Interview with JONO DOIRON
A Maritimer now based in Montreal, Jono Doiron straddles the divide between pop entertainment — the techniques, aesthetics and imagery of cartoons — and fine art with a further reach. When not hunkered down in his studio, however, Doiron finds the time to participate in and even engineer public art events — group shows and so much more. He articulates a number of valuable insights for us right here:
Where are you from and where are you now?
I’m from Halifax, Nova Scotia. In July 2012, I moved to Montreal, where I now live.
What do you do? How do you describe your art practice?
I am a painter and illustrator. I bring narrative cartoon imagery into fine art. The works I create have a surface interest with deeper meanings and strive to be entertaining. My preferred medium is acrylic paint.
When did your practice as an artist begin?
Like most artists, I started drawing at a young age. When I was 8, I started drawing my own comic strips with my own characters. I would staple the pages together and turn them into a book. I believe that is when I decided I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. I admit, I did not take my practice seriously enough till I went to College to study art, though. That is when I discovered just how much effort is needed to turn it into a career.
Why do you feel compelled to create art?
I don’t really feel like I’m on this planet for any other purpose. In all honesty though, I think there’s a lot of boring poorly developed art in the world that’s too often accepted as professionalism. That’s a very bold, opinioned statement to make and I’m not proud of the fact I feel that way. Rather than me just making that complaint and not doing anything about it, I’m submitting my best efforts to combat the amount produced. After all, the only art I have direct influence in is the creation of is my own. As my college professor said, “art is all opinions”. I can’t change people’s tastes, but I can at least make them aware of other options.
What is your proudest accomplishment as an artist?
My proudest accomplishment has still been the selling of my work to very satisfied collectors. I am always gracious to receive compliments for what I do, and when I meet someone who admires what I do to the extent that they’re willing to financially support it and proudly display it in their home or office, it never ceases to honour me. I say that not because it put money in my hand, but because someone would be so enamoured by something I created, they would feel compelled to own it. There’s nothing I could ever sell that’s more personal to me. I’m also proud that I’ve been able to relay my enthusiasm for taking an interest in art to others who otherwise might not have.
What improvement, alteration or innovation would you most like to see in the arts?
Art history should be studied among all those wishing to advance in the arts and host it as a career. But the majority of media focus should not dwell on artists who are long since dead and no longer need the financial support or promotion. There is art being made today of equal quality that deserves the same invested attention. Art history happens every day — it didn’t stop at the last chapter of your textbook. Yes, there ARE many people in the art world putting forth serious efforts to promote the talent living among us today and I’m exceedingly grateful for their efforts. I only hope their voices (and the work being created that they are informing us of) continue to escalate and influence those who are still intimidated for whatever reason to walk into a gallery or museum. So to summarize, the change I would like to see is for people to extend their curiosity with contemporary art shows with the same enthusiasm as concerts and movie premieres. I want art shows to be seen as entertainment — not exclusive social events. Go to an art show by an artist who is still alive — you may not get another chance to meet them in person.
Where do you feel the value lies in artistic collaboration?
Artists have so much to learn from each other. The most skilled ones I’ve met are the ones who seek or are open to receiving constructive criticism. I see collaborations as an environment that promotes that. You can learn so much just by watching other artists work too. When you work alongside others, you can also complete things that are too ambitious to take on yourself. Which is very much aligned with En Masse’s mission.
What is next for you?
Aside from continuing to grow my business, I am mostly spending this year to become a stronger artist. I do have one event I know for certain, though, coming up in April: I’m participating in a large multi-artist entertainment event called SPECTRUM, put on by RAW on April 26 at the Théâtre Rialto. Anyone wishing to attend can buy tickets here
Check out the paintings, comics and customized objects (dig the tattooed trolls!) at Jono’s website.