When trying to introduce the Cape Town-born and based artist Jade Klara to you, I find myself thinking back to a lyric that has been highly significant in my own life, perhaps yours too. I’m guilty for using it before in a past article, but this time it resonates much stronger. It’s from Goldfrapp’s ‘Fly Me Away’:
This crazy life, this crazy world
We’re living in is magical
Years might pass by, but I refuse to let life follow suit. This doesn’t always require going on extravagant trips abroad, or overpriced This’ and Thats’… Recently it’s been a change of scenery. Different faces and new ideas. Consistency in old dreams. Music, always. Hope, again. Jade’s characters remind me of this voyage we’re all on, a journey that can be dark, but is always magical… And is sometimes best enjoyed alone.
You have said before that ‘magic can happen’ – what do you identify as something magical and when did you last experience something of this nature?
I think magic is a concept that’s transcends the ordinary, it’s something that changes or moves you, in a weird way.
The most recent magical experience happened about a month ago when I was fast asleep and I woke to something patting my feet. It was still dark but I could make out a dark shape sitting on the end of my bed. Then the shape meowed. I switched on the light and there was a fat black cat. Not so much magic, more of nocturnal house breaking. He bit me and left.
In connection to my next question, please first consider these two quotes:
“Never fall in love with an idea. They’re whores. If the one you’re with isn’t doing the job, there’s always, always, always another.”
— Chip Kidd
“A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on”
— John F. Kennedy
Is a creative idea different to political ideas or is an ‘idea’ in essence the same in its definition
An idea is an idea regardless of context. An idea is recognizing a spark of intuition as something important and as something with purpose. That said, I feel a little sorry for Chip Kidd’s ideas, I’m sure they have little idea-families to support.
Before studying graphic design you studied literature. What triggered this change and do words/language still play an important role in your work – as inspiration and/or a significant part of the final piece?
I love stories, and both art and literature are stories. They create worlds where there is magic and beauty and pain, a space where you can explore yourself through analogies and metaphors. I love how books can transform how you think and how you understand life. It’s the transformative power that I love about literature and is what I have found doing what I do now. When I need inspiration I have pages and pages of verses and quotes and exerts and words that inspire me.
You have previously commented that ‘you have an affection for ugly creatures’. When I look at your characters in your work – especially in Black Winter Collection and Poem Songs – I get a sense of wanderlust and strength in their solitude from the human realm. It makes me questions my own ideas of what I find is beautiful and what is ugly… Can the one even exist without the other? What are your thoughts on this?
I do, I love little beings that look a bit wrong. Beauty can be a bit boring and so I naturally route for the aesthetic underdog. I love ugly dogs.
The concepts of beauty and ugliness exist as poles to one another with the walrus in the center, sitting there like a great equalizer.
Do you have a soft spot for one of your characters?
Batty. I love that guy. When I wrote his story I fell in love with him, I picture him singing sea shanties and exploring the world with his goofy face.
Have you ever met one of your characters in your dreams? Who would you like to meet and what would you ask him/her?
I wish I could say I have. Perhaps I should seek out a desert shaman and learn the art of lucid dreaming. If this works I would like to meet the girl I draw, and give her a hug. She looks like she needs one.
From illustration to painting to design and also sculpture – you work in a range of mediums; is there a connection/similar theme albeit the technique being different?
I like to explore different mediums, it doesn’t always work out *sculpture, cough cough, but it’s important to stretch your legs and see what an idea looks like using different techniques. Learning is growing, and growing is fun, unless your pants stop fitting. I think even though the medium may colour the idea, the ideas I work from are always connected.
What have you learned from experience that didn’t learn whilst studying?
Technique comes from practice and that’s not something one learns, it is a discipline that you gain by working at it everyday. I loved studying, it’s a time where you’re blank and excited to fill your space with newly discovered things and I think it’s something we should carry through.
There is a particular bond between animals and humans present in your work. Is this companionship a reflection on a broader discourse of the relationship between man and nature, and that we are losing respect as we become ever-more immersed in a life of consumption and ‘easy access’.
Yes, of course. We place so many things between us and the world that it becomes difficult to have meaningful connections. I love a narrative of simple, innocent companionship. It’s a quiet moment of connection. It’s nice to feel we are still a part of this world.
Albert Einstein quoted that ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge.’ What are your thoughts on this?
I think imagination is something that grows, and feeds as an outward force, whereas knowledge is more myopic, if that makes sense? If one is looking to know more about something, that something is dissected until it is understood, whereas imagination seems to be more limitless. That said, both are important, one needs imagination to dream of space travel and knowledge to build a ship.
Your work seems to reflect an imagination that is at times fierce and wild and other times dreamy and playful. What have you been imagining lately?
To be honest I’m at a stage where I’m trying to be practical. I am imagining a life where I go back in time and choose to study law or actuarial science. Of course in these imaginings, I am a tiger, with reading glasses and an aptitude for arithmetic.
Any words to leave us dreaming about?
This comes from the book Norwegian Wood, if I am remembering right, a girl and a boy are sitting on a rooftop in Japan, and she asked him “How much do you love me?” and he says:
Enough to melt all the tigers in the world to butter.
Credits (in order of appearance):
Featured Image: ‘Girl and Whale’, Art Prints; 2010
Image 1: ‘Jade Klara, Portrait’; MB Life Editorial, 2014
Image 2: Poster, The Incredibly Slow Haunting of Ghost Sloth; 2013
Image 3: The Incredibly Slow Haunting of Ghost Sloth; 2013
Image 4: ‘Black Ghost’, The Black Winter Collection; 2010
Image 5: ‘The Wooing & Booing of Cassandra’, Poem Series (part of The Witching Hour); 2013
Image 6: ‘Black Snow’, The Black Winter Collection; 2010
Image 7: ‘Tiger & Lily’, Poem Series (part of The Witching Hour); 2013
Image 8: ‘Black Woods’, The Black Winter Collection; 2010
Image 9: ‘Zombie Dog’, Poem Series (part of The Witching Hour); 2013
Image 10: ‘Bat’, Screen Print, A2; 2012
Image 11: ‘Fly Panda Fly’, Art Prints; 2010
Image 12: ‘Aurora Marauder’, Art Prints; 2010
Image 13: ‘Lilith Blob’, Art Prints; 2010
Image 14: ‘Coral Girl’, Silk Screen, The Witching Hour; 2013
Image 15: Exhibition Image, The Witching Hour; 2013
Image 16: ‘Bind’, Print on Hahnemule, The Witching Hour; 2013
Image 17: ‘Duck Pigeon’, The Shining Girls; 2013
Image 18: ‘Dream Machines’, MB Life Editorial; 2014