Jerett Offutt’s art is ‘crazy-people stuff’…and bands absolutely love it
One thing that successful bands have is good art to accompany their music. What would your favorite bands be like without album art, fliers, show posters, T-shirts, pins, stickers, and other art products?
What would Dark Side of the Moon be like without the image of a beam of light refracting through a prism to make a rainbow? Chattanooga is fortunate to have a strong community of artists who back up our local bands with the highest quality work. Jerett Offutt’s illustrations are perfect examples of this art that helps to propel the music.
The Pulse: What are your earliest memories of making art?
Jerett Offutt: I was super-infatuated with comic books when I was younger. The moment that made me decide to be an artist was when my mom bought me an “Art In America” magazine, and it had a Salvador Dali painting in it, the “Soft Construction With Boiled Beans.” I saw that and I was hooked.
Another big thing that drove me toward fine art was seeing Sam Kieth’s “The Maxx” on MTV’s “Oddities,” which was based on his comic book of the same name. It used Dali’s surrealist method of exploring your consciousness while still being pop art and comic-book driven. That really drove me toward creating things that made me question reality.
Aeon Flux and The Brothers Grunt caused me to get old phone books and sketch out these veiny creepy characters, and my grandmother would see them and think it was the weirdest thing ever. Growing up in the ’90s drove me toward working against pre-conceived notions of what could be tangible as far as art…everything was weird back then, weird in a very different way than it is now.
We embraced the alternative lifestyle, especially growing up in a small town like I did. Many people had rebel flag stickers on the back of their pickup trucks, and I saw these people being stupid, and I wanted to be anything but that. I found my escape in Dali paintings, comic books, and weird cartoons that came on at 3 a.m. that I wasn’t supposed to watch. The weirdness drove me to be OK with who I am and dive further into myself, instead of trying to be something that I wasn’t.
TP: What is surrealism?
JO: The most significant thing about surrealism is realism—capturing what is actually there while fighting against the idea of what I perceive it to be, and finding a new way to grasp things. The rose-tinted glasses change everything. I express myself in a way that others don’t, in a way that most people are afraid of. It is accessing the deeper parts of myself.
I was recently doing a flier for The Bohannons, smoothing the lines and doing the final inking, and my brother saw it and said, “That’s crazy-people stuff.” It was my favorite review, because it’s still people stuff, it’s in the world and it means something. It’s taking orange and seeing it as a different color, seeing it for the color that it may be. There’s space between everything, there’s something else there that others don’t see.
TP: What materials and processes do you use?
JO: I’m really big on india ink and brushwork. I’m a comic book nerd at heart. I want everything to look like a Howard Porter comic book, beautiful, pristine, and cartoony. If you ask me to draw Superman, I’ll draw him with a third eye exploding with machine fairies. When I create art, I have an idea in my head, but what comes out is never exactly what I expected.
As I get older, I see the beauty in that; it becomes what it’s supposed to be. I’ll do pencil sketches and I’ll ink them with a brush or pen, then I’ll grab watercolors, acrylics, colored pencils, pastels, and I just started messing with some silver leaf. I’ll grab something, sling it onto a scratch sheet and see how it’s going to look, and if I like it I’ll add it in.
The most recent work I did was as mixed media as possible; I built up textures with collage, dirt, moss, and I got my dog to walk on it at one point and create puppy stink on it. I always use good ink and good brushes; I’ll buy the most expensive ones I can get because the comic book guy in me wants the pure, beautiful, sexy brush lines. Then I ugly it up with all the other stuff!
To commission an illustration, email Jerett at firstname.lastname@example.org