I recently visited the midtown NYC studios of mixed media artist Jo Jo Anavim to chat about his eye catching, Americana-pop-art style and saw visions of eye candy larger than life. Instagram and social media do not provide the detailing of art work very well, it was not until I saw for myself these larger than life pieces with incredible character and depth.
New York City born and raised, his work caught my eye with his rich sense of beauty, fashion and American culture. I wanted to learn a bit more so began following his Instagram feed and saw inspirations from the old pop masters to current day extreme talents, like Robert Mars.
His studio is filled with inspirational LIFE magazines, photos popular figures and supermodels among others --and lots of paint, everywhere, not just in tubs or on canvases which is most beautiful.
When did you first begin perusing art? What led you to it?
When I was 9 or 10 my parents enrolled me in a cartooning class with the legendary Disney animator Al Baruch- the creator of Mighty Mouse and Captain Hook. Around that same time I discovered Photoshop and taught myself everything graphic based. The synergy between the drawing and pixels are the precursor to my work today.
Your style is very much Americana / pop culture, celebrity and fashion based, what inspires you to create these pieces? And, what inspires you about “pop culture?”
Right now I’m just taking a light hearted and fun approach to pop art. I want people to smile when they see my work. I’m really fascinated by the icons of the 50’s and 60’s because it was a time when celebrity culture, as we know it today was in its infancy. I also love the subversive playfulness/irony of street art. I’d say my work is a blended up version of those two things.
Who is your favorite or most influential artist(s) of all time?
Robert Rauchenberg’s early work is my favorite of any artist. Jasper Johns’ use of collage, plaster and pigment has had a great deal of influence as well. And of course, Andy Warhol’s use of mechanical design and printmaking is clearly evident in my work.
What types of magazines and materials do you use? Or are your favorite to use?
The vast majority of my collage work comes from 1950’s LIFE Magazines, Life also happens to be the central theme in all my work. I also love working with Golden acrylics and gels, and incorporating rare memorabilia into my pieces. I have a love/hate relationship with resin.
What is / was your most favorite piece completed so far?
My Jeff Koons / Bianca Jagger / Studio 54 piece. I did a play on Bianca Jagger’s white horse ride through the infamous nightclub, swapping the horse for a life-sized Jeff Koons balloon dog. The background is all era photos and collage- with an actual Studio 54 drink ticket in it. I finished it off with diamond dust (of course), two coats of resin.
If you could collaborate with one or two other artists - ANYONE! In the world who would they be?
Many come to mind but the one that sticks out is Pablo Picasso.
What are your ideal upcoming plans for your art?
Just letting it ride and having fun right now. A lot of stuff is in the works both in NYC and internationally. I’ll be sure to keep you posted.
What type of music do u listen to while creating?
Different moods call for different music but Depeche Mode, The Cure, The Smiths and Morrissey, Kanye West, Cut Copy and Chromeo seem to be the staples.
You’ve gotten your art to some very notable celebrities, can you name a few and how you get to them?
My work hangs in the homes of Charlie Sheen, Big Sean, Amare Stoudemire, Steve Angello, and Lil Jon to name a few. Most of them are personal friends or friends of friends. I’ve also been fortunate enough to spend time and learn from fellow artists Mr. Brainwash and Robert Mars, both of whom are great guys.
If you could have dinner with one or two people, dead or alive who would they be and why?
Undoubtedly the late Jean Michel Basquiat. I can’t think of a more intriguing person- let alone artist. I’m also a huge fan of Sacha Baron Cohen and his ability to create and portray such absurd comic characters. I really admire how he’s mastered the art of satire.
Anavim at MBW studios (above) and the view from his studio...
For more info on Anavim follow along here on his Instagram @javisual and here: www.javisual.com.