Yard Work, 2021
Introducing Jack Felice, Tallahassee Collagist
/DRI:M/ARTZ: So you are a Floridian! I haven’t spent much time there—just a few family visits over the years. I have this trippy memory, though. I was driving in the middle of nowhere, on a highway lined with orange groves, and in the distance a power line and single orange tree was aflame. In my mind, this scene morphs into a burning cross! Anyhoo, so everyone knows Florida is the land of oranges, reptiles, Disneyworld, and Springbreakers. What else does the Sunshine State have to offer? What’s the art & cultural scene like in Tallahassee? Do you have a community of collage artists that you play with?
Jack Felice: Being someone that has spent a majority of his life living in Florida, I can definitely say it has so much to offer. The state of Florida is so large and every city has its own flavor when it comes to art. I live in Tallahassee and my proximity to Florida State University provides an expansive community of artists and unique artwork. There’s so much history captured within the museums here and the nature throughout Florida varies greatly, both of which offer endless inspiration. Though the local collage community isn’t very large, I feel like collage itself can apply to so much, and as a result I believe there are more undiscovered collage artists here.
Click to Expand
Top Panel - Untitled, 2020 / Cut Up, 2017 / Untitled, 2020
Bottom Panel - Cherry Cola, 2020 / What If There Had Been No Parking Space, 2020 / A Few Words, 2020
DA: You graduated from Florida State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Creative Writing and a minor in Art History. I noticed you had a fair bit of image poems on Instagram. I was reading about the Cento, which is essentially a collage made from lines of poems by other poets. Cento comes from the Latin word meaning patchwork. I love how collage compels us to look at how the individual parts relate to the whole and in this way opens up new narrative possibilities. It’s magical! What came first for you—the poem or collage? How has poetry informed your artistic practice?
JF: At FSU, poetry was my original focus. I studied and wrote poetry throughout college, but at some point towards the end of my senior year I shifted my focus to collage as a way to take a mental break from writing poetry. The more pieces I worked on the more I found that collage and poetry have overlapping aspects. For instance, the way you approach and play with narrative and imagery is something that really echoes poetry. So in a way, I think my love for poetry transformed into my obsession with collage art.
The First Camera, 2017
DA: In the early days you worked in digital but your mixed media collages are predominantly analogue now. Can you tell us what prompted this shift? Was it an easy transition or fumbled with mishaps and glue catastrophes?
JF: It was actually an easy transition for me—though there were some glue catastrophes! I am much more comfortable with analogue collage than I was with digital. I enjoy the mistakes and detail that come from working with physical materials. To me, it’s a much more personal technique. When I look back on my digital pieces, I still love and appreciate them, but when I place them next to my analogue pieces, they seem cold and distant. You absolutely have more room to work with when you are creating a piece on the computer; you can undo mistakes and edit things. But the mistakes that pop up when working with paper and glue give the piece more warmth. You can see the steps and missteps, everything is more transparent and honest.
Click to Expand
Checked Out, 2020 / Handful of Molecules, 2020 / Untitled, 2017
DA: Your Instagram is total eye candy—those vibrant pops of colour are to die for. It’s interesting because your monotone pieces, which are few and far between, are quite the contrast. As I was scrolling and came upon them I would slow down, stop, and look. I appreciated how it interrupted the visual flow. I’m curious about your thoughts on curating and the trend to have a consistent aesthetic on one's feed. Do you pay any mind to it all?
JF: I don’t really think about creating a consistent aesthetic for anyone. The pieces I create and post to Instagram are usually chronological in the order I created them. My progression of pieces tend to have similar themes or color schemes, which is something I enjoy but don’t strictly require. I really appreciate what you said about the monotone pieces though, I enjoy those pieces a lot because they are different from the majority of my more prismatic pieces. I almost view the monotone pieces as a breath or a stop in a progression, a way to reset as an artist.
Click to Expand
Surgery, 2019 / Mystery Series, 2020 / The Point Has Already Been Demonstrated,
DA: Your collage vibe is distinctly you but the style changes subtly with each series you create. How do the materials you have on hand at the moment dictate the outcome? Do you start with the intent of creating a series of work? Or, like other Surrealists, just go with the flow?
