Guest at the Pub Series – Kim Jackson
Kim Jackson is a local artist based out of Fort Worth, Texas. For the last several years her innovative style — fashioning portraits from cigar labels — has been making waves in the community and in wider social media circles.
Her portrait of William Shakespeare was a hit on social media, and her follow-up piece of the TV character Archer catapulted her to the top ranking on Reddit’s cigar and Archer discussion pages.
Her more recent portrait of Nolan Ryan can be seen at the Intel Club at the Round Rock Express Stadium (Nolan Ryan’s sons are big fans of the piece).
Falchion was fortunate to get an interview exclusive with Kim this past week.
F: Can you talk a little bit about your background? What made you want to become an artist? And when did you discover your passion for painting and art?
KJ: When I was fairly young my dad used to draw political cartoons that he would submit to a local paper. I would sit across the table from him and work on my own artistic creations. As I got older my parents and younger brothers became increasingly involved in sports activities and I was dragged to nearly every game. I didn’t have a problem with playing sports I just couldn’t understand why anyone would want to watch them. So I brought my sketchbook, some pens and pencils, and maybe a magazine or comic book to keep myself entertained. Before long drawing became my ritual for combatting any sort of boredom.
F: How and when did you come up with the idea to use cigar labels?
KJ: I’ve been a cigar lover since 2001. A few years ago one of my best friends, who is also one of my go-to cigar buddies, started saving all of the labels from the cigars we smoked. I had collected them for about a year promising that I would find something interesting to do with them. In April of that year it was my friend’s birthday and I found myself between paychecks and desperate to find a creative gift that would double as a “thank you” for letting me keep all of his cigar labels. So I decided to get creative and make some art out of them. Gifting my art to friends on occasion was nothing new to me. Portraits had always been my preferred subject and my friend was a big fan of Shakespeare so I figured I’d use the labels to create an image of him. As soon as I gave him the gift he put it on social media and I received my first commission before the night was over. It’s been almost 3 years and I haven’t been without an order yet. Pretty crazy when I think about it.
F: What does art mean to you?
KJ: Art is a lot of things to me. Sometimes it’s just a means to help me kill time or to escape the world for a moment. Other times it’s an opportunity to obsess on the details of an image. I enjoy artwork that portrays true skill.
Where are you from? Are you self-taught or classically trained?
KJ: I am from Cedar Hill, TX a suburb right outside of Dallas. I wouldn’t say that I am “classically” trained. Although I have taken several art classes throughout my life, I’ve always received more benefit from working and discovering on my own. I minored in studio art when I was in college but found that the strict project instructions and short deadlines left me frustrated and without motivation. My art suffered from this and I gave it up for many years afterwards. I tend to be much more efficient when left to my own timeline and unrestricted ideas.
If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
KJ: Resourceful, independent, and meticulous.
What is your motivation for creating art? In your opinion, is there any latent power in art or the artistic process? What kinds of self-transformations take place through the practice or experience of art? Can you provide any examples of transformations, either in yourself or in others?
KJ: I stay motivated to create art because it makes me feel peaceful and free. It’s a lot like a meditation. I don’t have to think a lot when I work, I just make the time to sit down, get started, and let whatever has decided to flow out of me do it’s thing. In the last few years I noticed that instead of waiting for motivation I just need to work. Usually about an hour or two into my session I sort of zone out and lose time. I once thought I had been working for only a couple hours when I looked up and noticed it had been almost 8.
F: Okay, I have to ask: how do you gather all of those cigar bands? Where does it all come from!?
KJ: Would you believe me if I told you I smoked all of those cigars? I hope not. I frequent a couple of cigar shops in the DFW area that collect them for me daily, Michael’s Tobacco of Euless and Michael’s Tobacco of Keller. I bring home around 200 labels a week per shop and, often, the regulars of the shops will bring me their stashes. Occasionally when someone commissions a piece they will have their own collection that they want used for the portrait. I will use what I can and give back the rest. This is in addition to the cigars I smoke of course.
F: How would you describe your paintings/art to someone maybe not so familiar with them?
KJ: I would describe my work as collages or mosaics using cigar labels and glue to create a portrait of someone in as realistic of a style as possible.
F: Can you take us through your process? For example, how do you decide on a subject? And once you do, what are the typical steps that you take to complete a work?
KJ: At the moment I have been focused on making portraits of famous cigar personalities since it goes so well with my medium. I like to look for mages that have good, contrasting light. My process is somewhat involved and can take up to 100 hours if not more. I first make a marker drawing of the image and color it using 4 colors: black, red, gold, and white. These are the colors that most cigar bands come in and they help to give the image depth. This drawing acts as a blueprint for the cigar band portrait. I then make a line drawing of the blueprint on a piece of masonite. Once it’s all planned out I then place each label one by one with crafting glue making sure to massage out any air bubbles. Some bands I cut with an Xacto knife and some are just layered. I leave the background for last and coat the finished piece in layers of crafting glue and UV-resistant acrylic sealer.
F: Finally, and we ask this of all our guests (you are our Guest at the Pub, after all): what is your drink of choice?
KJ: Beer, hands down.
Kim, thank you so much for being our Guest at the Pub, and thank you for your incredible work!
For print and commission requests please direct inquiries to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit Kim’s website at: www.kjackart.com