For Regret Hunters, the next show at IPaintMyMind Gallery, we’re playing host to Serena Lander & Jean Paul Langlois. I met Serena when I visited her tattoo shop, and have since spent many hours on her table committing ink to skin. Her shop includes her drawings, her mosaics, and a few examples of the wooden engravings she’ll be showing as part of Regret Hunters, which opens on Friday, Feb 5th
Serena and I got to chatting about a way to bring her art into our space, then she mentioned she had a friend who was an incredible painter who we should know about. A few weeks later, Jean Paul came into the gallery, the vibe was right, and we started hashing plans for this show
I’m always interested in the artists artists like. Tracing creative lineages, networks, and connections turns art into much more than creative expression. It becomes a living, breathing creative chain reaction that is fueled by people coming together. In knowing Serena, we met Jean Paul, and as a result we’ll be hosting our most unique show to date.
Keeping in line with the two-person show, this is a two-person interview that sees these two great artists weigh in on who they are & what inspires them, while keeping the inspiration carousel moving. Ahead, we take a deeper look into the work of two Canadian born artists whose work exemplifies the range IPMM is drawn to.
First Jean Paul, then Serena.
John Paul Langlois
EL: Tell us about the collection of pieces you’ll be showing at IPaintMyMind Gallery.
JPL: They are all brand new. Essentially the progression of work I’ve been doing over the last few years, which included the Fake Indians series. These are scenes from spaghetti westerns, moments before or after intense violence. Shootings, lynchings, scalpings, beatings. Spaghetti westerns are generally very violent and almost always based on a theme of revenge. But there are also moments of beauty and peace. Desert landscapes, big beautiful skies, silhouettes of men on horseback.
I’m pretty obsessed with westerns. They are the story of America. Gun culture, racism, lust for money and gold, these are just the continuation of the values of the old west…
You’re also a DJ, which came first for you, music or painting & visual art?
I started collecting records at age 6, but I have been drawing since I could hold a pencil. Both have always been prevalent in my life. In my teens and early 20s I played in bands but I was doing art and getting kicked out of art schools too. DJing became lucrative for me in the 2000s so art took a back seat for a while. I still DJ but no longer as a career. Its a young mans game. These days I find more pleasure and success in painting.
You and Serena are friends, how did you guys connect?
We have been friends since our early teens in the punk scene in Victoria. I was probably one of her first tattoo victims. We played in a band together for a while in the late 80s I think? I adore Serena and admire her commitment to her craft as well her bravery in escaping Canada. She’s an amazing and innovative artist and a true blue friend.
Have you ever worked in any other mediums?
I do life drawing regularly, charcoal, pencil, oil pastel. I’ve been doing watercolours again for the first time in years……sometimes my public persona is a bit obnoxious and thuggish to hide my shyness and insecurity. I guess you’d call that guerrilla performance art?
What’s the last music you listened to?
Honestly, what’s on rotation in my car for the last month and is Miley Cyrus and her Dead Petz. The last live show I went to was Lil Debbie. Other than that my taste is all over the place.
Name one artist or musician IPMM readers should know about.
I really love This Is The Kit. The name Kate Stables records’ under. I think people are starting to remix her stuff. She deserves to be heard.
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Serena! I’m so excited to show your wooden engravings at the gallery. Run through the process of how these were created.
The images that I am using for this series of wood cuts, are collaged combinations from my archive of drawings … I have rearranged elements into new compositions with new imagery that I have been playing with.
Some of these images are from tattoos that I’ve designed. Looking at the collection I’m realizing how decorative they are as a whole. I suppose I didn’t totally expect that. The process of carving them, is with a machine called a CNC router. This piece of equipment is most similar to a photocopier with a blade. The CNC router will make a carving from a vector graphic image.
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You’re a fantastic tattooer too, how many hours a week do you draw?
My tattoo work is very seasonal. In the spring summer and fall, I probably spend about 20+ hours a week drawing and 25-40 hours tattooing. In the winter months my schedule is much more random, so I work a lot less but it still seems to fill all of my time. I tend to be most productive during daylight hours and there never seems to be enough. All in all, this time of year… I feel like my drawing and tattooing schedule fills up a modest 40 hours a week.
When it’s not for client’s tattoos, what do you tend to draw?
It’s definitely changed over the years… there was a time that I felt compelled to draw caricatures of animals, people and insects… These days I like drawing these one-dimensional, oversimplified mechanical flowers…you’ll see a lot of them in this body of work. The tattoo work that I’m focused on these days is botanical and textile-like flower and plant images.
Tattooing is definitely trained me to work in a way that I wouldn’t necessarily have come to on my own. I find myself clustering and layering images a lot, which is quite evident in these compositions. Quite naturally this occurs on peoples bodies, because they’re trying to make an existing tattoo look more at home in its environment… Limited space on a sacred canvas tends to dictate form.
What pens, pencils, or markers do you use? I’m always interested in the tools used.
HB pencils, Sharpies and tattoo ink, for the most part.
Have you ever worked in other mediums?
Most recently the other work I’ve done outside of tattooing, has been mosaics and linoleum block prints. I spent over a decade obsessing over mosaics and hoarding materials that I found and thrift stores and wherever. I always fantasize about one day using up all the materials I collected. Lately those materials wait in storage, until our house isn’t such a construction zone.
I used to do a lot of painting with acrylics in my youth and then dabbled a bit with screenprinting. I really enjoy the Lino-block print process because it’s something that I can manage on a small scale at home.
I always wanted to make that shift into woodblock printing but had a hard time fathoming the labor involved for my hands after long days tattooing. I’m pretty excited about this process with the CNC router doing the finished carving. My hands are also very relieved.
When did you come to Chicago & what makes you stay?
I originally visited Chicago for the first time in 1991 and ended up hanging out for a while with folks in Chicago punk rock scene. I moved to Chicago in 1992 and operated my tattoo business out of my house under the radar for many years. In 2003 I moved back to the northwest living in Seattle and in the San Juan Islands. I could never afford to live out there… even back in the 90s I remember it being really difficult financially to keep afloat.
The city of Chicago has always been a supportive environment for me. I feel like many artists have benefited as much as I have from living here. I am such a sucker for low overhead and I’ve always managed to find very inexpensive places to live in Chicago. I’m grateful, because that wasn’t the case when I lived in the northwest. It felt like it was just a matter of time before I was living out of my car. Plenty of my neighbors seem to be doing just that.
How would you describe the way your work has changed over the years?
It’s hard to say from within my own practice. The work seems to change organically. I always seem to just keep making it and I feel like I get infatuated with different content and materials as time goes on. With my mosaics and tattoo work, I’m very focused on full and colorful images. The woodcarvings are very much a departure from that. I really enjoyed creating these images but the natural grain of the wood adds so much dimension and warmth to the palette.
Name one artist or musician IPMM readers should know about.
Of course, I want everyone to know about Jean Paul Langlois and his eerily beautiful paintings!
A local artist I am very impressed with and amazed by is Eric Grimes (ericgrimes.net) He makes the most beautiful mosaics out of an invasive species of wood called buckthorn. His work is phenomenal and extremely well crafted.
Eric Grimes is also the CNC router operator who is fabricating my work.
I’ve been really inspired by the new Matchess record, Somnaphoria, created by local artist Whitney Johnson.
Mind Over Mirrors latest record ‘The Voice Rolling’, featuring Jaime Fennelly and guest vocalist Haley Fohr is a very haunting and beautiful album.
Thanks so much, Serena!