Interview with Elliot Jackson
Elliot Jackson is a Los Angeles sculptor whose intriguing pieces are hard not to notice. Jackson has experience working as an arts fabricator for contemporary giants such as Jeff Koons and Alice Avycock. Jackson’s own practice consists largely of melting figures and figurative elements with representations of material goods into a melded pile of thought-provoking study of humanity. I was fortunate enough to have a chat with Mr. Jackson. His answers to my questions add depth to an already profound body of work.
Tell me a little bit about your background. What made you want to be an artist?
I’m from the Midwest and I started sculpting at a young age. I enjoyed working with clay early on and seemed to have some facility with it so it was always part of what I did. Coming from a practical background, it took a while before I felt comfortable saying, “I want to be an artist.”
How would you describe your path to success?
I have a lot of goals that I am working towards and it is a long-term process. I have been making sculpture for a long time and along the way I have tried my hand at a lot of different fields that are tangentially related to sculpture. 3d modeling for video games. Objects Conservation at an art conservation firm. Sculptor’s assistant. Arts Fabricator. Plus of course getting an art degree always helps, theoretically. That is the path I have plotted to success. I’ll let you know if it works.
What can you tell me (if anything) about working with (/for) Jeff Koons? Did you take away anything from that experience in regards to your own artmaking?
Working on Jeff Koons’ pieces was an eye-opening experience. It was great to be involved in making serious works of that caliber. Plus in the same facility there were works by Paul McCarthy, Mike Kelley, Charles Ray and even some Isamu Noguchi reissues. The level of precision and demanding nature of the work was really edifying and very useful in developing the technical chops to be a sculptor.
Tell me about your process.
I read this recently about writing. “Writing has no rules, save to make your story the best you can make it.”
That seems to make sense to me. There are many different sculptors making great works using vastly different philosophies and processes so it seems that there is no one correct process.
For me it can vary widely from piece to piece. Sometimes a piece might have to fit a commission, or a space, but sometimes it might just be something you see finished in your head and then you just have to execute it, or sometimes you just go into your studio and start putting things together and let a piece develop, stream-of-consciousness style.
It was really my only option. I'm not much of an illustrator. When I was a kid I picked up some clay and made a person. It was something that seemed to come sort of easily to me.
Where did your Illuminated series come from?
A bit of planning and a bit of serendipity. I ordered some supplies, and mistakenly got a batch of translucent resin. I started playing with it and realized it had a lot of potential. You can get cast glass-type effects in an easy to work with resin. Plus it is cheaper. A great material.
I had been working with grouping iconic elements together and I applied the translucent resin to it and it seemed to work well.
What are you trying to accomplish with your work?
I am trying to make work that is worth being made. I’m trying not to waste my time or the viewer’s time.
What’s your favorite piece you’ve done? What’s your favorite piece someone else has done?
The favorite piece that I have done is probably my illuminated gun series. It is a simple idea but it stays effective even after multiple viewings.
My favorite piece that someone else has done?? That is a tough question… It really fluctuates day by day. I am enjoying Brian Goggin. I recently got back into Lynn Chadwick. He is so solid and great. Some of his works are just perfect.
What do you want viewers to take away from your work?
Some people say the viewer shouldn’t be a consideration. I’m not sure if that is true but it does seem helpful when making work.
What’s are you working on now? What’s next?
I am working on a couple new illuminated pieces that I am really excited about. I also am taking my work bigger so that is always a challenge.
What itinerary would you suggest for a person who has one day to spend in Los Angeles?
Well that would really depend on the person, but since this is for an art site I would assume that the person would enjoy the arts. In that case I would recommend starting off easy and heading downtown and hitting up one of the MOCA branches down there. Entrance to one gets you entrance into the other one nearby so after the first you could walk down to Little Tokyo and get some great Japanese comfort food at Kouraku, then pop over to the other MOCA branch, then walk over to Pie Hole and get some insane pie. Stop in at 82LA, a bar arcade and have a drink, then if you have energy you could take the light rail over to Culver City and hit up the gallery area there. There are a ton of galleries in a few blocks and there are always some worthwhile works to see.