text by Baihe Sun
photo by Baihe Sun

14 Issue : Jacob Mills “昔は自分が何をしたかやたら考え込んでいたけど、今は自分が正しいと思うやり方でやったんだから結果を受け止めようと後悔なく思える”

ニューヨークで活動する21歳のアーティスト、 ジェイコブ・ミルズ。高いヴィジュアルセンスを持った大規模な手作りのインスタレーションと絵画、ジェンダーや社会的問題を巡る深い哲学的な意味が込められている作品で知られている。作品のアイデアについて、そして自分の育ちがどう影響したかについて語ってもらった。

Jacob Mills is a 21-yr-old artist based in New York. His work is mostly known as visual appealing hand-crafted and large scale installations and painting which involves profound philosophical and meanings that deals with social and gender issues nowadays. We have the opportunity here to hear about his ideas of his work and how his upbringing has influenced his growth.





—First, would you introduce yourself to us?

Jacob: I am Jacob Mills and I am a fine artist working in New York. I am originally from Washington State, but I came out east for school and I am really enjoying it. My work is stylistically considered pop, and I am dealing with ideas of social and cultural issues. Specifically American culture since it is the culture that I know best. My process is twofold. As there is the research aspect and the making aspect. The research aspect mostly evolves around philosophical and conceptual text, right now I am dealing with gender troubles which would be related to Simon de Beauvoir’s the Second Sex. And my process is primary made with prints and painting. So for paintings, it would start as a sketch, which would develop into a retraced clean sketch, and then finalized as a projected image and transformed into a canvas, usually large format. And I usually use Acrylic paints to make images incredibly bright and flat with a bold outline, typically using augmented and altered images of cartoons, classics of American culture, such as like Micky Mouse, Tom and Jerry. Also Japanese anime characters like Naruto.

—I see. That is a unique style you create I would say. Would you tell us about your inspirations behind the work?

Jacob: Primarily my work is under the influence within the realm of fine art, and I would say Andy Warhol and Keith Haring are two crucial artists that I appreciate, visually and conceptually. And I am heavily influenced by anime culture. Particularly Naoko Takeuchi and Katsuhiro Otomo. Also, fashion. Alexandre McQueen was actually one of the reasons I first thought about going into art as a practice entirely. I am constantly intrigued by the idea of how the aesthetic and culture can really influence something much larger. So I am always playing with this idea of simplicity and accessibility through academic and intellectual way of art making. I would say the influence would be best summarized by “Paris Hilton needs Plato” or something like that.


Jacob「東海岸に来る前はシアトルでコーニッシュカレッジという美術学校に通っていました。やりたいことができていなくて、学費が高いわりには自分にとってそんなに良い学校ではなかったので同じお金を払うならニューヨークに来た方がいいと思って今に至ります。今までの成果を二つ述べるとしたら、一つはシアトルのクローゼットギャラリーで行ったソロの展示会です。そこではイラストレーションに近い絵を展示しました。ポップアートの様なスタイルを学校は真面目に扱ってくれず、だったら美的で技術的なものを作ろうと決めました。それが展示のアイデアになりました。2つ目はMoMa PS1 のアートブックフェアで作品を展示したことです。シルクスクリーンの作品で“Sexy Man With Big Muscles”というタイトルです。MoMa で展示ができてとても嬉しかったです」

――14歳の時はどのようにして1日を過ごしていましたか? それが今の自分に影響している部分はありますか? 将来をどう描いていましたか?


—Interesting. So how did you come to this path as you have chosen?

Jacob: Well, I was attending Cornish in Seattle before I came to the east coast. It is a multi-disciplined art school. I was not getting what I needed. The facilities weren’t great and it was expensive. So I decided that I should come to New York if I was spending that much money anyway. That is how I got here. In terms of achievements, I would say my two largest achievements up to this point have been, well, first of all, my solo show in Seattle at the Closet Gallery. It was consisted of my drawings which were pretty much illustrative. The school was giving me a hard time because of my pop aesthetics, I wasn’t being taken terribly seriously. So I leaned into that wholeheartedly and decided to make something just completely aesthetic and technique-based. So that was the idea of the show. And the second thing is, I showed my work at MoMa PS1 Art Book Fair. I did these silkscreen work which illustrated “sexy man with big muscles”. It was a cool experience that I got the opportunity to show my work at the MoMa.

—Tell us about your life when you were about childhood life, like when you were around fourteen or so, how would you spend you day and how did it influence you? What was on your mind? What kind of picture did you have for you future?

Jacob: Wow. That is a lot. So when I was around fourteen, I was poorly dressed, poorly groomed, wildly insecure. I just started high school and before that I had been really bullied in middle school so I was very insecure. I sorta started hanging out with people who later became my really close friends. By the time it was incredibly intimidating because I was going through puberty and I didn’t have any idea of what to do while there were people who were very clear about what they wanted to do. I thought I was going to be an English professor but that was definitely not what I was truly interested in. At the time I wanted to be a fashion designer, that was when the McQueen influence came in. I really wanted to do fashion. I thought it was fabulous and glamorous. But for the most of the time what I did was just sitting in class and rushing through my homework cuz I wanted to get good grades. But I would sketch some designs of the dresses and make work. In the midst of that, I was trying to figure out why still I was so insecure and alienated. And I realized it was a lot to do because I was so scared that people didn’t know how to approach me. And now, I have grown to a point where I am aware of who I am, with all the good parts and the bad parts. That has been my success. Because if you are fully okay with who you are, people have a tendency to respect that. Even though they might not like you, they would still treat you the way you should be treated. And that is just a huge part of what life is about, I guess. It is a big change ever since I was fourteen.


Jacob「昔は悲しみと怒りが多くて、肌が汚くて髪はギトギトでした(笑) 。今も100パーセント自分に満足してはいないけど、何をしたいか、どこに向かって行きたいかがはっきりわかっています。それがパワーとなって自信に繋がり、辛い時も自分が頑張ろうと決めた道なのでどんな結果も受け入れることができるんです。昔は自分や他人との悪い結果に憤慨して、自分が何をしたか、何が起きたかをやたら考え込んでいました。今は何かが起きても、 “自分の正しいと思うやり方でやったんだから、結果を受け止めよう”と後悔なく思えるんです」





—That is absolutely admirable. So what are your goals now?

Jacob: My goals now are, I am currently waiting for results from Grad Schools. I have applied for Yale and Columbia and I wanted to get into one of the Fine Art program. I think I would want to take a gap year before going to grad school, though. I want sometime to travel and to think things through and become financially, spiritually and artistically prepared for my life. In the immediate future, I am hoping that I could move to Asia, Taiwan of Japan, specifically. To embark on a sort of different artistic path. Hopefully with galleries to collaborate with. I really am inspired by Asian art whether traditional or new. Like I am really fond of Hokusai and stuff like that. For me, also the anime culture is a lot. Because growing up, we have such a rich culture of comic and stuff but I was really immersed in anime in terms of how I built my strong relationship with drawings. Also I wanna challenge myself because I think as an artist, one would always crave for experience of any kind. Experience is about investing time and bringing new horizons which will lead to more opportunities.

—Do you have any upcoming news you wanna share with us?

Jacob: There is a show in Chelsea in this gallery and I will be showing my light boxes which I made recently. Hand-crafted light boxes with silkscreen on. I am really excited to get it all set up and meet some new people and chat about it.

-That is absolutely amazing! Thank you so much for having this conversation! Hope you do well with your future pursuits!

Jacob Mills

photography&text Baihe Sun



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