See Me Through a Screen, 2021
Introducing Jack Ravi, London Artist
/DRI:M/ARTZ: So you are an Italian born, London-based artist. Can you tell me a bit about your roots? Did you have an artistic background growing up?
Jack Ravi: I remember creating being a joyful act since childhood. It was comforting and expressive and never constrained into one form, which hasn't changed. I did classical studies, learning Ancient Greek and Latin and went on to graduate in History of Art at the University of Milan.
DA: How did you make your way to the UK? Did you come here for schooling or work? What do you moonlight as?
JR: Shortly after graduating, I moved to London, partly because of job opportunities but in retrospect it was mainly for the need to find my tribe and to discover how to live a more authentic version of myself. I did a couple of short courses about independent curating at Central Saint Martin’s, but gave that idea up and mainly worked in heritage, as front of house in museums and galleries.
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Top - The Day We Took Your Land, 2020 / They called it Friendship, 2020 / Untitled, 2020
Bottom - Dark, 2020 / Love, 2021
DA: London has a huge art scene and international reach, rivaling the artistic hubs of New York and Paris. What’s it like living and working in the city? Is it accessible to artists? Out of reach? Do you have a community of collage artists that you can connect with?
JR: Artists always find a way to “make do” and to build community, but it’s often sacrificing a part of their expression just to survive in this world. London is a very expensive city, and like many artists I had to look for jobs, often prioritising the work environment over the job title. London can smell of possibility, but also stink of failure. The collage community I’m part of is predominantly virtual. The beauty of online connections with other collage artists is that they are largely founded on positive reinforcement and support. Artists can be masters at self-doubt, imposter syndrome and low self esteem, so having a support system based on encouragement is so powerful, and it still provides the validation needed during a crisis.
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Top - Untitled, 2020 / Bombay Dreams, 2019 / Hourglass, 2020
Bottom - End, 2020 / Nite, 2020
DA: It must be a fantastic place to score all sorts of treasures for your paper and mixed-media assemblages. Can you tell us where you find your favorite source materials? Do you have something in your stash that you consider too “precious” to re-work?
JR: I use a lot of found elements in my work and the streets are an inesauribile source of discarded objects. London never sleeps, and there’s always somebody moving in or out, leaving all sorts of “treasures” behind. Flea markets, charity shops and online auctions are also my favourite places to browse for old papers, photos and ephemera. I have a beautifully stained sketchbook, which I scored in a second hand bookstore on Charing Cross Road. It’s beautifully yellowed, yet completely blank, and I never had the courage to fill the pages.
Rusty Closets (II), 2019
DA: I spent some time perusing your Instagram account. In the summer of 2018 you started reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It appears that this was a defining moment in your artistic revolution because shortly after your post for week 12, which prompted you to “make and bury a time capsule for your future self”, your Instagram transitioned to a full on curated art account. I find this really intriguing! Can you talk about this time period for us? Did something “click” for you?
JR: I loved and hated The Artist’s Way, but it definitely provided a space for change and acceptance. The two main tools that J.C. suggests using are morning pages and artists dates. While the first one was a struggle and never fully infiltrated my everyday routine, the second one was fundamental for my creative growth and allowed me to make space for play. Reintroducing a weekly appointment with myself to create, explore, and be enchanted was life changing. Now that weekly date has become a daily practice and I can’t imagine living any differently. I had to become an adult to love being a child.
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Jack in the Studio Creating & Materials
DA: You had a solo show with TOD art gallery March ‘21, Who Put the Stars at the Bottom of the Ocean? The artist statement reads, “How can photos from the past century be so relevant today? Maybe they were woven with the threads of a collective consciousness that we’re now trying to untangle.” I love this! I’m drawn to the concept of the collective unconscious and how archetypes can be disseminated through art. This “thread”, you speak of, can also represent humanity’s connectedness, which is comforting. When did you first become interested in collecting nostalgia?
JR: Thank you for connecting with me on this. I think 2020 brought a lot of clarity and I was able to identify what my message was. And the truth is, I needed connection and I created it with my work. Imagine a silk blue thread. Now imagine a silk yellow thread. They look very different. Now weave them together and look at the points where they intertwine. Those are the stories I want to share, all the green dots. All the experiences that make us humans connect and feel part of a much bigger tapestry made of individual threads. And I find that old objects make storytelling so much richer, because in between the stains and the cracks and the dust I find all the “green dots”.
DA: “The Things You Carry Inside” is a touching tribute to your late grandma. The small accordion book, which “reveal all the complexity and beauty we carry within” is composed of 11 ultrasound photographs with the words compassion, light and wonder, to name a few. Can you tell us when the idea of this project first came into being?
