In the Studio | Jorge Colombo January 17 2015
Jorge Colombo is a delight. Effusive, intelligent, and charmingly curious about the world around him, it's no wonder he's been able to push the boundaries of digital art so successfully. He and I spent the morning together to capture a slice of his typical day, walking from picturesque street corners to libraries and cafes to hidden power outlets on subway platforms (who knew?). Enjoy spending the day with one of our favorite artists... – Carly & 20x200
Where's your studio?
I have a desk at home, but most of my landscapes are finger-painted from life, on location. You'll find me working on sidewalks, windows, rooftops. If it gets too cold I'll hide in some ATM lobby or coffee shop window. I end up finishing many pictures in restaurants, libraries, even public transportation.
What's your favorite "tool" in the studio?
My tool kit is very simple: an iPhone or an iPad. I just feel better when there's a power outlet nearby. Sometimes I have to resort to the ones hidden somewhere in most NY subway platforms.
What do you wear when working in the studio?
Outdoors work is mostly about extremities: the shoes, the gloves, the hat.
What's the first thing you do when you arrive at your studio (or in your case, on location)?
Each location is different, but light and weather are key factors. Will shadows change a lot? How long before it rains? How much daylight is left?
What's on your in-studio playlist?
Either I listen to the city sounds or I play something on repeat, on a separate iPod nano to preserve my drawing battery. More often than not I tend to revert to the Cooing Frenchies crowd: Jane Birkin, Vincent Delerm, Carla Bruni, Françoise Hardy...
What's your favorite way to sweat it out?
I have not done any kind of sport since the Carter Administration.
What's your favorite way to procrastinate in the studio?
Full-season binges of TV/web shows are a big danger.
Which artists' 20x200 editions do you most covet?
Industrial Part 2 by Christine Berrie, Camera Shop by Gretchen Scherer, Travelers by Tatsuro Kiuchi, Studio, All Over Coffee #392 by Paul Madonna, 1,376 Cylindrical Industrial Buildings by Jenny Odell, North of the Tennis House by Joseph O. Holmes, and Hato zu 1 by Uehara Konen
When the weather outside is frightful(ly cold), Jorge finds warm spots with large windows to work from, like this ATM vestibule
Whens, Hows & Whys
When did you first realize you wanted to become an artist?
It wasn't that planned. At some point I looked back and I realized I could use such a designation.
How’d you get there?
I am fully self-taught. I dropped out of art school very quickly: wasn't impressed with most teachers, and freelance jobs started piling up. Things might have been different if I had been less arrogant or had tried another school. I've seen colleagues getting great mileage out of a proper education. Yet I'm mostly jealous of people who experienced apprenticeship: assistants, interns, assorted minions. Seeing a an artist dealing with real-life issues -- creative, technical, financial, human ones -- is irreplaceable.
How do you get over creative blocks?
The hard part is wanting to get over them: they're often a comfortable excuse. I find lowering my expectations -- as in, working on a clearly minor project instead of a Big Statement, or trying to impress only a couple friends instead of wooing The Great Audiences -- helps to break the spell.
What do you like best about 20x200?
Selling art effortlessly and affordably to folks anywhere is so 21st century. It isn't such a change to people in major urban centers -- they've long enjoyed a wide set of options -- but it's quite exciting for people in the rest of the map. And 20x200 still manages to feel as friendly as a neighborhood store in its corner of the Internet.
The 411 on Jorge Colombo
Jorge Colombo has worked as a designer, as a photographer and as an illustrator for 30 years. He's best known, however, for the finger paintings he started doing on an iPhone in 2009. Four 20x200 editions released in April 2009 led to his first cover for The New Yorker, highlighted by the media everywhere as the first magazine cover ever created on a smartphone. He currently paints almost exclusively on touch screens (iPhone or iPad), and his images continue appearing in The New Yorker and many other publications. His collection of one hundred NYC views, New York: Finger Paintings by Jorge Colombo, featuring essays by Jen Bekman and Christoph Niemann, was published in 2011 by Chronicle Books, in collaboration with 20x200. Colombo was born in 1963 in Lisbon, Portugal, and moved to the USA in 1989. He lived in Chicago, in San Francisco and has been living in New York City since 1998 with his wife, artist Amy Yoes. 20x200 is proud to have several of Jorge's pieces available as editions!