Jake Lockett: Mandalas for the 21st Century

The best kind of art discoveries are the ones you make when you least expect it. When you walk into a gallery or a museum, you are already guaranteed a certain level of quality.

Everything you are about to see has already been sifted through and curated. This is what makes the internet such an exciting place to discover art.

While perusing on Reddit one day, next to all the pictures of cats behaving in hilarious situations, I saw a post titled "Here are some of the drawings I've done over the past few years." This is how I was introduced to the artwork of Jake Lockett. In his early 20's, Lockett has already carved out a refreshingly unique style that can only be described as if an artistic Aztec shaman traveled through time and started hanging out on a collage campus.

Well, that's not the only way you could describe his work but that's the closest description I could find.

Jake was kind enough to sit down and answer some questions for us to give us a little more insight into his work, cats, and mental disorders.

How would you describe your style?

It's hard to define my style, but I suppose it's a kind of contemporary, tribal illustrative style. It has also been described as a modern take on traditional mandala*s* before.

Do you have any formal art training?

I studied illustration at University of Lincoln in England where I was awarded a first class honours degree.

One of the best things about my time there was that it gave me the time to draw, surrounded by other people who draw, which is probably far more helpful than any sit down lesson on art history or techniques.

Your work has a psychedelic/geometric/tribal vibe to it.

What influenced your style in that direction?

I initially started experimenting with my tightly knit, geometric patterns soon after visiting an exhibition on the Aztecs at the British Museum. I remember the incredibly intricate turquoise mosaics set within simple shapes fascinated me.

I also enjoy the work of Raymond Lemstra, AJ Fosik and Mark Warren Jacques to name but a few.

Although their work is stylistically different from mine, I find the way each of them combines their contemporary artistic signatures with native tribal art inspiring.

How often do you get asked if you've taken LSD?

It is a fairly common comment whenever I post my pictures online. Usually followed soon after by someone saying that my art is more akin to a DMT trip than acid. A far more regular and strange question however is whether or not I have schizophrenia.

People always cite Louis Wain, an old English artist who's work becoming more and more detailed and abstract in his later life is often attributed to his mental disorder. I've never been checked, but I'm pretty sure I don't have any schizophrenic symptoms.

I have to admit though, I do enjoy his later work far more, maybe it's a sign.

Your portfolio has an eclectic mix of mediums. What is your favorite medium to work in?

I generally use fineliner pens for the linework, and watercolour washes or photoshop to colour.

I have always enjoyed experimenting with new styles and mediums though, and recently I have been trying to incorporate acrylics and colouring pencils into my work as they are fun to use, and you can create images that aren't possible simply with pens and washes.

How long does it take you to finish a piece? It seems like it would take forever drawing all those little circles!

It all depends on the size of the piece. Some of the bigger pieces take me about 30-40 hours at a guess, but it's hard to tell. I usually work on them a few hours a day over the course of a few weeks, and after a while it becomes hard to keep track.

One saving grace of my work is that I usually like to work spontaneously with little planning, so nearly all of the time I spend on it can be seen in the finished article.

Speaking of taking a long time, the short, looping animation on your site is mesmerizing.

Have you thought about pursuing animation via a full scale project? It seems like your style lends itself very well to movement.

I would absolutely love to do a short animation, but its painstaking, but I simply don't have time at the moment.

My plan for the time being is to develop visuals and more small test animations to develop a look that is unique and ideally not to heavy on man hours.

Later in the year I intend to work on a few storyboards to start figuring out some kind of narrative, but that is a long term plan.

What are you working on now?

I'm working on a few commissions at the moment which is taking up most of my time, but that I will be killing two birds with one stone and drawing large scale film noir-esquepictures which I hope will double up as some of the animation visuals I mentioned earlier. I also intend to do some more oil paintings, landscapes with surreal creatures in them.

Maybe I'll see if I can get through a few episodes of Bob Ross this summer, when the weathers nice.

I may even try and do my own take on all of his paintings at some point, but I wouldn't hope your breath for that one.