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Interview with Jeffrey Davis

Updated: Feb 22

Jeffrey comes from a family of artist and engineers and earned his AAA Degree in commercial art. While in school, Jeffrey was awarded a gold medal from President Ronald Reagan for his advanced airbrush skills in the 1984 USA VICA Skill Olympics. He went on to earn a BA Degree from Kansas City Art Institute. In 1989, Jeffrey found himself in Hollywood and, working as a sought-after art director for the next 26 years, managed to create well over 2,000 movie posters, DVD/CD covers, album covers and a wide range of advertising solutions for major corporations in several different industries. 

“Working in Hollywood as an Art Director, I was close to a great many celebrities for over 26 years… this has had a significant impact on my art and an experience I will never forget.”

-Jeffrey Davis


Through necessity, Jeffrey became a photographer and began shooting celebrities and opened up a photography studio, offering advanced retouching to the stars. This led him to the photographing of food for major retailers and as a chef, create stunning plates for advertising campaigns of all kinds.


For as long as he can remember, he has successfully juggled careers as an artist, chef and photographer and is deeply in love with all three.


2020 holds promise to at least 3 new illustrative books in his drawing series called 'GRAPHITE'. The first will be a unique chronicle of the world of Rock 'n Roll, the second, dynamic drawings of the Kingdom of Thailand and the third, detailed drawings of Angkor Wat in Cambodia.


Details, news and current projects may be found at: www.JeffreyDavisArt.com.


How long have you been painting and how long did it take you to develop your style? How has your practice changed over time?

I am self-taught and hold two art degrees.

I actually began serious drawing when I was 9 years old and I was particularly focussed on the human body, light and form.


After winning my first national art competition in the fifth grade, I began to study color and thousands of different techniques and styles.


Styles take time to develop, so here are a few examples of my various styles:


• Oil wash technique: 

My professor in college taught me this great technique, and I perfected it in three months time. This is still one of my favorite techniques. 


• Color Pencil: 

I was introduced to color pencils when I was twelve years old and developed my techniques over a demanding course of two years, mastering the technique at age fourteen. 

In college I developed a new technique for me which involved color pencil on black illustration board. I mastered the technique in just several months, then applied it to a freelance job I go  at a prestigious Kansas City advertising agency. Today, it is one of my go-to techniques.


• Airbrush:  I was introduced the airbrush by my professor in college who showed me the basics. A few months later, I was awarded a gold medal from President Ronald Reagan in the National Skills Olympics of 1984, held in Nashville, Tennessee for my advanced airbrush skills. This particular technique is incredibly demanding, so these days it is rare that I dive into such an experience.


• Watercolor: I began painting watercolors at age 16 and fell in love with it. In Hollywood, I was actually able to create several album covers using watercolors including Ronnie Laws' 'True Spirit' in 1990 for Par Entertainment. Watercolor has its own laws and rules but is a very fun medium to master and play with.

• Acrylic Paint: I have been using acrylic paint in several different styles and techniques as far back as 1976.

Early on, I developed a POP Art style of flat acrylic colors, similar to the fantastic art of Patrick Nagel. I even perfected a splatter technique with Jackson Pollock as inspiration and I use this dramatic effect to this day.


My new POP Art in acrylics has been perfected and I am creating new pieces on a monthly schedule. The style is based on a 'vector' aesthetic with flat colors and straight lines with no gradations whatsoever.


My new 'POP WOW!' style of acrylic painting is currently being perfected with a Jimi Hendrix portrait being the first one created in December of 2019. Marilyn Monroe is up next and will be a departure from the Jimi piece by changing the pallet to a very bright and lively one. I will also brighten the background significantly and compliment her vibrant and innocent personality as it plays out on the canvas.


ABSTRACT ART IN ACRYLIC:

As I have spent the better part of 57 years painting and drawing realistically, only three years ago have I been able to let loose and create abstract art. I relocated from Los Angeles and perhaps the fresh air, sprawling vineyards and complete absence of the rat-race in wine country helped me evolve into the creative individual I am today, creating abstract art that is beginning to get attention.


FORMULA 1:

I have been secretly working on an acrylic project that involves the world of automobile racing and I will be unveiling an all-new-series towards the end of 2020. This series has the potential for huge global appeal, so I am taking my time and doing this one right. I am talking about dynamically colored images of NASCAR, Formula 1 and the like. As a veteran illustrator, I hope I can bring something new and exciting to the world of racing. 


As former President Ronald Reagan was on stage and handing me the gold medal for my advanced skills in airbrush in 1984, he leaned over and whispered this in my ear, "Promise me Jeffrey, that you will make a commitment to excellence in everything you do from this moment forward."


To this day, I strive to keep my promise to former President Ronald Reagan, as best I can.


What inspires you?

While I create art depicting celebrities from several industries, I employ the 6 principles of illustration to my images to make them dynamic:


• Rhythm

• Balance

• Harmony

• Contrast

• Light

• Texture


I strongly relate to color in an image which strongly equates to emotion, which I can control and influence, in some small part, the viewers experience.


Name three artists who have inspired you and/or why.

1. Leonardo DaVinci

The study and the mastery of the human form that DaVinci labored over is completely amazing and something that I have spent decades on.


2. Leroy Neiman

I am drawn to his vivid use of color, simplicity and motion without getting bogged down in the details. At 57 years of age, this is where my new path is taking me, having spent all of my life creating realistic and hyper-real images in the world of advertising. It's time for a change.


3. VOKA

His use of color and spontaneity is something that I wanted to explore for decades, and now I finally am, which is taking me into an utterly fantastic direction in my art. 


What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

As former President Ronald Reagan was on stage and handing me the gold medal for my advanced skills in airbrush in 1984, he leaned over and whispered this in my ear, "Promise me Jeffrey, that you will make a commitment to excellence in everything you do from this moment forward."


To this day, I strive to keep my promise to former President Ronald Reagan, as best I can.


Where can we find your artwork?

JeffreyDavisArt.com

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