going to the beach on weekends to sell work. However I never really stabilized until I began to tattoo. Currently, I am a working tattoo artist at Authentic Roots Tattoo in Long beach. I work alongside amazing tattoo artists and thank my mentor Ben Mene heavily for his kindness and willingness to teach me the art of tattooing. I am Back on track, Supporting myself solely through Art, I have two shows lined up each month until January of 2020 and have great friends to thank for supplying me with opportunities to display my work!

Please tell us about your art.
I am a painter, illustrator, and tattoo artist. Most of my work is mental vomit. I try to tap into the collected consciousness that binds mankind’s inspiration. People often talk about God, and worship of a creator while completely neglecting an emphasis on being creative. I feel like it is the creativity that as humans we have a unique ability to tap into. Knowledge and inspiration float above our heads and all we have to do is close our eyes and listen to it. In church growing up, they would tell me that the emptiness in your heart is a desire to be close to God.

When in reality I believe it is our desire to create. the missing link between the metaphorical creator and ourselves is creation. I am not religious and have put a great distance between myself and any established church. However, when I create artwork, it is my time of spirituality and worship. I make artwork because it makes me feel whole. The messages in my pieces vary, usually a political or social message, buried beneath metaphors, symbolism or palindromes.

My most recent works deal with one’s treatment of one’s self, and mystical rulings in a modern corrupt age. In my paintings I create layers of triggered imagery, allowing a personal delve based on the viewer’s personal life experiences. Whimsical and sinister coincide on a familiar plane. If I can get someone to look at my work for more than 10 seconds than I will be happy. I try to lock you in with detail and provocative imagery, but beneath the flashing or pattern or color, there is a solemn entity. Often a warning to review our history in hopes of uniting against that which plagues. My Self created Genre is “NEO-POP-TRIBALISM”

We often hear from artists that being an artist can be lonely. Any advice for those looking to connect with other artists?
There are tons of free art events that are great opportunities to meet other artists. I personally Frequent the Ink and drink in Long beach once a month, Sketch party at the Hyperion Tavern in LA every Thursday night, and Spill in Santa Ana every last Thursday of the month at congregation alehouse. Just a great opportunity to meet other artists and see their work, and since everyone is drawing in the same space your work also becomes a good talking point to introduce yourself (if you are shy like me). Sketch party and Ink and drink LB both have Instagram pages for anyone that wants to follow and join in the fun. @ink_an_drink_lb@sketchparty

Contact Info:

  • Address: Authentic Roots Tattoo 242 East 7th street Longbeach CA
  • Instagram: @JesseJART

Image Credit:
Jesse Jacobellis

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