I was taking a nice evening walk through Washington Square Park when I stumbled upon this incredible pop art pieces, and an artist sitting next to them: Jack Flo. We did the whole ‘hi, this is awesome how long have you been making art’ thing, and I found his story so interesting that I had to feature him on the site. So, without further ado, please meet the man, the myth, Jack Flo.
KristynPotter: Nice to formally have a chat with you on your art, as your story seems very unique. I read on your website that you began as an artist just about a year ago, in the summer of 2018, what made you decide to break into the art world?
Jack Flo: So in the summer of 2018, I opened my first solo show at Dear Mama, a coffee shop/gallery in East Harlem but I’ve been an artist for a little bit longer than that. I actually like to think that I’ve always been an artist, drawing, coloring, and painting every since I was a child. I’ve always been a creative person expressing myself visually. But it was really around 2017 when I decided to start painting again and began to pursue a career as an artist.
How was the reception from other artists, gallery owners etc in New York City as a newcomer?
The reception was really great. The first gallery show I participated in was a group show at One Art Space in Tribeca. The turnout was incredible, there were hundreds of people with a line wrapping all the way around the corner. At first, I was a little nervous but then realized that there was nothing to be nervous about, it was all about love in there.
Before you became an artist, what were you doing?
Before I began pursuing my career as an artist I was working as a product designer. More specifically I was a digital product designer or “UI/UX” designer for a couple of startups as well as some larger corporate companies and agencies.
Your first solo show happened around the same time you became an artist, isn’t that a little unusual, albeit impressive?
Yea I think it did happen quite quickly but like I mentioned earlier, I really do look at myself as always being an artist. Everything I’ve ever drawn, painted, sculpted, etc. all added up to the moment I realized that I wanted to build a career out of this. So while it may have seemed to only be a year or two in, I still view it as a lifetime of work that made that show possible.
What kind of hip hop inspires you? Are we talking like Biggie and Wu-Tang, or some of the more contemporary artists?
I pull inspiration from almost every era of hip hop. As you can probably tell from the portraits I’ve done of Jay-Z, Lauryn Hill, and Biggie that all three of them are huge inspirations to me. When I’m in my studio I have music playing 100% of the time and I would say 85-90% of the time it’s hip hop. I listen to a lot of contemporary artists as well, mostly Kendrick Lamar, Travis Scott, and J. Cole among many others. In the same way that I think it’s important to stay current and up-to-date with artists in your medium, I think it’s important to stay current with your sources of inspiration. I think that a lot of what makes good art so good is its connection to the moment in time that it was created.
Did you study art at school slash did you have a penchant for making art at a younger age?
No, I didn’t study art or attend any art school. I’m a completely self-taught artist that has only learned through trial and error … this all started back when I was just a kid, drawing and coloring on everything.
Any current artists that you admire?
So some current artists that I admire are Dain, John Paul Fauves, Reginald Sylvester II, and Kehinde Wiley.
If you could show anywhere in the world, where would it be?
If I could have a show anywhere in the world it would probably be in Paris. There’s so much art history surrounding that city and it would be great to be a part of that. But at this moment, I think I would still just like to continue my growth here in NYC. I have my eyes set on a few galleries for my next solo show and then we’ll take it from there.
As you’re still fairly new as an artist, do you feel like you’ve made it or that you still have some “growing to do”? What does success mean for you as far as your art is concerned?
Yea I’ve barely just begun to scratch the surface, I have a lot of growing to do. When I think about success, I think about a couple of different stages. Of course, I want to be able to survive based purely off my artwork but I also want my art to be sought after, collected, and revered long after I am gone.
Who was your first buyer?
My first buyer was a huge deal. I was found on Instagram by a young man who wanted to start an online gallery. This young man also has a father who has an art collection, unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Long story short, he purchased a painting from me titled “JUMPMAN”, which is a portrait of Michael Jordan. I shipped that painting down to Miami where it is currently hanging in his home alongside works by Mr. Brainwash and Robert Indiana.
Finally, what is your all-time favourite painting?