IPMM Exclusive Interview: Jermaine Rogers – Part Two
Words by Evan La Ruffa
The following is Part Two of my interview with Jermaine Rogers….enjoy.
E: Sooo dude, are there anymore Jermaine toys coming out? I saw you were part of the film The Vinyl Frontier, fun flick…
JR: I’m fortunate, all of my figures have been successful. I think I did a few that will stand the test of time. I recently got an email from Paul Budnitz (president of KidRobot) being very kind about my toy history and saying how it was among a handful of things he really liked. That makes me feel good, because that guy sees everything. I can’t talk too much about what I’m doin’ now, though…
E: Fair enough! (Laughs)
JR: (Laughs) I just submitted turnarounds for two different figures…I’m in talks with a company that everybody knows (wink). Until it goes into production, we’re keepin’ it quiet. I’ve also got a bronze figure coming out soon, and then another life-size Squire variant, it’s gonna trip people out…
E: Unreal man…
JR: The life-size Squire pieces we did a few years ago sold out instantly, so did the Comic-Con edition of 10. Well, we’ve got one more Squire variation coming. I also did a large fiberglass Dero figure that’s gonna be 3.5 ft tall: you can stand it up somewhere in your house, and it’ll freak people out when they see it (laughs)….
E: (Laughs) Oh man…
JR: (Laughs) Yea man, the toy thing is going good. I’ve got a lot of stuff being made, it’s all in production. So when it’s time to start releasing stuff, it’ll be like bam, bam, bam!
E: You’ve also been involved in a group project with a few other high profile names in the art of modern rock scene, Justin Hampton and Emek, called Post Neo Explosionism. I wanted to find out a bit more about the project, how’s that been?
JR: It’s been cool. When PNE started, we just wanted to do something that was a celebration of each other’s art. We did a show in Seattle in 2002 and that went very well. There was never any feeling that we had to prove anything to each other. At the time we started PNE, Justin Hampton had enjoyed the most success in the field. And then later on I was able to hustle and do a lot of stuff. In the last few years, Emek has really blown up. People sometimes think that we have to outdo each other, but it was never like that. Make no mistake, when you’ve got three ego’s in the same arena, things happen. There definitely have been times when each one of us has had an ego moment…
E: You are humans after all…
JR: Exactly, but ya know, it’s cool. If you’re not careful, other people can stir things up. I can’t read the internet poster forum boards anymore man. I love the people on those things, but there are always a few who voice their opinions in a weird way. Some people develop a hatred for your artwork that is puzzling to watch. It becomes personal. Every thing you do, they’ll find the flaw and point it out. When you do those really good pieces, the ones that everyone applaud…well, they’re conspicuously silent then. But, it’s all very necessary. Those people have a right to their opinions and that’s what art IS. Those forums are a good thing, but I personally don’t read them because I don’t want to be influenced. People will tell you what they want to see, what they don’t want to see, what you should be doing, what you suck at, why you’re one of the greats, why you’re overrated…you know. That’s their job, too. My job is to ignore all of it.
E: For sure. It’s like if you were a ball player, would you want to read the sports section every day?
JR: Exaaaaaactly. I was telling an artist that the other day. Just take one of the biggest rock bands out there, U2. There are people who would pull out every tooth in their head and give it to you, if they could spend 60 seconds in a room with Bono. You know what I’m saying? By the same token, there are people that hate Bono. They hate U2. They think the music, the pose, the whole package is crap. I mean, what if old Bono took all of that stuff to heart? All the comments in forums on the internet, good and bad. He would go crazy! Don’t get it twisted, every artist cares about what people think of their work. I don’t care what they say. You put your work out there, and that comes from deep inside of you. You’re interested to see if people get it, or if people think it’s good.
If I release a print and it sells out, I’ll know that people liked it enough for it to have been worth my time. But I don’t read the boards because I don’t want to know what people want. I don’t want to know what people think I should be doing, it could inadvertently influence what I want to do. In the past, it has.
E: Word. And I think we both could point to instances with either artists or musicians, where you can identify a point in time when they started to create what they thought people wanted from them. The work loses the life force that drew you to it in the first place…
JR: Yea ya know, be true to yourself and do what you want to do. Some bands are weird tho. With some bands, hey, let’s face it, they start sucking when they start doing exactly what they want to do. I mean, there was a point when that joker Sting was a pimp! (Laughs) And then he started doin’ what he wanted to do and…..(Laughs). Jazz-classical fusion Sting makes me nuts. I prefer ‘white reggae’ Sting. So, all that said, I fully accept that what I want to do might really, truly suck, but it’s what I want to do. You’re blessed if anybody cares at all. Things are always changing, but I think the key is to make art you feel comfortable with. So go ‘head on, Sting. Rule that adult-contemporary wasteland.
E: It seems that you’re very lucky in that people respond to your work one way or another….
JR: Yes, Im fortunate. That’s all I really wanted. Love or hate. Anything but apathy. I’ve fortunately always had enough people who like the stuff, and they are the ones who finance it. The prints still sell out. You lose some collectors, and they’re replaced by new folks. You know, whatever. I definitely had to learn to not take myself so seriously. When I look at things, I see that I’m not the best, I just have my own style. That’s all that style is. ‘Style’ is a really pretty word for ‘imperfection’. Every artist tries to manifest his slant on reality, and the imperfections of that look, the deviations from the norm, are his ‘style’. You just kinda learn to say, ‘you know what dude, I’m fortunate to be able to do this.’ You just relax and things don’t bother you. It’s been 15 years and I’m still here.
E: Art is relative man. We all like different things. I think it’s a testament to your work that there’s disagreement about your different pieces….
JR: I’d like to think so. I obviously find some value in what I do. I’ve always hated the idea that there was a ‘proper’ way to do things…or that there was ‘good’ art and ‘bad’ art. That’s so stupid. There are these self-appointed experts in every genre of art, you know. They can explain to you why something should appeal to you and why other things are worthless. It’s just so tired. The work I do is very much a casual exercise. Nothing is extremely strategized. It is what it is, and it’s based on how I’m feeling when I do it. And guess what, a lot of it is overrated, (Laughs) and a lot of it is a hustle. It’s always been that way. Whether it’s Davinci hustling for the Catholic Church or Warhol hustling New York City. I remember years ago in the early days online, I’d get on there and hustle. It was a much smaller place back then and the rock poster art community was much smaller as well. I was doing my little ghetto Warhol (Laughs)….making people think they needed what they don’t need, as he would say. I look back at some of that and cringe (Laughs) but realize that I was one guy and no one, outside of a limited circle of fans, was waving my flag. It was just me. So I worked it the only way I knew how. Again, sometimes you try to hard…and you come off looking like an idiot. I’ve been there. But, it’s all good. I really believed in my work, and I wanted others to see why they needed to believe in it as well. Honestly, there was a genuine earnestness to all of it. I was fighting for my life.
E: Gotta let people know what you’re up to! It’s been fun Jermaine. Thanks for letting me into your head a little bit…
JR: I appreciate it. Hopefully people won’t misinterpret anything, but I know they will (Laughs).
E: Peace dude….
JR: Later man…
Here’s a clip of Jermaine in the film, “The Vinyl Frontier.”
“Lettuce, tomato, and mustard…..No, I hate cheese.”
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