Jason Naylor is an award-winning artist, designer, and director, who believes that kindness is the key to success. His signature style is an vibrant blend of color and positivity, brightening everything from digital screens to city walls. We chatted with Jason about how he develops his artwork, and some of his tips for aspiring artists.
Hi Jason! Where are you from?
I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, and now am based in New York City, where I have been for 15 years.
How long have you been painting?
I have been painting all my life, but I've only focused on painting full-time in the past few years.
How would you describe your style of work?
My work is colorful, upbeat, typographic, and electric. It relies on positive messaging and bright colors juxtaposed with rich blacks.
What would you say is your strongest skill as an artist?
I am very confident with color, which is something I’ve studied and practiced. I also feel confident about my ability to step back and understand the big picture, and refrain from getting caught up on tiny irrelevant details.
Do you have any tips to offer to aspiring artists?
My advice to aspiring artists: Create. Make. Build. Sketch. Draw. Paint. Break. Destroy. Start over. Do it all again… over and over and over. The more you do, the more you’ll learn who you are, what you are good at, and what you want to do. So do more. Keep doing. Don’t stop.
When your inspiration is running low, how do you refuel?
Walk away. Do something else. Exercise. DO NOT look at Instagram or Pinterest.
Are there any skills that are required for, or unique to your line of work? Yes, I use spray paint to do my murals, which is a skill that takes some practice.
Can you tell us a little about how your artworks evolve?
My work begins with an idea, phrase, or word, often created while walking or exercising or doing something unrelated to art. I begin sketching, and sometimes designing typography – words, etc. – in Adobe Illustrator® or Adobe InDesign®, and then importing into Procreate. I do all of my sketching in Procreate.
Next, I add color, and plan out gradients and colors in Procreate as well. I have brushes I’ve developed that mimic the look of spray paint so I can plan how the finished piece will look. Colors often change when going from digital sketch to large scale, and I add a lot more detail as well. The change in scale often calls for more color and detail.
Do you usually start a project with something specific in mind, or are you more likely to discover the artwork along the way?
I often have a general plan of the the idea, especially if its a typographic message, since I have that when I begin. The design and colors come in the process of the creation.
Do you need something happening in the background while you paint, like music? Or do you prefer to work without distraction?
Yes. I like to have the TV on, or music, but preferably TV. And I often watch the TV show Criminal Minds while sketching.
What projects are you working on right now?
Currently I am working with a real estate developer on a series of 15 murals in a luxury condo building in Brooklyn. It's a huge project, but very exciting!
I am also creating illustrations for a campaign for a coconut water brand, which will launch soon. Plus, I have a collaboration with COACH, and have bags and t-shirts with my artwork on them which just launched, and I am very proud of that too!
How has your art style changed over time?
The biggest thing that has evolved over time is the amount of color I use, and I think as I have become more and more confident with it, I use it even more.
How does the environment around you influence the work you create?
I happen to live in a neighborhood in Brooklyn that is splattered with street art, which is ever-changing, and evolving. So even just walking down the street I see new pieces of artwork. I actually try not to let them influence me, but I’m sure they do.
Are there any overarching themes or messages you try to work into your art?
Yes. My work regularly contains messages of kindness, love, positivity, and color. I believe that kindness is the key to success, and I like to work that into my pieces, either through word or design. Bright colors represent bright messages, bright feelings, and a bright future.
How has Procreate changed or affected the way you work as an artist?
Before Procreate, a significant amount of my time was spent penciling, erasing, redrawing, inking, and then scanning, just to get to a place where I could begin coloring on the computer, which I did with a Wacom® tablet and Adobe Photoshop®.
Procreate completely wiped out that tedious process, enabling me to sketch quickly and go straight to color at the same time. Procreate literally did a 180º on the efficiency of my workflow.
Do you have a favourite brush to use?
Yes, the brushes I use are all custom ones I’ve developed for myself. They mimic the look of spray paint. I also like the calligraphy brushes.
What are some of the benefits you've found about working in Procreate, and on iOS in general?
Procreate enables me to quickly create and edit sketches for clients and turn around revisions on the fly, which is great for me because the quicker I can work, the more money I can make.
I love being able to take files and layers back and forth between Adobe Photoshop® and Procreate too. It makes my client presentation process so easy. Working on iPad with Procreate even enables me to connect to my projector and edit a sketch while its projected on a wall I am about to paint. It helps the sketch fit the wall better and adapt to things on the wall like uneven parts or pipes. The ease of being able to edit my work quickly and easily, and anywhere… well, that has changed my entire career.
Are there any features you’d be super excited to see implemented in future?
I’d love to have a mixer brush!