I first became aware of Jeremy Enecio several years ago as I was perusing through mediocre, run of the mill artists on a website known as ConcepArt.org when out of nowhere, like an electric apparition, his work appeared. I had found a needle in the haystack and it had punctured me deeply. I felt a thorough connection to the small showing that he had presented there and though I had only just discovered this treasure of art I felt it had been with me for a very long distance, perhaps stretched thin at the edges of my subconscious finally brought into focus through Jeremy’s talented hand.
A hand which conjures up visions of mythical organisms living at the bottom of our mind’s wells and also images heavy with social inheritance. Jeremy’s style is firmly rooted in an illustrative jurisdiction but his talent lies in his ability to push that genre forward, to bend the realms of it’s principles and arrive on the opposite side though appearing the same. The work he presents to this dimension is a medium between fine art and illustration.
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Jeremy, over a period of several months, about his life and work:
Zach: When and where were you born?
Jeremy: I was born October 31st, 1986 in Ormoc City, Philippines.
Zach: And what was your childhood like? Any artistic experiences?
Jeremy: I grew up with my brother and sister and a bunch of cousins all living in my grandmother’s house in the Philippines. It wasn’t at all an environment that nurtured any sort of artistic development. I remember taking off my shirt to draw the Mickey Mouse face that was on it and my mom telling me to go put on another shirt as she sat down to finish the drawing for me. I always thought that was a strange thing to do. We didn’t have art classes at school in the Philippines either. When I moved to America at the age of four, I was introduced to my grandfather and cousin, both artists, on my mother’s side living in California. My grandfather was a carpenter and painted the Last Supper multiple times. My older cousin, Mike Rippens, would draw Ninja Turtles and my head just about exploded when I saw his drawings. In grade school I was the weird foreign kid that didn’t know any English. But I was also always the class artist and whenever there were other artistically inclined students around I would feel a sense of competitiveness towards them.
Zach: What were your earliest drawings, that you can recall, of?
Jeremy: I remember my cousins and I would use gasoline to wet printer paper with so we could trace things from magazines and tapestries. The adults would always hide the gasoline but I would always find it. This was before I learned that one could draw without tracing. Or gasoline. [Note: During our conversations Jeremy mentioned that he was pretty sure that the gasoline messed his brain up quite a bit.]
Zach: Does your cousin Mike still do art?
Jeremy: Yeah, he went to the Pratt Institute in New York and is currently living in Los Angeles. His work is still blowing my mind to this day. (http://rippens.com)
Zach: Where did you go to college?
Jeremy: I went to the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland.
Zach: And at MICA did you find your work accepted?
Jeremy: I was always passionate about creating the best work I could make whether it was in video, animation, screen printing or painting classes. In retrospect, I think my work was generally more accepted in those classes than in my actual illustration classes.
Zach: What are your thoughts on art school?
Jeremy: Art school is different for everyone. If you go into it with an open mind, letting in new experiences and ways of thinking it’ll be a lot less painful. If you go in just wanting to get better at oil painting and composition you will not be a happy camper. You’ll also be bombarded with polarizing views on the validity of various art forms. Learn to take this with a grain of salt and find what feels right for you. To me, art school was definitely a life experience worth having.
Zach: When did you begin to develop the style you currently exhibit?
Jeremy: I think I’ve always leaned towards representational and figurative work from a very early age. Looking back, I think I was fueled by the reactions I would get from people around me whenever I got something to look “right.” Like a spider or a portrait of a friend. Fantasy art came into the picture at an early age when I started drawing bat wings and cat eyes on all of my characters for reasons I can’t recall. Later on, I started participating in art forums, namely eatpoo.com and conceptart.org. Being so young and comparing my work to professionals and other aspiring artists was usually quite painful and exciting, but they were so generous with positive encouragement and brutal criticism. I began to care a whole lot less about art class in school.
Zach: I was on Eatpoo as well! Any memories from there that stick out? There was definitely a strong sense of “Keep up, be good or fuck off” with that place which I admired. After it crashed the second time did you follow it c9 or just move over to ConcepArt.org?
Jeremy: Really? That’s awesome! My name on there was Arwar. So many great memories on that site! I remember the intense work ethic everyone seemed to have while still being super layed back. I frequented the “Toilet” (18+) section even though I was way too young. “Keep up, be good or fuck off” is an excellent way of describing it. A lot of people were turned off by the honesty of the critiques but that’s what made the place so great! My first few posts were brutally ripped apart but there was a lot of encouragement in there. When it crashed I did follow it for a bit to Cloud 9 but soon became too busy with college.
Zach: Do films or literature influence your work any?
Jeremy: Film was definitely a big influence on me growing up. I remember being absolutely mesmerized by the Neverending Story. Actually, I used to want to be a film director.
Zach: I wanted to be a film maker as well. When you’re drawing do you have an entire story in your head, like a film?
Jeremy: I like to think so. With my characters I imagine them interacting without words preferably with a Thomas Newman score and a Kubrick-esque tracking shot.
Zach: What are some of your favorite films?
Jeremy: So many great ones out there… To name a few: 28 Days Later, Clockwork Orange, The Big Lebowski, Troubled Water, The Royal Tenenbaums, Kids, Let the Right One In, La Vie En Rose, The White Ribbon and Being John Malkovich.
Zach: Did video games influence your work any?
Jeremy: Ocarina of Time was an incredible game. I’m certain that had to have had an effect on me in some capacity. I was also really into fighting games like Mortal Kombat, Tekken and Street Fighter and loved all the character back stories that went along with them. Occasionally my brother and I would draw our own characters and give them their own unique powers like having all the powers in the world, ever.
Zach: Do you have any hobbies?
Jeremy: I’m not really sure what constitutes a hobby. It’s kind of a strange word to me especially since my main hobby turned into my profession. I like collecting vintage photographs both online and from thrift and antique stores. They’re just profoundly fascinating to me. I’m also a huge horror movie fan and would one day like to work for Greg Nicotero doing special effects makeup. Preferably on a zombie flick.
Zach: What kind of thoughts do you want your work to evoke?
Jeremy: I want people to walk away with their own stories playing in their heads when they see my work. I am really into narratives and allegorical story telling. Sometimes a story is just a story, but more often than not, I want the viewer to feel a bit lost. Not understanding a work of art does not mean the painting fails at telling a story. The figures in my work are metaphors, embodying real life experiences and we all view the world differently because of our own experiences.
Zach: Who are some of your artistic idols?
Jeremy: Phil Hale, Ashley Wood, Zdzislaw Beksinski, James Jean, John Everett Millais, Herman Mejia, Kent Williams, Andrew Hem, Lucian Freud. I could go on and on.
Zach: And where do you see your artwork heading?
Jeremy: I see my artwork heading in a couple different directions. Firstly, I would like to keep delving into the editorial market. The problem solving and art direction that comes with it is quite enjoyable for me. And seeing my work accompanying articles and stories by talented writers is a great feeling. On the other hand, I also enjoy the freedom of painting my own narratives and working autonomously for a gallery setting. I’d like to keep my hands in both scenes as long as possible. In either case, however, I am introducing more of a graphic quality to my paintings. Combining rendered forms with flat shapes is something I’m definitely exploring more these days.
Jeremy has a solo show, “Larvae,” at Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra California opening June 9th and running through July 1st.
More Jeremy: Website | Blog | Twitter