Visual Artist Jacques Kaiser
Jacques Kaiser is a contributing artist for Ran MusicBy Dan Lenk on 17/8/15
As part of the Ran Music team it's been a privelege to be involved with designer Jacques Kaiser on three album designs over the course of this year, including the Luv Plastik, Animal Pop, and the upcoming Soulspeak albums. Scheming away in his studio in Capetown, he's constantly keeping busy drawing up all sorts of creative, alternative and fundamentally cool designs whilst fueled on an insane number of pots of coffee. AWEH and myself are really pleased to finally drop this interview. Enjoy.
AWEH: Can you talk about how you got involved with graphic design, what influences have left a mark on you the most during your development as a designer?
Jacques: Art’s always been an obsession for me. The first time I saw one of Dali’s works I understood how the art world blows the dust off ordinary life. I began furiously studying artworks, making long mental lists of what was “dusty” and what wasn’t. I began drawing and painting and knew I was an artist. Becoming a designer was just a natural extension of that.
Influences were initially art-works, but today almost everything influences me - movies, song lyrics, graffiti, public art, juice boxes, buildings; anything that’s been under a designer’s hands. I watch a movie and find myself thinking “oh my shattered face! Someone designed that set! I need to go work harder!!” or “That juice box!!! It’s AMAZING!! I must drink it… and then go work harder!!”
AWEH: Do you try to establish an idea within your designs? Is there an aesthetic which you abide by or is your approach not married any one methodology?
Jacques: Art/design/music, they’re all just languages. I simply try and say what needs saying as best I can. Commissioned works are often briefed with their idea in place. If not, I research, obsess, make notes, until I’m sure I know what the idea or message is. (Or what it should be.) I really think a lot about what the piece needs to say and what voice it should say it in. “Does this project need to sing an anthem from a rooftop or does it need to whisper seductive secrets?”. I honestly never stick to one formula though.
AWEH: Do you think that within the South African design community there are certain styles or aesthetics which have been developed or encouraged? Could you recommend some emerging designers which you would recommend checking out to get an idea of the local design culture.
Jacques: The design culture here is really focused on improving lives. Our current culture as a nation is birthed out of a tension between hardship, suffering, persecution and pain (our cultural mother) and corruption, discrimination, lies and thievery (our cultural father). The current culture has endured growing pains but is developing (us) into a strong, persevering people. Designers are really encouraged to think beyond aesthetics (though never to forsake them) and to really look at the potential we as creative problem solvers have.
I don’t know their names, but there are these public art/graffiti artists in Cape Town that create the most magnificent, inspiring artworks on the buildings. They really sing messages of hope to the weary communities.
There’s this one piece, as you drive down De Waal, that has lights strung around it, and every time a certain poverty stricken area gets a new street light, the graffiti artwork’s lights are turned on for the night, to celebrate that. Here’s a link for some interesting reads on it and other inspiring public artworks: http://www.creativecapetown.com/curating-the-city-public-art-in-public-space/
AWEH: You recently finished up the artwork for Animal Pop’s ‘In the Woods Vol. 1’. Can you talk about your creative process on conceiving the idea for the EP’s artwork.
Jacques: I drank a few pots of coffee, released my inner mad scientist, and let the music transport me to where ever it wanted. I ended up (in my minds eye) at this great party in a forest, at night, where I saw everyone wearing their spirit animal as a mask (which was a way of saying, I’m bringing what’s inside of me out and hiding what’s not real about myself).
AWEH: I love that, would you mind sharing a bit about how the approach for this design differed from the Luv Plastik Electric Fantastic album design. Did the conceptual process differ significantly?
Jacques: For Luvplastik I popped the tracks onto my phone and walked around (with the tunes blasting through my earphones) taking photos of random stuff. I tried not to think too much about what I was shooting, just tried to be lead by feeling and the music. The tracks have a great sense of abandon, pure release from the norm. I eventually started sticking stuff into the freezer in my studio (true story) and one of these items was a pink skull jewellery case. It felt right.
AWEH: Can you talk about some plans you have for putting together a theme of your work to exhibit this year?
Jacques:I‘ve been thinking a lot about truth lately so I’ve been toying with visual metaphors like undressing, wearing masks and so on. Whatever I end up putting out though, I just hope it’s effective and inspires people.
AWEH: Seeking truth is definitely a journey in itself. Not get too into the subject, as it is indeed highly subjective, but what traits of this search have you found coming through in your artwork? How do you see this journey affecting your development as an artist and designer?
Jacques: I’m kind of fascinated by the difference between truth and reality (or perceived reality to be more precise), how the distance between those two points can be further than one would expect. I find reality leaves me bound and hungry, whereas truth contains inspiration, freedom, genius. Truth pierces and can be painful but the cut releases a deep well of treasure. Reality tends to breed apathy. I don’t always get it right, but I strive to be honest with my artworks and designs. The curious thing is, I don’t feel like I put it (truth) into my art, I feel like it’s the nature of art that teaches me and puts it (truth) into me. It makes me look at it and acknowledge it.
AWEH: Finally, any words you have for readers of AWEH.tv?
Jacques: Does anyone have a recipe for a good lamb stew?