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Figurative Painter Jacoby Hinton talks Anime, Concepts, & Education in the Arts in an Exclusive Interview w/ Mistah Wilson

Jacoby Hinton on Instagram   ///   Website
"Art is for everyone. And no one needs to tell you an artwork is good, if you like it, then it is good. It should be as simple as that." -Jacoby Hinton

Mistah Wilson: Yo, Jacoby Hinton! It is a complete honor to have you here with us for this exclusive interview with ThaWilsonBlock Magazine. How you been?
Jacoby Hinton: Hey thanks for having me! I’ve been doing well, this month has been all about reflection and looking back at the past year and seeing how far I’ve come, but also looking ahead to where I want to be.

Mistah Wilson: For our audience reading this, could you paint a quick background of yourself?
Jacoby Hinton: I’d be happy to, I grew up kinda all over the state of South Carolina. My family moved a lot when I was younger. After college, I moved to the Standing Rock Reservation in South Dakota where I taught High School Science for 2 years, then I moved to San Jose and taught Middle School art for a year. One day my best friend called me up and said, “Dude what are you doing with your life?” I fumbled around with the question for a minute, and he cut me off “- You need to just be doing art full time. I can’t see you doing anything else.” And like that, the seed was planted, once he said that, it was like someone gave me permission to be myself for once. It’s wild how little things like that can have such an impact on you. So now here we are, trying to make it as a painter.

Mistah Wilson: Thanks for submitting a formal artist introduction! We are glad to have you here in ThaWilsonBlock Network. First & foremost, I was truly impressed by your artwork! But before we dive into that, I want to talk about your education in the arts. At what age did you identify your inner creative and in what ways has your formal education shaped the artist you are today?
Jacoby Hinton: Thank you! I’m happy to hear that. Growing up there were two things I really enjoyed, sports and art. It’s funny it always seemed as if people were trying to make me pick one or the other, I look back on that now and find it silly. I was always drawing. As a kid I drew on the sidewalks, in the dirt, on the back of mail envelopes, in my notes, on the walls (sorry mom), I just couldn’t help it. Eventually it became the only way I could truly listen to people. If my pencil was moving in class then not only was I drawing but I was also taking in information. I still do that today. My studio is shared with a very talented writer. Some of my best paintings have come from him reading his novels to me as I paint. I studied Studio Art at College of Charleston in South Carolina. I was actually studying Political Science, but I couldn’t help but take the Art classes as well. I never planned on being an artist, I actually wanted to be a lawyer. I was taught that was the safe route to go. But the more art classes I took, the better I got, and the more I realized, nothing else mattered. I didn’t start painting until after college, but I focused a lot on figure drawing in college which has really shaped my paintings today.

Mistah Wilson: Your artwork truly speaks volumes. The uniqueness in your pieces reveal a mysterious technique. What tools do you use to create these masterpieces and what is your "creative process"?
Jacoby Hinton: Thank you again, I do appreciate that. In terms of the creative process, the most extensive part of my work is creating the sketch. I was trained as a figurative sketch artist in college,
and I’ve been obsessed with drawing the human form for as long as I can remember. So I sometimes will redraw a pose anywhere from 5-20 times before I decide it’s ready. I use tracing paper to trace over parts of my sketch that I deem “good” and then transfer that sketch to a new sheet and start working the parts of the sketch that were off. Once I’ve got the sketch done, I’ll grid it to fit the size painting I want to paint. Then I try to match up the drawings as best as possible to create a large scale version of the drawing. From there is really the fun part. I choose a color palette and use palette knives to spread the paint around. I don’t use brushes very often because I find that a palette knife gives you a much more dramatic and dynamic effect. I’ll often stop purposefully when I’m painting. Sometimes it’s to let paint dry, other times its just to reflect and take a step back to figure out where to go with it. Sometimes I’ll just stare at a painting for hours until it clicks.

Mistah Wilson: As an educator, what are some ideals that you stress in the arts?
Jacoby Hinton: Practice. Practice. Practice. I told my students this, and I’ll tell it to anyone, you can be good at anything if you do it enough. I really harp on growth mindset. I don’t like it when people tell me I’m talented. I know they mean well, but that implies that I’m not in the studio working every single day to get better. I prefer people to say I’m skilled, because you work to gain skills, whereas talent is just natural.