JR: There wasn’t really one moment, the book started as a list of words that had been circulating in my mind as I reflected on my grandma’s existence during her last days. I thought of how senile can look a lot like infantile, almost closing the full circle of an existence. My grandma’s offspring went way beyond her 3 children, 8 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren and my book attempted to express and celebrate all of that beauty.
Excerpt from The Things You Carry Inside, 2020
DA: You have such a variety of different concepts that you bring to fruition. How do you organize all of them in your brain? Do you have an “inspiration” book that you jot things down in? A mood board to flesh out the details?
JR: I have started a few notebooks, but the reality is a lot less romantic. I use my phone's Notes app to write down everything that comes to mind, ideas, and projects. It works well for me because I know I always have my phone with me, and I also love being able to search with a keyword, a feature that I use very often. Mood boards are fun and I can spend hours on Pinterest, but the most organic way to start new work is to go through my boxes of found objects, that way I have an immediate visual of what I have on hand, or I rediscover finds that I had forgotten about. And maybe now they’re ready to come out into the light.
DA: On that note, how do the materials you have on hand at the moment dictate the outcome? Does a lot of planning go into your work or do you just go with the flow and let the process lead the way?
JR: The objects I have on hand very much dictate the final piece, sometimes even the concept. I like to plan, but I inevitably end up creating very differently, so planning is more for me to map out the story, or message. The execution tends to be more of a free flow experience. And my finished pieces usually look nothing like what I had initially envisioned.
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Top - Queer Liberation Edition, 2020 / From the Discobulos Series, 2021 / Empowerment Edition Postcards, 2020 Bottom - From Shadow to Awakening Series, 2020 / Creative Virus Postcards, 2020
DA: You must have a lot of tchotchkes on hand considering the majority of your work involves found objects! What's your workspace like and how do you organize your materials?
JR: Guilty! I do have a large collection of small objects and trinkets. There are elements of animism in the way I look at found objects and I believe that each encounter with something that has been discarded isn’t accidental, and I can’t ignore that. So I pick up, I keep, I find meaning, I repurpose and reinvent. Sometimes on the same day, other times months later. I’m trying to be more organised as I have limited space, and so I started organising and labelling boxes. Photos, Book Pages, Small Rusty Objects, Large Objects, Feathers, Natural, Small Clays, Large Clays, Bones, Beads, Ribbons... Not to mention all the boxes filled with artworks.
DA: Speaking of materials, I absolutely love your collage starter kits, YOU CAN. Absolutely brilliant! The packaging, the pun on the name, everything is just perfect, Jack. Can you tell us what inspired you to first start making the kits? Give us the deets on what’s included in them and how we can get one of our own!
JR: When I first started making collage work with vintage ephemera, I had a hard time sourcing authentic papers that would fit in with my practice. Now that I have gathered more paper than I can physically use in a lifetime, I thought I would give other beginners a chance to get started. Each YOU CAN is unique, and I always try to add a variety of textures, in the hope that something will spark a moment of creativity. A happy customer renamed the Can: YES YOU SHOULD. There’s an average of 30 small pieces of paper that I collected over time, a couple of black and white photos, bits of letters/envelopes, fragments of maps, stained papers, illustrations. The 2 original YOU CAN labels are collages that I specifically created, so you can choose your favourite design, both available in my ETSY shop.
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YOU CAN Collage Kit & Curated Contents (Available on Etsy)
DA: Jack, you are seriously one creative soul with an entrepreneurial spirit! What has influenced your journey as an artist? Do you have an artist, period, or style that has inspired your work?
JR: Thank you, I think in some way any artist who challenged the status quo has influenced me and has become an ally in my journey. It’s always hard to narrow down inspiration, so instead I will use this space to celebrate Derek Jarman and Robert Rauschenberg, 2 queer artists that paved the way and inspired my practice on an almost visceral level during my studies.
DA: What's the secret to success? Share a gem of wisdom with your fans.
JR: I wish I knew. Every success story always starts with taking a chance, so I guess being brave is a wonderful place to start.
DA: Do you have any big projects in the works that you would like to share with us? What can your fans look forward to for the duration of 2021 and beyond?
JR: I do have a rather exciting project coming up, but my lips are sealed. Watch this space.
Check out Jack's tune recommendation "Visions of Gideons" by Sufjan Stevens. GASP. I adore Sufjan!
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Etsy Shop | JackRavi
linktree | Jack Ravi