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Young Contemporaries 2024 – Artist Interview: Daniel Jacobs

Sat Mar 16, 2024

Intern extraordinaire Sydney Vitti interviews Daniel Jacobs to learn more about the artist’s creative practice and the work featured in this year’s Young Contemporaries 2024 exhibition.

Young Contemporaries is back for the 2024 year. It is one of my favorite exhibitions at the Halsey Institute. I had the honor and pleasure of interviewing this year’s winner for Best Drawing, Daniel Jacobs. Daniel is an artist whose attention to detail invites audience members to take a closer look at the history and mythology surrounding his drawings and prints. His passion for Norse Mythology and Folklore are obvious in every minute detail he hides in his work. If you have come to visit us at the Halsey, you may recognize the prize-winning piece Journey to the Hall of Wōðnaz (Óðinn). If you haven’t had the chance to see the piece, be sure to stop by the Halsey!

Sydney Vitti (SV): What was it like getting ready for Young Contemporaries? How did you decide what pieces you were going to use?

Daniel Jacobs (DJ): Well…I wanted to make something really big. I had done something big for my senior thesis, so I wanted to try something big again. Journey to the Hall of Odin took around two months, and the prints took about two weeks. I was nervous about doing Young Contemporaries again, but at the same time I was excited because I got to work on more art. Being able to work on bigger pieces makes me more excited because I can include a lot more in the piece.

SV: What did you enjoy most about hiding things in your piece Journey to the Hall of Wōðnaz (Óðinn)?

DJ: I like people to search for things in the pieces. It keeps people coming back and looking. I like to educate people about the artifacts that I hide in my pieces. A lot of the things I hide are historical finds that have happened recently, or that I have researched.

SV: How long do your pieces usually take?

DJ: Smaller pieces like 16 x 24 inches take around two weeks. Medium pieces that are 24 x 30 inches are usually four weeks. Large pieces like 40 x 60 inches usually take around two months.

SV: What drew you to Norse Mythology?

DJ: I grew up in the woods with my grandparents. There was a split in my family, and we ended up moving. I kind of lost the place I called home for a long time. I ended up listening to Norse music from the band Wardruna and I also played some games like Skyrim. It reminded me of the place I grew up. I kept up with the Norse theme in my art because it helps me keep my memories alive and is a way I can give respect to the forest that was once my home.

SV: How has your medium changed over time? What drew you to pen and printmaking?

DJ: I started doing graphite a long time ago, and I also started doing some digital stuff as well. Then I tried other mediums before deciding on pen and printmaking. I like doing black and white pieces the most. but I enjoy color sometimes. I feel like I can get form down better in black and white.

SV: If you could go back and redo one piece which piece would it be and why?

DJ: I’d like to redo Frenzy Before the Fire, Odin’s Dancers. It’s a print, but I would like to do it in pen and ink next time.

SV: What’s one myth you’ve been wanting to draw but haven’t drawn yet?

DJ: I’d like to draw something with Bragi’s Lyre. I have also thought about doing some drawings based on Greek mythology.

SV: Is there a piece that doesn’t get a lot of attention but is important to you or you think should get more attention?

DJ: An Ancient World Beyond the Ash Tree (April 28, 2023). It was probably right before I started doing the bigger pieces. I’d like it if some of the smaller pieces I’ve done got more recognition.

SV: What are you hoping for in the future of your art or a career in the arts?

DJ: I want to get my art out there more. Grow my social media presence, apply for festivals like Spoleto here in Charleston or maybe even some international ones. I was hoping at some point to go into game design like concept art and illustration. But I’d like to continue to draw what I love and maybe illustrate some books.

SV: What inspires you the most out of Norse mythology and folklore?

DJ: I like the story of Ragnarok because I find it interesting to think that…well life is a journey and journeys come to an end. Everything’s going to change at some point. It’s all about the journey, and my art is a part of my journey.

SV: How do you decide what’s going in your piece?

DJ: A lot of the things I put in there aren’t always planned out. As the pieces come together I decide what to put in the piece. I like them all to be connected and put in a lot of research. But the piece isn’t always fully planned out.

SV: What are you most proud of when it comes to your art?

DJ: I feel like being able to create something that people can get lost in and almost have a portal into a different world makes me the most proud. It represents some ancestry that I have, and I love sharing that with other people.

SV: Finally, everyone wants to know…exactly how many pens do you go through when doing your pieces?

DJ: For big drawings, I buy three packs of three pens each of just black. Then for the white pens I use different thicknesses, usually size ten for the brightest areas, but they can go all the way down to five or eight. For the black pens I mostly use sizes five and ten but switch between pens based on the ink, as the drier ones are used for lighter areas or when drawing details on people.

Free For All
GALLERY HOURS (during exhibitions)
Monday - Saturday, 11am – 4pm
Open Thursdays until 7pm

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