"...you have to do more than just make art, you need to be constantly pushing yourself and letting people know what you do, but I like that..."
What do you do?
I’m primarily a painter working with acrylics and oils on canvas, but I like to include large scale installations in my exhibitions such as a working skatepark which I built in my ‘Daily Grind’ exhibition and a room sized painting that you could walk into in my ‘Glass Half Full’ exhibition in Los Angeles.
I like to paint brightly coloured still life with a focus on nature, interiors and plants, but I’m always drawn to try new stuff in my studio, its a constant release of creativity and experimentation.
I have goals as an artist and like to constantly push myself to make art that people can relate to on a personal level. My work has been exhibited in Los Angeles, Florida, New York, London and of course Leicester where I’ve always received massive support from creative spaces and individuals.
How did you get to where you are?
I’ve always made art and worked in creative jobs such as screen printing, design and photography in between travelling, surfing and skateboarding. A few years ago my wife suggested I go and check out university courses and do something with my art, and I’m so glad she did! I signed up for a degree and three years later I got a First. I started painting with a more focused idea of what I was actually doing and I’ve not stopped since!
A couple of years after finishing uni, I was approached by two galleries in Los Angeles who asked if they could exhibit my paintings which was awesome and in 2019 they offered me a solo exhibition! I sent them all of the paintings for the show then flew my family over to the States for a few weeks so they could all be at the opening night, it really was amazing. The galleries also showed my work in New York so we flew over there as well later that year, 2019 was the best!
They’ve also worked with Netflix to get my artworks into TV shows and recently my work appeared on ‘Dirty John’, a Netflix series featuring Christian Slater.
It is hard work being an artist as you have to do more than just make art, you need to be constantly pushing yourself and letting people know what you do, but I like that side of the art world. I’ve exhibited at art fairs in London which I love doing as you spend the week with a load of artists and meet art collectors from all around the world, its totally exhausting, but worth it.
Why do you love what you do?
I can’t express how important art is to me and my life. If i’m not making art I’ll be reading about artists and exhibitions or watching documentaries about art, or visiting exhibitions or talking to other artists about what they’re doing. Its constant!
Art to me is a positive addiction and a therapy at the same time, its something I literally can’t stop being inspired by and involved with. My paintings challenge me and give me a constant focus and have helped me through some tough times in my life and the art world has given me memories and journeys I will never forget. Its all good!
I also like to pass my experience onto others and in the last few years I’ve worked with universities, schools and community centres to offer free art classes to kids, adults and families. I’ve also worked with lots of charity groups, recovery centres and less fortunate people to help them achieve their creative goals and give them a focus outside of their everyday situations.
I’ve always lived in Leicester and I’m constantly inspired by the creativity that fills the county. I know artists who live here that I’d consider to be some of the best artists in the world and our galleries, exhibition spaces, music and cultural diversity is amazing. I’m hoping everything comes back soon and we can all get together and catch up at an exhibition, I really miss all that stuff at the minute.
Studio, studio, studio! I’m working towards a couple of shows this year after several were cancelled in 2020 and I’m busy making some new pieces for the galleries I work with.
All details for future exhibitions, events and news can be found on my Instagram page or my website https://www.jonjoelliott.com. I’m also looking at ways to create exhibitions online for myself and others artists as there is no guarantee when we’ll be opening physical exhibitions yet.
Music; I’m blasting a ton of nineties indie in my studio at the moment; Reef, Prodigy. Pulp, Happy Mondays, Nirvana, Sonic Youth, Pixies, Radiohead, Stone Roses… the list goes on!
Reading; I’m currently looking at Lucian Freud’s portraits from the RA, Jonas Wood from Phaidon and Christopher Wool’s retrospective collection.
Films: I watch loads of documentaries on artists and recently watched the Netflix film on Julian Schnabel ‘A Private Portrait’, which tells the story of his life and is pretty inspiring.
Facebook: /jonjo elliott