I owe a great deal to my college for introducing me to some pretty talented and dope people. I literally scroll down my Facebook or Instagram timeline in awe of the amazing things the people I used to go to classes with and party with afterwards are doing with their lives. Which brings me to Chicago-based visual artist J.A.Medcalf AKA the self-claimed artrepreneur.
While recently visiting Chicago I had a chance to sit down with J.A.Medcalf & pick his brain about his passion for painting and making his way to be known globally.
KY: FIRST THINGS FIRST, HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN PAINTING FOR?
J.A.MEDCALF: About a year and eight months. I started taking it seriously back in January 2016. Prior to that, I had dabbled in as a one off just to decorate my apartment in college. Since January 2016 , I’ve created 50+ pieces and sold more than half.
KY: WHO INSPIRES YOU IN THE ART/CREATIVE SPACE?
J.A.MEDCALF: Hebru Brantley. When I first moved to Chicago I had a chance to check out one of his shows and was really inspired. He’s like a Chicago legend. Outside of him, I get inspiration from the various murals scattered throughout Chicago.
KY: SPEAKING OF CREATIVE SPACE, WHAT DOES YOU SPACE LOOK LIKE?
J.A.MEDCALF: My environment is currently a corner in my living room which I’ve outgrown. I feel really confined in that space because there’s so much I want to do that I can’t. So ideally, my creative space is a very open space, a little messy. I really want to get a space that would allow me to get into woodwork with power tools and spray painting. I’m definitely interested in purchasing commercial space down the line.
KY: WHAT DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO FEEL WHEN THEY LOOK AT YOUR ARTWORK?
J.A.MEDCALF: I want their experience to be moving and emotional. A lot of the people who have purchased my artwork are first time art buyers, so it’s a new feeling for them. They’re developing another sense of style. Although I want people to have these feelings, I’m often always wrong about how people perceive my artwork. *laughs* A lot of what I create is based on my own personal experiences & it’s always interesting when it’s interpreted completely different by someone else.
KY: WHO ARE SOME PEOPLE AND BRANDS YOU WANT TO CREATE WORK FOR?
J.A.MEDCALF: Levi’s. All of the denim jackets I create art on, I use Levi’s. I’m an avid Levi’s wearer. I LIVE by their 511 jeans. Another brand I would want to work with is Blavity. I really love the work they are putting out for millennials as a new sense of news & outlet to take in content. I also really think VICE is dope. The podcasts & the content they develop is really cool. As far as a person–Swizz Beatz for sure. The Dean Collection is really dope & I appreciate him giving artists a platform with his endorsement. I would love to be a part of that.
KY: SO… I SAW THAT SPIKE LEE COMMENTED ON ONE OF YOUR INSTAGRAM POSTS. WHAT WAS YOUR INITIAL REACTION?
J.A.MEDCALF: I laughed hysterically. After he commented I checked out his Instagram and saw he was also doing denim jackets so I immediately got why he did it. However, I don’t follow him on social media to know what he does on a regular basis. I was inspired by Do The Right Thing movie cover and actually tagged him on the photo to big him up. I wasn’t expecting the response I got. I actually waited hours to reply and only replied after sending it to all my group chats to get their input. At the end of the day he’s a creative icon so I had to figure out how to respond appropriately. That whole thing validated my personal artistic mantra that all art is a collaboration because you’re inspired by something.
KY: What’s coming up for J.A.Medcalf? Where do you see yourself a year, three years, and five years from now?
J.A.Medcalf: I’m really focused on attending Art Basel in Miami this year in December. Everything I’m working on now is to get to that point to meet dope people and be able to showcase my work. I don’t want to just attend without a purpose. I actually passed up a trip to South Africa that’s happening at the same as Art Basel this year because I want to be there so bad.
As far as a year from now, I want to execute my first solo show. It may seem like an easy thing to do but it takes a lot of time in creating pieces along with having the right partnerships and team around to execute. Three years from now? I see myself having infiltrated multiple regions outside of where I live and the midwest. I want to do stuff on the East and West Coast will even going international. Five years from now? I want to be fully running and playing by my own rules.