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There's an unnerving darkness in the artwork of Jeffery Scott. Inspiration
he draws from the beauty of women is not morphed into a sexy, idyllic world
flush with rosy flirtations. Instead, Scott's art rattles the viewer with
piercing commentaries on beauty, relationships and humanity, exposing our
universal cruelties and grotesque inner mechanisms. Holding a fun-house
mirror up to our carefully constructed realities, he forces us to question
which side is real. Scott spoke with us about his inspirations, nightmares
and artistic evolution.
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Sez G: Your images are so dark and surreal, often combining a
beautiful female form with disturbing manmade elements. You've said "All
I am doing is reflecting the contradictions and contrasts of the world in
my work." What are these contradictions, and do you see yourself as editorializing
on them or honestly depicting hidden truths?
Jeffery Scott: Yes, I see myself as editorializing in the work. I
know that the commentaries I give are somewhat surreal. They are based on
something that is more reactionary than literal. More subconscious. I don't
have a book that I sit with and say, "This is a reflection on this. This
is metaphorical for this. This means this," and so on and so forth. Whatever
it is that I am doing on a particular piece is honest....Honest to
me. For me. By me.
Sez G: You started as a sculptor. You were then primarily a painter before you began directing your main efforts towards photography. Though your primary medium continues to evolve, how has your subject matter developed to this point?
Jeffery Scott: I think that I am becoming more honest with myself
and less concerned about offending people. I would like to think that I
don't give a damn what people think of me, or my work...but that would be
a lie. I think people are lying ninety percent of the time when they say
that they don't care what people think. I think we all care; we just
don't wish to admit it, as if it were some sign of childish belligerence
in support of a dead rebellious nature. I am less like that now, so the
work is becoming more true as I evolve in it.
Occasionally I am accused of just doing stuff for shock value. That's rubbish! There are plenty of hack artists that do exactly that all the time. That's so frail and useless, I think.
My work, on the other hand is real. It's what I am feeling. If I am talking
about something that seems "ugly" to me, then the image will reflect that.
The subject matter, in some cases, reflects on things that are or were very
close to me, such as relationships that I have had over the last couple
of years... most didn't work. I was disappointed in human nature by the
people that I voluntarily got involved with. I had expectations which breed
that disappointment. And that disappointment got ugly. That is discussed
in many of my newer works over the last year or so. The images reflect that.
As my life progresses, as I get older, as I become more involved in other's lives...the maturity becomes more direct. It pulls fewer punches and gets to the meat of the matter more directly.
Sez G: Do your dreams play a large part in your creative process,
or are you concepts born in your consciousness?
Jeffery Scott: My dreams as in "dream state"? As in, "while I dream"? No. Not at all. I would never illustrate my dreams or nightmares. That's too brutal. You wouldn't want to see my dreams. I don't want to see them. They are off-the-charts disturbing to me.
I look at Joel Peter Witkin's work, and I love it... but I can't look at any given piece for, I think, like 15 seconds. It's too much for me. Reminds me of my nightmares and my dreams. I think it's all very beautiful in its way... but it's too much.
I have done pieces like that... from nightmarish visions that my brain constructs based on something that surrounds my life. I don't hang those pieces in my home and am sometimes surprised when people buy those pieces. I "compose" in my consciousness freely, which I think, if freely enough, taps into the unconscious at times. I let it roll on. Then I sit back, think of each element, and see what that particular meaning is. It makes sense to me on an illustrative level. It's almost like a visual, free-hand sculpting.
Sez G: So if much of your creativity comes from your organic
free-associations, how much of your work is collaboration with the model
and how much is your individual art direction?
Jeffery Scott: Collaboration in the typical sense? None whatsoever.
I don't sit down with a model and bounce ideas off of them, or ask them
what they think. That's irrelevant to what I am trying to say. They are
but actors in my films, so to speak, at best. Each model "inspires" the
piece they are in to a certain extent. Seeing them, being around them, inspires
me to create the image that they are in.
I think mostly it boils down to aesthetics. What they look like inspires a certain character which reflects a certain mood or emotion that I am trying to get across. I don't have some big book sitting around that I write my concepts in before I meet the model and pick them at random. I write down the majority of my concepts for the sake of remembering what I want to do. But those concepts are written for the specific model that I am shooting. In other words, I can't just use any concept with any model.
I have ideas that I have written down for a given model which we never got around to shooting. Those concepts are now dead; they won't be shot with someone else. I may have an idea.....but I will wait for the right model to show up before I shoot it.
Sez G: So it sounds like you shoot very deliberately towards a preconceived concept. Do you have a general process for creating your images?
Jeffery Scott: I shoot things deliberately for the concept, yes. I have a massive library of background images, and props and such. I shoot everything, all the time. My camera goes with me almost everywhere. But when I shoot the model, I am doing it for a specific image. Then I go through my library and search for things that fit that concept specifically. The whole process is pretty much very deliberate.
Sez G: You use models with a wide variety of body types, makeup and costumes spanning various eras. What do you look for in a model? What inspires you most in a woman?
Jeffery Scott: A muse-like quality that inspires me to create. If I look at a woman, and I hear music and see films in my head, so to speak, then I know I have hit gold. Beautiful women inspire me to no end. They could just sit there doing nothing and looking rather plain...and I gain an array of inspiration from them. Just by them "being." The inspiration is as vast and varying as the beauty that they carry and present to me. That's nothing new... feminine beauty has inspired men to art, as well as to war for centuries.
Sez G: Your book Visions Within The Mechanism will be
released in November 2006. Congratulations! What can we expect to see in
Jeffery Scott: It has been described to me as almost a "best of" collection. It shows my development throughout the years, I think. There is stuff in there, that, looking at it now, I don't like. Works that seem so simple, and sophomoric. But it does rather illustrate where I was, where I am now, and hopefully where I am going.
People who are familiar with my work through the internet will now get the chance to see what it looks like in high quality print…which is really the best representation of the work. It was designed for that. No matter what I do, I don't think that the art looks as good in web presentation as it does in print. That's where it really pops and all comes together. The saturation and depth is represented very well in the print format. I am very proud of what I have seen thus far in the book. Very.
Sez G: Can't wait to see it! Your website is factory1019.com.
What's 1019 stand for?
Jeffery Scott: My initials as numbers. "J" is the 10th letter of the alphabets. "S" is the 19th letter. 1019 = J.S. = Jeffery Scott.
Sez G: What's next for you?
Jeffery Scott: The film industry has come calling, so I am working on some film projects as designer and conceptual artist. Nothing I can really talk about now for non-disclosure purposes.
I have been approached to direct some films, but I doubt very seriously that will ever happen. It's not something I am really interested in. There are too many people in the creative process, and I like to be left alone to do what I want to do. I don't like constraints or compromises in my work. And that industry is absolutely wrought with such rubbish. Money always seems to dictate what can, or can not be done. That's not for me. My work should know no limits or boundaries. So far, that's how it's been. I like it like that. It's me, and only me. And if something doesn't look right, or goes wrong, there's only one person to blame and one person for me to answer to: me.
I think if someone came along with the right kind of budget to bring into real time the images that I create...then yes, I would do it. I would production design or do conceptual art for them, and their project. Such as in the case with what Ridley Scott did with H.R. Giger in Alien. Ridley Scott wanted Giger's "look" in that film. He "unleashed" Giger. And look at the results. I could go for something like that. But when this design thing happens with my current work... I pretty much employ the Helmut Newton outlook: "A Gun For Hire."
To learn more about Jeffrey Scott, visit factory1019.com and OneModelPlace.com.
Jeffery Scott - by Sez G.