Interview with Jake Kobrin on Symbolism in Art, Dharma and More.

Interview with Jake Kobrin on Symbolism in Art, Dharma and More.
Source - Jake Kobrin

We explore the art and inspiration of Jake Kobrin, who blends strangeness and beauty through symbolism and abstraction. We'll discuss his influences, including renowned visionaries like Alex Grey and HR Giger, and how Buddhist teachings shape his work. Jake shares his journey, from early aspirations to his current practice in both traditional and digital mediums. We'll also look at the unique qualities that set his art apart and what collectors should look for in his pieces.

I think it would be great to learn more about your art form, style, and inspiration.

My inspirations are numerous, but I focus on artwork that conveys both strangeness and beauty. Essentially, I create what I like and what I don’t already see in the world, filling the space for something new. My artwork blends symbolism and abstraction, and I am especially fascinated by visionary art, which relates to the mystical experience and how to convey that abstract sense in my work. Much of my art is largely improvised and emotional, and I believe that an artwork does not need to be fully understood by the rational mind. Honestly, I don't always understand all of my artwork, and it would be boring if I did. Sometimes my work is born from a clear vision, while other times it is a dance and exploration where I discover the image as it takes shape.

Source - Jake Kobrin

Primary influences include Alex Grey, HR Giger, Ernst Fuchs, Android Jones, The Furtherrr Collective, as well as many musical and literary influences. I like to believe that every new idea or experience I encounter finds its way into my artwork in some capacity. In addition to painting, I am also a tattoo artist, a writer, and, more casually, a musician and DJ.

I am currently 31 years old. An insight that gives me hope and optimism as an artist is realizing that many of my favorite artists—whether writers, painters, or film directors—didn't create their best work until they were about 15 years older than I am now, around the age of 45. While musicians often create their greatest work at a younger age, I recognize that the development of art is closely tied to our personal growth and the experiences we accumulate. These experiences need time to mature, and it is through this maturation that great work often emerges.

How did you come into the art world?

I've always been drawing and painting, and I chose it as a life and career path from an early age. I always knew I wanted to be an artist. I began focusing on learning art around the age of 14, greatly influenced by my contact with an artist community called ConceptArt.Org. At that time, I aspired to be a concept artist for the film or video game industry or an illustrator for books or album covers.

I attended many workshops and training, eventually enrolling in art school in San Francisco to study fine art and illustration. I further trained at several private institutions in San Francisco, Vienna, Austria, and Florence, Italy. Meeting my inspiration, Alex Grey, and attending the Burning Man art festival had a significant impact on my artistic development and life path. Exploring psychedelics at an early stage of my creative journey also played a crucial role.

These experiences led me to the global visionary art movement, allowing me to showcase my art at events worldwide, including in Costa Rica, Portugal, Hungary, and Australia. While I continue to travel and share my artwork globally, my primary home is in Ubud, Bali. I was born and raised near San Francisco, California.

Do you work on digital art as well as paintings?

Yes, I also work digitally, primarily using Procreate on the iPad. Additionally, I have extensive experience with a Wacom Tablet and programs such as Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter. I've always been interested in the intersection of technology and art, exploring AI (especially Stable Diffusion), virtual and augmented reality, 3D modeling and animation, and NFTs. I often use digital tools to help conceptualize and design the artworks that I later create with traditional media.

The Red Pill - Jake Kobrin

Curious to ask how you view Dharma and how it impacts your work?

Source - Jake Kobrin

The teachings of the Dharma, as found in schools of Buddhism, particularly Theravada Buddhism, have greatly impacted my life. I was introduced to Buddhist teachings through my father, a psychologist who incorporates Buddhist principles and mindfulness into his therapy sessions. While I don't adhere strictly to any single religious faith, I respect and value all religions, believing they often speak to a shared essential truth.

Dharma focuses on addressing the problem of human suffering, recognizing that everyone experiences dissatisfaction or pain to some degree, and it offers ways to train our minds to suffer less. Implementing these teachings has profoundly improved my well-being. This influence extends to my artwork; in fact, my current painting features The Buddha, inspired by my experiences in Vipassana meditation retreats.

Through my artwork, I strive to convey the feelings of peace, spaciousness, freedom, and connectedness that I have experienced in deep meditation. My goal is to positively impact the consciousness of my audience by transmitting these experiences through my art.

What would you classify the genre of your art to be? Is the digital different from the traditional?

I’d classify my art as visionary art, with elements of fantastic realism, abstract, psychedelic, and esoteric art. It's a tapestry of eclectic and spiritual influences, deeply rooted in my fascination with esotericism and spirituality. While I work across multiple mediums, each piece integrates traditional and modern spiritual symbols into a contemporary aesthetic. My traditional art is known for its meticulous detail and spiritual connections. In its digital form, my art parallels my traditional work but embraces a more experimental approach through the use of new technologies. This experimentation allows for a unique manipulation of color and form, distinguishing my digital creations from my traditional ones.

Are there artists you feel aligned with or draw inspiration from? Or are you a lone wolf in this genre?

My artistic inspirations are diverse, spanning historical figures like Austin Osman Spare and William Blake to contemporary artists like Alex Grey, all known for weaving spiritual or magical themes into their work. While I draw inspiration from these and other artists, I integrate these influences into my art in a uniquely personal way. Although I engage in a broader dialogue that bridges past and contemporary influences, my approach is distinctly my own. I am actively involved with the contemporary visionary arts community, which enriches and informs my work.

Source - Jake Kobrin

What should collectors look for in artworks when looking to collect in this category and in particular your art? What is different/unique about your art compared to what is out there?

Collectors should seek out the rich symbolism and the spiritual essence embedded in my art. My works are crafted with an intense focus on detail and an integration of metaphysical themes, offering a blend of personal and collective mythology. What distinguishes my art is its capacity not only to depict but to evoke the spiritual and esoteric, transforming mere visual beauty into an experiential journey. The stories and personalization in my art make it especially engaging, reflecting a synthesis of my diverse experiences and a universal quest for deeper understanding. Collecting my art and others of the visionary art genre is like acquiring a gateway or portal into spiritual insights and transformative experiences.

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