On another bright sunny day in Brooklyn, we headed over to the studio of artist Jamal Ince. In what can only be described as the quaintest of Brownstones, with walls covered in his art as well as those of his contemporaries, light piercing in from the top floor skylight, we felt a certain strong resonance coming from within. That day we followed the light, winding our way up the cozy stairs to the top floor where Jamal's works of arts are conceived, executed, wrapped and shipped.
An imposing figure at 6' - 3" and with a personality to match we got to talking to Jamal about his art, his upcoming art curation, Guerrillas in the Mist, and an upcoming exhibition at Art Basel in Miami. A common theme that is emerging from our artist interviews is their affinity for kids. At the time of the interview, Jamal was working with kids to create two murals, one on Flatbush and Farragut and the other off of Flatbush by the shopping mall. The works both reflect his primary inspiration, music, which he feels is one of the most relatable subjects and as such a great choice for public art displays. Our conversation covered the gamut from his use of musician's auto biographies as inspiration for his art, to everyday life in Brooklyn.
Rock climbing, bungee jumping, hand gliding, base jumping or kite surfing?
Kite Surfing, I think I had a dream about that once.
When did you choose art as a career and why?
I don't think I chose to be an artist. I don't think anyone chooses to be an artist. You either are or you aren't, but I guess I "chose" it so I could express myself, it makes me feel like an alchemist. I was always aware or light, shadow and color. It always spoke to me.
Was there ever an alternative career choice? If yes, what was it?
What was the first art work that you sold? How did that sale make you feel?
It was a black and white photograph of nature, I was in my senior year of high school, the last day of school there was an exhibition. A woman came up and asked me if the photograph was my work.
Who is your favorite artist?
I’d have to go with Jean Michel Basquiat or Ras Ishi Butcher.
What or who inspires you and why?
I am inspired by musicians, primarily, Jazz musicians because I believe music is the highest art form. Music comes from an invisible world but yet it evokes such emotion. I love how Jazz musicians use improvisation and I try to emulate that in my works for the most part. I wondered if one wanted to see sound, what would it look like? For me to create a visual for sound inspires me completely.
Bike, car, bus, train?
I have a truck but I would say bus only because it allows you see what you wouldn’t if you were in a car. I would get to experience a part of someone else’s life. I would see mothers with their children, grandmothers, couples and school children etc. You also get to eavesdrop or over hear random conversations. You get to see a whole other side you wouldn’t regularly see while being driven. It puts you in touch with the community.
You have the total freedom to determine your own artistic direction. How do you arrive at the point where you commit to a theme or idea?
I usually let the piece guide itself. The piece leads me to where it wants to go. It takes on a life of it's own.
Has your cultural background influenced your art?
The turquoise of the Caribbean, the pastels of the houses and buildings. Antiques of my grandfather’s store and graffiti covered trains of the 80’s.
At what time of the day/month/year do you work best?
Cons, vans, pro-keds or jordans?
Puma, Adidas and sandals.
Do you ever think about where a piece will end up and does that influence the outcome of the art?
No, like I said before I let a work tell me where it wants to go.
What is the most unconventional material you've used in your work?
I would have to say the use of a trampoline
[Note: One of the things that catches your eye with Jamal's work is his framing choice. The "trampoline" framing technique arose out of necessity for a particular sized piece and has now become a signature look of his. He describes the effect as bringing an additional tribal influence to his pieces}
What country/state/city/neighborhood do you live in? How did you end up there?
Bedstuy Brooklyn. I think gentrification may have had something to do with my shift from Fort Greene.
You have 24 hours left to live, what would you do with it?
If I had 24 hours left to live I would have sex. What else is there to do.
Over the past several months, Jamal has exhibited at a few shows including the Prizm Art Fair in December at Art Basel Miami and The Cafa Art Fair in Barbados in March. His next show will be a pop up exhibit of Guerrillas in the Mist, a joint show at 154a Washington Ave, Brooklyn this Saturday September 19th. To see more of Jamal's works, including future shows and exhibitions, please visit inceworks.com.