JF: I try to stay as open as possible during the process of working on a collage. It allows me room as an artist to create, and I’ve found it more rewarding when I complete a piece. For me, having a final idea before I even begin is too restrictive and distracts from the process. I love the mistakes that arise and how those mistakes can change the direction of a piece.
DA: On that note, do you have a favorite source material and where do you find it? Is Tallahassee a cut&paste goldmine? Do you have a precious item in your media stash that you want to use but wouldn't dare cut up?
JF: Tallahassee has tons of thrift stores. The pieces I’ve been creating this year are mainly cartoons and advertising from 60s and 70s Playboy magazines. I love the aesthetic quality of the old magazines and while I get attached to certain images, I’m definitely not opposed to cutting anything up.
Click to Expand
Top Panel - Statuesque, 2018 / Ribbons, 2019 / Holiday Weekend, 2019
Bottom Panel - Untitled, 2019 / Untitled, 2019 / Drowning Again, 2018
DA: Now tell me about your workspace. How do you organize your materials? Is your studio a clutter factory or does everything have its place?
JF: I think it’s kind of an organized chaos. My workspace in general is pretty organized, but when you open a drawer and find a bunch of clippings in no obvious order, I guess that could be viewed as chaotic. I’m a self-taught artist so when it comes to my formal workspace, it’s always changing. I’m always finding what works best for me and what doesn’t.
DA: I love going back through the start of collagists first Instagram post and making my way up to the most recent. With you I had to go back through over 700 posts to the year 2012! That’s when I discovered that you are an analogue photographer, as well. How has film photography influenced your journey as a collage artist? Are there any artists, periods, or styles that have inspired your work?
JF: Film and photography were huge early influences for me. They both helped me view my surroundings differently and helped me transition away from my focus on poetry. Along with photography, I also experimented with short film. I made four short films while in college and they were really important experiences that taught me a lot about myself and how rewarding it can be to finish a project. I’m always discovering new artists and inspirations, but a few that I go back to are Rene Magritte, Francis Bacon, Stanley Kubrick, Franz Kafka, and John Ashbery.
The Fall, 2021
DA: In 2016 you created the collage ”JFK—Space Age Way”. This piece in particular feels like a precursor to the current series of collages you are working on these days—it's a strong body of work! It's your use of the white negative space using the bits of paper. Can you elaborate on how, if it all, your techniques from the past resurface in your current work? Is this a conscious initiative or just the essence of Jack Felice coming to the fore?
JF: Wow, I really appreciate you saying that! It’s always fun to go back and look at my older collages because it allows me to notice how certain themes overlap with the newer pieces. There have always been certain tendencies and interests within my collages which I feel binds together a majority of my library of collages. Sometimes, the techniques that resurface are subconscious and unplanned; things that I notice after I complete a collage. Noticing these themes and techniques helps me grow as an artist and discover what I like and don’t like.
Click to Expand
A Book In Bed, 2021 / JFK—Space Age Way, 2016 / Invisible, 2020
DA: I typically ask collagists to interpret a collage of their choice for their fans. But for you, Jack, would you indulge us and give a synopsis of your work via a Haiku?
Self-taught and changing shape
DA: I’m a lover of film, art, and music. The last movie I saw that was a total visceral experience was “Possessor” directed by Brandon Cronenburg. Will you share a film that has inspired you and why it’s a stand-out? What’s on your playlist these days? Share a song with your fans!
JF: Two of my go-to directors are Paul Thomas Anderson and Stanley Kubrick. So I have to say The Master and Dr. Strangelove are two films I really feel inspired by. They are brilliant and insanely funny films, combined with obvious visual perfection. I listen to all kinds of music and am always listening to something when working on a collage. I’ve been listening to a lot of Dorthy Ashby, lately. "Just Had to Tell Somebody" is just an overall beautiful song and her music mixes so well with collage.
DA: Last question! Do you have any big projects in the works that you would like to share with us? What can your fans look forward to in 2021 and beyond?
JF: Mainly, just to keep creating. I get so much joy out of working on a collage so that’s always my top focus. So far this year, I’ve been interviewed by The Weird Show and Collazine, and I’ve had my work published in Tagvverk Journal and Cults of Life. Always open to what the rest of the year will bring, though!
Website | jack felice
Instagram | jackfelice