Jay Alders cover, interview and centerfold as published in the November 2011 “Green Issue” issue of North Florida's Void Magazine. Interview by Kayla Beckmann.
Jay Alders is perhaps best known for his mind blowing, body altering, and reality bending artwork. However, his creations just scratch the surface of who Jay really is. Other than the obvious “artist” title, after sitting down with Jay and picking his brain, I’ve learned he can best be described as the following: surfer, lover, world traveler, ambassador, veggie-lovin, ninja, anti-fist pumper, juicehead (but not the kind you’re thinking of). And really, that’s not all. Want to know more? Take a look…
Just moved from Belmar, NJ. Yes, “the Jersey Shore”, save your jokes, I'm one of the nice ones.
How’d you get into art?
I was a rather sheltered and socially awkward kid. Expressing my emotions and discovering the world through art just became “my thing”. My parents have always been very supportive regarding my interest to be an artist. Being an artist is all I know, it's how I think, it's how I see the world, it's who I am.
What kind of creations did you do as a kid?
Normal little boy stuff. You know, drawings of army guys, ninjas and skateboarding. I charged kids in kindergarten to draw tattoos on them. I sold drawings on the corner instead of doing a lemonade stand. I think it was pretty normal subject matter until I got into high school where I started to really “find myself”, whatever that means, and began to paint some pretty warped shit. I think that's around the time my parents had me drug tested and evaluated. But I came up clean. I was just weird.
How has your style progressed?
Up until my teen years, I was all about cartoons and actually did that professionally for a long time. I went through a lot of years being infatuated with becoming a realist. I was in awe of people who could capture reality using nothing but pigment. By college I discovered artists like Dali and MC Escher and became obsessed with the concept of surrealism. It's fascinating to attempt to document a dream world. Designing my own worldly paradigm became nobler to me than just drawing what I see. I use my thoughts as reference more than photos and strive to bend the laws of physics in my work. I have learned patience through oil painting which is a very slow process which has really allowed my style to take on a life of it's own. I didn't really even know I had a style until like five years ago. It's funny because every artist wants his or her own unique style, but it wasn't until I let go of chasing that it found me.
When imagination and passion make love in my thoughts they create a beautiful vision that simply has to live. That's when I know it's time to get to the easel. It's hard to deny something that powerful and it's what drives me to spend months on a painting. I feel like it's my duty to allow that vision to enter the world. From there, I do have some solid techniques I could bore you with, but it's all about focusing on ‘seeing' the painting as finished before it's completed. When I connect with the piece and truly love it, the images just create themselves.
Day in the life of Jay?
Well, considering we just moved here, I've been taking advantage of our gorgeous new surroundings. A typical day consists of about waking up to watch sunrise, hitting the gym, if there are waves, then surfing a whole lot, if not, I like to get out on my skateboard. I drink a lot of veggie and fruit juice before sitting on my computer way more than I'd like to admit dealing with business to-do's, designing, marketing and doing web updates. Painting in my studio four to eight hours while listening to something like Miles Davis or Led Zeppelin. Each day is usually topped off with some amazing vegan cooking by my lovely lady, Chelsea along with some couch time with the dog and cat watching stuff like The Daily Show, Bill Maher or Breaking Bad.
Outlook on life?
Make decisions you are proud of when possible. Don't dwell too much on the decisions that you weren't so proud of. Be good to people, animals and the environment. Constantly learn, discuss and question everything. Go through each day with as much love in your heart as you are able to.
What inspires you to create?
Those moments in life that make you stop and take notice. Those dreams you wake up from wishing it were real. Those epic ideas that you have that you're convinced no one else has had.
It's all about teamwork right? I have been fortunate enough to tour with, collaborated with or done events or projects with some really talented and awesome friends. Here's just some of them: Donavon Frankenreiter, G Love, Matt Costa, ALO, John Butler, Echo Movement, Original Skateboards, Rob Machado, Greg Knoll, Paula Fuga, Surf Aid, Surfrider Foundation, Emergen-C, SSV, The Surfer's Path, Life's Lemonade and the Slater Brothers.
I assume you're not referring to the herbal routine? Hah. I'm a passionate environmentalist and a vegan, so being ‘green' has really become a way of life. Recycling, refusing bags as check out, we distill our water, buy almost all organic and eat a lot of raw unprocessed foods. I leave the beach with more junk than I have than when I first stepped onto the sand.
Surf Aid International asked me to be an ambassador to them, which I am now honored to be. I also donate thousands of dollars worth of art and money throughout the year to benefit groups like Surfrider Foundation, PETA, ASPCA, Humane Society, Lilo's Promise, Surfer's Healing and many more. It's really important to contribute to world whether it's giving a few bucks to a charity or donating time for a beach clean up. Give from your heart and it'll always come back to you.
What made you want to relocate to Atlantic Beach?
Well, first factor was the weather. I lived in New Jersey, which is a truly great place to have grown up in, but seven months of the year is either cold, chilly or grey. I just couldn't deal with that anymore. Moving to Hawaii or SoCal would have been a dream relocation and I'd still love to get a place there, but I am just not willing to move that far from my family. So Florida it is! Not having waves wasn't an option, so it got narrowed down to the east coast.
We have a handful or so of really great friends in AB and Jax whom we've been visiting for a few years now and after spending this past winter in St. Augustine, we just felt really at home in Atlantic Beach. It's got a great surf scene here, fun social spots, plus the people here are ridiculously nice!
Goal in life?
I am so OCD with my goal setting I have it all structured alphabetized and categorized! Simple version? Happy, healthy, loved, loving, fulfilled and genuine.
Goal in art?
I have this rad juicer that I just got. It squeezes all the yumminess out of each piece of fruit leaving only pulp. I want to be that thorough with my creativity. I want to juice as much creativity from my potential as possible. I want my work shown in museums around the world, I want my art studied in textbooks, I want to author remarkable concepts and allow the universe to use my brush as a medium for greatness.
Listening to audiobooks, skateboarding, playing guitar, photography, writing, reading, learning, and traveling. I also spend a lot of time debating and discussing all those taboo topics that everyone says you should keep to yourself.
Complete these sentences…
I wish I could help those I love even more.
Sometimes I just want to….
Sometimes I just want to sing.