Exclusive Interview With Jason Mowry, 2nd Prize Winner of the RAYMAR Traditional Art Award, 2023 Beautiful Bizarre Art Prize
It’s not hard to feel a sense of nostalgia while looking at Jason Mowry’s paintings and illustrations. They are unequivocally Jason’s works, marked with his slender characters and enchanting creatures wrapped in gentle yet rich colour palettes. His sweeping lines and mid-action poses bring dynamic movement to these two-dimensional works, creating the sense that we as the viewer are witnessing only this fleeting moment in time, a glimpse into a much larger story.
Yet amidst all of this, nostalgia still exists. Jason Mowry gracefully taps into the golden age of fairy tale illustration, gently nurturing a contemporary revival to captivate entire new generations through his visual art. I interviewed Jason to learn more about the influences and drive behind his creativity; read ahead to discover more about Jason and his upcoming projects.
Interview with Jason Mowry
Nature is obviously a heavily influential muse within your works. Often people speak as if humans are separate from nature, and although certain societies have caused a disconnection, do you think this link is something only to be found in fantasy or is it something still inherently there?
Nature is how I get clean in the age of information. That realization has undoubtedly influenced the art I make and countless others. The art has a symbolic connection that hopefully speaks to a deeper narrative about our natural world.
Your artworks also beautifully echo the illustrations found in (what I see as) the Golden Age of children’s books – the kinds which share deeper, often darker, fables than those regularly created for modern day children. Can you share more about your connection to this style of art?
The golden age of illustration has always been a rich source of inspiration. Artur Rackham, Sidney Sime, and Edmund Dulac all took their turns depicting the great stories. I hope, in time, to walk into some of those same texts to seed new inspiration.
I read an early edition of Grimm fairy tales, which referenced the stories as “natural poetry” (Naturpoesie) of the German people. The idea that these rather strange, dark stories had so much significance to a people is fascinating and terrifying. There’s something there I connect with some old archetype knocking on the cellar door.
I hope one day I’m wise enough to understand fairy tales again.Jason Mowry
Your winning artwork, “Abominable Companion”, came to fruition as part of a series of creations focusing on an emerging symbolic garden which is an ever-evolving habitat in your mind. How long has this garden been slowly growing?
The Garden has been growing conceptually for a few years now. I did a series of works more or less set in gardens and inspired by gardens. Like airborne strains of seeds, they found their way into several global galleries. I loved the idea of this garden spread across a network of hosts. I don’t know if the Garden is finished with me; I have many sketches to harvest.
Has this visionary Garden helped to focus your ability to generate new ideas?
A synchronicity of events and readings inspired the garden. Inspired by time spent in a local botanical garden, my mother’s epic garden, and a book of collected works by Hieronymus Bosch. All these elements find their way into the sketchbook and, eventually, almost hypnagogic into the paintings.
Watercolor, Gouache, pencil, and ink on paper, 15 x 15 in
2nd Prize Winner RAYMAR Traditional Art Award
Additionally, can you share more about why juxtaposition is so important when designing your artworks?
There’s an emergent element in the tension between two seeming contraries. I think artists use juxtaposition to point the way to new ideas. Some qualities emerge from symbols and subjects playing off each other. If I can weave a composition out of these seemingly opposite aspects, maybe there’s a statement arrived at in the effort.
Well, your work has certainly caught the hearts and minds of many admirers around the world. On that note, your work has recently been published in a new book, The Art of Fantasy, by S. Elizabeth – congratulations! This isn’t the first time you have been published (including an in-depth feature in issue #28 of Beautiful Bizarre Magazine). How does it feel to see your work in print and admired by readers around the world?
Yes, it was a real honor to be published in The Art of Fantasy by S. Elizabeth.
I’ve enjoyed working as an illustrator on and off for many years. I’m picky about the projects, but for the most part, I’ve been lucky with my commissions. I’ve had the pleasure of recently working with publishers Suntup, and Easton Press, and other publications relating to art and technique. It’s always exhilarating to see the work in print, an artifact of my efforts in The Real.Jason Mowry
Print was my first love source of inspiration, and I hope there’s always a place for my work in some capacity.
How have you and your works changed or grown since being featured in issue #28 of Beautiful Bizarre Magazine back in March 2020?
At the beginning of 2020, I was wrapping up a book project and had completed a solo show. Both felt like the manifestation of the wild-eyed aspirations of my youth. None of these things, including the interview in Beautiful Bizarre Magazine, I could have anticipated or planned for; they seemed a long way off then all at once.
I look back with a lot of fondness for that period.
The work that followed felt more intuitive, and I’m sure results come from biting off more than I thought I could chew at the time.
Can you share what you are working on at the moment, or upcoming projects?
I’m working on a fine-edition book project that will wrap around at the end of the year. I’m also working on a new series of pieces for a solo show with Haven Gallery in October 2024.
Moving back to your 2nd place win, why did you enter the Beautiful Bizarre Magazine Art Prize in the first place?
The Beautiful Bizarre art prize is my favorite contest every year, both as an entrant and a spectator.
The work the contest attaches is so exciting and varied that seeing this chorus of Artists’ best efforts has an electric quality. Contests aren’t the be-all and end-all, but it does feel good occasionally to be recognized for the effort that goes into a piece.
What do you feel you have gained from this experience?
The piece I created that would reach the contest felt weird and vulnerable. I wasn’t sure if it would see the light of day on more than one occasion. So, in the future, I’ll trust that feeling with a new sense of confidence that, despite those feelings, I should trust the process in earnestness.Jason Mowry
Would you recommend it and encourage others to enter? If so, why?
I certainly would and have recommended artists enter the contest. Beautiful Bizarre does a great job circulating artwork within their social networks. It’s a great way to see new work.