"You have one side of the art world that shuns you because you're an outsider invading their space"
- Jonni Cheatwood
Meet Jonni Cheatwood, a Los Angeles-based artist that finds truths in the abstract. His creations are a product of an inter-disciplinary approach that often begins at the sewing machine. The works then unfold, through soulful experimentation with composition, deconstruction, colour, shape and form. Find out more about his work in our exclusive interview below...
How did you find art? And what was it about creating that hooked you?
I took one art class in my first year in college, during this class I was thumbing through a book and came across "Male & Female" by Jackson Pollock, for whatever reason that painting gripped me like a vice. Then I dropped out of college when I was twenty-one to work full-time. I kind of hit a breaking point to where I needed to find a hobby, so I figured I'd start painting. I've always enjoyed art, but never assumed it would become a career path for me, but I became obsessive about art and after I sold my first painting for $20 to a friend, I was hooked. There's something about a sale that gets you high. The work was awful, but I haven't stopped painting since then. This was ten years ago.
How would you describe your relationship with paint? It’s a love hate relationship. I love it because of what it does and it's a beautiful thing. But hate it because I can't seem to keep anything clean. My car, tracking paint into my apartment somehow, good clothes. Nothing is safe.
What’s your usual creative process? And has it changed throughout your time making artwork? The process has definitely changed now that I do this full time. I have more time to sit around and let the process run its course. It used to be a couple dedicated hours before or after work - which is fun because there's an unspoken sense of urgency to make something happen. Now I just try to get to my studio before noon. I tidy up first, for some reason, then I sit around and survey what I made the day before. Most weeks I am building stretcher bars on Monday, sewing multiple canvases together and priming my canvas on Tuesday. I stretch my canvas onto the bars on Wednesday and then paint Wednesday to Saturday.
Biggest challenges you’ve faced in your journey as a practising artist? I didn't go to art school. So you have one side of the art world that shuns you because you're an outsider invading their space. So you have to hustle a bit harder to prove that you belong. I feel like there are never ending challenges as an artist, but I would say that is the biggest.
How do you envisage your work developing and evolving in the future? I know how to paint busy work so I can always come back to that. But I don't know how to paint minimalistic work. I've began to mess with dye and other materials that I'm not so familiar with just to see what can happen. I sewed together a big 8x6 foot canvas and only painted a small circle and a line on it. That's where I want to go.
What are your unrealised projects, your dreams? Oh I haven't asked myself this! I would really love to have a solo show in Europe. I also just hope I can have the longevity that someone like John Baldessari has. Finally, any advice or words of wisdom for the people reading this? Talent is cheap, work like a madman and be at the right place at the right time.
You can enjoy more of Jonni's work on his website: https://www.jonnicheatwood.com/