For this month’s Paper Koi Interview, I had a chance to interview an adept painter, Esteafan Jack.
Esteafan Jack grabs his acrylic paints and devises these captivating images that vividly encapsulate the sweet and meaningful interactions between everyday human experiences. Generously and sincerely, Jack was able to open up about his work and give us a peek into his thought process when creating.
When looking at Esteafan’s work, there is a sense of closeness and solace. His artworks remind me of the multicolored work you’d see when visiting a loved one’s Caribbean home, but of course, with a slight twist of his own feelings, experiences, and imagination.
Please enjoy our brief written interview and support his work, of course!
Where are you from? What is your background?
I am from Massachusstes. I come from a diverse background. I am African American with some Asian (Taiwanese), Portuguese, and Spanish ancestry. My mother is African American with European, and Spanish descent. My father is from Trinidad. He has West African, Asian (Taiwanese), and Portuguese ancestry. Growing up my dad always made sure me, and my siblings respected our caribbean culture. He also made sure that we stayed connected to our Asian ancestry. We would watch Asian movies, and look at old family photos.
Has creating art always been apart of your life? Or Is this a new found talent/interest?
Creating art has always been a part of my life. My mom was involved in the creative arts such as theater, and painting. My Dad loves music, and likes to draw. My uncles, aunts and grandmother also enjoy creating art. I learned how to draw from watching my uncle draw as a kid. I didn’t know I would end up painting. I had to teach myself how to paint by trial, and error.
When did you fall in love with painting?
I fell in love with painting around 2019. I got extremely passionate about painting after I left college because it gave me a new found purpose.
Describe your creations with three words:
Insightful, Joyful, and Emotional.
I honestly love your art because I feel like it encapsulates the human experience of interaction. Why does most of your art circle mostly about human interaction? I’m aware it’s not an uncommon factor in many works of art, but I’d really love to know your thoughts haha ~
Most of my art is about human interaction because I want to feel connected with people. Sometimes I feel disconnected from reality, and use art to reconnect with the human experience. Everyday people inspire me to create art. Seeing people express emotion, and empathy moves my spirit, and forces me to create something good.
Your piece “Escapism”, where the man and woman are in a room with an unplugged television that says no signal. What is the message, at least in your own words, behind this piece?
“Escapism” was a painting I made due to feeling a need to unplug from technology. I painted “Escapism” once I started to realize how the mind can be influenced by what we give attention to. I value making memories, and connecting with people in real life instead of on the internet. I wanted to express my desire to encourage free thinking. “Escapism” was also inspired by photographer Ethan James Green’s photograph of a Moroccan model named Imaan Himaan.
Some of your paintings include retro or vintage fashion. Is there something about the 60’s or 70’s fashion that inspires you?
I enjoy the colorfulness and vibrance of the clothes from the 60’s and 70’s.
Sometimes I feel like I can see you in some of your work. Like in “Renovation” & “Brother”, is that intentional or just a coincidence?
When I make a painting it is a reflection of how I feel, but I don’t intentionally put myself in my paintings.
You also have a grateful piece called, “Grateful”. How important is gratitude to you?
Gratitude is extremely important to me. I am thankful for life, the people in my life, nature, the world, and everything that I have.Being grateful allows me to enjoy every aspect of my life because I understand I already have everything I need to be happy.
You posted an interesting book on Instagram titled, “The Power of Optimism”. Do you find that optimism is necessary to have during these times today?
I believe that optimism is very important. Being optimistic has helped me become a more positive thinker. To have optimism is to have faith that things will get better. Optimism helps keep the mind, and spirit healthy.
Is painting apart of your process of sustaining your mental health?
Yes, I often use painting as a form of therapy. Anytime I feel emotionally overwhelmed I can always turn to painting to help me express my emotions. Painting helps me collect my thoughts when I have a lot on my mind. I am prone to overthinking which gives me anxiety, and at times has caused me to panic if I’m not careful.
I really love the use of colors in your work. When using certain colors, are you intentionally using them to reflect the “mood” of your paintings? Like for example, “Warmth”.
I intentionally use color to display mood. Blue is my favorite color because it calms me down, and reminds me of the ocean. I love the sea, and aquatic life. In the painting “Warmth” I use orange, and Yellow because those colors remind me of the sun.
Most of your work seem to have this familiar feeling of being “at home” but in a foreign sense. Like pieces like: “Journey”, “Grace”, “Loved”, “Hi”, “Kind” and more seem to not be in the typical united states. Are getting a look into some memories in another country?
Due to my carribean background I like to include aspects of Africa in my paintings with color, setting, and clothes. I also love tropical plants because it reminds me of the tropics. By adding tropical aspects to my paintings it makes me feel at home.
Can you talk a bit more about your piece titled, “Brother”? Was the sliced bread symbolizing the breaking of bread between yourself and your brother? Maybe symbolizing how deep your bond is?
I painted the piece titled “Brother” to inspire people, especially African American men, to come together, and create peace with one another. The bread symbolizes greed. By choosing to stay together we can overcome selfishness, and be more united.
Do you believe in the saying: “Artist’s Eye”? If so, what does it mean from your perspective?
I believe that the Artist’s Eye is the perspective, and vision that an Artist is able to give the viewer through his or her creations.
Are there any painters that you would consider to be apart of your inspiration?
I am inspired by many artists: Kerry Marshall, Vincent Van Gogh, Nikolai Astrup, David Hockney, Pablo Picasso, Kadir Nelson, Jordan Casteel, Monica Ikegwu, Peter Uka, Amy Sherald, Jean-Michel Basquit, and Williams De Kooning
Do you ever think about what viewers can take away from your paintings? If so, what?
I don’t always think about what viewers take away from my paintings, but I hope that viewers can learn about human expression,unity, and joy from my paintings.
Do you like to listen to anything while painting? If so, what or who do you like to listen to?
I love listening to music when I paint. I can’t paint without listening to music. I like listening to afrobeat music, reggae music particularly Bob Marley, Sizzla, Jas Elise and Koffee. I also like listening to Neo soul music particularly from Leon Bridges. I also love listening to classical music by Beethovan and Mozart.
Thank you for allowing me talk to you about your work. I support your work and can’t wait to see your next canvas!
Follow Esteafan Jack on Instagram.