Jermaine Rogers has been a mainstay in the rock poster art scene for over a decade. He works at his headquarters in Manitou Springs, CO, continuously crafting images that push boundaries, whether social, cultural, or aesthetic. For a handful of years now, I’ve been a fan of the way he tends to prod certain issues, often provoking responses that radiate in every direction. His prints are of the highest quality, color-fades and detail that make a $50 print feel like the find of a lifetime. Jermaine’s been able to garner a steady following since the explosion of the rock poster/ screen print scene, and after a review of his work, it’s no wonder. Covering everything from prints of Jimi Hendrix, to posters for the likes of Radiohead, Ween, and The Deftones, he’s more than established himself amidst a growing sea of talent. His ability to as he says, be a “chameleon,” really allows him to cast a wide net. His skill as an illustrator is exhibited in every print, as he’s in no hurry to crank out mediocre work.
Jermaine has also experienced staggering success with his vinyl figures, which have all sold out extremely quickly. He’s proud of what he’s achieved, but exudes a desire to continue to evolve. Rock poster art was born in a time and place where psychedelia was the name of the game, and Jermaine has been able to follow in that tradition. What I appreciate, is that he’s taken the time to ask meaningful questions about the world around him, via his work. Art’s not only about beauty, it’s also about sharing your view of the world. Thankfully for you and I, Jermaine is dead set on saying what he has to say, through incredibly made, expertly conceived prints.
Here is Part One of my interview with Jermaine Rogers…
Evan: Alright man, you ready?
JR: Yea, I hope you don’t mind, I’m eating popcorn while I talk to you.
E: (Laughs) No problem at all brother…
JR: (Laughs) It’s the first thing I’ve eaten all day….
E: Word, do what you gotta do! I’m glad to do this interview man, I’ve been into your stuff for a while. There were a few prints that I thought were fantastic that you released a while back. I’m thinking of the “My Brother Was A Hero” print and it’s variant.
E: As soon as I saw those prints, I liked that the variant that wasn’t the exact same image, and I immediately projected the Israeli/Palestinian conflict onto those two pieces. I’m interested in what was going on in your head when you put those together.
JR: Yes, you were right: that’s what I meant to put into it. For me, it was a statement on that whole thing. I used the rabbits in a few concert prints a long time ago, and then I didn’t use them for many years. Then in 2004 I used the rabbit in conjunction with another character, called Squire, who’s been on several posters. I’ve also rendered Squire as a vinyl toy figure. He’s a pig-like-creature with a human head. In the story that I loosely told through several prints, he seemed to exercise control over this group of rabbits, and it seemed as though he was instigating some conflict between these rabbits and a wild band of raccoons. The rabbits and the raccoons were primarily struggling over an area of woodland that they both felt entitled to. So, I already had that story kinda going, and I’m not done with it yet….the raccoons could in many ways represent the Palestinian people, while the rabbits are the Israeli people. Squire is representing an outside influence that’s manipulating both sides. I’ll let you guess who that represents……
It’s a very charged situation, to state the obvious. And I try to erase my programming, you know? All the rhetoric we hear on the news and from Washington can really steal away your objectivity if you allow it. Obviously, much of the western world has a decided ‘favorite’ in the whole deal. I’d like to really look at it from both sides, not just from the viewpoint that is popular to the particular area on the planet where I just happened to be born. I mean, can you imagine if somebody came into your town where you were raised and where your father was raised, and where his father was raised…and came into your house and told you that that land didn’t really belong to you?
E: It’s really beyond comprehension.
JR: Yea, ya know….then (imagine) they took your rights away, and maybe one of their soldiers killed your uncle, or did worse to other members of your family…you wouldn’t strap a bomb onto yourself just to make a ‘statement’. That would be a very thought out, guttural act. Totally insane, but relative ‘patriotism’. In most of my prints, I’m not trying to score a point for either side, I’m just observing. I think when I can take these heavy human issues and depict them in a world of little weird, albeit cute, animals, it really drives some points home in a way that is strangely poignant.
I do like to release variants posters from time to time, sometimes just printing the same image on a different color paper or changing a certain color here and there. For a while, Id been thinking about doing a real variant…..where the image is an actual variation on the idea. So it’s an entirely different image. In ‘My Brother Was A Hero’, the variant depicted the struggle from a western perspective. There are a lot of heroic young men and women sacrificing everything so you and I can sit around and intellectualize about art.
JR: I’m gonna do more of the ‘true variant’ thing, I thought people really dug that. They’re truly variants, aesthetically.
E: Most definitely. I also wanted to ask you about Hendrix, you seem to come back to him every once in a while…..I think a lot of us have felt a certain void since Jimi Hendrix…
JR: Well, first of all from an artistic point of view, Hendrix is really fun to draw. He has these standout features that you can anchor the drawing on. Very eccentric and beautiful to look at. The dude was a modern day god of culture, like some creature from mythology… & he looked like it. I really love the music and am a really big fan of what he stood for: true intellectual and spiritual freedom. Not being trapped by this big illusion all around us…cause that’s all it is. None of it is ‘real’. In no way do I think I’m anywhere near as talented as he was, but I can identify with him as an African-American artist in a genre that is dominated by White Americans.
True enough, you’ve got a couple other African-American guys working in fringe pockets of the rock/pop poster art field, but as far the art of modern rock crowd, I’m the guy. I find it interesting how he (Jimi) wrote about how he felt like he couldn’t connect with anyone. As a black male you often have to be a chameleon and sometimes people misinterpret that. And a lot of times, because we’re only human, we may try too hard, or not try enough, or might come off wrong. So on some level, I identify with him there.
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