I came across Jaxie Jax this past Valentine’s Day when Lady IMIX gave me the cutest little pin to that said ‘Don’t Hide Your Art‘ which I gave to the boyfriend – it was so simple, but defined a much deeper request. I’ve been in love ever since, scouring every inch of her blog, google searching and finally having the pleasure to connect with her via facebook (ADD HER!).
This is the result of that discovery, my inaugural first interview: Meet, JAXIE JAX!
Have you always been an artist or did you just start doing it seriously? Tell us a little bit about your journey…
I have been an artist since the age of 3, however, I didn’t become seriously active with my art until 2007. Of course I owe my passion for the arts to my mother, Ofelia Esparza. She always had art supplies in the house. I started drawing on the wall of my parent’s bedroom when I was in a crib. My mother liked my work so she kept the drawing on the wall. I’m always amazed at that story. Most parents would have complained and scrubbed the crayon off the wall. My mother viewed it differently. That’s where my artist journey began. I loved intricate coloring books as a child. My mother knew that I had a passion for details so she would buy coloring books with ornate images. It was like receiving a sparkling diamond or a soft serve ice cream cone.
In December 2006 I attended my first PeelHere sticker art event created by my brother-n-law StickyRicks. I didn’t know there was a world made up of trading handmade or vinyl stickers. I was intrigued by all of it. The idea that I could trade stickers that I personally made by hand was very exciting. StickyRick and Zan, my sister, encouraged me to give it a try. I started trading sticker art with anyone who was willing and able. These are artists I’ve never met; from young grade school kids to 30 something’s, with or without jobs and in nearly all continents.
So you were raised in East LA?How did growing up in LA shape your style? Where are you currently located?
I was born and raised in East Los Angeles but I currently reside in Fountain Valley, California with my husband of 13 years. L.A. has been influential to me with its diversity and plethora of color everywhere you go. From the small mom and pop storefronts with all of their goods spilling out on to the sidewalk, to the murals, graffiti and art shows. All are visual narcotics of color, contrast and expression.
What inspires you to create these different little delectable creatures that exude humor and love?Do you come up with the phrases or pick them up from places?
Inspiration for my characters stems from my love for paper dolls. Paper dolls must have friends, not accessories to keep them company. Friends like a tiny robot made of tin, not steel or blue cotton candy who dons a mustache and is apprehensive around children because he’s too delicious. The phrases I use are all my own. My characters are simple. They have simple thoughts, actions and gestures. I started drawing little girls with big hair because I was fond of the wooden Japanese Kokeshi dolls with big black hair.
I know you label your studio, “where I create the make believe”…How much of the ‘make believe’ is a way of injecting more life + love into ‘reality’? Or are you just having some fun?
In my studio I am surrounded by characters, art, toys and color just like my mother is in her house. If I were a doll I’d love to live in my studio with the other doll and toy characters. I’d be well cared for and not alone.
I thrive in the make believe because it is where life is the simplest. No convoluted questions or thoughts. No real concerns other than “I think the ice cream truck is late.”
Can you describe each of your characters; give a run down of each one and their personality?
My characters are Fragile, a girl with big blue hair, but only straight and wispy hair because my hair is curly and frizzy. Poncho Love only wear’s ponchos. She’s short and stocky. Señor Cotton Candy is either Pink or Blue with a 40’s style mustache and speaks very little Spanish because he didn’t learn Spanish as a child. Children love him for who he is. Rarebit is a rabbit who can be mistaken for Welsh Rarebit even though Welsh Rarebit does not consist of rabbit at all. Bittobot is a tiny robot made of tin, not steel. He likes to dance and balance himself atop the highest peaks in the painting. There have been other characters like Babushka, Irma from Burma, Rocio and Apple but they’ve been on vacation and have not returned in quite some time.
Where do you hope to take Jaxie Jax?
I hope to take jaxiejax to every collector’s desktop screen saver. A girl and a tiny robot make good company. What keeps me going is the positive feedback and interest I’ve received from artists and non-artists who get a kick out of my work. I’ve sold some works to admirer’s out of state that I’ve never met before. I’m taken back by that.
My goal for 2010 is to have jaxiejax characters on t-shirts. There is a lot of interest for jaxiejax on t-shirts. For now, jaxiejax stickers on a cell phone, iMac, or electrical box on the street is how I’m getting around based on photographs I’ve seen.
What’s your favorite medium to express? I notice you’ve been printing on old pages of books, to paint chips, UPS labels, to pins w/ cards, to lunchbags, to puzzle pieces, to wheat paste, to zines…? Or do you care about each one in a different way?
My favorite mediums to express are the vintage book canvas and the mini zines. The vintage book canvas involves a lot of details including finding the book. I hit a lot of used book stores and look for treasures buried in the shelves. It’s time consuming but rewarding. The mini zines are a lot of fun, however, the most time consuming because I’m not computer savvy and it involves hours of computer work for resizing, cutting, pasting, editing and juxtaposing.
Tell us about your poster up in Israel. Did you post that?Where else in the world can we find Jaxie Jax?
The Tel Aviv poster is from an annual project called Reuse Project. It takes place in an abandoned building to bring awareness to homelessness and poverty. It’s a temporary exhibition. I’ve participated in numerous “It’s Yours Take It” free art events held in Ireland, England, Germany, Canada, Chicago, Boston, and New York. All have been submissions by mail. One day I hope to attend one in person. I’ve also contributed works for charity events overseas.
Can you tell us some of your favorite artists…musical + visual?
Favorite artists, one is Heiko Müller from Hamburg, Germany. His characters have an element of creepy medieval darkness as they stand in the foreground of lush landscapes. I can picture myself in the vegetation he paints.
Robert Palacios from Los Angeles. His characters are brilliant little creatures of detail. If his characters were toys, they’d live in my studio. If they were fruits, I’d eat them for dessert.
What book are you reading RIGHT NOW?
I’m currently reading ‘The Housekeeper and the Professor‘ by Yoko Ogawa. A story of a housekeeper’s new job of taking care of a math professor who suffered a traumatic brain injury. He cannot hold memories for long. “His brain is like a tape that forgets every 8 minutes”. It’s not a romance but a story of family, memory and the professors use of math equations/numbers to express himself/to relate, to communicate/to bond.
Tell us about your exhibit on April 24th in Ocean County, California?What can we expect from a Jaxie Jax show?
The exhibit in OC on April 24 consists of 19 women artists. It’s an annual boutique/exhibit of artworks for sale at The Woman’s Club of Laguna Beach. It promotes local Laguna Beach artists and involves a silent auction as well to benefit a Women’s Recourse Center for the community. It is my first exhibit of works in Orange County. I was asked to participate. I think Bittobot on a bicycle couldn’t be denied.
And finally…what does the word “conrazón” mean to you?
…well I’d have to say oxygen. It’s what gives my characters a life. “Conrazón” is what I inhale in order to exhale little brush strokes of playfulness.
I found this little anecdote from Jaxie really sweet + real when several friends said something to the effect of, “Oh, you’re going to be FAMOUS!?” after she received notice her copyright for “Jaxie Jax” had come in:
“Famous? No, just friendly, foolish and fragile.”