Mistah Wilson: From your perspective, what are some of the most important issues regarding the art community?
Jacoby Hinton: I think the entire structure of the art community needs work to be honest. In the art world really nobody cares about how good your work is. They only care about who says your work is good. For instance, I was in Irvine because I had a piece accepted into Juried competition. There were 60 artists accepted, I got to the artist reception and stood near my piece. For the first hour of the event maybe 3 people talked to me about my work. Then the juror announced the winners of the competition, and I was one of them. Afterwards everyone wanted to talk to me. The artwork was exactly the same as it had been for the first hour. Except now someone important said it was good. I think that whole system is silly, and it’s largely because people don’t actually look at artwork to enjoy it anymore, it’s become such a luxury lifestyle thing now. Art is for everyone. And no one needs to tell you an artwork is good, if you like it, then it is good. It should be as simple as that.

Mistah Wilson: Who are some visual artists that have influenced you growing up and why?
Jacoby Hinton: Growing up anime was king. I’ve drawn Goku and Vegeta from Dragonball Z more times than I can count in my lifetime. I think that definitely put me on the path I am today, drawing human figures from such a young age was crucial. Now as an artist I look to people like Carlos Delgado, and other figurative artists who push what it means to paint the human form.

Mistah Wilson: As an artist myself, I tend to be inspired by my own work. What are 3 of your personal favorite art pieces and why?
Jacoby Hinton: In no particular order, I really enjoy Leap, Connect III, and Joker: A Self Portrait. Joker: A Self Portrait was a painting that had so much meaning to me and I didn’t even know it as I was making it. I used to paint only comicbook/anime type art. I was struggling to find my own voice early on in my career. So I decided to do a self portrait, but the idea was that I wouldn’t use a brush at all, only palette knives. The painting came together in a matter of hours. It was like I found my style, I had tapped into something I didn’t know I had. I still have the painting today, and it is a constant reminder of the mental state I was in back then, sometimes we can drive ourselves crazy with pressure, and at that point in time that’s exactly what I was doing to myself, and I think the painting reflects that. Leap is a painting that I just love because I think it’s the most beautiful piece I’ve made to date. My girlfriend loves to dance, and does ballet, when we first met I was in the middle of finding this new style of mine. I decided to start looking into ballet and I became completely captivated by the extreme movements of the dance. Leap shows what true commitment looks like. It also is symbolic of my own life as an artist. Leap was made the same time I was taking a leap of faith by leaving teaching to become an artist. Connect III is easily the largest painting I’ve ever made. It’s 4 feet by 5 feet. I love painting big, it feels like the figures are almost life size. Connect III just makes me feel love and beauty. I don’t know if anyone else feels that way when they look at it, but to me I just get great vibes when I stare at that painting.

Mistah Wilson: What are some current and upcoming events you have in the works?
Jacoby Hinton: In February I’m working on a solo exhibition in Hoquiam, Washington. I’ll have 40 pieces and the gallery all to myself, I’m really excited about it. And March 9th I’ll be showcasing some smaller works at a group show in San Francisco called Pancakes and Booze. I love Pancakes and Booze, it’s a bunch of local artist eating free pancakes and drinking beer. I don’t know how else to sell it haha.

Mistah Wilson: Where do you draw inspiration from when brainstorming new concepts and creating new pieces?
Jacoby Hinton: Well the fun thing about focusing your art career on the human figure is that you’re constantly surrounded by humans. I draw inspiration from everyone around me. Sometimes it could be as simple as watching MMA and deciding that the combo I just saw was so slick I need to draw it. Sometimes a pose just forms in my mind without knowing why. And sometimes, I just draw without a goal and see what happens. Inspiration comes and goes like the wind, so as an artist it’s important to work even when you’re not inspired.

Mistah Wilson: Where can people find and follow your work online?
Jacoby Hinton: My biggest platform is Instagram. You can follow me @blue_party_hat. And then I also have my website which I update monthly, it’s www.jacobyhintonart.com

Mistah Wilson: Jacoby Hinton, we really appreciate an artist of your stature coming thru for this exclusive interview with ThaWilsonBlock Magazine. We look forward to following and admiring your future work. If you have any shout outs you'd like to drop, let's hear it...
Jacoby Hinton: Thank you again, It was an honor to be interviewed. I’d like to shout out my biggest fans, Jack and Alex, and my biggest supporter, my girlfriend, Alex. Thanks you all for constantly believing in me, even when the odds seemed completely against me.

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